Tag Archive | "ImpreMedia"

Cuts at La Opinión prompt exit of Rehbinder, Parera

Cuts at La Opinión prompt exit of Rehbinder, Parera

Henrik Rehbinder and Josep Parera

Henrik Rehbinder (L) and Josep Parera, during their farewell at La Opinión on May 31.

It’s a much leaner era at La Opinión, which has undergone aggressive downsizing over the past five years.

This week, additional cuts in the editorial staff of Los Angeles’ Spanish-language daily saw the exit of two of its longtime journalists.

Henrik Rehbinder, who had been at La Opinión for 30 years, most recently as its editorial page editor, is no longer a full-time employee of the paper or its parent company impreMedia.

Henrik will remain connected to La Opinión, but as a freelancer, contributing articles and opinion pieces.

Josep Parera, the paper’s entertainment editor, also exited the company. He had been at La Opinión since 2006, starting out as a reporter and becoming the entertainment editor in 2011.

Henrik and Josep’s last day was May 31.

impreMedia has implemented company-wide cuts in an effort to combat losses in its print publications, which have experienced significant audience and circulation erosion.

The reductions aren’t strictly attributed to layoffs. In an atmosphere of continuous downsizing, several employees have recently left the company in search of a more “stable” environment.

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In survival mode, El Diario lays off 13 staffers

In survival mode, El Diario lays off 13 staffers

El Diario, New York’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper, is getting smaller – in pages and staff. Parent company impreMedia, bought by Argentina’s La Nación in 2012, which has been in restructuring mode for the past 3 years and is struggling to keep the 102 year-old paper afloat, did another round of cuts in its New York publication. This time, it laid off 13 employees.

According to an inside source, 7 of the layoffs were from the editorial department, leaving a mere two reporters to cover New York City. Among those who lost their jobs on January 15: editor Manuel Avendaño, reporters Cristina Loboguerrero and Joaquín Botero, writer Marcela Álvarez, sports writer Nube Urgiles, photographer Mariela Lombard and designer Fabiola Rodríguez.

The most recent cuts prompted a call to action from NY Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who yesterday led a City Council public hearing on the crisis of community ethnic media. He also participated in a “Save El Diario” rally on the steps of NY’s City Hall just before the hearing.

El Diario rally Jan 27-2016

NY Councilman Carlos Menchaca (center) speaks in support of El Diario staffers during a pre-hearing rally at City Hall.

During the hearing, Gabriel Dantur, impreMedia’s CEO since January 1, spoke in defense of the company. He stated he would welcome advertising from city agencies promoting its programs and services.

But that revenue stream will likely be insufficient to offset operational costs and losses. Dantur told the NY Post El Diario that although the paper was under “financial stress,” restructuring efforts since La Nación took over have cut company losses from “$12 million to an estimated $2 million last year,” with the expectation to “break even in 2016.”

Although he didn’t want to “disclose the economic data of a private company,” Dantur told Media Moves that “definitely La Nación’s investment in impreMedia” has exceeded $20 million since 2012.

With regards to rumors circulating that the company would cease to publish a printed edition, Dantur issued this company statement: “Our business strategy does not consist of setting a death date for printed newspapers but, on the contrary, to define a new value proposition for them: value for the audience and value for advertisers,” but emphasized there needs to be “financial solvency” to keep producing independent journalism.

The statement also addressed the issue of layoffs: “This search for financial sustainability has meant taking uncomfortable and painful decisions that are nonetheless justified by the ulterior motive of ensuring the survival of our company and its brands.”

El Diario’s unionized staff, represented by the NY Newspaper Guild since 1976, has actively organized protests concerning the restructuring of the paper and behavior of its leadership, accusing impreMedia of illegally firing employees in 2014, taking the case to the NLRB.

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Dantur replaces Seghezzo as impreMedia CEO

Dantur replaces Seghezzo as impreMedia CEO


Gabriel Dantur (L) will replace Francisco Seghezzo as CEO of impreMedia starting Jan. 1, 2016.

impreMedia is undergoing a top management change. Francisco Seghezzo, who has led the company since 2012, will leave the post to return to LA NACIÓN in Argentina.

He’ll be replaced by Gabriel Dantur as impreMedia’s new CEO, effective January 1st, 2016.

LA NACIÓN acquired impreMedia in 2012.

Seghezzo joined impreMedia as COO and became CEO when Monica Lozano stepped down from the role in 2014.

According to a company statement, during this time, efforts “have been focused on transforming the company into a sustainable and successful business.”

impreMedia’s “transformation” has included redesigns of its newspapers La Opinión in Los Angeles and El Diario NY and creation of an in-house market solutions division called IM Studio ñ focused on providing client centric services, strategic consultation, creative and content marketing.

But it has been a difficult 4 years for the company, which has seen reduced revenues, restructuring, has undergone a series of layoffs, and battled union problems in New York.

impreMedia says it’s time for the next phase in the company’s “transformation” and that’s where Gabriel Dantur comes in, bringing his experience in digital media, technology and innovation.

An industrial engineer, Dantur joins impreMedia from LA NACIÓN, where he was most recently Vice President of Digital.

He has been on the board of impreMedia’s parent holding company U.S. Hispanic Media, Inc. since 2012.

Here is Francisco Seghezzo’s email to staff announcing his departure and replacement:

Greetings to all:

I would like to announce that, effective January 1st, 2016; I will be leaving my post as CEO of impreMedia to continue working at LA NACION in Argentina, the parent company of impreMedia.

As my replacement, the Board of Directors of U.S. Hispanic Media, Inc. (100% owner of impreMedia) has designated Gabriel Dantur. Gabriel has worked in La Nacion for the past 9 years and has been an integral part of the leadership team that has transformed and further strengthened La Nacion in Argentina. Besides his responsibilities at La Nacion, Gabriel has also been closely involved in the forward progress of impreMedia since La Nacion’s acquisition, acting as an active member of the holding company’s Board of Directors.

I have known and worked with Gabriel for many years and he is not only an excellent professional but also more importantly, human being. I have no doubt that Gabriel is the ideal person for this phase of the company, where his expertise will be very important in the continued transformation and sustainability for the future.

It is very difficult for me to leave impreMedia. It has been almost 4 years of many challenges and learnings, where I always tried to prioritize the development and growth of the Company.

This has been, without a doubt, the most important phase of my professional career, as well as an incredible life experience. I will continue to work with the same enthusiasm during the time I have left as CEO of impreMedia.

My sincere thanks to everyone for all your efforts and, as always, my door is open and I am available for anything you may need.

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Marrero quits comm job, rejoins impreMedia

Marrero quits comm job, rejoins impreMedia

PIlar MarreroBarely six months after taking over as Director of Communications for L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solís, Pilar Marrero has resigned.

She has accepted a position as Senior Political correspondent for impreMedia, the parent company of La Opinión, where she previously worked for 25 years.

Pilar, who quit La Opinión in December, begins the new job on August 3.

“It was an incredible experience to work with Supervisor Solís as her communications director. I learned a great deal of how policy is made and was able to write some myself,” Pilar tells Media Moves. “In the end though, I really missed journalism. That work is in my blood and I just could not stay away from it.”

Pilar will be working on a new impreMedia political project that will launch in September.

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Layoffs at El Diario; NLRB sets trial date against impreMedia

impremedia NLRBFour people were laid off and two others took voluntary buyouts at New York’s El Diario La Prensa, following a December company memo indicating the need “to continue restructuring to reduce expenses and create sustainable businesses.”

One newsroom and one sales staffer took the buyouts offered by impreMedia. Six others, including a photographer, another newsroom employee, three people from sales and one from accounting, were among the layoffs.

The National Labor Relations Board has set February 10 for an administrative trial against ImpreMedia, El Diario’s parent company.

In June of last year, The Newspaper Guild of New York filed charges against impreMedia that it improperly fired seven veteran journalists and other employees. The NLRB’s regional director found merit in the charges and issued a complaint in late December against impreMedia.

In a letter dated November 24, 2014, the NLRB’s director for the region that includes Brooklyn and Long Island found merit in the following charges:

  • impreMedia illegally terminated seven Guild-represented employees.
  • impreMedia altered the Guild’s jurisdiction by assigning work to nonunion employees, refusing them union representation.
  • impreMedia violated the union contract and the terms of a May 9, 2014 NLRB settlement agreement.

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El Diario faces more job cuts and NLRB action

El Diario fired employees Aug2014

El Diario employees Annette Santiago (l) and Rosa Murphy (r) claim they were illegally fired during a press conference on the steps of NY’s City Hall .

Stating the company’s financial situation is “difficult” and “needs to continue restructuring to reduce expenses and create sustainable businesses,” impreMedia sent a memo to El Diario employees saying it had to eliminate 7 Guild-represented positions at the paper.

In the memo dated December 2, the company offers a “voluntary resignation” package to Guild employees who willingly come forward to take the buyout before resorting to forced layoffs.

In an interview with Media Moves, CEO Francisco Seghezzo says this is a necessary measure to reduce overhead costs in the midst of a financial crisis.

“In the past year and a half impreMedia has laid off 100 employees. We still have a very heavy infrastructure. If we don’t make the necessary cuts, we won’t be able to continue operating,” he says. “We have no plans to shut down the company. We’re just trying to implement new business development strategies that will help us move the company forward.”

The “voluntary resignation” package, which was negotiated with support from the NY Guild, includes severance pay of one week of base salary for each six months of service and between 4 to 8 months of company-paid medical insurance benefits, based on how long each person worked at the company.

The deadline for the offer, which is limited to the editorial, sales and administration departments is December 16. The company reserves the right to reject any volunteer.

“We can’t have all the volunteers come from just one department,” Seghezzo points out.

If not enough volunteers come forward, the company will choose who they will let go by the end of the year. NY Newspaper Guild President Bill O’Meara negotiated the voluntary resignation offer with impreMedia management.

“It’s in nobody’s interest to have El Diario or impreMedia go out of business, but we have to protect the rights of our guild members,” says O’Meara. “We examined their books. We understand both El Diario and impreMedia as a whole are in a precarious financial position. We offered to work with them, but they haven’t been 100% cooperative, especially when they arbitrarily laid off guild members earlier this year.”

O’Meara refers to the 8 guild workers he claims were illegally terminated in June, violating a settlement agreement coordinated by the National Labor Relations Board after the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against ImpreMedia.

An NLRB regional director issued a letter on November 24 indicating it has found:

  • “reasonable cause to believe that Employer, through Vice President Juan Varela… threatened employees with discharge for supporting the Union”
  • impreMedia violated the union contract by firing 8 Guild employees and replacing them for non-unit employees “to perform essentially the same work”
  • impreMedia is in default of the May 9, 2014 settlement agreement with the NLRB

The NLRB has given the company until December 9 to “remedy” its default, otherwise it will issue a complaint, which will then send the case before an administrative law judge for a ruling. That will probably happen sometime early next year.

The remedy, says O’Meara, is the reinstatement of the Guild employees fired in June, should they want to return to their jobs, or a monetary settlement.

“I don’t like to see anyone lose their jobs, but unfortunately, given the financial circumstances, the new people may have to be displaced.”

If the Guild employees opt out of returning to El Diario, O’Meara says the new workers will have to be included in the bargaining unit: “The company is trying to circumvent the Guild contract by making new hires through impreMedia. But if a reporter working for impreMedia is doing the same work Guild people do and that person’s work is showing up in El Diario, then they have to be covered in the union contract.”

Seghezzo insists the company has been abiding by the terms of the contract. He categorically denies the company is involved in any union-busting actions.

“We’re trying to build a future for the company in accordance with the contracts we have with all our employees in mind, including those in the Union.”

Seghezzo says their current business plan doesn’t call for further layoffs for the rest of the year, but admits he doesn’t know if there may be the need for more cuts in future months.

impreMedia currently has about 230 employees company-wide.

The Guild contract with El Diario expires in 2015. O’Meara says negotiations are set for early next year. “I’m sure they’re going to be very difficult.”

** Disclaimer: I worked for impreMedia Digital as the West Coast Web Editor until May of 2014 and was one the employees laid off by the company. 

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La Opinión launches redesigned paper in tabloid format

La Opinion new cover Sept. 15, 2014

La Opinión switches to tabloid from broadsheet after 88 years.

On the eve of its 88th anniversary, impreMedia, the parent company of La Opinión, has launched a redesign of the legendary Los Angeles Spanish-language daily. The biggest change: its format.

As of today, the paper, founded on September 16, 1926, abandons its broadsheet format to go tabloid.

La Opinión is adapting its size to make it easier to read and handle,” impreMedia’s VP of Content Juan Varela tells Media Moves. “It’s a compact format, easy to read anywhere – whether in a bus, car or standing.”

According to Varela, “the new La Opinión is a paper thought out for the two main reading platforms: paper and smartphones.”

In addition to the new format, La Opinión debuts a new logo and cover design that includes more photos and less text. The paper is also expanding its sports section and adding more content for women.

As part of its new strategy, the company will now incorporate elements and formats to “advance convergence between paper and new platforms.” Social media efforts will play a stronger role in the reporting and promoting of the paper’s content.

LaOpinion.com will also be spruced up. It will undergo some changes starting today, which will be completed in two phases, while the company works out compatibility issues within its content management systems.

La Opinión’s redesign comes three months after impreMedia’s revamped El Diario NY, amidst employee unrest, accusations of harassment against management, and union action, including picketing in front of the company’s headquarters.

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Turmoil at El Diario and financial problems plague impreMedia

Accusations of harassment, racism, elitism and union busting from El Diario employees, who claim their support of the Newspaper Guild of NY made them a target for termination has impreMedia, the paper’s parent company, in crisis mode.

A round of layoffs announced two weeks ago has sparked major discontent and union action from El Diario’s newspaper workers, including a picket in front of impreMedia’s headquarters in New York yesterday.

El Diario rally

Supporters of fired El Diario employees rally in front of impreMedia’s headquarters in New York on Thursday, June 26.

About 40 people rallied in support of the 12 people laid off on Friday, June 13. Of those, 8 were union employees, including 4 reporters: Rosa Margarita Murphy, Gloria Medina, Cándida Portugués and Héctor Rodríguez, most of whom had been with the company over 12 years. The others were corporate employees in admin and sales positions.

“The accusations are completely false,” Juan Varela, VP of Content of impreMedia tells Media Moves. “There is no intention to dismantle the union…. this mess was caused by the tremendous manipulation of a small group of people.”

The union says the layoffs are illegal, because impreMedia did not give proper notification to the employees or the Guild. Varela says that isn’t true. He insists staffers were notified of the layoffs on June 13, but that their last official day at work is June 30.

Juan Varela, impreMedia's VP of Content denies claims the company is targeting union members.

Juan Varela, impreMedia’s VP of Content denies claims the company is targeting union members.

“They made good on their threats,” says Nastaran Mobit, an organizer for the Newspaper Guild of NY, which represents El Diario union employees. “During an editorial meeting in February, management warned they weren’t going to adhere to the contract and that for those who were loyal to the guild, their jobs would be gone.”

After that meeting, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against ImpreMedia before the National Labor Relations Board for threatening to fire employees over their loyalty to the union. As part of a settlement agreement coordinated by the NLRB, impreMedia management had to publicly post and email union members notifying the company’s willingness to abide by the Union contract and recognize their bargaining unit representative.

Oscar Hernández, El Diario’s union chairperson, has worked at the paper as an account executive for the past 26 years. He was among the supporters and speakers at yesterday’s rally, who affirms the union employees were illegally fired. He says they were all told to leave the premises the same day they were notified of the layoff, sent home with two weeks pay.

“I love my company and I’ll do everything I can to keep it alive,” he says. “But I don’t like the way this group of managers has operated.” Hernández says he felt insulted that at a meeting in February, Varela said El Diario was a ‘ghetto paper’ and wanted to change the content to make a more upscale paper, so that they had to stop writing only for Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, to go for a more educated reader.” Hernández is a New Yorker proud of his Puerto Rican roots.

He says Varela also told editorial staff in March that “the company was going bankrupt and a lot of them wouldn’t be there in a few months, and didn’t care about the union contract. When I confronted him, he never denied to me saying they were going bankrupt. He told me that sometimes you have to say strong things to get people to respond.”

Reporter Marlene Peralta and sports editor German Quintero are among the many union employees who are part of a solidarity campaign for the laid off union workers.

Reporter Marlene Peralta and sports editor German Quintero are among the many El Diario employees who are part of a solidarity campaign for the laid off union workers.

The Guild also filed 11 contract violation grievances. According to Mobit, those grievances include the company not honoring a seniority clause, laying off longstanding union members to hire new reporters, as recent as two weeks ago, and not paying out severance, as required by contract.

“They [management] say they don’t have money to pay severance,” says Mobit. “The company has to prove the layoffs are from economic necessity, but they haven’t proven that. They said they will show us their books, but haven’t done that yet. They’ve given different accounts of the health of the newspaper.”

Varela insists the layoffs are purely for financial reasons and were at all levels company-wide, including managers, administrative staff, non-union and union employees.

“We told staff about our financial reality. It’s no secret….. We had been suffering circulation losses until December, which worsened due to the cruel winter we experienced. This affected all newspapers in New York, which saw a 20% drop. But it was worse for us, because we have no home delivery,” explains Varela. “We have recovered somewhat in the last month and a half. But it has been difficult…. That’s why we have started new circulation initiatives. We’re trying to open new points of sale. We are reviewing our routes and distribution in order to be more efficient.”

Front page of the redesigned El Diario, launched on June 4.

Front page of the redesigned El Diario, launched on June 4.

The company also redesigned the 101 year-old paper, to help it stand out in crowded New York newsstands.

“We’re trying to bring a more attractive and modern paper that’s linked to the web and social media,” says Varela. “We’re organizing the content with hashtags to make it a more dynamic paper.”

Varela says that they’re trying to get the entire editorial team to be on board their “digital first” strategy and that will be a key issue in the renegotiation of the union contract set for later this year.

El Diario has a contract that dates back to before the digital era,” he says. “We need to work in real time. Right now, because of union issues, the work is being done too slowly. That has to change.”

As to the claims of racism and elitism, Varela flat out denies it.

“I am personally very angry over this racism nonsense. They’ve taken a lone phrase out of context,” says Varela regarding the “ghetto paper” reference. “The Latino audience in New York has changed in the last 10 years. The more traditional Hispanic populations are losing numbers here. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are the ones losing the highest percentage as other communities grow, like Mexicans, Ecuadorians and Colombians. We can’t just be a single community newspaper. Just like the paper’s tagline says, we have to be the ‘El Campeón de los Hispanos’ and that means defending the interests of all Hispanics.”

Management published an editorial on Wednesday’s paper defending their commitment to New York’s diverse Latino community.

impreMedia had been shedding staffers during the past few months, but began group layoffs in May. Several longtime staffers were given pink-slips at La Opinión, including senior editor Antonio Mejías Rentas, who most recently spent 11 years at the paper and longtime librarian and archive supervisor, Georgina González, who had been with the company over 26 years. Also let go was political reporter/editor Antonieta Cádiz.

impreMedia also shut down the print edition of its weekly Rumbo, turning it into a digital only publication in early June as part of its cost-cutting. Varela says the company’s other weeklies will remain intact.

** Disclaimer: I worked for impreMedia Digital as the West Coast Web Editor until May of this year and was one the employees laid off by the company. 

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Veronica Villafañe, Editor and Publisher

Veronica Villafane

I'm an Emmy award-winning journalist, who's worked as an on-air reporter in Spanish and English-language television news. In addition to running Media Moves, which I founded in 2007, I'm a regular contributor to Forbes, writing about Hispanic media and entertainment. I am also a freelance writer, reporter and producer. I've worked for Univision, Telemundo, CNN en Español and Los Angeles Fox and UPN stations before diving into a convergence model at the San Jose Mercury News, later becoming a digital media manager. I was president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2004 to 2006, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in August of 2016.