St. Cloud first; the paper’s owner, mega-publisher Gannett Co., has announced it will lift a wage freeze for its community newspaper division April 1. (Snarkified version here.) Times folk are still suffering with furloughs for the quarter ending March 31; the memo doesn’t make any promises about preventing furloughs or layoffs in the post-April Fool’s Day period.
As for Brainerd, its Georgia-based owner, Morris Publishing, expected to emerge from Chapter 11 quickly after a Jan. 19 filing. Management filed a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy in which creditors agreed to terms beforehand. According to Editor and Publisher, $278.5 million in debt, due 2013, was canceled in exchange for $100 million due in 2014; Morris family entities kicked in approximately $110 million. Even though a third of the can was kicked a year down the road, officials note a “significantly de-leveraged” balance sheet. Hopefully it’s enough to keep the locals from being bled any more than they already might have been.