Tampa Bay Times employee pay cut continues

When we reported on the salary reductions back in September, one reporter told CL that the cutbacks were "testing the morale" of many of the staff at the Tampa Bay Times. But sources tell CL that this time around the news was not as surprising.

Read the Tash memo:

January 17, 2012

To: My Times Colleagues

From: Paul Tash

We need to extend the temporary 5 percent pay reduction — and the extra days off — a while longer.

Last September, when this trade-off took effect, we said it would last through this month. Since then, we have made strong financial progress. The expense reductions have clearly worked, but as 2011 came to a close, signals about revenue were mixed.

When it is clear that Times’ revenues are growing again, our pay as staffers can grow, too. To me, general economic signs seem a little more encouraging, and I firmly believe that the Tampa Bay Times will command a steadily greater share of newspaper publishing revenue. The launch is off to a terrific start.

We will take stock of our position again in May, when we have results for the first four months of 2012 (including Easter), and will report back to you then. Despite the extension, we will still regard this measure as temporary. While it continues, you will keep getting an extra day off per month.

I thank you deeply for your patience, and I pledge that we will not draw upon it any longer than necessary. As staffers, the best thing we can do is take every possible dollar of revenue for the Tampa Bay Times. That is the route to success for the company, and for ourselves.

Last fall, Tampa Bay Times employees were informed that they would need to take a 5 percent pay cut until (at least) this January.

On Tuesday, those same employees learned that the salary reduction will continue at least into May. But unlike last September, the reaction among staff members has not been as visceral, according to employees who spoke with CL. That may be due in part to the fact that Times CEO Paul Tash warned last fall that the pay cut could last longer than January.

In his memo to employees on Tuesday, Tash sent a somewhat contradictory message, asserting that the paper has made "strong financial progress" since those pay cuts went into effect and that the reductions have "clearly worked."

But he also writes that as 2011 ended, signals about revenue were "mixed."

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