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Observer cuts staff to tackle industry challenges

These are challenging times for most businesses. The Observer has been running a series of stories about individuals and companies coping in the economic downturn. Now our newspaper is thrust into the news because of cutbacks announced Monday by our corporate parent McClatchy.

McClatchy is losing 1,400 jobs over its 30 newspapers. The corporate officers and the leadership team at the Observer agonized over the loss of 123 jobs here. With that decision comes disruption for valued employees and their families. We will face challenges in coping with their absences.

When I joined the Observer as its publisher in 2006, I knew we were in the midst of a changing business model. What I had not imagined is the tough economic conditions that are testing all of us. Just as you have probably had to change your family's budget to cope with rising fuel prices and other cost increases, we must as well. This downturn hastened our need to restructure our company.

There is no question that this is the most difficult thing newspaper publishers have ever done. But realigning our cost structure is crucial to ensure our mission.

The business has changed drastically since I started at the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1984. The newspaper industry was a stable and traditional enterprise, and at the time, its environment did not seem to be a place where a young woman's career could blossom. But I found I loved the business and thrived in it. Within my first two years, it became apparent that technology would change our destiny. Our business also became more diverse, creating new opportunities for many of us.

Today, more and more of you are getting your news on the Internet. You are getting your local news from charlotte.com, our Web site. Our challenge is to keep the newspaper coming to your home even as demand is growing on the Internet.

Newspapers nationwide have had to make cutbacks because of these changes. And now, we've had to make some difficult decisions about the Observer in order to keep our organization prepared for the future.

We will still be the best source for local news and information about our growing region. We will still be the largest news staff in the Carolinas. We will still be unrelenting in our pursuit of public service journalism.

The first priority of the publisher is to ensure our mission and our independence by making the company financially secure and healthy. Today, a newspaper publisher must have a vision that incorporates this changing landscape of print and internet media.

The Charlotte Observer is more than a newspaper. We are a thriving Internet company, a publisher of successful magazines and a keeper of this community's history. With charlotte.com and Observer readership combined, we reach more readers than we ever have. Our Internet revenue growth has been in the double digits for several years. We will be a public trust in this community for many, many years to come.

I have been a publisher since 2002, starting in Columbia, S.C. The importance of our mission is what makes me want to come to work every day. I enjoy managing organizations through times of change, and this certainly qualifies. I come from a family of avid newspaper readers, and I would be absolutely lost without my Observer.

Our organization will be different as we move forward, but we will still have a strong, talented staff focusing on delivering local news, advertising and guidance about enjoying our community. We will be successful. We will work harder than ever to keep your trust.

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