Media General to Shutter 30-year-old Washington Bureau
March 13, 2009
RICHMOND: Media General is closing down its news bureau in Washington, D.C., the company said today. The bureau and its Web site will be no more as of March 27. The six journalists at the bureau will be offered severance, the company said. The bureau feeds Media General’s (NYSE: MEG) broadcast, newspaper and online properties.
“We very much regret having to take this step,” said Graham Woodlief, president of the publishing division. "However, as the economy continues to contract, and businesses and consumers continue to reduce spending, our advertising revenues have been adversely affected at unprecedented levels…. we must continue to find ways to align our costs with the available revenue.”
The D.C. bureau was established 30 years ago, and was reorganized last year into a “multimedia” team with a “Web-first” approach targeting MEG’s 10-state regional footprint, the company said.
Former Washington Bureau Chief John Hall, who retired in 2006, created the bureau in 1979. Marsha Mercer has served as bureau chief since 2003. The office is located in the National Press Building.
Media General’s combined newspaper, online and broadcast divisions posted a 4Q08 loss of $85.5 million, compared to a profit of $9.6 million one year previous, on revenues of $207 million and $235 million, respectively. For the full year ending Dec. 28, 2008, the company posted a net loss of $632 million on revenues of more than $800 million, down from a profit of $10.7 million on revenues of $899 million for 2007. – Deborah D. McAdams