Mountain Xpress employees will see an across-the-board cut in pay of between 5 and 10 percent effective Jan. 1, owner and publisher Jeff Fobes announced Friday.
The Asheville-based newsweekly has seen a recent decline in classified and retail advertising, Fobes said. The corresponding decline in revenue, which is likely to extend into 2009, has forced the Xpress to look at a variety of cost-cutting measures, he said.
“Our strategy is to share the pain, so we’re instituting a company-wide pay cut,” Fobes said. “Everyone feels the pain; everyone should have input into what must be an evolving response to the economy.”
The national economy, hit hard by a mortgage crisis and a credit crunch, has exacerbated pressures felt by newspapers struggling to find successful new business models on the Internet. Newspaper companies across the U.S. have laid off thousands of workers, scaled back print editions and scrambled to deal with sharp drops in advertising revenues this year.
The 14-year-old Xpress circulates 29,000 free copies in and around Asheville and employs 38 people. The newspaper produces popular local guides, such as the Green Building Directory and Asheville Eats & Drinks, and is online at www.mountainx.com. Earlier this year, the Xpress announced that it would keep its retail advertising rates unchanged for the third year in a row.
Fobes said he was optimistic about the newspaper’s future.
“We have a strong team at Xpress, and I think this challenge is about to make us stronger,” Fobes said.
“Because of our local focus, I believe, we’re integral to the evolution and growth of the Asheville area. The plan is to stay that way — promoting the local dialogue and helping local merchants get the word out about the unique and creative things they’re doing.”