Mark your calendars, R-J staffers, and remember: What’s past is prologue

In the financial world they say that past performance is no indicator of future results, but in the newspaper business these days what’s past is prologue.

A couple of weeks ago New Media Investments purchased all of Stephens Media’s newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal. New Media, which rose from the ashes of the bankruptcy of GateHouse Media, previously purchased all of Halifax Media from Stephens Capital Partners, different company but same owners largely.

This week News & Tech and blogger Jim Romensko are reporting that New Media is laying off workers at the formerly Halifax papers.

One of the papers, the Star-News in Wilmington, N.C., reported:

“The StarNews laid off an unknown number of employees Tuesday as part of workforce reductions that took place across the group of former Halifax Media newspapers. Details have not been made public.

“The StarNews is one of 36 newspapers under the Halifax Media banner. Halifax recently was purchased by GateHouse Media’s parent, New Media Investment Group, for $280 million.”

They must have laid off the copyeditor who would have changed “unknown” to “unstated.”

Romenesko posted copies of a number of emails he received reporting layoffs at several newspapers owned by New Media. The layoffs hit across the board in the newsrooms — photogs, copyeditors, cop reporters, sports reporters, bureaus, assistant city editors, assistant managing editors, features editors, layout artists, as well as staff in IT, advertising and marketing. One paper reportedly laid off “the editorial writer.”

Stephens sold the Halifax papers in November, the layoffs come in March, so mark your calendars, R-J staffers, for four months hence. What’s past is prologue.

Front of R-J office building on Bonanza.


44 comments on “Mark your calendars, R-J staffers, and remember: What’s past is prologue

  1. New genre. Write like a blogger or vanish (must be social media savvy in formating and timing of release ie. 24/7)

  2. Marti Rundus says:

    Is it me, or are the stories in RJ becoming more biased to the left.

  3. Steve says:

    It’s not just you Marti…the “new” RJ is left of where it used to be.

    BTW,,,Rundus not an average name. I knew an El Rundus a while back…any relation?

  4. Steve says:

    I am actually fine with estate taxes being the way they are now.
    The only ones subject to any tax are your “ultra rich” and the rest of us aren’t taxed on the original inherited money at all. You want to tax all of us and I would keep taxing the “ultra rich”….
    All the left claims is its conservatives who keep taxing the middle class, in this example it appears to be reversed.
    Does make you the conservative and me the liberal?

  5. Steve says:

    Oops, phone fooled me into thinking I was on the right thread!

  6. You are spot on Marti…not only is the RJ more left leaning (Laura Myers, et al). IMHO…it’s becoming little more than a pop culture rag…with real news only a sideline. It’s a pitiful ghost of what it used to be. While cleaning out my study…I came across three issues of the RJ from 2004…the difference in quality from those days to now is an eye opener.

  7. Wasn’t the money in the estate already taxed once?

  8. Steve says:

    Tom, yes it was. Except an IRA where tax is deferred. But IRA law is even more convoluted and attempts to separate that money from an estate.
    Worse, for those estates that DO have some tax liability,,,that money can be taxed AGAIN as securities and investments are sold…making a third tax cycle on the original money.

    But the theory is every time money changes hands it should be taxed. The argument (if I understand it) for not taxing estate/inherited money is that it doesn’t really change hands. The family is keeping it in house.

    In any case, I am fine with current estate law…it works FOR me not against me.

  9. nyp says:

    No, Mr. Mitchell. The money in large, large estates has not been already taxed once.
    Most such estates consist in very large part of appreciated assets such as real estate or artwork that are subject to income tax only when they are sold. The increase in the value of such assets is never subject to tax if it is held until the person dies. And the stepped-up basis rule means that heirs do not pay tax on the increase in the value of the property during the life of the person who died.

  10. Patrick says:

    “A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.”

    Thomas Jefferson

    “There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.”

    Adam Smith

    “There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by … corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”

    James Madison

    ““All Property except (that) absolutely necessary for Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents (inheritance) and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and Uses of it.”

    Benjamin Franklin

  11. Steve says:

    “The last check you write should be for the undertaker…..and it should bounce.”

    My brother when discussing our mothers estate. We both think she lived far too frugally. But we also know we would not want any of what she left to simply go “to the state”.

  12. Patrick says:

    “Since the operation of society had made possible the existence of private property, it followed that society was entitled to receive the surplus that men accumulated beyond their own labor back from them.”

    Thomas Paine

  13. Steve says:

    OK, Patrick…write your will and leave it all to the state.

  14. Rincon says:

    Does it ever occur to anyone that the money made in wages is taxed many times over? If you have stock appreciate over 30 years and then sell it, the money is taxed once in 30 years. If, on the other hand, you get your paycheck, which is taxed, and then call the plumber the next morning to fix a leak, paying him out of the proceeds of your paycheck, the plumber will be taxed on the money you paid him. The same money is taxed twice in a few days or possibly weeks. Get used to it kids. All money is taxed multiple times. That argument is worthless.

  15. Barbara says:

    Patrick: I believe the founding fathers abhorred idleness whether it be the “idle rich” or “idle poor”. If estates are to be broken up through taxation, how about welfare reform? Care to quote the founding fathers on that subject.

  16. Steve says:

    In the services example, money leaves the house for another house…that is the difference.

  17. Barbara says:

    To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it

    Thomas Jefferson

  18. Steve says:

    The gift tax should be eliminated and all Christmas gifts and birthday presents should be taxed when they are accepted by the giftee. The giftee must report the gift and its value then pay a tax based on that value.

    This is where this road goes…do you really want to go there?

  19. Patrick says:

    “The generations of men may be considered as bodies or corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding generation free and unencumbered and so on successively from one generation to another forever. We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:270

    “All the Property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may by other Laws dispose of it whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.. –Benjamin Franklin

    Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry.

    Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

    “[C]reate a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property. And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.”

    Thomas Paine

  20. Patrick says:

    “There is…an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents…. The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  21. Barbara says:

    I would gladly exchange the estate tax IF the statists would also adopt the wisdom of the Founding Fathers on welfare:

    …”I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.—I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world [but England] where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen?—On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners”

    Benjamin Franklin 1766

    …All able bodied persons not having wherewithal to maintain themselves, who shall waste their time in idle and dissolute courses, or shall loiter or wander abroad, refusing to work for reasonable wages, or to betake themselves to some honest and lawful calling, or who shall desert wives or children, without so providing for them as that they shall not become chargeable to a county, shall be deemed vagabonds, and shall be sent, by order of an Alderman, to the poor house, there to be kept to labor during such time as shall be limited by the order, not exceeding thirty days; …unless, …the vagabond shall give surety for his good behavior, and that he shall betake himself to some honest and lawful calling for twelve months; from which order the party thereby condemned may appeal to the county court, who, if the order be affirmed, shall award him to pay the costs.

    [From “A Bill for Support of the Poor,” Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), 2:419-20, 422.]

  22. Rincon says:

    I do not accept the concept of an aristocracy (defined as a class far above everyone else). The rest of you do.

  23. Barbara says:

    But your okay with people sitting on their butts and getting a check from the government?

  24. Rincon says:

    I assume you’re referring to welfare. I firmly believe that no one should be able to receive money from the government without working for it. In Australia, they call it work for the dole. By forcing people to come and spend a significant amount of time 4 or 5 days a week, I think we would reduce the welfare rolls to half overnight. In many cases, the time should be spent providing more education. I suspect more than half of all welfare recipients – and I’m being generous – lack even basic skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

    We pay taxes in order to pay for government services. If someone lives off a tax free inheritance, who pays for the government services which that person is receiving?

  25. Steve says:

    “tax free inheritance”
    This is wrong. If we were to tax inherited money under the current paradigm, the beneficiaries would suddenly find themselves shoved into the top bracket because all the “income” would place them in that bracket for that year. You really want a tax revolt, don’t you…
    Further, as time progresses, growth of inherited money is taxed. Currently at 15%. Which is what most middle income earners actually pay today.

    If one were to try and live on only the “tax free” portion of the average inheritance they would find the money would disappear fast.

  26. Rincon says:

    Top tax bracket? It’s called income averaging. As I suggested previously, you might want to have a professional handle your taxes

    So far as I understand, and I’m no expert, the first $534,000 is tax free. Are Wikipedia and I correct or not?

  27. Steve says:

    Income averaging is not performed under today’s IRS rules. If I were to take the full amount of the taxable IRA left to me I would find myself in the top tax bracket this year.
    As it is I am required to begin taking (and paying tax on) minimum required distributions. (this is an example of how an IRA is VERY different from and removed from, estate law. (Hint, to keep an IRA in the estate, assign no beneficiaries to it, while making a will designating where portions of the estate are to go. You want the IRA to remain an asset of the estate to avoid taxes on it.)

    Yes, Rincon. As I stated several times, you should be happy with estate law. It effects ONLY your so called “ultra rich” (more often called the hated 1%ers by you libs) This years cut off is 5.34 million…next year it will go up since it is now indexed for inflation…this law was passed and signed by Obama in 2013. It was all Democrats behind it.

  28. Patrick says:

    President signed Estate Tax reduction as part of “fiscal cliff” legislation, and nearly immediately proposed that it be increased.

  29. Barbara says:

    Why is it never “responsible fiscal policy” to end a government program or allow taxes that were passed as “sunset” taxes to actually end? It seems our current crop of state and national leaders believe it is only “responsible fiscal policy” to increase taxes or “fees” (same difference) and to make “sunset” taxes permanent.

    Rincon – We pay taxes in order to pay for government services. If someone lives off a tax free inheritance, who pays for the government services which that person is receiving?

    Personally, I don’t know anyone who lives off a tax free inheritance. I know people of substantial wealth, but they all earned it through their hard work. I think a more prudent question should be,

    What services should the government be providing?

  30. nyp says:

    Q: ” If someone lives off a tax free inheritance, who pays for the government services which that person is receiving?”
    A: the people who pay for the armed services that defend that person, the police officers who keep him safe, the bridges and roads upon which he drives, the court system that provides him with a rule of law, the Medicare system that provides him with healthcare in his old age, etc.

    Statement: “I don’t know anyone who lives off a tax free inheritance. I know people of substantial wealth, but they all earned it through their hard work.”
    Response: You need to get out more.

    Q: “What services should the government be providing?”
    A: I understand that you believe in eliminating Medicare and letting old people fend for themselves, so given your premises, there is no way to provide a useful response to your question.

  31. Rincon says:

    I stand corrected Steve. Maybe I should have you do my taxes 🙂 So far as I know, anyone with an inheritance of less than $5,340,000 pays no taxes. Those with an inheritance above that figure also pay little or no taxes because, as with all taxes, the politicians left enough loopholes for the big fish to swim through. So hardly anyone pays a significant inheritance tax in this country. Even billionaires pay no tax on the first $5,340,000. Tax payments amount to less than 1% of the money inherited. Why bother with it at all if that’s all that is raised? BTW, the Walton family exploited these loopholes to avoid $3 billion in estate taxes so far. The number is expected to grow in coming years to around $10 billion.

    Of course you don’t know anyone living off an inheritance, Barbara. How many billionaires or even multimillionaires do you know in the first place? I suspect you don’t run with those crowds. I inherited a fair amount from my parents. None of my friends know anything about it. Why would rich people run around telling all of their friends if I don’t?

    According to Bill Moyers, “Since 1989, Federal Reserve figures show, the median net worth of families in America’s statistical middle class — the middle 20 percent of income earners — has dropped from $75,300 to $61,700, after taking inflation into account.” During this time, the GDP per person rose from $33,000 to $46,000. During that time, the average billionaire in the Forbes 400 has gained dramatically and is now worth 70,000 times the national average. ( I know, I know. You guys can’t comprehend numbers that big anyway) Can anyone show him to be wrong?

  32. Steve says:

    There are a lot of strategies to limit tax liability on the growth of inherited money…selling the original shares first would keep them tax free as they were inherited but selling new shares purchased from a drip or with proceeds of the sale of original shares are now taxed at the investment rate of 15%. Which is what most people in the middle class already pay.

    There are more strategies available as you should know having inherited what your parents left.

    I know for a fact one can retire nicely on well invested money of as little as $600,000
    But you have to play all the cards right to do it.

  33. Barbara says:

    You are correct that I don’t know any billionaires, but I do know several multimillionaires that reached this status due to their hard work in starting their own companies. Most of these people benefited from “fracking” in North Dakota and Texas. Most started support businesses (trucking, oil field service companies) or bought land years ago and resold it and invested the proceeds. Most of my family are farmers in New Mexico and have become millionaires through their hard work. Have you ever heard of Hatch green chile?

    My point was I don’t know anyone that is solely living off of passive money inherited from a parent. As to why they would share these details with me, we are very close friends or family and while I do not manage their investments, I do give them advice from time to time and review what their advisors are recommending.

    Even so, I don’t dispute that the rich are getting richer and the middle class is becoming extinct. I guess we just disagree as to why this is happening. I don’t begrudge the rich their wealth. I’m just sorry the government is preventing more from having the same opportunities.

  34. nyp says:

    Is it possible that there is a relationship between the increasing share of national wealth being captured by the top 1% and the “extinction” of the middle class?

  35. Steve says:

    Is it possible the middle class is being shipped overseas along with the jobs that used to support it?

  36. nyp says:

    As a matter of fact, they are.

  37. Rincon says:

    Be sure to suck up to those friends of yours Barbara! I’m sure it’s true that few that inherit large amounts of money sit around and contemplate their navels all day. Managing large amounts of money is in itself a full time job. The children of the rich are usually not the ones to need a leg up though, so I still don’t understand why we levy a high tax on someone who works hard for a sum of money, but then charge no tax at all to someone who has the same sum fall into their lap through no effort of their own.

    Nyp has a valid point. The middle class is going extinct while the rich rack up huge gains. Coincidence? I think not. Money is not unlimited. Even a very deep well can run dry if large enough amounts of water are removed.

  38. Barbara says:

    “Money is not unlimited”. Hmmm. You should tell that to the Fed. It is the very policies of the Fed that are causing income inequality.

  39. nyp says:

    That site is run by a goldbug who calls for the elimination of the Fed.

  40. Steve says:

    But the statement about the cause of income inequality is not far off.

    Why this country allowed the “too big to fail” institutions to kick out renters of properties who were paying their rent each month, on time and in full makes zero sense. The banks should have taken over ownership and been made to hire property managers for those homes with renters.
    Then those renters should have been offered a chance to buy the home they were living in.

    Evicting people who were obviously paying enough rent to cover the failed mortgage was simply stupid.

  41. Rincon says:

    I agree Steve.

    So far as I can tell, the effect of the Fed’s actions on income inequality are still unclear. Certainly, low interest rates benefit borrowers, who tend to have lower incomes, and hurt lenders, who often have higher incomes. The tendency of banks to resist lending to all but the safest borrowers hurts the middle and lower classes, but wasn’t loose lending policy what got us into the recession in the first place? I am also unclear as to how the Fed affects this tendency of the banks to lend only to “blue chip” borrowers.

    I did find an article about the effect of the Fed on income inequality:

  42. Steve says:

    It’s not the FED that impacts lenders..Dodd/Frank discourages lending to any other than the best of the best.
    In a way I agree with this but I think they overreacted in the opposite direction in enacting that legislation. Glass Steagall had decades to allow for balance and I think the same thing is happening here.

  43. Rincon says:

    We insisted on fixing something that wasn’t broken. Glass Steagall was created to prevent some of the excesses that led to the Great Depression. After 50 or 60 years, our leaders effectively repealed it deciding that it wasn’t so helpful after all and then lo and behold, the same kinds of excesses returned and blew a hole in the economy.

  44. Steve says:

    Those who refuse to learn from their forebears are doomed to repeat their mistakes.

    And we are living through a perfect example.

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