Belo managers get bonuses as layoffs loom

Tense times these days on Fountain Street, where ProJo staffers face the fallout of Belo's recently announced plans to cut some 500 jobs company-wide.

Adding insult to injury (Dallas Observer via Romenesko):

On Friday, A.H. Belo Corporation announced that it would, yet again, lay off about 500 more workers at all of its properties, among them The Dallas Morning News and The Providence Journal. At the same time, Belo managers, in the newspaper group and in the corporate offices, were receiving bonuses promised to them at the beginning of 2008 if they hit "quantifiable financial targets," says A.H. Belo executive vice president Jim Moroney III today. Moroney tells Unfair Park the timing was indeed "unfortunate," which is why he has been meeting with unhappy News employees ever since -- to explain why the bonuses were given, and to insist that no further bonuses will be handed out for the foreseeable future.

After the jump is a Q&A conducted this afternoon with the publisher and chief executive officer of The Dallas Morning News, in which he addresses the bonuses, the profitability of Dallas's Only Daily and whether or not it will begin charging for some online content in the near future. This is "hand-to-hand combat," Moroney says in between meetings with employees. "I don't think there's an industry, except maybe grocery stores, being spared in this economy. But we were hit earlier and deeper."

I understand that on the day layoffs were being announced, bonuses were given to A.H. Belo executives. How did that happen?

Well, first off, these were managers at different levels. "Executives" almost sounds too exclusive. There were bonuses paid to managers across the operating companies and our corporate staff based on quantifiable targets communicated individually to any employee who had the opportunity to earn a bonus at the beginning of 2008. And if those audited financial targets were achieved, a bonus would be paid. In every case where the quantified financial target was met, those bonues, according to the document those individuals got at the beginning of '08, was paid accordingly. And it's completely quantifiable. There were no discretionary bonuses paid to anybody. In fact, it's not even set up that way.

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