Boston Herald furloughs 30 employees
Newsrooms battered by coronavirus downturn
THE MAJORITY OF the Boston Herald’s workforce will be furloughed in the coming weeks, as steep cutbacks in advertising from coronavirus shutdowns continue to devastate already troubled newspapers across the country.
The Herald, which has 30 news and sports reporters, advertising, and circulation staff, will impose furloughs of between two to five unpaid weeks, beginning Monday and lasting through June 30, according to an internal email sent to reporters and staff by parent company Media News Group on Thursday.
The furloughs include seven full-time reporters and the seven members of the paper’s photography staff.
The Boston Newspaper Guild union, which represents the Herald employees along with those at the Boston Globe, made a joint announcement of the furloughs with Marshall W. Anstandig, senior vice president and general counsel of Media News Group.
Full-time and part-time employees covering news and photography in the editorial bargaining unit will take four weeks off, in one-week increments, beginning on Monday. While furloughed, staffers can collect unemployment and seek freelance work.
“The company will not contest unemployment claims filed by employees who are furloughed,” the Guild and Media News Group wrote.
Sports and sales department employees will have to take five weeks off. Circulation employees will be asked to take two weeks of furlough.
Employees approached about the cutbacks declined to comment out of fear of retribution.
Vacation and paid time off can’t be used to offset furlough time. Health and life insurance benefits will continue. There is a possibility the furlough could end before June 30.
Over the next three months, there will be no layoffs of union members at the Herald, as part of the terms of the agreement. Nine employees were laid off a few weeks ago in a first round of coronavirus-related cutbacks.
The union declined to comment on the memo, but tweeted out on Friday, “The Herald newsroom — like scores of others across the country — is buckling down as budgets tighten amid widespread coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns.”
Earlier this week, employees at digital newsroom MassLive were told they will face pay cuts and furloughs through the end of the year.Meanwhile, North of Boston news group’s regional publisher Karen Andreas announced Wednesday that the Eagle Tribune, Gloucester Times, Salem News, and Newburyport News would stop publishing print editions two days per week.
Society of Professional Journalists’ New England Chapter announced Friday it will provide furloughed employees, and those with hours cut at news organizations a $100 check as a part of its Pandemic Relief Fund.