The Media

Mary Junck and the Death of the American Newspaper (At Least Ours)

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It was an astonishing display of corporate greed and malfeasance a few months ago when Lee Enterprises announced that it had given a $500,000 bonus to CEO Mary Junck at the same time the paper chain was laying off workers and losing vast sums of money.

Today, Jim Romanesko is reporting that Lee has given CEO Mary Junck yet another bonus, this time because a committee “concluded that Ms. Junck’s compensation, including equity-based compensation, is substantially below that of her peers in the newspaper industry.” To be fair, this announcement came on the heels of a narrowed loss of “only” $1.5 million.

Junck’s mismanagement of Lee Enterprises is perhaps measured best by the latest bonus compensation she’s received from the Lee board: 500,000 shares of stock.

A princely gift, no doubt, but one whose value has been diminished somewhat. When Junk became CEO of Lee in 2001, those shares would have been worth around $15 million dollars. Today, they are worth just over $600,000. Certainly the kind of work that demands a reward.

As has become the norm for Lee Enterprises, the news of Junck’s compensation increase comes on the heels of more layoffs, this time 23 staffers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Among those laid off were 23 year veteran food editor Judith Evans, who received no warning before losing her position.

But the rich have to eat, right?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-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.

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  • To be fair, Lee did outperform every average for about five years after Junck became CEO. The fact that she got a $500,000 bonus for rolling out a completely worthless recovery plan after they tanked, on the other hand, is an extremely far cry from fair. If Lee’s board feels so inclined to give a bonus to any one member of the ultra rich, it should probably be Warren Buffett as he boots Junck’s ass out of the door.

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