In an email to local and area managers, Paxton Media Group said, “To help streamline our efficiencies and processes, and to keep pace with changes in our own industry, we’ve decided it’s best to eliminate our open office hours to the public completely, for the remaining publications in our group.”
The meaning of “remaining publications in our group” was unclear. The memo seen by The Rural Blog was sent at least to managers of some papers in Kentucky and southern Indiana, and was a topic of discussion among Kentucky employees last week.
The memo was sent last week and gave a target date of Wednesday, Feb. 1. Paxton managers declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment on such questions as possible layoffs.
The memo began, “As we all know, the newspaper industry has changed dramatically over the last several years, and especially since the Covid pandemic. Things that we used to see as normal business practices have developed into something completely. We are not unique, as industries all over the globe have changed how they do business.”
In recent years Paxton, a family-owned firm based in Paducah, Ky., has become the fifth largest newspaper company in the U.S., in terms of the number of newspapers owned; it has about 125.
The memo anticipated unhappiness: “While we know there are going to be concerns over the inconveniences and perception this might create from a community standpoint, other offices within our company and other newspaper companies have already implemented this practice with nominal fallout, so we know it can be done successfully. Yes, this will be a different approach as to how we run our daily business, but the business world has changed how daily business is conducted.”
It made an attempt to limit the fallout: “Ultimately, the community is going to channel the opinions of those in each office, so addressing frustrations internally while being positive externally will be crucial to a more seamless transition.”