Media General has taken a number of steps to cut its debt and offset the ailing traditional media business. It has frozen wages, laid off employees, suspended 401(k) retirement plans, instituted employee furloughs and sold five TV stations. Earlier this month, it shut down its Washington, D.C., bureau and accompanying Web site and let go six journalists.
"The media world is very, very different from even two years ago," Morton said. "The revenue streams don't support the kind of expense levels we used to maintain.
To head up the five geographic divisions, the company tapped executives within its ranks to serve as president and market leader. James Zimmerman, president of the broadcast division, will serve as president and market leader of the Virginia/Tennessee properties. Florida is headed by John Schueler, the current president of Florida Communications Group.
The mid-South region, including Media General properties in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, will be headed by John Cottingham, senior vp of broadcast stations. North Carolina will be headed by James Conschafter, currently senior vp of broadcast stations. Richard Rogala, vp and general manager of WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, will head up the Ohio/Rhode Island region.
As part of the new structure, James Woodward, vp of corporate human resources, will take on the newly created position of group vp, growth and performance, reporting to Morton. C. Kirk Read was named president of digital media, reporting to Woodward. Also reporting to Woodward will be Dale Lachniet, president of newspaper production and distribution, and Ardell Hill, president of broadcast services.
Succeeding Woodward as vp of corporate human resources is Robert MacPherson, president of Community Newspapers.
H. Graham Woodlief, Jr., president of the publishing division, plans to retire, effective July 1.