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.