As It Launches TV Ads, Express-News' Parent Promises No Job Cuts During Coronavirus Crisis


  • Courtesy Photo / San Antonio Express-News
Despite all the grim news lately, San Antonio news junkies have reason to celebrate.

Hearst Corp., the owner of the San Antonio Express-News, has informed its newsroom employees that it plans no layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by the nonprofit Poynter Institute.

What's more, Hearst — which hasn't run TV spots in San Antonio in years — is taking out six-figure ad buys here and in other markets to promote its papers' coverage of the crisis, Poynter also reports.

The local ads, which started running this week, feature splashy graphics showing off the E-N's coverage of the outbreak and its economic consequences.

Citing anonymous sources who were on a conference call between Hearst CEO Steven Swartz and editors and publishers, Poynter says the company is giving a 1% bonus to all employees. Also in the works are a bonus merit pool and a waiver of the budget targets that set bonuses for execs.

Express-News Editor-in-Chief Marc Duvoisin declined to verify details of the Hearst call. However, he said the company's pledge not to cut staff has been a morale booster at a time when staffers are personally experiencing the disaster they're covering.

"This is a story where everyone on staff is living the story as well as reporting on it," he said. "It helps those people to know that there's a sense of security, that the company has their backs."

The moves come as other news organizations, including the Current, have been forced to furlough staff to survive a steep falloff in ad dollars during the pandemic.

They also stand in contrast to Hearst's past belt tightening moves in San Antonio, which has included putting its downtown building on the market last summer and cutting both sales staff and senior newsroom employees in 2018.

The Express-News has around 100 editorial employees.

Adds Poynter: "It helps that Hearst is a private company, a diverse and rich one. Its magazine division with Cosmopolitan and other titles was a growth engine for many years. And along the way it has made many shrewd investments in digital businesses and established an international footprint."

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