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'Suburban Journals' Lays Off 20 Employees

Close to 20 employees have been laid off from Town and Country-based "Suburban Journals," according to its publisher.

Twenty employees have been laid off from Town and Country-based  , states a press release issued by the company Wednesday afternoon.

One former employee, a member of the editorial staff, who was laid off Tuesday, said employees were notified over the phone after work Tuesday by the publication's publisher Dave Bundy and Human Resources Director Judy Buhrman.

“I got a call last night that they had 20 cuts, and unfortunately, my job was once of those cut. They cited seniority for those of us who were laid off," said the employee, who only agreed to speak with Patch as long as his name was not mentioned for fear his severance package would be compromised.

The employee told Town and Country - Manchester Patch that most workers were given a severance package offering one week’s pay per year of employment. He said most of the people who lost their jobs were in the editorial division, including two sports writers from stlhighschoolsports.com, the company which writes sports coverage for the Suburban Journals. However, he said at least one receptionist was laid off.

“I understand the business aspect of this. They've lost money and they need to do things like this and this is how business works. I understand why it happened. It’s just tough to deal with. It’s just crazy to me how quickly people’s lives can change in an instant," the former employee said.

This news comes after a previous report by Town and Country-Manchester Patch that in June.

Town and Country-Manchester Patch contacted Bundy for a comment on the lay offs. In response to that request, Bundy's assistant emailed Patch the following press release:

"Beginning next week, the Suburban Journals will expand digital coverage of community news in the Greater St. Louis area while streamlining its schedule of print publications.

“Focusing more on digital news delivery in some areas frees us from the weekly print cycle and allows us to continue providing the best community coverage available to the Greater St. Louis area,” said Publisher Dave Bundy, “Our print Journals, digital coverage and niche products provide a full array of ways to serve readers and advertisers, and we can use the medium or combination that works best for the message.

"Among the changes, the Journals will discontinue publication of full Sunday Journals in St. Charles County and Illinois after Aug. 28. Instead, stories and photos will be updated daily in a more timely manner, and sports stories will be updated frequently over the weekend on the award-winning stlhighschoolsports.com.

"The Wednesday editions in North St. Louis County and Monroe, St. Clair and Jefferson counties will also be discontinued after the Sept. 7 issue. News from those communities will be provided around the clock on our 47 community news sites at stltoday.com/neighborhoods. Also, expanded coverage of prep, college and community sports will be available on stlhighschoolsports.com.

"The Journals will continue to publish six Wednesday print editions in western and eastern St. Charles County, West and South St. Louis County, Collinsville and Granite City.

"Bundy said shifts in coverage are part of a staff reorganization that will result in the elimination of 20 positions."

Lee Enterprises is the parent company of the Suburban Journals, as well as stlhighschoolsports.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

The laid-off employee said it was very similar timing .

In addition, according to a RFT and St. Louis Post Dispatch article, in 2008, the Suburban Journals cut jobs in August and September, plus shut down a printing operation in April. The RFT reported in another article that rounds of layoffs at the Journals began in 2005 and the publications stocks have been heading downward since that time.

“What I’m guessing is that since August is the end of the fiscal quarter for Lee Enterprises, I guess that is the time when they take these cuts into consideration," the former employee told Patch. "They did it in 2008."

Meanwhile, the Riverfront Times reports Lee Enterprises recently mailed buyout offers to approximately 150 St. Louis employees.

Debbie Mizerany August 25, 2011 at 01:24 AM
I stopped reading the West County Journal years ago, when they started charging for something they had always delivered for free. Now I have the Patch... and couldn't be happier! A free community news outlet that really focuses on the community! If they are wanting to compete with the Patch in the digital news market, they've got a long way to go. Keep up the great work Gabrielle & staff!!! You will always be my first pick for online community news. :)
Lee Presser August 25, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Reading between the lines in Bundy's assistant's email, the journal Newspapers see the success of Patch.com and are about to copy it.

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