Yet another newspaper company still not getting it…

December 17, 2008

When I open up my laptop in the morning, I usually start my day here because as a former daily journalist, I like to keep up with the comings and goings. These days, of course, it’s mostly been goings — bankruptcy at Tribune & Co., the “sale” of the Rocky Mountain News, Detroit stopping delivery on certain days of the week, and, of course, an almost daily tally of lost jobs.

Given this backdrop, you can imagine my surprise to find this consulting agreement filed on Friday by newspaper publisher Journal Communications (JRN). While the company announced CFO Paul Bonaiuto’s resignation back in May, it waited until Friday to disclose the terms of his exit deal. While it’s true that the former CFO’s compensation isn’t hefty when compared to some of the other deals we’ve seen around, even those given to former CFO’s at other newspaper companies, like this lifetime one at Gannett (GCI), the $8,334 a month for up to 20 hours a month works out to just over $400 an hour. The consulting contract lasts for two years.

Given the buyouts in Milwaukee over the past year (see here and here), the sagging stock price as well as the dissident slate circling the company, the deal seems about as well thought out as the auto executives flying their corporate jets to beg Congress for bailout money.

UPDATE: This story in the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee notes that the company recently eliminated another 39 jobs on top of 130 eliminated in August.

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