The Media

Start Cutting Those Bonus Checks. More Losses at Lee Enterprises

Written by Don Pogreba
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It looks like it’s got to be time for more bonuses for the top executives at Lee Enterprises (the parent corporation of the Independent Record). The St. Louis Business Journal’s Jacob Kirn reports that Lee’s first quarter income dropped nearly 18 per cent:

Lee Enterprises, the Davenport, Iowa-based parent company of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reported first-quarter net income of $12.1 million, a 17.7 percent drop from the same period in 2012.

The reporting from Lee newspapers sold the story in a slightly different fashion, arguing that the losses were a “solid start” to 2014. From the Mason City Globe Gazette, a Lee paper, comes this masterful lede:

Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the Mason City Globe Gazette, reported Thursday preliminary earnings of 22 cents per diluted common share for its first fiscal quarter that ended Dec. 29, compared with 28 cents a year ago.

Excluding unusual matters, adjusted earnings per diluted common share totaled 24 cents, compared with 20 cents a year ago.

Buried in the Globe Gazette story is the news that, once again, Lee is shedding employees, with a 5.9 per cent reduction of full-time employees over the quarter. These losses continue the hemorrhaging at Lee papers across Montana and the nation, where senior reporters are continuing to leave or be nudged out of their jobs. The result? A corporation with less than 75% of the staff it had just four years ago.

It seems more apparent that media analyst Ken Doctor was right when he diagnosed the core problem facing Lee:

If the company continues to cut staff in order to make repayments, it risks diminishing its product to a point that readers won’t pay for it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

56 Comments

  • It’s sad that these newspapers are like this. I wish we could have locally-owned papers that didn’t have to tow a company line.

    Why does it have to cost so much to produce and put out newspapers? And in another 20 years, what’s the newspaper situation in this state going to be like?

    I mean, how many young people in their 20s or even 30s do you know that read a physical newspaper each day? Montana’s aging population and our reluctance to do anything about it certainly doesn’t help.

    While there’s little editorial control, you’re going to see more blogs like this supplant newspapers as Montanans daily source of news. Sure, it won’t be all, but more and more you’ll have it. I mean, do you want to read an editorial from someone fresh out of the U?

    It’s a vicious cycle they find themselves in, because right now I see no reason to subscribe to those papers because of their policies, and yet that’s exactly what they’re hoping these policies will bring about – a leaner paper able to quickly meet my needs.

    I just don’t see that happening with this medium. Now, if they were to bring back afternoon editions like my dad used to deliver in Helena when he was a kid, well, maybe that’d be a start. There’s an obvious demand for 24/7 news.

    • The news today is completely censured; that’s why millions go online to get their news.

      The extreme danger to the American people in the form of Agenda 21 (rampant in Montana) is not being discussed. They allude to parts of it, the EPA atrocities for example, but not the whole picture.

      The media covered what Nixon did with a vengeance, as they should have.

      But what the bankers did to us, Agenda 21, the NDAA, is TEN TIMES WORSE. And where is the traditional media now on these crucial topics?

      They are COMPLETELY CENSURED. That is why people are letting traditional media die and taking up the internet.

      But the internet can be more completely controlled than a physical newspaper can.

      So that physical newspaper would need to bring out the WHOLE TRUTH, now wouldn’t it, in order to survive?

      I’ve noticed that progressives turn a blind eye to Agenda 21. Why? See Democrats Against Agenda 21; see San Francisco lawyer Rosie Koire’s book on that subject.

      I am fighting Agenda 21 here in my hometown in California.

      I am from Montana, and I care about the area. Please wake up, up there.

      • Agenda 21, Area 51, what’s the real difference? But would you be so kind as to explain just one concrete example of how Agenda 21 affects our lives here in Montana in the least, and why we should be worried? We have bigger fish to fry.

        Do you drink tea? Do you consider yourself to be a Tea Party person? Just wondering. Are you educated? If you are, that would go a long way to bolstering your arguments.

        Thanks.

        • Larry,

          I am amazed at the stereotypes you spew at me.

          I am talking to you about a serious problem, not media hokum about space ships or “Area 51”.

          Please see: “Agenda 21 is alive and well in Montana”.
          http://montana10.com/index_files/Pages557.htm

          I am insulted by your asking if I am educated, as if that has anything to do with intelligence.

          You love your stereotypes, don’t you? So secure in them?

          Because this is so important, I am going to lower myself to your level. I am indeed an educated woman: I hold a Bachelor’s in Foreign Language (30 years ago) from Cal State Fullerton. I am fluent in Spanish And Portuguese. I taught for many years in the schools.

          Then my Dad and I went into business together: we sold pneumatic automation components, and I learned to design the circuitry that went with the application. In case you don’t know, the word circuitry not ony applies to electronics, but to any conduit where there is a ‘circuit’ that performs a task; in our case that circuit was air.

          I do hope that is good enough for you?

          Do I have the condescending right to ask you how educated YOU are?

          Did you notice I gave you LIBERAL sources on Agenda 21, as in: DEMOCRATS AGAINST AG 21?

          Rosie Koire? Also try Michael Coffman’s videos on this subject.

          • “I am insulted by your asking if I am educated, as if that has anything to do with intelligence.”

            Really? Why? For you see, hard to debate with people who make up their own facts. That’s all. BTW, don’t be insulted at all. All of us who post here are quite familiar with each others’ creds. With yours we’re not. That’s why I asked. Many morons show up here pretending to know caca, and they don’t. They’re entire educational experience consists of watching FAUX news.

            “I do hope that is good enough for you?”

            ORALE! Bastante educada, chica! Que bueno! Si, te encuentro digna de debatir aqui. Y pues, yo tambien hablo espanol y otros idiomas. Portugues? Pues, puedo leerlo, pero hablarlo, no.

            “Do I have the condescending right to ask you how educated YOU are?”

            Of course you do. I wouldn’t want it any other way! Vietnam Vet. Tree cutter. Environmentalist. Degrees from Eastern Montana College in Spanish, English, Sociology, and enough classes for others. I too taught school for many years. Speak English, Spanish, ASL, and can get by really in any of the Romance languages, just like you. And I’m extremely well read! Gave up on TV some forty years ago and haven’t watched it since. But for entertainment, I read voraciously. Not junk, just good stuff.

            Good enough for you?

            “Because this is so important, I am going to lower myself to your level”

            Um, speaking of stereotypes, do you REALLY claim to know what my level is? Hmm. Interesting.

              • I’m sorry. Hey, it’s OK. You and Flush Blimpaugh missed the entire sixties! Guess you had to be there. And for the record, there is NO shame in having served in Nam! None! It’s just that we didn’t run, dude. We didn’t run! Not in our make up. I don’t blame those who did go to Canada, but some of us couldn’t do that. And yes, we learned a little sumthin’ from that experience which you will never comprehend. And you’re the lesser for that!

                • Larry, you should really read my latest book – Wake Up, Detroit. It’s about city workers, many of them ‘Nam vets, that have their pensions taken. They take the law into their own hands.

                  I figure you could use some laughs.

                • I’d love to read it. They sound a lot like Hogan’s Army, the Butte boys who stole a train and were headed to D.C. to help their buddies. Are you familiar with them? The DON’T teach kids in school about Hogan’s Amry for sure. Gotta keep it neat, antiseptic, and fascist!

                  But they did it. They stole a freakin’ train and almost made it! It’s an incredible tale, and all true. You were raised in Helena. Ever heard of that incident?

                • I took AP US History in ’98 or so, and I’m pretty sure our teacher John Adams had some supplementary material that had that. I think I read more about it at the Lewis and Clark Library though.

                  Wasn’t it Coxey’s Army?

                • Yep. That’s it. But your average Montana kid never hears what the state is really like.

                • Larry,

                  At your comment where you asked me to help you find the Agenda 21, there is no reply button.

                  So, I’m doing it here. Put in: Agenda 21 in Montana

                  Those words exactly. What you will pull up is the site called: Montana Sovereign. And then you will see the info, ‘Agenda 21 is alive and well in Montana.

                  There. Fixed it for ya. All better now?

                • I believe is is spelled “Limbaugh.”

                  By definition, soldiers are indoctrinated and compartmentalized. The kids at the teach-ins on campuses knew more about the war than you. Glad you didn’t run, but you might have had you known how to think.

                • Kiss my ass, loser. You ran, NOT because you knew more, but because you didn’t want to do your duty! BIG difference! A country of losers like you would NOT be a viable country! Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. You might actually HURT yourself!

                  bwhahahahahahahaahaha!

                  True story.

            • Your level was insulting me by asking what my ‘creds’ were. You and I both know plenty of people who are ‘educated’, and yet are idiots.

              Now why haven’t you looked at the information I sent you?

              If you care about Montana, I suggest you do so.

              BTW, Mexicans who speak proper Spanish don’t say orale- it’s what gang members say down here in So. Cal. It sounds ignorant to them.

              • No they say it all the time dear. I sent 30 years with Hispanics in the Los angeles area. I speak 26 dialects of the Hispanic language.
                “Orale” is not a gang affiliated Word. It is simple slang nothing more! We americans use far more slang then Hispanics do.

                • Entonces, ¿qué es lo que está buscando? Lo primero que hacen es escuchar hispanos. Pero hay que decir la verdad, por lo que ha dicho que ser lo suficientemente memorable para quedarse, tiene que importar como hechos!

                • My name is not dear, and I’ve spent more time here than you. Orale is now considered trash speak by Mexicans here in LA. I’ll let you debate the origin of it, but that is how it’s used and NOT used today.

                • Not all are from Mexico Tina. What makes you think they are all Mexicans? you have any Idea how many people from South America make their Home here in the United States. Secondly, I hired lots of people from South America. Did Green cards applications for at least a thousand.

                  You have no Idea who is a mexican, or a Peruvian?

                  Orale, has been said to me by Hispanic Pastors and Businessmen… does that make them Gang members. Lastly, My daughter is half hispanic. Attention Tina you have a white understanding of stereotype nothing more

            • Thank you for correcting my spelling. I occasionally get it wrong.

              Instead of insulting me, why don’t you look at the info I gave you?

            • She writes well (that was likely an auto-correct error), is able to form complete thoughts, makes her points cogently, and will, in the future, know not to mess with LK, as that is a silly thing to do. What qualifies her as “raving maniac”? I read what you write. It’s not a literary treat.

              • Mark,

                I will mess with whoever I want to.

                LK has nothing on me.
                He called me a ‘chica’, which is ‘girl’ in Spanish. But I am a woman (mujer), which I demonstrated in my comments.

                He’s probably going to come back and say he meant it ‘affectionately’, but nothing about his tone indicates affection.

                • Well, fair warning. If nothing else he’ll snow you under with volume and you’ll get the odd feeling that nothing you write is read or understood. But so what. It’s just a blog.

            • Also, look down below at the commenter Ingemar, this person also brings up Agenda 21.

              It’s time you take a look at that instead of calling people names.

              Where are your facts to combat info on Ag 21?

              All you have is name-calling.

                • You honestly think I don’t know the difference in between the different countries of South Americans?

                  And if a ‘white’ understanding of things is such a awful thing, why did you move to where it’s majority white?

                  Aren’t you ashamed of helping people into this country, who are taking jobs from Americans?
                  There are no jobs in this country, yet the government lets them in to break our wages. Born Americans here are sick of it, and that’s both Mexican-Americans and everyone else.
                  I would’ve been ashamed to do your job.

                  Thanks for f*cking up Southern California for us- is that why you left? (yep).
                  That’s what people like you do: after you screw it up, you run from the mess you made.

                • Attention Tina: Hispanics who were the first group of non-white people to colonize California, outside of the native people which whites subjugated and killed in California, Hispanics who lived there were never asked to leave and treated somewhat better than whites treated them.

                  When California was bought and turned over to the United States, all those HIspanics, who owned land or wanted to stay were allowed citizenship back then by our government. The name of the state which is hispanic in nature, was kept… just like Montana was.

                  During World War 2 Immigrant workers saved California Agriculture, and Construction Industry from crumbling in California by taking over, with the Governments and Business leaders permission, business what needed laborers, while white Americans men went to war. Thousands of Hispanics were given citizenship in service to our Country because of it.

                  A lot of the brown skinned individuals you despise already are American Citizens. Your quite mistaken if you think California is full of noting but illegals. The Ones I sought Visas for were not all illegal, though the ones who sought economic justice for their families –they were willing to follow a process, to become Americans and pay their taxes gladly…. Just like your Family did when they came from the Old country. Like I said before you have No Idea what your talking about regarding Hispanics, and your comments of me f**king up California are just further proof you have no sense of California history.

                • ND,

                  I am well aware of California’s history, more than.

                  You must know that illegals sit on welfare. Please don’t deny it- that was what Proposition 187, in the 90s, was all about. The taxpayers of Calif. said we cannot afford to pay for this anymore; the People passed that Prop, and an activist judge threw our word out.

                  If they had not been sitting on the dole, the Prop would not have been put up for ballot.

                  Illegals work cash & carry jobs, then collect all the benefits on the side. My retired mother found this out with a maid she had: the maid let it slip that she collected unemployment, when she was working for my Mom!

                  Needless to say, Mom fired her. The research is in and they sit on welfare. I could give you many other stories.

                  We are being broken in more ways than we can count, out here, with the burden of supporting the failed state of Mexico.

                  Remember, that phony excuse: ‘they’re reclaiming Aztlan is crap- they’re just here for a good job.

                  And what makes you think that the people you worked with did not commit fraud against us?

                  I notice you are no longer in California, is that right?

                  Why’d you leave? Property tax too high? Lousy schools?

                  Violent Hispanic gangs threatening your ‘half-Hispanic’ child (all hail the mixed-race children)?

                  Why do you think those problems exist in California? Because of belligerent Hispanics that refuse to acclimate, that’s why. It’s costing us billions.

                  But you had a government job, didn’t you? In other words, I was paying your salary. And your type is ALWAYS in denial about that, aren’t you?

                  Well, I hope you enjoy nice, white quiet Montana, before the gangs follow you up there and ruin it all.

                  But don’t worry! Montana has NORMA to speak Spanish to them, in between the flying bullets and violence!

                • JF: I love your semantics. Will “they drain every penny we have”, suffice for you?

                  Come pay my property taxes, then you can talk.

                  Also bring cleaning bucket and brush for the graffiti.

                  ND will tell you that it’s not just the “Hispanics” who do that, but it is. Oh, they won’t put that in the LA Times, but your police friend will tell you that that is so.

                  Also, bring billions in dollars extra, as we have to teach them in their own language(s), teach them about their own cultures (as if their parents don’t), our Court System has a law that each precious little snowflake defendant must be spoken to in their own language, no matter how obscure that language is.

                  Illegals may now drive legally, practice law (look it up).

                  Please let me know if we Californians have forgotten anything else we can do for our most violent, least productive, and most expensive inhabitants.

                  The corporations benefit from cutting jobs out from underneath us here with illegals, and the (barely) middle-class, like me, get to pay for the little angels’ education, through my PROPERTY TAXES.

                  I invite you to live down here with the 3rd World.

                  I’m waiting for an answer to my invite, JF.

                  C’mon, JF, I’m waiting…..

                  What, no takers?

                • The Majority of Hispanics pay taxes in California. and Obviously, you haven’t got a clue what a an Illegal is. California is one of the only states, that allows Illegals the same rights as Americans. It follows the constitution closer than most states do.

                  It isn’t the Illegals taking over there, its the sovereign rights of Famileis who have been there since before California was a state. You just don’t like the color!

                • Why the lies and willful ignorance?

                  The great majority of illegals’ jobs is CASH ONLY; not only do they NOT pay taxes, they also COLLECT WELFARE, DISABILITY AND ALL KINDS OF STUFF AT THE SAME TIME! Because they are NOT ON THE BOOKS.

                  Did you read what I wrote about Prop 187? Why the head in the sand?

                  The entire construction industry is off the books; I know despicable contractors that do this. All of the landscaping, heavy work (which should belong to Americans) is off the books.

                  Your ignoring this problem will not make it go away , or remake reality into your liking.

                  I have noticed that when a liberal is losing an argument, they resort to name-calling such as: ‘hater, racist’, or ‘you despise’. You’re running out of tactics, aren’t you? Don’t call names when I name reality.

                  BTW, did you know the area that is now southern California, that was Mexico, had almost no people in it when the US fought with Mexico for that area? Millions were NOT displaced; it was almost bare.

                  The FEW sovereign families were given their due, but that DOESN’T include the millions that have crossed illegally since then.

                  Why doesn’t Mexico pull its head out its ass and fix its country so its people can stay there?

    • I don’t think local newspapers have ever been a good source of national news, as they are reduced to reprinting wire feeds, which are themselves filtered before release. Our national news media is virtually state-run.

      Locally, the newspaper publisher is usually embedded in the power structure, and is there as much to prevent news of locally powerful people from getting out as to report it. They also do not cover the activities of elected officials except to function as stenographers.

      But local newspapers are important as a diary of a community, births, deaths marriages and divorces, and the harmless news of the day on weather, crops, new business ventures, etc. They might be reduced in staff and circulation, but fill a vital function. I hope they survive. I could care less about Lee, but that building and printing press in Billings will not sit idle.

    • Small market papers do in fact face a challenge. We know that large market papers are fading away because of the number of options available for fresh local content. In small markets though, these options are not available. That is the saving grace for small market papers for the time being. As papers roll readership over to the online platform, they can offer real time breaking news, expanded content and a good opportunity to have niche content. The big problem is that these small local papers are often times owned by large groups like Lee. When the larger market papers fail then it is up to small properties to foot the bill. Hence the layoffs in recent times. The printed paper is a luxury that will not be around for long. But what other company can you think of that delivers a brand new product to your door every single day for 75 cents per day? Think about the huge obsticle they are up against. I could go on about it but you get the point. Small market papers are up against the wall in a bad way.

      • Good points.

        I get several email newsletters each day, all free. In fact, companies clamor over themselves to give me free content. Is it any less valuable than the Missoulian? That could be argued.

        My grandma just moved from Portland to Havre where she’s in a home. She had to have her Oregonian, so she gets that a couple days a week on a special subscription.

        How many people in 20 years are going to have that same attitude, 10? There’s no demand for papers, and when there’s no demand for a product, businesses die. This is capitalism and I don’t see why we’re so surprised by it, or it’s amazing ability to decrease information and knowledge to save the bottom line.

        • I’m not sure, but I think that the Oregonian is cutting down to three delivery days a week of the dead tree edition.

          Greg, here’s an historical item they will NEVER teach in school! My ancestors were mining in Colorado at the time, but they weren’t involved. The Ludlow Massacre. Those were the days when people actually fought back. If not for FDR and the war, this would have only gotten worse. The policies of FDR bought the fascists some time. But the fight is ‘acomin’, that’s for sure.

          You like history. There’s a great book about the mine wars called, Mine Seed, by Lucia Daley. Very interesting read. I recommend to all folks who love the real peoples’ history of our country.

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/rockefellers-ludlow/

        • The point that Lee is providing a PRINTED edition is not the point. That is antiquated technology. Lee is in the business of providing locally relavent content, not printing. The paper was merely a vehicle. Where is the uproar over buggy whips and 8 tracks?
          Online content is better anyway. It can be revised, updated, linked and indexed unlike print.
          We are at a tipping point in technology with regard to the paper. Just wait for a couple of years and we will be having this same discussion about cable television. I mean, who do they think they are telling me that I have to watch their show on a certain day at a certain time. On demand televison will be the next industry to explode and change our lives.

  • I suspect the next step is either cutting the print edition to three or so days a week, followed by the complete elimination of the printed paper, leaving only an online paper produced by young people working on the cheap.

    It’s happened elsewhere. Look at New Orleans and the Times Picayune, the Detroit Free Press, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

    The Lee papers are in such poor shape that management’s accepting big pay packages and bonuses approaches the moral equivalent of looting.

  • Exactly what the right needs cover for — those shady backroom deals, and what better way than not being spotted ducking into those backrooms by less reporters milling around…..

    Exactly what people like the Koch brothers want!

  • Let me sum it up.

    We got old farts not caring, their policies, Agenda 21, NDAA, censorship, looters and the Koch bros.

    Nothings squeals louder than a dying monopoly and it’s ideological comrades.

  • This original posting (by Don Pogreba) is blogging at its best, i.e., really good reporting, and you’re not likely to see this level of analysis from (for example) one of our daily newspapers!

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