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Forum staff reports, Published March 13 2009

The Forum announces staff cuts

The Forum, facing deteriorating economic conditions, announced Thursday the elimination of the equivalent of 25 full-time positions.

“We are unsure how long the current and projected economic conditions will last,” said James Boberg, The Forum’s general manager.

“It is imperative that we align our expenses to current and projected market conditions by ‘rightsizing’ our business plan,” he said.

Employee buyouts and layoffs have become common at newspapers across the country as advertisers spend more money online and as the Internet splinters the traditional newspaper audience. Newspapers also are feeling the effects of a nationwide economic downturn.

Several newspapers in the region, including the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, have cut employees in recent years.

Despite the cuts at The Forum, “Our print and online products remain healthy and provide great value to our customers,” Boberg said.

The cuts are being made through eliminating positions, hourly cutbacks and wage and expense reductions.

Every department of the newspaper is affected, Boberg said.

This is the second round of job cuts this year at The Forum.

The newspaper last month announced the elimination of 21 full-time positions.

Before the two rounds of job cuts, The Forum had the equivalent of 240 full-time employees.

The cuts are unrelated to employees’ performance, Boberg said. Severance packages are being provided for full-time staff members whose jobs were eliminated.

The other 34 newspapers in four states owned by Fargo-based Forum Communications also are making cuts, Boberg said.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald announced Thursday it was cutting eight full-time positions. The Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune went through two rounds of employee cuts last year.

Both papers are owned by Forum Communications.