Blood on the newsroom floor: Carnage galore


And today’s report is another coast-to-coast edition, starting with layoffs right across the Bay in San Francisco.

Surprise, surprise: Layoffs at S.F. Examiner

Looks like we had this one figured right.

From Erin Sherbert of SF Weekly:

As expected, the San Francisco Examiner’s new owners trimmed its newsroom yesterday afternoon, laying off half the copy desk as well as other editorial staff.

We called Todd Vogt, publisher and president of the Ex, who told us layoff notices went out yesterday. However, he would not confirm who lost their jobs or how many positions are being cut.

However, inside sources at the Ex told us that at least seven editorial positions — likely more — were cut, the bulk of them coming from the copy desk.

Read the rest.

And job cuts in San Diego

Though not at an ink-and-paper newsroom.

From Kevin Roderick of LA Observed:

Voice of San Diego, now seven years old, has been Southern California’s best, most accomplished example of innovation in non-traditional news media. But today the site laid off three journalists and said the budget is going down, not up. From the editor’s note:

Today was a difficult day of change for voiceofsandiego.org.

Last year, we raised more than $1.1 million and drew up a budget for 2011 at $1.2 million. We’re projecting lower revenue for the coming year and set the budget at $1 million.

There’s no one cause for the change. No major donor has dropped out. Our sponsorships are consistent and our membership is growing rapidly. But in the past, we’ve relied on grants from national foundations to make up a large part of our funding and we can’t be sure they’ll be there for us again. We’re in the process of building a thriving membership program to reduce our reliance on foundations, but we need time to fully establish a diverse donor base. Quite simply, like many of the agencies we cover and many families across San Diego, we have to be realistic about our prospects for the New Year.

In reducing our expenses, we prioritized what we feel we can do best as well as what our readers have told us is important to them. As a result, we will focus our resources on having a greater impact through a full investigative reporting team and a daily engagement and analysis team focusing on politics, public affairs, education and the arts.

And a big resignation in Smogville

The Los Angeles Times has lost yet another editor, and just like his three immediate predecessors, the vanishing act comes in advance of yet more newsroom cuts.

From Lucas Shaw of The Wrap:

The Los Angeles Times was rocked by more turmoil Tuesday when editor Russ Stanton resigned in advance of another round of cutbacks.

Stanton, whose last day is Dec. 23, has presided over a tumultuous period of near-continuous layoffs since becoming editor in 2008. He is the fourth editor in a row – after John Carroll, Dean Baquet and James O’Shea – to leave amid demands for cuts.

“It’s kind of a tradition –  a sad tradition — but it’s definitely the case. Budget cuts, staff cuts, they take only so many staff cuts and it’s time to go,” one individual said in reference to the succession of editors who gave up on the place. (O’Shea then wrote a scathing tell-all about the Times and Tribune culture, “The Deal From Hell.”)

During his tenure as editor, Stanton’s staff shrank from 900 to about 550, with veteran columnists like Mark Heisler and Tim Rutten among the recent departures. New cuts are on the horizon, with 12 to 20 staffers to be laid off sometime after the first of the year, according to one individual with knowledge of the situation. Deeper cuts may well follow after the final numbers for 2011 are in.

Davan Maharaj, managing editor for news since May 2008, will replace Stanton, becoming the latest to try and steward the paper as it seeks to turn around falling revenue.

Read the rest.

And another digital newsroom pared

This time it’s the Center for Public Integrity, based in D.C..

From Alicia Shepard of Media Wire:

The Center for Public Integrity laid off staff [this week] to try to compensate for a $2 million budget shortfall.

Ten positions were eliminated, and five people lost their jobs with the Washington-based nonprofit journalism organization. One of those five people was transferred to a newly-created position within CPI, according to Communications Director Randy Barrett.

Sandy Johnson and Keith Epstein were among those laid off. Johnson started working at the Center one year ago this week. She was the managing editor for politics and government. Epstein was also a managing editor.

“It’s a very difficult position,” said Bill Buzenberg, CPI’s director, who also handled the 2007 layoffs when nine people lost their jobs.

Read the rest.

And a bad Day in ConnectiCUT

That would be The Day in New London, Connecticut, where we find this grim news for its staff:

The Day Publishing Co. announced layoffs Wednesday.

In a statement to employees, Publisher Gary Farrugia said that 7 percent of the company’s 273 positions will be eliminated. Four open positions will not be filled and the remainder of the job reductions were layoffs, the letter said.

“These actions come as we reconcile what is shaping up to be a very disappointing year financially,” Farrugia said in the letter. “Declining advertising revenues in The Day newspaper are primarily responsible for this latest labor force reduction.”

He added, “The people who will be leaving us this week are all dedicated employees who are losing their positions for no other reasons than the prolonged recession and changing business model.”

Read the rest.

And another round of cuts in Florida

This time, it’s word that the previously announced planned layoffs at the Tampa Tribune are now a reality.

And the body count is big: 165 in all.

From Eric Deggan of the St. Petersburg Times:

Despite many previous rounds of staff reductions and widespread internal anxiety at the newspaper, Tampa Tribune TV critic Walt Belcher was still surprised Monday by the early-morning telephone call.

Like many of the 165 staffers downsized at the Tribune and smaller publications owned by Media General in Tampa, Belcher was caught before coming in to work. He was told he’d be laid off and must schedule a time to come in, complete paperwork and pick up his office belongings.

For Belcher, who joined the Tribune in 1977 as a reporter in its Sebring bureau, it was a stunning end to a near 35-year career at the newspaper.

“I’ve probably had more bylines than anybody in the history of the paper,” said Belcher, who took over as the paper’s TV critic in 1981. “I had a good run.”

A statement from Media General, based in Richmond, Va., said the company will downsize 165 staffers — a 16 percent reduction — from the Tribune, website TBO.com and its community and weekly print products. After the layoffs, print and online products will employ a total of 675 staffers.

Read the rest.

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