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An analysis of chief executive and executive team compensation at the publicly traded newspaper companies indicates that while performance of the businesses by most any measure have seen declines in the last year, compensation has been up -- sometimes dramatically up.

Using figures provided by MorningStar Inc., a Chicago-based investment research firm, average newspaper company executive compensation has risen almost 8.9 percent in the last year, while average chief executive compensation has gone up 19.2 percent in the period.

The NewsInc. Index stood at 364.75 on April 22, 2011 and was at 299.93 last Friday, a decline of almost 18 percent. The Newspaper Association of America reported last month that 2011 annual newspaper ad revenue declined 7.3 percent, to $23,941 million.

MorningStar does not track GateHouse Media Inc., as it is traded over-the-counter, but the other companies analyzed included A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co. Inc., Journal Communications Inc., Lee Enterprises, The McClatchy Co., Media General, The New York Times and The E.W. Scripps Co.

McClatchy had the biggest total executive compensation growth, coming in at $10.4 million, up 38.3 percent, while The Times Co. had the second-largest growth, at $23.7 million, up 36-1/2 percent. Lee's total team packages were up 30.3 percent, to $2.9 million, while Scripps' group was up 16.7 percent, to $8.3 million.

Belo's executive team saw the biggest decline, down 17.8 percent, to $5.1 million, while Media General's group was off 14.2 percent, to $6.1 million. Gannett was down 12.3 percent, to $25.1 million, while Journal was off 6-1/2 percent, to $5 million.

Amongst chief executives, only Media General's Marshall Morton (down 27.6 percent) and Belo's Robert Decherd (down 9-1/2 percent) saw compensation packages decrease. The biggest gain was at The Times Co., which cashiered former Chief Executive Janet Robinson in December, causing severance to kick in and increasing her package by 87-1/2 percent.

A tip of the journalistic chapeau to blogger Jim Romenesko, who found that MorningStar had these figures and put them together as a graphic last week (though he included The Washington Post Co., which I no longer count as a newspaper business).
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Date:Apr 23, 2012
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