Hearst prides itself on zero layoffs during coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus may be battering the news industry, but Hearst Corp., which owns 33 TV stations and two dozen newspapers in addition to magazines, appears to be weathering the storm.

Hearst Chief Executive Steve Swartz has been conducting virtual town halls with the company’s magazine, TV and newspaper employees over the past week, in which he has said there have been no layoffs for the media giant’s 24,000 employees.

“All of our businesses remain open, serving their communities and transacting business, although as expected, revenues are falling, particularly in the area of print advertising,” said Swartz and Chief Operating Officer Mark Aldam in a memo to employees. “No one has been laid off or furloughed and we are not seeking any government assistance. We are fortunate to be in stronger financial shape than many companies.”

What’s more, all employees have been given a 1 percent pay hike. The company also said it would give $1 million to the American Red Cross, $1 million to the United Way and would match employee contributions to United Way up to an additional $1 million.

It’s unusual news at a time of pay cuts, layoffs and/or furloughs at a number of media organizations, from BuzzFeed to USA Today publisher Gannett. Despite an increase in news consumption, ad sales have plummeted as shelter-in-place orders have shuttered businesses and canceled events.

Swartz and Aldam addressed magazine employees on April 2, TV employees on April 5 and newspaper employees on April 6.

“We’ve asked all our operators around the world to not consider reductions in force, no layoffs and no furloughs during the crisis,” Swartz said in the town hall with the magazine staffers April 2, according to one insider.

Hearst publications include newspapers San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and Albany Times Union and magazines Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire.

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