This morning’s News story details the cuts: 40 of the 390 newsroom staffers will go. All things considered, 40 isn’t too bad when 14 percent are supposed to be cut company-wide. Many people I talked to expected more, which means the cuts at the three other papers will be awful. Quick, The News’ entertainment-oriented sibling, will become a weekly, apparently to compete with the Observer. This raises one of those fine metaphysical newspaper questions. If you can’t sell any ads as a daily, can you sell any ads as a weekly?
Wall Street has been unimpressed. A.H. Belo stock, The News’ parent, is down 17 percent this morning. Oops – just lost another half percentage point. More ominously, Goldman Sachs cut its rating on Belo from hold to sell, based on the company’s "unprecedented revenue declines."
• Former News TV critic Ed Bark’s commentary is as good as you’re going to find. “Still, many of us who experienced the constant re-directions and boondoggles demanded by Belo upper management can’t help but wonder whether it really had to come to this in such a big damned hurry,” he writes.
• Robert Wilonsky at the Observer has made the necessary phone calls, in true reportorial fashion. He has a stronger stomach than I do. Wilonsky says that Briefing, the upscale free daily that has the potential to be The News’ next Cue Cat, will delay its launch from Aug. 22 to Aug. 27. And was that my old pal Bill Minutaglio standing up for The News in the comments to Wilonsky’s post?
• Something I forgot to mention yesterday. A.H. Belo will consider eliminating its dividend at its September board meeting, which is never a good sign.
• And, most importantly, how will this affect Cowboys coverage? I’m not being flip, either. Every newspaper type who comes to town from elsewhere is stunned to find out how many people and how much money The News spends on covering the Cowboys. It’s more than almost any other paper anywhere else spends on covering their top pro team. Boss Bob Decherd’s letter to shareholders yesterday talked about cutting discretionary travel expenses, and sending upwards of a dozen people to a Cowboys road game is about as discretionary as you can get.
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