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Washington Post CEO Don Graham's Pay Falls 49% In 2009

03/24/10 11:28 PM ET   AP

Don Graham

WASHINGTON — The Washington Post Co. cut its CEO's pay by 49 percent last year as the newspaper publisher trimmed its staff and reined in other costs amid a severe advertising slump.

Donald Graham's compensation package totaled $412,740 last year, down from $811,960 in 2008, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The drop reflected Graham's refusal to accept a bonus in 2009. He received an incentive award of $400,000 in 2008.

The Post's board of directors believes Graham is underpaid, according to Wednesday's filing, but Graham wanted his salary to remain at $400,000 – the same as in 2008.

The rest of Graham's 2009 pay consisted of a $12,740 contribution to this 401(k) retirement plan.

Unlike most CEOs, Graham doesn't get annual grants of stock options or other similar incentives because he is the company's largest individual shareholder.

Graham, 64, has been CEO since 1991 and previously served as publisher of The Washington Post newspaper.

Like most other major newspapers, The Washington Post has been struggling because its advertising revenue has been rapidly shrinking as the recession crimped marketing budgets and the Internet hatched less-expensive alternatives to the print medium. Newspaper revenue at the Post Co. plummeted 15 percent in 2009.

The Post Co. has weathered the downturn better than most of its peers because it can lean on prosperous education services and cable TV operations that now account for nearly three-fourths of its revenue.

Growth in those divisions and newspaper cost-cutting helped boost the Post Co.'s 2009 profit by 42 percent. Its total revenue edged up 2 percent while its stock price gained 13 percent during the year.

The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company's board placed on the executive's total compensation package during the last fiscal year. It includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonuses, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, making the AP total different in most cases than the total reported by companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Filed by Danny Shea  |