Tag Archives: Victor Hanson III

Alabamian Pam Siddall named Birmingham News president and publisher

First time in 100 years without a Hanson at the helm

The Birmingham News named Pam Siddall as president and publisher today. The Phenix City native spent the last 2 years a publisher of The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, part of the McClatchy chain.

Siddall, 41, starts Jan. 11, replacing Victor Hanson III, who retired in December. A member of the Hanson family had served as publisher of the daily Advance Publications newspaper since 1909.

Siddall, the News’ first female president and publisher, said in a written statement:

“I am thrilled to be the next publisher at The Birmingham News. … The Birmingham News has an outstanding reputation as the leading source of news, information and commentary — in print and online.  I am extremely excited about working with the team to embrace the transformation into a 24/7 multimedia organization.”

She was also the Eagle’s first female publisher. Her last day there is Friday.

Siddall graduated summa cum laude from Columbus State University in Georgia with a bachelor of arts degree in accounting. Her past experience (via her LinkedIn profile):

  • President and Publisher, Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer, August 2004 – November 2007
    • Vice President & General Manager, December 2003 – August 2004
  • Vice President, Chief Financial Officer/Circulation, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, March 2001 – December 2003
  • Chief Financial Officer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, May 1997 – March 2001
  • Division Controller, Russell Corporation, February 1994 – March 1997
  • Senior Financial Analyst, WC Bradley, January 1993 – February 1994
    • Junior Analyst, May 1991 – January 1993

She also has profiles on Facebook and Twitter (@siddallAUfan).

Photo: Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle

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EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham News offers buyouts to employees across the board

The Birmingham News offered buyouts today to employees, the third round of buyouts in 16 months. Media of Birmingham has learned that all employees will be eligible this round, regardless of number of years of service or full-time or part-time status.

Birmingham NewsPast buyouts were limited to those with at least 5 years of service.

Our insiders tell us that full-time employees taking the buyout would receive 2 weeks of pay for every year of service, while part-time employees would receive 1 week of pay for every year of service. Both are capped at 6 months.

The daily newspaper is looking for “substantial staff reductions,” this time, but says no layoffs are planned for Feb. 6, when the Advance Publications’ “no layoff” pledge expires. The newspaper has not only faced an advertising shortfall because of the down economy but also a 10.8 percent drop in weekday circulation.

Earlier this year, the News cut benefits and required furloughs.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham News will look for a publisher to replace recently retired publisher Victor Hanson III.

Update Dec. 9: Another insider tells us that the buyouts have been offered at the other two Advance newspapers in Alabama: the Huntsville Times and the Press-Register in Mobile. Also, the buyouts are apparently limited to non-union employees.

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More changes at the top for the Birmingham News

Publisher retires, but what’s next?

Back in August, we reported that Advance Publications gave oversight responsibilities for the Birmingham News to new president Ricky Mathews. It appears that may have precipitated the latest major shakeup at the News, with publisher Victor Hanson III retiring Dec. 1. No word yet as to who will be tapped to replace him.

Hanson, the fourth family member to serve as publisher, will retire at age 53 after 8 years at the top position. He’s not the only Advance publisher leaving: Fred A. Stickel of the Oregonian in Portland retired in September at age 87 after 35 years. (Hat tip Inside Out McwFlint.)

One definite ripple effect from Mathews’ hire is a lawsuit by former (Mobile) Press-Register publisher Howard Bronson against Advance:

Bronson said Newhouse officials in July 2009 reneged on a longstanding job security pledge for the paper’s employees and in August told him that he had two weeks to leave.

A message left with Mark Newhouse was not immediately returned.

Lagniappe, Mobile’s alternative newspaper, has more details on Bronson’s lawsuit.

Media of Birmingham broke the story about Advance’s ending of the no-layoffs policy, often called the Newhouse Pledge. A former Press-Register reporter offers his take on the pledge’s demise.

Who will take over the News, Alabama’s largest newspaper? And will the News and Press-Register begin layoffs in February when the pledge expires?

EXCLUSIVE: Birmingham News cuts salaries through 2010, eliminates most part-time positions

Most part-time positions eliminated; furloughs ended

Media of Birmingham learned through Twitter that the Birmingham News is cutting salaries. Our newsroom sources indicate that salaries will be cut 5 to 8 percent, based on salary level, through 2010.

ike-pigott-tweet-birmingham-news

Also, the News has offered voluntary buyouts to employees with five or more years experience. The newspaper offered its first ever round of buyouts in 2008 and started mandatory furloughs and a benefits freeze in March.

The News has ended its furloughs.

In addition, the News is cutting most part-time positions in the coming months. No word on how many positions will be affected.

dshirey-tweet

Lastly, it appears that the News is dropping internships, too, according to a Twitter update from University of Georgia student Daniel Shirey.

The budget cuts come at an odd time: While print and online readership are both up for the Birmingham News, advertising remains down.

Also: Kyle Whitmire at the Birmingham Weekly has more specifics on the salary cuts. The Weekly is also reporting that the Birmingham News will close suburban bureaus by the end of summer.

Update: Publisher Victor Hanson III says, “It is imperative that we maintain a robust, independent voice for news and commentary in Birmingham, as well as an effective vehicle for our advertisers.” (Birmingham News: “Birmingham News announces employee pay cuts”)

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kpoythress-tweets

Also, Anniston-based Consolidated Publishing cut salaries 10 percent today for all employees at all of its newspapers, including the Anniston Star, (Talladega) Daily Home and the Jacksonville News. The news comes from a series of tweets by Daily Home reporter Katherine Poythress.

The Star laid off 15 employees in November.

Birmingham News cuts costs with 2-week unpaid leave, benefits freeze

The Birmingham News is cutting costs to battle the tough economy. Full-time non-union employees will take 10-day unpaid leave. Also, the newspaper will freeze benefit accruals in the pension plan starting May 15, though it will double 401(k) company matching.

Publisher Victor Hanson III cited declining advertising as the problem. In 2008, the News reduced staff with voluntary buyouts and early retirements.

Also:

Birmingham News cutting back

Birmingham News

Birmingham News

Also: Newhouse shutting down wire service

Some are calling 2008 the worst year ever for newspapers, citing declines in ad revenues.

Like many newspapers this year, the Birmingham News is trimming its operations by offering buyouts and early retirement to employees:

The Birmingham News Co. is offering voluntary buyouts or early retirement to a limited number of employees, Publisher Victor Hanson III said Friday. The issue is revenue, not readership, Hanson stressed. “Our readership is as high as it has been since 2004, and our online home at al.com is the most-visited local Web site in Alabama,” he said. The number of buyouts will depend on how many employees accept the offer, he said, but it will be limited by department and job category to protect the essential missions of the newspaper to inform and serve the community.

Meanwhile, Newhouse News Service is shutting down after Election Day.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newhouse News Service, a supplemental wire service founded in 1961, will close on Nov. 7, after the election.

The news service is also the Washington bureau of Advance Publications Inc. of New York, which owns 26 daily newspapers.

“The decision to close followed the direction of our clients, the editors of our papers,” said Linda Fibich, editor and Washington bureau chief. “They felt they could not afford to pay for a central Washington bureau at a time when they were steering all available resources to local coverage back at home.”

The news service has 24 employees. Of those, 11 are reporters who write for specific newspapers and “are being offered opportunities to join the staffs of those newspapers,” Fibich said. “Whether the individual papers maintain a presence in Washington is up to each individual paper.”

Advance Publications owns both the wire service and the Birmingham News. Fortunately, Washington correspondent Mary Orndorff will continue her beat for the News, even as NNS folds.