Knight discloses at annual state of the company address

A red-faced Tim Knight told Guild members that it was “none of our business” how Wrapports’ investments are faring. Knight refused to disclose how Splash, The Grid and the other $2o million spent recently in investments were doing.

Guild Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum said after Knight’s presentation, “Of course it is our business. When Wrapports investors pour $20 million into Aggrego, Grid, Splash and High School Cube and then it decides to terminate all of our photographers. What Wrapports does has a significant impact on our members.”

Knight’s refusal to disclose the financial health of Sun-Times Media’s parent company’s investments was part of the annual State of the Company address on Tuesday, Aug. 20. Knight, Jim Kirk, Ted Rilea and Paul Pham spoke to Craig Rosenbaum and members of the bargaining committee.
“Once again, I found out that Sun-Times Media is losing money but revenue made by Wrapports is still unclear. It seems management wants to keep it that way. And once again, the company representatives cry broke and want us to be satisfied with little we have,” said Guild President Dave Pollard.
Knight painted a grim picture of the media industry. Revenue, circulation and ad sales are all down, both at Sun-Times Media and nationally. At the conclusion of his address, Knight fielded questions from the Guild. Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum asked the questions on behalf of the bargaining committee.
“Why did you let the photographers go?” Rosenbaum asked.
“Management made the decision that we could find photography through other resources,” Knight answered.

“Who made the decision?” Rosenbaum responded.

“It was management’s decision,” Knight said. He looked over to Kirk. After Kirk nodded, Knight clarified, ”it was Jim’s decision.”

UPDATE: On Aug. 21, Kirk called the Guild to say that Knight “misspoke” in naming Kirk the one responsible for the photographer layoffs.

The bargaining committee asked Knight several questions ranging from whether there are planned layoffs at Pioneer Press and Aggrego staffers will replace them (“All I can tell you at is we’re always looking at everything”); whether the company would consider selling Sun-Times Media to other investors (“If someone came to me, I have a fiduciary obligation” to consider any offers); how long Sun-Times Media will continue (“That’s the question. We’re going to continue”); and whether Knight and/or Kirk will come to the bargaining table (“no”). Knight’s face grew redder with every question the Guild asked, particularly related to Wrapport’s investments.

“We’ve expressed that negotiations have come to a snail’s pace and the company seems satisfied with that. It’s unfortunate because it only hurts the company’s employees who have worked so hard to keep this company alive,” Pollard said after the State of the Company address.

Knight laid out troubling statistics about declining ad revenues and readership. Nationally, ad revenues are down 5 to 10 percent per year. At Sun-Times Media, online and print ad revenue combined was down 10 percent in 2012; down 18 percent in 2011; and was down 12 percent in 2010, Knight said.

Print revenue this year is down 16 percent and online revenue is down 28 percent, Knight said. Last year, digital advertising represented 11 percent of total advertising. It is below 10 percent this year, Pham said.

Both revenue and volume decline with company-wide circulation, Knight said. In 2010, it was down negative 7; in 2011, it was down negative 8; in 2012 it was down negative 7; and across the group this year to date is down negative 4, Knight said.

He spoke about the competitive nature of landing contracts with major advertisers. The desktop Web audience is declining, making it difficult to sell online ads other than a banner and tile slots, he said.

The digital trend in the industry is moving towards getting news through phones.

“The reality is more people are using more digital devices than ever before,” Knight said.

This entry was posted in Sun-Times Media News. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Knight discloses at annual state of the company address

  1. Laura L. Enright says:

    “A red-faced Tim Knight told Guild members that it was ‘none of our business’ how Wrapports’ investments are faring. Knight refused to disclose how Splash, The Grid and the other $2 million spent recently in investments were doing.”

    It’s none of your business if these other companies are draining money for the ST Media or if you’ll have to again take a cut in pay and benefits to help keep the ship afloat or even for that matter if you’ll have a job onboard the ship to go to.

    Knight’s responses would have been perfect in a Hollywood comedy. I would have loved to have been there for the desperate glances when he sang like a canary on Kirk (at once also claiming that he has absolutely NO control over his own company. His hands were completely tied when Kirk went mad and axed all the photographers. Yeah, that’s right, it’s the other guy’s fault. He had nothing to do with it see).

    And out of curiosity, how long are they going to milk the “numbers are down all across the board in the industry” excuse? Their piss-poor management decisions (and more than likely questionable accounting) has taken a great newspaper chain and turned it into crap. People don’t want to visit your online presence, Mr. Knight, cause it looks like garbage. People don’t want to subscribe to your papers cause you’ve turned them into glorified flyers. People don’t want to bother with your news organization at all cause you’ve turned it all into a joke. And the poor journalists and photographers (oh, wait, I’m sorry, you don’t have them anymore) and the other support staff, dedicated and talented as they may be, can only do so much to nullify the stupid decisions you make. These people have given up a lot to help this organization survive and you spit in their faces.

    • admin says:

      The Guild wants to clarify a couple of points. First, Tim Knight did say more than once that the decision to eliminate the photographers was a decision management made during the state of the company address. It was after Mr. Knight said this at least twice that the silent exchange occurred between Mr. Knight and Jim Kirk before Mr. Kirk was named.

      A little more than 24 hours after this exchange occurred , Mr. Kirk contacted the Guild to say that Mr. Knight “misspoke” about the photography decision.

      The Guild is not asserting that Wrapports’ other business ventures are draining money from Sun-Times Media. Rather, the Guild notes that Sun-Times parent company Wrapports chooses to invest in other ventures than its Sun-Times brand. The Guild would like to see Wrapports choosing to invest in its Sun-Times brand.

  2. Dan says:

    The reality is – Sir Knight – you don’t know how to run a company.

  3. Ting Shen says:

    The Sun-Times media is failing to adapt and to understand how the market really works. Instead of focusing on improving the quality of content to attract new readership, they choose to cut costs by eliminating photographers, degrade their content and further lose more readership plus ad revenue.
    That is the reality.

Comments are closed.