— AH Belo to cut 500 jobs: And by the way, the Dallas Morning News publisher won’t be covering reporters’ parking fees in downtown Dallas anymore either. Buried in a staff memo, CEO Bob Decherd said he will have more details on the job reductions by mid-February. He also informed staffers at DMN and two other dailies that Bain & Company has been tapped to consult on further cost savings programs.
— Newspaper site traffic rose 12 percent in ’08: Although the Newspaper Association of America doesn’t package its revenue data for easy consumption anymore, it does provide audience numbers. Last year, 7.3 million more people visited a newspaper website bringing total online readership to 67.3 million unique visitors, an increase of 12.1 percent over the previous year, NAA said, citing Nielsen Online. Monthly unique visitors during the fourth quarter of 2008 averaged 68.2 million, an 8.6 percent increase over the same period a year ago (62.8 million).
— MediaNews orders unpaid furloughs: Following the path taken by Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and The Seattle Times, the publisher of the San Jose Mercury News and about 50 other papers are forcing its 3,300 non-union employees to take a week off without pay. It may also ask the 1,100 union members to do the same, saying the the measures are designed to save costs and avoid further layoffs. The furloughs are scheduled between Feb. 1 and March 31.
More after the jump…
— WaPo shuts book reviews in print, but revamps on web: With book publishers suffering as much as anyone else, the Washington Post has decided to fold the Sunday book review section into the paper’s Style section. At the same time, the online section will be rebranded as “Book World.” The changes will appear the third week in February.
— McClatchy scraps dividend after Q1: The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.9 per share payable April 1. That will be a particularly auspicious date, as the publisher said it will suspend its quarterly dividend after paying the first quarter 2009 dividend “for the foreseeable future” to preserve cash for debt repayment. Alan Mutter wonders what this move could mean for CEO Gary Pruitt. He writes: “With Pruitt no longer attending the trust meetings as the dividends dry up, who knows where the conversation might go?”
— Landmark adds salary freeze to unpaid furlough plan: If it’s not layoffs these days, it’s furloughs. And if it’s not furloughs, it’s pay freezes. Landmark Communications, publisher of Norfolk’s The Virginian-Pilot, will use the last two methods to save expenses and avoid job cuts.