Lee Enterprises, half-owner of Capital Newspapers, which owns and publishes the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, on Oct. 31 suspended 401(k) contributions to its employees, and halved its matches of employees' own contributions. But it remains unclear whether employees in Madison will be affected.
"That's not been decided," says Bill Johnston, the State Journal's publisher and current president of Capital Newspapers. He says Lee has decided that Madison is not automatically subject to this change. A decision will likely be made at a board meeting later this week.
According to a State Journal employee, Lee currently contributes about 6% of salary to employees' 401(k) plans, and makes 100% matches of additional contributions up to 5% of salary. Following Lee's directive, the source says, would probably translate into about a 10% compensation cut.
Making the change for just Lee employees would be difficult, unless similar changes are made for workers at The Capital Times, which has a comparable 401(k) plan, and Capital Newspapers.
Capital Times publisher Clayton Frink refuses to discuss the matter: "It's none of your business." How can he say that when newspapers regularly report on local companies? "I don't know," responds Frink, apparently not a big believer in Bill Evjue's maxim about giving the people the truth and the freedom to discuss it.
But Dave Zweifel, the paper's editor emeritus, says no decisions have been made regarding the 401(k) plans of workers at The Capital Times.