Morris newspapers' content is distributed nationally through the Morris News Service. Some of this content is reprinted in The Rockmart Journal and The Cedartown Standard -- however, the local Polk County newspapers are not otherwise affiliated with the Morris company.
The Morris company had already reduced personnel and cut some services. For example, a weekly food page that had been distributed through Morris News Service -- and sometimes reprinted in The Cedartown Standard -- was discontinued in January.
A Morris spokesman said the pay cuts were an additional necessary, albeit difficult, step needed for the financial health of the newspaper chain.
"This is very painful for us, for the Morris family,'' said William S. Morris III, chairman of the company. "We've done everything we can to put it off."
In his memo to employees, Morris said, "As you are all acutely aware, the newspaper business is facing unprecedented challenges. Just yesterday, after 126 continuous years of publishing, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed its last edition. Other newspapers have sought protection from creditors in bankruptcy court, severely cut back on their publishing schedules or abandoned the business entirely.
"Morris Communications so far has been able to avoid such far-reaching action. We continue to talk to our lenders and bondholders to seek a sustainable restructuring of our debt. But we must also do what is necessary to try to keep our operating costs in line with declining revenues."
Morris employees who make less than $25,000 per year will have a 5 percent wage reduction; those who earn at least $25,000 but less than $50,000 will have a 7.5 percent reduction and those earning $50,000 or more will have a 10 percent reduction.
Morris said the pay cuts are the least painful way to preserve the greatest number of jobs in this very difficult environment.
Morris Communications, which is based in Augusta, has diversified holdings that include newspaper and magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution, visitor publications and online services.
Morris Publishing Group was formed in 2001 and assumed the operations of the newspaper business segment of its former parent, Morris Communications Co.
The company has a concentrated presence in the Southeast, with four major newspapers: The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), The Augusta Chronicle, the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News and the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald.
Morris Publishing Group's other nine daily newspapers are: Amarillo Globe-News; Bluffton (S.C.) Today; Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch; Juneau (Alaska) Empire; Log Cabin Democrat, Conway, Ark.; Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; Peninsula Clarion, Kenai, Alaska; The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record; The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal.
Morris Publishing also has 13 non-daily newspapers, five free community newspapers and three city magazines.