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Cleveland.com Owner Advance Local Announces Furloughs, Pay Cuts

The company managing cleveland.com has announced furloughs, pay cuts and additional changes for employees in an effort to save money during the pandemic, according to Advance Local.

Workers making more than $35,000 annually will receive pay cuts ranging from 2 percent to 20 percent depending on income level, CEO Caroline Harrison wrote in a memo to employees. The reductions will be in effect through December, Harrison said, though there will be a re-evaluation of the situation in September.

“Like every other local news and information company in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant decline in our revenue,” Harrison said. “And, just like the vast majority of these companies, it is necessary for us to take some immediate steps to mitigate our losses and protect our long-term viability.”

Advance Local is part of Advance, the company that manages the 178-year-old Plain Dealer, where a majority of the unionized workers were laid off in recent weeks. The newspaper has just four reporters left in the newsroom. Combined with cleveland.com, the outlets have 70 reporters covering Northeast Ohio.

Most of the Plain Dealer’s loses were “strictly financial,” according to Editor Tim Warsinskey, but some were the result of a management decision to send reporters to cover outlying counties instead of continuing with their established Cleveland-area beats.

Most Advance Local employees will need to take one week of furlough before the end of May, according to Harrison’s memo. “Local market” content and production employees have until July 31 to take their furlough, and the furlough periods must be taken in one-week increments, the memo said. Healthcare will still be available during to employees during that time.

The company anticipates most employees will need to take a second week of furlough, but will evaluate in June whether to continue with that plan.

“We greatly value each and every employee and need your contributions now and when the country starts returning to some semblance of normalcy,” Harrison said.

The company is also suspending its 401(k) matching program from May through December 2020, according to the memo.

“We were on a positive track before the pandemic hit us and with your efforts, we will work towards getting back on that course,” Harrison said. “We are on this journey together.”

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