Freedom Communications is enforcing a mandatory two-week furlough for staff of its Southern California newspapers, just two months after the publisher launched new daily paper the Los Angeles Register.
The paper’s leadership cast the work stoppage as a way to provide immediate savings and “minimal disruptions” to customers and advertisers, according to a staff memo obtained by rival OC Weekly.
“We are continually evaluating how we can maximize growth based on what is working well, and making necessary adjustments when needed,” publisher Aaron Kushner said in the memo. “A furlough was one of many options considered that provides the immediate savings benefit we were seeking, while ensuring there is minimal disruption on delivering our valuable products and services to our customers and advertisers.”
Kushner assured staff the furloughs, to take place during June and July, did not mean the OC Register was in “really bad shape” but a reflection of rising costs outpacing growth.
“Overall revenue from our three core areas of business – subscriptions, advertising and commercial printing – have grown within the past two years,” Kushner wrote. “Despite this progress, our company’s expenses have outpaced the growth of its revenues. As we learn from our investments and align our cost structure in the short term with what we now know we can achieve in revenue growth, it better positions us for permanent and long-term profitability.”
The mandatory furlough aims to provide immediate relief for those expenses, but Kushner does not say whether the unpaid work periods will save jobs in the long run. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Freedom Communications sales team has already been downsized.
Freedom also owns the Long Beach Register, which recently switched from a daily to a weekly edition, and launched the Los Angeles Register in April as a direct competitor to regional dailies like the Los Angeles Times.