Category Archives: Blood on the Newsroom Floor

The latest news on news media layoffs and downsizings.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Death and numbers

Today’s report includes one newspaper closing, more layoffs, and a sale.

A Mississippi newspaper shuts down

Always sad to hear of the death of a community newspaper, and this time it’s a small town in Mississippi that loses what had been a community forum for more than a century.

From Melanie Dzwonchyk of

The Laurel Leader-Call. . .will cease publishing after its March 29 issue, its editors announced March 26.

In a story on the paper’s website, it was reported that publisher Mitchell Lynch advised the paper’s 18 employees of the decision Monday afternoon, and that he said subscribers who had paid for the paper in advance would be reimbursed.


According to its website, the Laurel Leader-Call was first published in 1911 as the Laurel Daily Argus. It was later called the Laurel Daily Leader and became the Laurel Leader-Call in 1930. In 1999, the paper was purchased by a subsidiary of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

Last year, the Laurel Leader-Call reduced its publication from daily to four days a week.

Read the rest.

The numbers tell the tale in Philly

First, the Philadelphia Media Network has been sold, with the new owners paying $55 million for a consortium that includes both of the city’s metropolitan dailies, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

The sale to a consortium of business folk headed by New Jersey Democratic Party honcho George Norcross comes two years after the previous owners, a group of hedge fund tycoons and other investors, paid $139 million for the papers. They in turn had bought it from a third group, which purchased the papers four years earlier for $515 million.

At that rate, we’ll be able to buy the papers with pocket change in another couple of years.

Whether or not the sale will be accompanied by the usual round of layoffs remains to be seen, given that the old owners had already announced layoffs to sweeten the pot for the new buyers,

And some more numbers

Blogger Robert Struckman, a Washington-based union activist, has our first set:

Mary Junck, CEO of Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, dragged the company into a financial mess until the company finally sought bankruptcy protection… and [last] week she got a $500,000 bonus! For steering the company through these tough economic times!

And on the  same day as news of Junck’s bonus hit the Web, 10 of the chain’s workers in Butte, Helena, Billings and Missoula have been laid off or accepted cheap buyouts–one week’s pay for every year worked.


Lee’s stock has performed a stunning dive from a high monthly average of $48.98 in June of 2004 to a low of $.29 in February of 2009. Lately, it’s been hovering a dime or so over a dollar.

Meanwhile, over the past five years the company has slashed its staff and benefits across all of its papers.

One Lee employee put it best, likening the raw deal to being hit by an exploding “shit balloon.”

Read the rest.

Oh, and the chain’s CFO got a $250,000 bonus.

And Lee makes yet more layoffs

This time it’s the Post-Star in Glenn Falls, New York.

The story from Thom Randall of the Valley News in Elizabethtown, New York:

The Post-Star, the southern Adirondack region’s daily newspaper, has laid off one-third of its entire staff of news reporters, leaving people questioning their news coverage territory.

Calls placed to Post-Star Publisher Rick Emanuel and City Editor Bob Condon were not returned by Friday March 30. Managing Editor Ken Tingley was on vacation, according to his voicemail message.

Sources familiar with the Post-Star said the staff cuts were made Wednesday March 28.

As of Thursday March 29, the names of news reporters Thomas Dimopoulos, Jamie Munks and David Taube were removed from the Post Star’s online staff directory, which the day before listed nine news reporters’ names.


Also absent from the company directory Thursday were the names of copy editor Christopher FitzGerald, photographer Aaron Eisenhauer and sportswriters Mary Albl and Larry Hall.

Reporters remaining at the Post-Star refused to talk this week about the staff cuts.

Read the rest.

News from another sector

Yep, this time it’s one of those glossy, gadget-filled men’s magazines that’s bringing out the journalism job chopper.

From Josh Constine of TechCrunch:

The Internet killed the magazine star. There’s been a major round of layoffs at Maxim magazine. Senior Editor Seth Porges is at least one employee who got the axe, according to our sources and confirmed by a recent update to his Twitter bio that now lists him as “EX-MAXIM”.

Update: We’ve confirmed there’s been six layoffs from the editors, web, and photo teams. The layoffs could be a response to declining magazine sales due to the fracturing of men’s attention caused by rise of the internet and social media. There’s just more places for men to look at gadgets, guns, and girls than there used to be.

Maxim is part of the Alpha Media Group which also own Stuff magazine. Alpha Media Group’s been in trouble for a while. Back in 2009 it had to shut down its music magazine Blender and fire multiple Maxim staff members including several editors.

Read the rest.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Carnage continues

Lots more newsroom gutting to report, and it’s only been six days since our last body count update.

And we’ve got television newsroom bloodletting, too.

More bodies to fall in Philly

With 45 bodies already hitting the newsroom floor earlier this month, Philadelphia’s daily newspapers are adding another 35 in months to come.

From David Gambacorta of the Philadelphia Daily News:

If misery does indeed love company, it would probably be right at home at Philadelphia Media Network Inc.

Managers of the company, which owns the Daily News, Inquirer, and SportsWeek, have proposed cutting 35 jobs within the next six months – on top of layoffs and buyouts that eliminated 45 jobs earlier this month.

The potential new round of cuts was detailed in a document, obtained yesterday by the Daily News, that outlined the terms of a potential sale of PMN by its current hedge-fund owners to an investor group now led by local businessmen Lewis Katz and George Norcross.

The letter of intent, dated March 20, from Katz and Norcross to Evercore Partners, which is managing the sale of the media company, puts the possible purchase price at $60 million.

According to the letter, the job cuts earlier this month cost PMN about $900,000 in severance.

The letter notes that the company’s senior managers explained in a presentation to the potential new owners last week that PMN would cut 35 additional jobs, which would cost about $200,000 in severance pay.

Read the rest.

More layoffs in Denver

The Denver Post, owned by MediaNews, the dominant publisher in California as well, is boosting its body count, but of the sixteen job cuts, only one is a journalist.

From the Denver Newspaper Guild:

On March 23, Denver Post management announced the elimination of 11 more positions.

Five metro home delivery districts will be eliminated resulting in the layoff of five district managers and five assistant district managers. The two-week window for volunteers in those positions to resign or retire with severance ends April 6

The effective dates of voluntary resignations or layoffs will be spread out. They will occur on April 23, May 21 and June 18 as the districts are eliminated.

The company also announced it is eliminating the Viva photographer position.

Bloomberg axes 35 TV newsies

The media empire owned by the mogul who also serves as mayor of somne city Back East is bringing out the chopping block.

From  of TV Newser:

TVNewser has learned Bloomberg TV has laid off up to 30 reporters, producers, associate producers, editors and other staffers this morning as the company shifts to a digital-centric newsroom. As TV employees are cut, Bloomberg plans to add 13 new positions and create a Digital Video Desk focused on moving video productions to web platforms, including tablets, smartphones and desktops. Among those let go, Cris Valerio, a San Francisco-based technology reporter and host of the weekly show “Venture,” which was canceled last year.


Of the new jobs, to be posted soon, there are six new positions for digital producers and digital strategists, leaving a net loss of about 15 positions.

During the last staff cuts at Bloomberg in early 2009, more than 100 employees from the Radio and TV, including 45 at Bloomberg’s New York City headquarters, were laid off. Those cuts were overseen by then head of Bloomberg TV David Rhodes who is now president of CBS News.

Read the rest.

Uberconservative mag announces layoffs

Human Events is one of the old line publications of the Hard Right, and following their rock-ribbed Republican principles, they’re cutting jobs just because they can.

From Eddie Scarry of FishbowlDC:

Cathy Taylor is barely four months into her gig as the editor of Human Events and the conservative weekly is already facing a massive shakeup under her leadership.

Taylor recently terminated Tony Lee who spearheaded the publication’s election blog and also dropped Brian H. Darling, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a regular columnist for Continue reading

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Los Angeles, Denver

An update to yesterday’s post on Los Angeles Times layoffs and a new report on layoffs at the Denver Post, which is owned by the same company that controls the lion’s share of California newspaper circulation.

Layoffs in Denver could signal another round of downsizing to come here in the Golden State.

Los Angeles Times, bodies falling

From Lucas Shaw of The Wrap:

The L.A. Times, mired in its fourth year of bankruptcy, went through yet another round of newsroom cuts on Tuesday, leaving its editorial staff unnerved by continuing cutbacks and an uncertain future.

The elimination of 12 to 20 positions was announced to the newsroom in December, but Tuesday’s cuts hit more departments than originally expected. This is just the latest in a wave of departures that has plagued the Times over the past several years.

Numerous insiders have described morale at the Times as at an all-time low.

Some of that is due to layoffs, but some is also attributable to the lack of resolution in the Tribune Company’s bankruptcy case. A judge will hear the Tribune’s latest proposal for a reorganization plan in May.

On Tuesday, Craig Turner, the No. 2 editor in arts and entertainment and a Times veteran of more than 40 years, volunteered for a buyout.

Shari Roan, a health writer for more than 22 years at the Times, was let go.

Read the rest.

Kevin Roderick of LA Observed has more on Turner’s departure:

Craig Turner, currently the Arts and Entertainment editor, confirms that he stepped forward for a buyout and will be retiring from the Los Angeles Times. He has been with the paper almost 41 years, as a reporter at the United Nations and in Canada and elsewhere, as Metropolitan Editor for several years, and in other positions. “This place has been great to me and I love and admire the people here, but after nearly 41 years there are other things I want to do while I can,” Turner emails.

Read the rest.

And this from Matthew Debord of KPCC radio in Los Angeles:

Layoffs have become a fact of life at the LAT, whose parent, Tribune Co., is still in bankruptcy. What appears to be going on now is that the paper is chopping back on its features and special sections, concentrating instead on news, business, sports, and entertainment — the core coverage areas. Three stand-alone weekly section, for example, were recently rolled into one Saturday section.

This happened at the same time the LAT announced the introduction of a paywall.

Read the rest.

Denver Post wields the chopper

The Post, which esnl read religiously way back in the 1950s and early 1960s, is the flagship paper of MediaNews Group Inc., a chain that counts among its holdings most of the newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area and many of those in the Los Angeles metropolitan region as well.

Layoffs in Denver could mean more in California.

From ColoradoPols:

More Layoffs Hit Declining Denver Post

That’s the word from our sources this morning–yesterday, responding to continuing declines in revenue, The Denver Post once again began laying off newsroom and editorial staff. We’ve learned that columnists Mike Littwin and Penny Parker were let go yesterday. The loss of Littwin in particular, one of the Denver Post’s best pickups from the ashes of the Rocky Mountain News, will greatly harm the landscape of political commentary in our state.

We’re told that the Post must cut some $500,000 in newsroom overhead, and that more layoffs are imminent throughout the organization. As soon as we have names, we’ll share them.

Read the rest.

More from Michael Roberts at West Word:

Earlier today, I reported that the Denver Post has laid off two of its most prominent staffers, Penny Parker and Mike Littwin; see our original post below. Shortly thereafter, I was able to reach Parker, who was blindsided by this unexpected move and still struggling to process it. From what she hears, though, more big changes at the paper could be on the way, and soon.

“Apparently, more is coming down today,” Parker says.

To put it mildly, Parker didn’t see the layoff coming. “Kick me in the head, seriously. I knew nothing, nothing. My poor, 33-year-old boss” — business editor Kristi Arellano — “had to tell me. I feel really bad for her. This is not what she signed on for.”

She adds that “I would have expected Greg Moore,” the Post’s editor, “to have called me. He didn’t, and I’m disappointed.”

Read the rest.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: It’s flowing again

On today’s agenda: Major layoffs in two cities and the first signs of a cutbacks in a third that’s closer to home, plus the inevitable slashes at smaller publications and the death of one small newspaper chain.

One thing to note. While some of the numbers may seem small, the newsroom staffs are far smaller than just a few years ago, so the impacts will be disproportionately greater than the figures would first appear.

Chicago Tribune brings out the chopping block

The Tribune Co. Is still reeling from the $8.2 billion buyout by Sam Zell, which was funding on the backs on the workers through their Employee stock ownership plan.

Zell, who’s also Berkeley’s biggest private landlord, drove the chain into bankruptcy a year later, resulting in major cuts at its papers, including California’s leading daily, the Los Angeles Times.

This latest round of cuts follows the loss of ten newsroom staffers last month through buyouts. No word yet on any layoffs at the chain’s 23 television stations.

From Lynne Marek of Crain’s Chicago Business:

The Chicago Tribune cut about 15 editorial employees today as the media company continues to shrink its newsroom.

The employees dismissed included reporters, editors and managers, according to sources familiar with the layoffs. They follow an employee buyout last month and a round of staff reductions in July.

The paper, the biggest in the city and a unit of Chicago-based Tribune Co., is creating a leaner workforce to reduce costs and revive profits as it prepares to exit bankruptcy later this year under its new creditor-owners.


“The Chicago Tribune does not publicly discuss internal personnel matters,” company spokesman Gary Weitman said. “Like most companies, the Tribune makes decisions about staff skills and composition based on customer needs and business conditions.”

Read the rest.

Layoffs begin today at Los Angeles Times

No idea yet how many will get the chop.

From Kevin Roderick of LA Observed:

The latest round of Los Angeles Times layoffs and other cuts began with at least one home phone call [Monday night]. Shari Roan, a health writer for the Times for 22 years, got the word that she’s on the list. She was a mainstay of the Health section that was recently eliminated.

Bad news in the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia’s metropolitan newspapers are on the auction block, and to sweeten the deal, layoffs are the order of the day.

From Mike Armstrong of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Philadelphia Media Network Inc. will lay off 19 unionized workers in its three newsrooms – four full-timers and 15 part-timers – and 21 additional newsroom employees have been approved for voluntary buyouts.

The layoffs of reporters, copy editors, multimedia content producers, and others at The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and would occur March 31. Five nonunion employees from the three newsrooms, including three from The Inquirer, also were laid off, bringing the total number of jobs being lost to 45.

In a statement, PMN said the layoffs and buyouts were a response to “the unfortunate economic conditions that continue to impact” the newspaper industry.


PMN spokesman Mark Block would not discuss details of the financial condition of the company, citing its status as a privately held corporation. “The kind of revenue we have been generating has not been enough to sustain the personnel we have,” he said.

Read the rest.

More from Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press:

Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers will lose 40 more newsroom employees this month, prompting union leaders. . .to accuse management of bungling a tablet computer launch, censoring stories and deriding print newspapers as “legacy products.”

The losses are just the latest setback for staffers, who have gone through repeated rounds of cutbacks and might soon have their fifth owner in six years.

A group of local powerbrokers and philanthropists hopes to buy Philadelphia Media Network from the New York hedge funds that took control after a 2010 bankruptcy auction. The sale price has plummeted from $515 million in 2006 to $139 million in 2009 to perhaps less than $70 million this year.

The hedge funds installed former executive Greg Osberg as publisher in late 2010. The guild attacked his leadership in a sharply worded memo Thursday.

Read the rest.

The Phily layoffs appear to be striking hard at the papers’ minority staff.

From Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute:

The National Association of Black Journalists promptly protested the departures of Sarah J. Glover, president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and sportswriter John Mitchell.

“I am not entirely sure of the racial breakdown of the members but at leastSarah J. GloverSarah J. Glover three of those laid off and one of the volunteers who left only to be spared a layoff are journalists of color,” Dan Gross, Philadelphia Daily News reporter and president of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America Local 38010, told Journal-isms by email on Thursday.

Read the rest.

Alternative chain hacks away at journo staff

The whole notion of “alternative chain” is an oxymoron, a result of the relentless corporatization of the nation’s once free-wheeling and fiercely independent local alternatives to the corporate media of the 1960s and 1970s.

The latest round of cuts comes at the Creative Loafing chain — and how’s that for a corporate chain name?

From Rachel Kaufman of Media Jobs Daily:

Creative Loafing, the company that owns the Chicago Reader, City Paper, and Creative Loafing Atlanta, has announced cuts in staffing and pay at the three papers.

At CL Atlanta, four positions were let go. The paper is saying farewell Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: And lots of it

The bodies are falling fast, as American journalism goes through another round of contractions. We’ve also got another closing of a non-profit, and allegations of censorship and of age discrimination in layoffs.

The Philadelphia toll: 37 journalists

We have two stories out of Philly, our first and last in today’s roundup.

Here’s the first bad news from the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, dated 15 February:

Newsroom combination at Inquirer, Daily News, to result in elimination of 37 positions.

Dear Guild member,

This afternoon Guild leaders met with Philadelphia Media Network officials including the editors of the Inquirer, Daily News and to hear the company’s plans for “One Newsroom.”

These plans include the devastating reduction in force of 37 positions.

The company identified that its combined newsroom functions could result in layoffs in the following classifications: Reporters, Writing Reporters, Rewrite, News Artists, Photographers, Photo Printers, Copy Editors/Readers, Make-Up Persons, Desk Assistants, Cartoonists, Editorial Writers, Editorial Clerks and Multi Media Content Producers.

Before any individuals would be targeted for layoff, the company is first instituting a Voluntary Separation Program. Details of the buyout package will be distributed soon by Human Resources. The more members who step up for voluntary buyouts, the less involuntary newsroom layoffs there will be.

The buyout window is open from Feb. 16, 2012 to Feb. 29, 2012. On March 1, 2012 PMN will notify the Guild of any members who have been targeted for layoff in any category. As per our contract layoffs in any category would be handled by seniority with the least senior person being first affected. In most cases, part-time employees would be laid-off before the dismissal of full-timers in their group.

The last day of work for either volunteers or those laid off would be March 31, 2012.

The company’s decision to decimate our already-shrunken ranks is hard to comprehend given the ever-competitive 24/7 nature of today’s media landscape.

However, PMN has the contractual right to reduce the work force, and the Guild will work to make sure any job eliminations are conducted in accordance with our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If you plan to apply for the voluntary separation program, you are to do so through Human Resources, but please first contact Guild Executive Director Bill Ross at the Guild office 215-928-0118, cell 267-240-8540 or

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

In solidarity,

Dan Gross, President,
Bill Ross, Executive Director,
and the Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America Local 38010

New Haven Register: 30+ press operators

From Victoria Sanchez of The New Journal, New Haven Connecticut:

1981. The New Haven Register moved from a small office on Orange and Audobon to 40 Sargent Drive, a former shirt factory. Busloads of people came to tour the new state-of-the-art Goss Metroliner printing presses. New Haven was the industry showroom. Rockwell International, the company that manufactured Goss Metroliners, featured the Register’s pressmen on the cover of its 1982 catalogue with the headline “Winning Team in New Haven.” In the picture, you can see the men’s reflections in the gleaming floors.

Today, the floors are black and slippery, covered in ink. According to the Register’s press manager, Frank Malicki, the custodians stopped cleaning the floors about three or four years ago, which is how he knew the Journal Register East Company (the Register’s corporate owner, known as the JRC) would close down the printing press. “How did I know? The same thing happened on Orange Street.” Thirty-odd jobs at the press will be outsourced to the Hartford Courant’s plant over the course of four weeks. The press’s last run will be on March 4. Malicki started working for the Register as a sixteen-year-old delivery boy in 1970. When I asked him about the future, he said, “I don’t know. I need a job.”

This closure is one more sign of the transition from print to digital media, which has thrown the traditional news industry into chaos. But the Register has been struggling for a long time. Since the Jackson brothers, Richard and Lionel, sold the newspaper in 1986, there have been three corporate takeovers, a bankruptcy filing, and dozens of layoffs. The 200,000-square-foot building at 40 Sargent Drive is now mostly empty. Last August, the trouble also affected editorial management. Longtime editor Jack Kramer, a thirty-year veteran, was replaced by Matt DeRienzo.

Read the rest.

Indianapolis Star: 6-8

This move results from one of the hottest trends in corporate journalism, consolidation of editing functions from several locations in one newsroom..

Stepping up the workload on a smaller number of editors looks good on a spreadsheet, but it transforms key decision to people with no ties to the community, adding yet more alyer of alienation between a troubled medium and its readership.

From Al Yates of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild:

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild has won pay raises for most of its workers but was unable to stop The Indianapolis Star’s plans for outsourcing, which could ship up to eight jobs out the state.

The Guild’s contract negotiating team reached a tentative agreement Thursday with representatives of The Indianapolis Star in a deal which must still be ratified in a vote by the Guild’s membership.

The agreement was the definition of a compromise.

In an industry still cutting jobs and cutting pay, the deal would award the Guild’s workers raises of 2 to 4 percent, with the highest raises going to some of the Guild’s lowest paid workers. But it was only a small step toward restoring the 10 percent pay cuts the Guild took two years ago.

Despite making it a focal point of the Guild’s “Save the Star” campaign, the Guild’s team found that outsourcing the page design work was an area where The Star was unyielding. We made a strong case — in leafletting efforts, a street protest, a media campaign and at the bargaining table — that this could damage the local news product. But it became clear that this was an edict from Gannett, The Star’s parent company, and that the quality of the product was a secondary consideration to saving money.

The Guild knew this was an uphill battle going in. We were told this was one we couldn’t win. But we felt it was worth trying. And if Gannett attempts future outsourcing in Indianapolis, they can be assured we will wage an even more ardent campaign to resist such an effort.

At present, The Star hasn’t specified exactly what pages will be designed in Louisville or how many journalists in Indianapolis will be displaced. The last estimate we were given was six to eight.

Read the rest.

Massachusetts massacre: 64 Wooster press operators

Another economic move even practiced by family owned papers is the outsourcing of printing. And when chains owns a number of papers in relatively close proximity, printing in one locale allows individual papers to shed one of their most cost-and-equipment-intensive functions.

From the Worcester Massachusetts  Telegram & Gazette:

The Telegram & Gazette has decided to shift most printing operations from its plant in Millbury to The Boston Globe’s facility in Dorchester in a cost-saving move that will cause 64 layoffs.

Though the T&G will be printed nearly 50 miles away from Central Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: A job opening!

Paying a visit to, the go-to website for ink-stained wretches in search of employment, we discovered a fascinating job opportunity:

Seeking an assignment editor to coordinate the article submission process and communications with correspondents for a news website focused on the Horn of Africa region. The website publishes in Somali, Arabic, Kiswahili and English.

The editor will screen and edit submissions for accuracy and objective reporting. Other tasks include Arabic and Somali copy-editing, researching local and regional media in the Horn of Africa region and identifying coverage angles.

The position requires strong familiarity with the Horn of Africa region, especially Somalia, and working experience in the region as a journalist.

The job requires excellent computer and communications skills. Strong Internet research skills in Arabic, Somali and English.

The applicant must have native fluency in Somali and strong spoken and written English. Additional knowledge of Arabic and/or Swahili preferred.

Bachelor’s degree and 5-8 years of experience required.

Must be able to work under pressure, using a variety of sources including news wires and the Internet. Some weekend work will be required. Some shifts might extend into the early evening. Must be flexible to be on call in case of breaking news.

Oh well. While we’ve got the experience, we lack the skills in Arabic, Swahili, and Somali.

But we were curious to learn just who might be offering such a fascinating job in one of the political and military hot spots in the world, given that most media are shutting down overseas bureaus.

So we clicked on the link, only to find ourselves on the website of General Dynamics Information Technology.

General effin’ Dynamics?

Here’s the opening line from the relevant Wikipedia entry:

General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD) is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world.

Well, we suppose it’s the next logical move in the collapse of the journalism biz.

Given that the Horn of Africa is a major source of revenue for defense contractors, what with all the military hardware and technology they supply to the Pentagon and America’s military allies in the region and the numerous services they supply in the realm of information technology to the country’s spook shops, why not go into the business of providing news coverage in the very profitable conflict zones?

And as a company that touts itself as a leader innovation, GD can take some pride in its founding role in the creating of the military/industrial/media complex.

And we bet they pay well too.

Maybe it’s time to start learning Swahili?

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Massive job cuts

The death throes of American journalism quickened this week, with news of two major layoffs in the work, as well as smaller scale cuts either underway or in the works.

And there’s also bad news abroad, but with start with the most serious hemorrhages.

Washington Post prepares to gut newsroom

The paper of record in the nation’s capital is about to lose a big chunk of its reporting staff, in part because the company’s for-profit college business took a big hit after other media began taking a closer look at the way it’s run [previously].

From Andrew Beaujon of Poynter’s Media Wire:

[N]ews of a new buyout offer began circulating in The Washington Post newsroom. This is the paper’s fifth round of buyouts since 2004. Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton tweeted this afternoon that the buyouts would be capped at 48 people or 8 percent of the 600-person newsroom.

The Washington Post Company, which owns the Post, Slate, a community newspaper group, and an educational unit, had a dismal third quarter. Its report from that time period was filed last November (PDF). It said that newspaper revenue was down 9 percent from the same period the year before, advertising revenue shrank 20 percent, online revenue was down 14 percent, and circulation had declined (down 5.4 percent weekdays, 4.4 percent on weekends). The company’s newspaper division lost $9.9 million in the third quarter alone.

The Post Co.’s Kaplan unit saw its revenue fall by 79 percent following an unexpected government interest in the for-profit college sector.

Previous buyouts were financed by the Post’s gilded pension assets. As the company’s 2010 annual report (PDF) stated, “unusually for an S&P 500 company, we continue to have an overfunded pension plan. We haven’t had to contribute to the plan in decades. There’s almost no chance we’ll have to contribute in the near future.”

Read the rest.

Nation’s largest publisher warms up the chainsaw

Gannett, which controls the most daily newspaper circulation in the United States of any media chain, has announced it’s slashing hundreds of newspaper staffers, offering buyouts to their most senior and experienced staff.

The move follows two major payroll cutbacks last year, one of 700 announced in June and a second round of 200 in December.

From Gannett Blog, which is run by former USA Today editor Jim Hopkins, who writes:

Gannett is suddenly dangling buyouts before a pool of nearly 800 qualified U.S. newspaper employees who are 56 years old with at least 20 years’ service — a deal they have 45 days to accept or reject, the company said today in a memo. A maximum of 665 buyouts will actually be granted.

The offer is being made “instead of pursuing other cost management actions but we cannot rule out other actions in the future,” the memo says — leaving open the possibility of layoffs if an insufficient number of people step forward.

Read the rest.

Here’s the memo, sent to all 20,00 employees of the Community P:ublishing division:


TO: U.S.C.P. Employees
FR: U.S. Community Publishing President Bob Dickey
RE: Voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program

Dear colleagues:

Today we are offering a voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program to 665 eligible U.S. Community Publishing employees who are age 56 with at least 20 years of service, as of March 31, 2012, and who are in certain departments and/or job categories. Eligibility by department or job category varies by each operating unit depending on its needs.

This offer was designed to be as attractive as or better than others in the industry. The Early Retirement Opportunity Program also is the first offered by Gannett since 2008. The offer provides for salary continuation of two weeks’ pay for each complete year of service, capped at 52 weeks, and ongoing health, dental and vision coverage during this period.

Employees who are eligible will have 45 days to accept. At the close of the offer period, Gannett will review acceptances and make final decisions based on the terms of the offer.

As mentioned – the program is completely voluntary for these valued, long-term employees. They have helped steer a strong and steady course for the company for many years, including through recent challenging economic times, and their work is deeply appreciated.

It’s worth noting that while 785 employees meet the criteria, the offer is being offered to 665 employees due to ongoing operational needs at the company. The offer is for U.S. Community Publishing employees only.

The Early Retirement Opportunity Program is one part of our ongoing strategy to transform the company with a focus on remaining the top news and information provider in your market. To accomplish this, it entails a ground-up assessment of our overall structure and resources. At this time we are offering this program instead of pursuing other cost management actions but we cannot rule out other actions in the future.

Please look for a separate letter today from your publisher, who will provide more details about this program and your location.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or your publisher.

Bob Dickey President/U.S. Community Publishing

Age discrimination plagues newspaper layoffs

Gannett is restricting its latest round of buyouts to it’s oldest employees, a perfect example of an issue raised in an email to journalism analyst Jim Romenesko:


Perhaps I’ve missed it, but has anyone done a story on how the newsroom layoffs of the past decade have been one of the greatest exercises in age discrimination in U.S. history?

This doesn’t count me because I quit in disgust after 33 years in the business. But every round of layoffs at every newspaper I’ve been personally familiar with have focused on the oldest of the employees, those between 50 and 65, with just a smattering of young people thrown in. Now, I know the argument is these people are targeted not because of their age but because of their high salaries. However, the result is that thousands of journalists who are beyond prime hiring age are being pushed out onto the streets. Some land well, some don’t. It just strikes me that if this was any business in America other than Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: Hemorrhage resumes

The newsroom layoff scene began the year quietly, but no more.

The cuts are coming fast and heavy, from coast to coast.

Job ax falls at former Times papers

The Halifax Media Group brought the New York Times chain of smaller papers last year, and now up to 50 staffers may lose their jobs — 30 for certain and 20 more if they don’t move to corporate headquarters in Florida.

One of the papers sold is the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, located north of San Francisco. So far no word how many positions may be offed there.

From Julie Moos of Media Wire:

About 30 employees of the former New York Times Regional Media Group were notified Friday that their new employer, Halifax Media Group, has decided to lay them off and offer severance packages. The other 20 were offered positions, but only if they relocated to Daytona Beach, Fla., where Halifax is headquartered.

A letter accompanying documents distributed Friday said Halifax “has reviewed the company’s Tampa operations to see where additional efficiencies can be achieved by eliminating or consolidating certain job functions and operations.”

Employees “who were offered a package were told that they wouldn’t be given severance if they speak to the media or publicly discuss the situation,” said one source. A second source confirmed the confidentiality clause, which reads, in part:

Employees agree to hold confidential both the terms of this agreement and the circumstances underlying it, except [to] the extent that he is required to reveal information under legal process. Employee may also reveal the details of this agreement to employee’s immediate family, accountant and attorney, but only if those individuals agree to keep confidential the information revealed to them.

The severance offer also includes a non-disparagement clause that prohibits signees from making “any disparaging or untrue statement about the company, its affiliates, owners, stockholders or about any employee of the company.”

Read the rest.

So I guess you can’t say “The assholes fired me after 20 years.”

San Francisco Examiner lays off at the top

The editorial chop comes after the paper laid off lower-level employees; just how many positions were axed remains a corporate secret.

From Erin Sherbert of SF Weekly:

Examiner Editor in Chief Deirdre Hussey has left the newspaper after more than 10 years. Initial reports say that Hussey resigned from the paper amid a change in ownership, however, the new owners say that her departure was a “mutual decision.”

Todd Vogt, president and publisher of the Examiner, told SF Weekly on Wednesday that after speaking with Hussey, the two decided to part ways effective immediately. Her abrupt departure included a nice severance. “Her institutional knowledge will be missed, but I think a fresh start and some fresh ideas in the Editor-in-Chief chair will be good,” Vogt said.

The staff was informed of the decision Wednesday afternoon. The paper has started a search for a new editor in chief.

“Everyone is personally sorry to see her go, but professionally, everyone agrees a change is welcomed,” Vogt told SF Weekly.

While the SF Appeal reports that sources claim Vogt asked Hussey to stay on as an editorial consultant, he denied that offer was ever made.

“We wish her the best,” Vogt said, offering no more comment.

The news came just a few days after the paper laid off an undisclosed number of employees as part of a major restructuring of the newspaper under its new ownership. In November, the former owner, Phil Anschutz announced he would sell the notoriously conservative newspaper to a consortium of shareholders. After the sale closed on Nov. 30, the new owners announced not only would it scrap all the crazy right-wing screeds, but there would be layoffs, too (in full disclosure, I once worked for Hussey at the Examiner).

Read the rest.

Oregon paper loses a quarter of its staff

It’s the result of yet another managerial takeover, reported by Hannah Hoffman of Willamette Week:

The Oregonian has taken over management of the Hillsboro Argus, according to Oregonian Editor Peter Bhatia.

Bhatia announced the change in Tuesday’s issue of the Argus.

Four Argus employees were laid off during the takeover, a nearly 25 percent cut to the newspaper’s staff.

The Oregonian and The Argus are already owned by the same company, Advance Publications, and share the OregonLive website. Bhatia says the takeover is merely “that relationship becoming closer.”

Read the rest.

On the East Coast, jobs fall in Connecticut

From the Danbury, Connecticut, News-Times:

On Friday afternoon, the Journal Register Company, parent company to the Housatonic Times and Litchfield County Times, laid off seven employees in the small New Milford operation. That leaves Continue reading

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: 2012 cuts begin

The 2012 body count is adding up, though some numbers are in dispute.

San Diego Union-Tribune layoffs

When rich local investors shelled out $110 million for the San Diego Union-Tribune [U-T] last month, we predicted the bodies would soon fall, and they have.

Pat Maio of the North County Times [NCT] reports on the latest in an article which notes that the NCT is on the wish list of future acquisitions by the same team that bought the San Diego paper:

[T]he U-T on Friday laid off about 10 employees who were associated with the old website, mostly technical and marketing-related jobs, [co-owner John] Lynch said. Some of the marketers were housed on the print side, as well, he said. The layoffs weren’t editorial workers, but generally those who didn’t possess the skill sets needed for the U-T as it shifts to the digital world, Lynch said.

Maio also gives us a grim reminder abut just how bleak it’s become for the newspaper trade:

The U-T has seen its average paid circulation with branded editions go from 319,606 in 2005 to 227,872 for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2011, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Branded editions, besides home deliveries and single-copy sales, include Newspapers in Education copies, alternate-language newspapers, commuter newspapers and community newspapers.

The ABC branded figures also show that the Orange County Register fell from 302,110 to 270,809 over the same period, the Los Angeles Times from 905,107 to 572,998, and the North County Times from 91,097 to 74,168. The Riverside Press-Enterprise did not have a branded circulation figure in 2011, according to ABC. It saw its “unbranded” circulation fall during the same period as the other papers from 185,344 to 112,084.

Read the rest.

Major layoffs coming in North Carolina

It’s a paper owned by Sacramento-based McClatchy.

WRAL broadcasting in Raleigh reports:

The News & Observer is preparing to lay off about 10 percent of its newsroom staff and will announce other cuts affecting its news operation, sources inside the N&O tell

A formal announcement may not come until next week, however. The N&O is part of the McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) newspaper chain, and the group reportedly is planning to announce corporate-wide cutbacks, one newsroom source said. McClatchy also owns The Charlotte Observer.

The nation’s third-largest newspaper chain is based in Sacramento, Calif. It reported May 21 that revenues for the first four months of 2008 were down 14 percent from the same period in 2007. McClatchy stock hit a 52-week low of $7.59 on Tuesday.


The layoffs could affect as few as 15 or as many as 30 newsroom staffers, the sources said. Numerous people had expected the layoffs to be made Monday following an announcement by John Drescher, the paper’s senior vice president and executive editor, at a recent staff meeting that layoffs would take place.

Read the rest.

Printers bombed in New Haven

Though they’re not newsroom workers, in these days of ribbonless word processors, press operators are really the last group who really are ink-stain wretches.

From the New Haven Register:

The New Haven Register plans to outsource its printing operation to Hartford, laying off 105 people, and is planning to move key operations to new office space in downtown New Haven.

Publisher Tom Wiley said the move will enable the Register to launch an “open newsroom” where the public will be invited to participate in and observe local journalism. The Register’s new office will be modeled, in part, after the open-to-the-public Newsroom Café in Torrington that was launched by The Register Citizen, a sister publication of the Register.

“We’re excited to be opening our newsroom to our community,” Wiley said. “We have launched our Community Media Lab and community conversations and this is the next step in serving our community.”

Plans call for the Register, along with Journal Register Co. sister publications including The Register Citizen and The Middletown Press, to be printed in Hartford by the Hartford Courant beginning in February. The company is in the process of finalizing an agreement with the Courant for printing operations, Wiley said.

Read the rest.

Virginia bodies to fall, numbers in question

While there are conflicting reports about the ultimate body count, there’s no doubt that significant layoffs are coming, and 30 have already fallen in Newport News.

Daniel Curran who blogs at James River Journal writes:

The Daily Press will over the next few weeks lay off 150 of its remaining 300 employees, reducing its workforce by half.

Some of the employees losing their jobs are long term, having been with the paper for up to 33 years.

The paper has been steadily reducing its workforce Continue reading

The Occupy MSM body count keeps rising

Over at Storify [corrected, see comment], Josh Stearns has been tracking the number of arrests of mainstream media journalists at Occupy events. Here’s his latest summary:

So far 36 journalists have been arrested in 10 cities around the United States since Occupy Wall Street began. Including citizen journalists affiliated with a variety of Occupy media teams the total is 50.

The arrests have tapered off in recent weeks, but that’s mainly because of the ruthless and well-coordinated police evictions of Occupy encampments across the country.

Unlike the citizen photojournalists and bloggers covering the Occupy movement, journalists for the mainstream media invariable prominently display their press credentials [often issued by police departments], usually handing from lanyards worn around their necks.

Since we first started following the journalist’s craft back in 1964, we have never seen such outright official hostility and violence aimed at the press, with one notable exception: The rage directed at Northern reporters by police during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

In both instances, reporters were single out because they were giving coverage to victims of oppression — people of color in the first instance and victims of a predatory financial system in the second [and, yes, the two forms of oppression are usually linked].

The major difference between the earlier anti-press actions and today’s actions lies mainly in the fact that today’s press corps is diminished in both numbers and power.

Back when we first started drawing our pay by banging away at a typewriter, the country had a great many more newspapers, and the ratio of reporters to population was much higher.

In those days, reporters were also a great deal more independent, knowing that if they got fired for being too uppity, they could find another job within days or a few weeks at most.

Reporters were also better paid, and had solid benefits.

Today, job insecurity is the rule in the nation’s newsrooms, and editorial departments are spread much thinner, with far fewer reporters covering their communities.Hundreds of local newspapers have died, and those that remain have been swallowed up by chains — invariably accompanied by layoffs, benefit cuts, and pay freezes and often cuts.

In other words, today’s journalists are are victims of the very same forces that have sparked the Occupy movement.

Then there’s the ongoing war of police against the camera, a campaign that was sparked by the infamous video of Los Angeles police beating the hapless Rodney King and escalated by the multiple videos of a transit cop killing Oscar Grant as he lay handcuffed and face to the ground in an Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

What the cops fail to recognize all too often is that they, too, are members of the 99 percent. Journalists, however, realize all too well on which side of the divide they fall.

Unlike police in the 1960’s South [who were just as white as their bosses], today’s men and women in blue have much more in common with the protesters than their elected masters, whose offices were bought and paid for by the contributions of the one percent.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: No layoffs yet?

With 2012 well into its first week, there’s good news: No layoffs yet.

Or maybe not.

And one way or another, there’s still lots of bad news for the ink-stained-wretch crowd, including what amounts to a significant pay cut for staff at the newly purchased San Diego Union-Tribune.

Rupester hires a New York Daily News editor

And an import too. More precisely, an import from his now-defunct British tabloid, News of the World [NOTW] — the one he was forced to close after revelations its staff was hacking the phones of everyone from royals to murder victims.

And his New York hire is the guy who was running NOTW when the ax fell.

From the BBC:

Colin Myler, the last editor of the News of the World, has been named top editor of the New York Daily News.

The Daily News, a tabloid, is a direct competitor to Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, where Mr Myler previously worked as executive editor.

He replaces editor-in-chief Kevin Convey as the company moves towards a more digital operation.

Mr Myler led the News of the World when it was closed in July 2011 amid an escalating scandal over phone hacking.

He has since testified about the paper’s involvement in the phone hacking scandal before the UK’s Leveson inquiry into press standards.

He told the inquiry that he feared there were “bombs under the newsroom floor”, referring to the prospect that there may have been widespread wrongdoing at the paper in the past.

Read the rest.

Gee, that should give New Yorkers a lot of confidence, eh?

More Daily News changes

Can you say “permalancer”?

That’s the term of art for journalists who work regular weekly schedules, but without the benefits granted regular staff.

Seems a lot of folks who wrote and snapped photos for the Daily News were just such critters, and now the paper is moving in a new direction.

Just what it means for the folks who were doing more for less remains unclear, as Joe Pompeo reports for the New York website Capital:

Editorial staff at the Daily News endured a fair amount of turbulence during the last months of 2011, including a masthead shakeup and a round of layoffs that claimed nearly 20 editorial positions.

Now it seems that another reorganization is at hand, involving the group of photographers and reporters at the paper who are “permalancers,” freelancers who work set schedules up to 40 hours a week but are not on payroll and don’t get benefits.

A handful of freelance reporters—at least four of them, according to sources—have just been offered staff jobs.

The hirings follow weeks of newsroom chatter that the permalancer pool was about to be dissolved, with some of them being brought on to salaried positions and others let go, suggesting that the News is seeking to curb its use of freelance talent, which generates a not insignificant amount of the tabloid’s content.

“I think we all sort of felt like this was gonna happen at some point,” said one source.

Some of those still awaiting word about their employment status—including some 20 photographers—are a bit on edge.

Read the rest.

New York Times staffers voice frustrations

There’s a new website called Save Our Times posted by members of the Newspaper Guild of New York, which represents newsroom staff at the nation’s leading daily newspaper.

To date, some 512 journalists have signed an Open Letter to Arthur Sulzberger Jr. petition posted at the website, which we reprint in full. Sulzberger is chair of the paper’s parent corporation:

Dear Arthur:

We, the Guild leadership and many reporters, editors, account managers and other Times employees, Guild members and otherwise, are writing to express profound dismay at several recent developments.

Our foreign citizen employees in overseas bureaus have just had their pensions frozen with only a week’s warning. Some of these people have risked their lives so that we can do our jobs. A couple have even lost them. Many have spent their entire careers at the Times — indeed, some have letters from your father explaining the pension system — and deserve better treatment.

At the same time, your negotiators have demanded a freeze of our pension plan and an end to our independent health insurance.

We ask you to withdraw these demands so that negotiations on a new contract can proceed fruitfully and expeditiously. We also urge you to reconsider the decision to eliminate the pensions of the foreign employees.

We have worked long and hard for this company and have given up pay to keep it solvent. Some of us have risked our lives for it. You have eloquently recognized and paid moving tribute to our work and devotion. The deep disconnect between those words and the demands of your negotiators have given rise to a sense of betrayal.

One of our colleagues in senior management recently announced her retirement from the paper, which is reported to include a very generous severance and retirement package, including full pension benefits.

All of us who work at the Times deserve to have a secured retirement; this should not be a privilege cynically reserved to senior management. We strongly urge you to keep faith with your words and our shared mission of putting out the best newspaper in the world.

Another campaign targets freelancer pay

The National Writers Union, which represent freelancers, has launched a campaign of its own called “Pay the Writers.”

One of their primary targets is plutocratic political chameleon Arianna Huffington.

Here’s their message, from their website:

As 2011 wraps up, it seems that everyone is weighing in on what writers can expect for 2012.  Technological innovations, the rise of citizen journalism and the News Co-op model are just a few things to look for next year. So where does the freelance journalist fit into all of this?

In August the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 launched the Pay the Writer! campaign in reaction to the sale of the Huffington Post.  “Whatever the ultimate impact of AOL’s $315-million acquisition of the Huffington Post on the new-media landscape, it’s already clear that the merger will push more journalists more deeply into the tragically expanding low-wage sector of our increasingly brutal economy.” wrote Tim Rutten shortly after the announcement of the merger.  In keeping with Continue reading

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: The video

A VOCER interview with City University of New York journalism professor and columnist Eric Alterman succinctly sums up much of what we’ve been saying about the the dismal impact of the ongoing destruction of American journalism.

H/T to Walled-In Pond.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: 2011 body count

From Reflections of a Newsosaur

Our best guess for newsroom jobs lost this year is just over 4,000.

Former newspaper executive Alan D. Mutter, who blogs at Reflections of a Newsosaur, offers up a report on the year’s body count.

An excerpt:

As publishers scrambled to bring costs in line with diminishing revenues, 3,775+ newspaper jobs were eliminated in 2011, according to Erica Smith, the author of the Paper Cuts blog. The toll this year is nearly 30% greater than 2,920+ cuts Smith reported in 2010.

Smith says “+” because many publishers tend to fudge the numbers when they announce staff reductions. The best Smith can do, as she is the first to admit, is tally whatever hard numbers she gleans from the press – or contained in memos that land in her email. Because many announcements don’t contain numbers, she adds a + to the statistics she assembles.

Given this limitation, it is fair to conclude her statistics understate the number of people who have lost their jobs. But the trend she faithfully has been reporting is unmistakable.

Since Smith began her running count of publishing layoffs in the middle of 2007, 39,806+ newspaper jobs have been eliminated. This represents 11% of the all the jobs in an industry that, according to the Census Bureau, employed 360,633 individuals in 2007.

The worst newspaper layoffs occurred in 2008 and 2009, when, respectively, 15,993+ and 14,285+ pink slips were issued. Newspaper ad sales, the primary source of industry revenues, plunged 17% in 2008 and 27% in 2009, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Read the rest.

We’re sure the actual figure is at least 200 higher, given that we’ve featured several layoffs that didn’t appear on Smith’s excellent blog.

Layoffs coming in Seattle

The upcoming cuts reported by Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be some of 2012’s first newsroom bloodshed:

The Seattle Times will post a record loss this year, topping $12 million, and job cuts are inevitable, the president of the newspaper’s parent company told employees this week.

In a memo to the paper’s staff, Seattle Times Co. President Carolyn Kelly outlined a long list of cuts to be made as a result of the financial condition: reductions ranging from equipment purchases and security staffing to corporate philanthropy and the number of pages in the Sunday paper.

“I wish I could say making these painful cuts will get us to where we need to be. It won’t,” Kelly wrote in the memo, dated Monday. “There are more cuts to come. Sadly, they will inevitably involve staff reductions.”

Kelly wrote that the company doesn’t yet know how many jobs will be cut or where the cuts will be made. The company hopes to notify the affected employees by early February, she wrote.

Read the rest.

Layoffs by another name at the nation’s leading paper

When publishers don’t want to admit they’re laying off people, they offer buyouts, cash payments based on years of service designed to entice folks at the end of their careers or eager to jump ship for other reasons.

The New York Times did just that, and Foster Kamer reported the outcome for the New York Observer Monday:

Over the weekend, the New York Times’ ‘Sports of the Times’ columnist George Vecsey surprised regular readers with his Saturday column this week, which he used to announce a change in his schedule: “it is time to step back (not using the R-word) and write for the paper occasionally.”

Mr. Vecsey was one of several Times veterans who signed off on the latest round of buyout packages recently offered to the paper’s staffers, many of whom were publicly mourned on Twitter by Times staffers (“Some really good people leaving @nytimes with the latest round of voluntary buyouts. Paper will Continue reading

Quote of the day: The Bay Area ‘news desert’

In an essay posted by the website of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, journalist Tom Stites writes of the emergence of “news deserts” as the result of the ongoing devastation of community-based journalism, a phenomenon we’ve been tracking in our “Blood on the Newsroom Floor” series.

One example he cites of an emerging news desert is one frequently featured in our posts here at esnl, the unending rounds of downsizing at the Bay Area News Group [previously], which controls most of the newspaper circulation in the San Francisco Bay Area:

The Bay Area News Group, which had been 13 dailies published by the Denver-based MediaNews chain, last month cut 34 newsroom positions across the group and combined five of its titles into two; in total, more than 100 employees lost their jobs. In one stroke, three papers died and the 10 survivors were all wounded. Readers will find the papers less reflective of their communities — they’ll have local news sections and most will have familiar nameplates, but their general news, sports, and comics pages will be more uniform. And, with the shrunken staff, original community reporting, which has been drying up for years as newspapers laid off reporters, will become even more parched.

Eric Newton, now senior advisor to the president of the Knight Foundation, was managing editor of The Oakland Tribune 20 years ago. In a posting to the Knight Blog, he recalled that he’d supervised a staff of 130 full-time journalists; after years of attrition the newsroom was home to only a dozen reporters — and this was before the newest cutbacks.

Read the rest.

Stites is the creator of the Banyan Project, which is exploring new ways to provide communities with the news lost as papers downsize and vanish.

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

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 Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: More bodies

Lots more to report on the ongoing decimation of the American newspaper.

All the announced layoffs are on the eastern side of the Rockies, but a just-announced bankruptcy filing will likely mean more jobs lost in California.

Colorado Springs journos get the ax

There is a California connection to our first layoff story. The paper in question is owned by Freedom Communications, a chain based in Irvine.

From the Denver Post:

The Colorado Springs Gazette confirmed on its website Thursday that editor Jeff Thomas was resigning at the end of the year. Carmen Boles, currently senior director of interactive content and audience development has been named director of content.

The Gazette said the moves were part of a reorganization and digital-first initiative.

A person familiar with the move told The Post about a dozen employees — several from the newsroom — were laid off . Others said Thomas resigned in face of the layoffs, which took several of his top managers.


The Gazettes’ website story said the moves were all made to better connect with readers and to better use social media. Other than Thomas, no staff departures were mentioned.


The Colorado Springs Independent reported that several affected staffers were escorted from the building prior to the layoff announcement.

Read the rest.

“Escorted out”? Well, that’s one way of “connecting.”

There’s gotta be a country song for it

Our next tale of newsroom woe comes from Memphis, where an nine employees are waiting for the chop.

From the Memphis Business Journal:

More layoffs are coming at The Commercial Appeal, according to a letter written to Memphis Newspaper Guild members by guild president Wayne Risher.

Memphis Flyer published a copy of the letter from Risher, which details some of the layoff plans. Nine guild-covered employees will be terminated, according to the letter, including one in editorial, two in accounting, two in online services, one in advertising and three in operations.

The jobs will be lost by Dec. 20 and are being eliminated to “cut expenses and achieve efficiencies in the business,” according to the letter.

Read the rest.

More layoffs coming in Chicago

Not the Tribune, which is run by Berkeley’s biggest privtae sector landlaord, Sam Zell, but the Sun-Times.

From Crain’s Chicago Business:

Sun-Times Media Holdings LLC, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and other suburban newspapers, is cutting workers in another round of reductions aimed at slashing costs as the company finishes its move to a centralized editorial and billing system.

Sun-Times CEO Jeremy Halbreich confirmed that some editorial workers and possibly other employees are losing their jobs, but he declined to say how many. This is the “final piece” of the 18 months of reductions, he said. He declined to say whether all employees had been notified at this point.

“It takes awhile to implement everything onto this new centralized platform,” Mr. Halbreich said.

There were three employees cut at the Sun-Times, a photographer, a graphics artist and a feature writer, said Dave Roeder, who is treasurer of the Newspaper Guild of Chicago, which represents some of the company’s editorial workers. He wasn’t sure how many were cut across the company. Mr. Halbreich also declined to say how many employees the company now has.

Read the rest.

More job cuts coming in Florida

How many and precisely when may be uncertain, but they’re coming in Tampa Bay.

From Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times:

For several weeks, staffers at the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8 have been buzzing about rumors of impending new layoffs at the local outlets owned by Richmond, Va.-based Media General.

Last week, emails and buzz indicated layoffs might come Monday. Now, some staffers fear job reductions could come early Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: Chops and cuts

Lots of bad news for the Fourth Estate today, and here it is. . .

Ominous major cuts in CNN newsroom

The reason we apply the adjective in the latest bad news from America’s number two cable news network? It hints at worse to come.

From Michael Zhang of PetaPixel, writing Tuesday:

Roughly 50 staffers at CNN were given pink slips today, including nearly a dozen photojournalists. In an email to the staff, Senior VP Jack Womack cited the accessibility of cameras and the growth of citizen journalism as reasons for the terminations:

We also spent a great deal of time analyzing how we utilize and deploy photojournalists across all of our locations in the U.S. [...] We looked at the impact of user-generated content and social media, CNN iReporters and of course our affiliate contributions in breaking news. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.

CNN’s citizen journalism initiative, iReport, has proved extremely valuable as a source of imagery during things like disasters and protests. However, it has also received criticism for not paying for submitted photos — even those that are subsequently broadcast worldwide.

The warning comes in that last line. Why should a corporation pay for something they can get for free, and in a media-fixated culture such as ours, simply getting a major news outlet to air your photos is a major ego boost.

There’s also another, deeper current at play. Years ago The Best Newspaper Photographer We Ever Knew predicted that “the day will come cameras get so sophisticated that they don’t need us any more.”

Looks like that day is today.

The final word on the Providence layoffs

We noted earlier that layoffs were coming at the Rhode Island’s leading paper. Now the numbers are in.

From Scott MacKay of NPR:

Tough economic times continue to take a toll at the Providence Journal, the state’s largest newspaper. Management is looking for eight workers – split between advertising and the newsroom – to take buyouts and leave the ProJo. If the company does not get the eight buyouts, layoffs would ensue, according to John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild, the union representing newspaper journalists, porters and advertising employees.

If the company doesn’t get the buyouts, the eight positions targeted for layoffs include two inside advertising representatives, two outside sales representatives, one reporter, one copy editor, one photographer and one editorial assistant, Hill said.

Under terms of the guild contract, layoffs would be done by seniority, with younger and less experienced employees being the first to go. The buyouts are not generous by historic ProJo standards. Employees would get 1.25 weeks of pay for every year they have worked at the paper, up to a maximum of 10 weeks pay.

Read the rest.

And the final word on Denver Post layoffs

We always had a soft spot for the Denver Post, the go-to paper of our teenage years.

We noted earlier that layoffs were coming to the paper, and now the final tally is in, reported by Michael Roberts of Westword:

At last, we’ve got the complete list of Denver Post employees who have or will be leaving the paper after accepting a buyout offer: nineteen staffers from various departments, including editors, reporters and photographers. Perhaps most surprising: John Moore, the paper’s theater critic and online dynamo who just was named best arts blogger at the Westword Web Awards.


To put it mildly, the Post will be losing an enormous amount of institutional knowledge as a result of these moves, from every corner of the editorial department — from transportation expert [Jeff] Lieb to [Jeanette] Chavez, the managing editor/administration. Moreover, the number of people who took the deal — including folks like [Jim] Carr, who’s only been at the paper for eight years, and [John] Moore, who’s nowhere close to retirement age — suggests that staffers don’t expect another buyout offer in the future. If additional belt-tightening is required, most people believe layoffs will be the first option, not the last.

Read the rest.

But the most troubling Post layoff reflects the ongoing destruction of a venerable American institution, the editorial cartoon. Back in th days we were Post readers, the paper was home to two of the greatest editorial cartoonist of the 20th  Century, Paul Conrad and Pat Oliphant.

As of today, the Post doesn’t even have a staff cartoonist.

From Michael Cavna ov the Washington Post:

Today is the day that Mike Keefe flicks off his newsroom drafting lamp for the last time and departs the Denver Post after nearly a four-decade run. Just months after accepting the Pulitzer Prize, Keefe also now accepts his paper’s buyout offer — leaving the Mile High air thinner by yet one more daily cartooning voice.

It is hard for the whooshing vacuum of so many Colorado exits not to leave us somewhat winded.

Keefe’s departure comes just weeks after Boulder Camera political cartoonist John Sherffius announced plans to leave the paper for a career in graphic design.

As staff artists go, their goodbyes are perhaps that area’s most prominent since 2009, when the Rocky Mountain News folded. Political cartoonist Ed Stein and sports editorial cartoonist Drew Litton were landmarks on the city’s newspaper landscape before both losing their longtime Rocky perches.

Read the rest.

When papers don’t chop, they cut

Two alternatives to layoffs — often combined — are benefit reductions and pay directly, either through salary reductions or through forced unpaid Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: A paper dies

Reader Luce Kanon tips us to the latest California newspaper closing, this time in the state’s far north, where a paper owned by MediaNews, the Denver-based chain which controls the largest share of California’s newspaper circulation, is calling it quits.

No word yet on how many jobs will be lost.

From Thadeus Greenson of the Eureka Times Standard, which is also ceasing print publication of its Monday edition, a practice already implemented here in the San Francisco Bay Area by some of MedNews’s papers:

The Humboldt Beacon newspaper — a local institution that has informed the Eel River Valley for more than a century — will cease publication next month, Times-Standard Publisher Dave Kuta announced Monday. The Beacon’s last issue will be Dec. 8.

The Times-Standard will also cease publication of its Monday print edition after Jan. 2. The two cost-saving moves will be accompanied by the layoffs of a Times-Standard photographer and the Humboldt Beacon editor.

”None of these decisions were made easily,” Kuta said in a company-wide memo announcing the decision to staff Monday afternoon.

”The next few weeks will be difficult ones, but I’m confident we will be able to move forward in a stronger position to face the challenges ahead.”

Kuta cited a down economy that has led to sagging advertising revenue and increased costs associated with production and distribution as reasons for the decisions, which he said were made over the last month.

Both the Times-Standard and the weekly Humboldt Beacon are owned by Denver, Colo., based MediaNews Group, a privately-owned company founded in 1983 by William Dean Singleton that operates more than 55 daily newspapers in 11 states with a combined daily circulation of approximately 2.5 million.


Kuta said Monday’s decision was made locally and not handed down by MediaNews Group.

Read the rest.

The Humboldt Herald news blog adds more:

When the Humboldt Herald started in the spring of 2006, a rich local media environment appeared to be thriving — but then again, so did the housing market. Eureka had two newspapers, the T-S and Rob Arkley’s Eureka Reporter.  Competition gave the T-S a badly needed kick in the keester, and for a while there seemed to be reporters on every little story.

But the Reporter was supported almost entirely by Arkley’s pocket book and therefore doomed to fail. ER reporters have gone back to bar tending or left the area in search of journalism jobs.

Is the loss of the Beacon and the Monday Times-Standard another step toward total annihilation of newspapers as we know them? It seems unlikely that these changes will right the listing boat.

Or perhaps these cutbacks in addition to the T-S paywall will spare us from a paperless future. But don’t hold your breath.

Blood on the newsroom floor: Lots of blood

We’ll start out north of the border where a major bloodbath has just been announced, then head south for another major hemorrhage, a lesser cutback, a newspaper closing, and allegations of a covert layoff of minorities at one of America’s major papers.

And there’s more.

Massive job cuts at Canadian papers

That works out to hundreds of jobs at Canada’s dominant newspaper chain.

From The Canadian Press via Global BC:

Media conglomerate Quebecor Inc. is eliminating 400 jobs from its far-flung Sun Media division, Canada’s biggest newspaper publisher with dailies and weeklies across the country, a union official said Monday.

It was on Twitter where talk first emerged that the Montreal-based multimedia giant would be cutting at Sun Media, which has dozens of papers, free commuter publications and numerous weeklies in Ontario, Quebec and other provinces.

Paul Morse — president of the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, which represents workers at the Toronto Sun as well as several other Quebecor newspapers — said the cuts follow a round of buyouts at the Toronto Sun last week.

Morse said about 400 jobs are on the block, roughly half of which are to be eliminated through buyouts. About 100 employees will be laid off and another 100 or so positions will be done away with through attrition, he added.

Read the rest.

Hard numbers emerge on Michigan layoffs

We noted earlier that at least 400 jobs could be chopped at at a newly merged newspaper corporation that incorporates a large number of Michigan papers, and now the hard numbers are in.

From Al Jones of the Kalamazoo Gazette:

As part of the launch of a new media company, the Michigan-based Booth Newspapers and have issued about 550 layoff notices to employees statewide, according to newly released state employment information.

Sixty-day layoff notices, reported as required by federal law, were issued Nov. 2 to 146 employees at The Grand Rapids Press, 91 at The Flint Journal, 77 at the Kalamazoo Gazette, 71 at The Bay City Times, 71 at The Jackson Citizen Patriot, 55 at Booth Michigan, 20 at Valley Publishing and 12 at The Saginaw News.

The changes involve the launch of two new companies and both are hiring: MLive Media Group and Advanced Central Services Michigan, MLive Media Group President Dan Gaydou said.

Read the rest.

More from Matt Gryczan of Crain’s Detroit Business:

Dan Gaydou, publisher of Booth Newspapers and president of MLive Media, said in an email that the number is not “representative of the actual number of employees who will or will not continue with one of the new companies.”

All would be eligible to apply for new jobs with MLive Media and Advance, he wrote, and noted that more than 200 jobs have been posted to, although there will be fewer jobs overall than before.

Read the rest.

And big cuts coming in Norfolk, Virginia

That’s fifty jobs in all, writes Philip Walzer, who works for the affected paper, Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot:

Pilot Media, which includes The Virginian-Pilot, is cutting more than 50 jobs, reducing its workforce to under 870. The cuts are coming from layoffs, early retirements and the elimination of open positions, said Maurice Jones, The Pilot’s publisher.

It is the fourth round of layoffs at the newspaper company since late 2008. Most of the layoffs and other job reductions will occur by the end of the year, Jones said.

“We’re not in any crisis,” he said Monday. “But we are looking forward at what we think is going to be an economic climate that’s not going to give us a lot of help through at least next year.”

Read the rest.

And another newspaper bites the dust

This time, it’s in Florida.

From Mark I. Johnson of the Daytona Beach, Florida, News-Journal:

The Observer newspaper in Southeast Volusia did not publish its Thursday edition, and company executives said it would take a “miracle” for the weekly community newspaper to continue operations.

“The economy is so, so bad, and the economy is not going to get Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: Massive job losses

Today, our longest and worst-ever dose of bad news for our fellow ink-stained wretches, with this week’s body count in the hundreds, with the promise of more bodies to come.

Our list of layoffs covers the country, but we’ll start with another form of journalistic agony, the kind that comes from those damn nylon lashups cops use when making mass arrests.

First up: The Occupy arrest tab

While they’ve not lost their jobs, at least 26 journalists have been arrested during the Occupy actions across the country, reports Choire Sicha of The Awl.

She links to a valuable resource for anyone tracking police harassment of the press during the ongoing protests, a frequently updated Storify web page by Josh Stearns.

And before we get to the done deals. . .

More layoffs likely for San Francisco Bay Area newsies

The grim news comes via the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, and it concerns BANG, the Bay Area News Group.

BANG’s a unit of MediaNews, the Denver-based chain which controls the largest single share of newspaper circulation in California, with a Southern California units call LANG [Los Angeles Newspaper Group], and the bad news will likely apply to them.

MediaNews has been ruthlessly in delocalizing news at its local papers, which are filled with regional stories and precious little local news, a reflection of the chains consolidation of editing functions into regional hubs where stories are picked and edited by folks with few or no ties to the local papers.

Both BANG and LANG have been ruthlessly downsizing reportorial and editing staffs, most recently in the last month. And now it looks like more cuts are a-comin’:

Ouch! After a painful round of layoffs at the MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area, more be on the way. At least that’s one way to read a New York Times profile of CEO John Paton. He came from the Journal Register Company, which has papers in Ohio, New Jersey and other states in that part of the country.

His strategy is “outsourcing most operations other than sales and editorial, focusing on the cost side that might include further layoffs, stressing digital sales over print sales with incentives, and using relationships with the community to provide some of the content in their newspapers.”

While print ads pay the bills at most newspapers, Paton “is absolutely convinced that if newspapers are to survive, they will all but have to set themselves on fire, eventually forsaking print and becoming digital news operations.”

But the biggest body count comes from Michigan

And we’re talking numbers in the hundreds.

From WOOD TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

The Grand Rapids Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette will lay off more than 200 workers combined as part of a massive corporate overhaul, according to letters sent to the state early this month.

The Grand Rapids Press will lay off 146 employees in January, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) letter sent to Manager of the Workforce Investment Act Stephanie Beckhorn on Nov. 2.

According to another Nov. 2 letter, the Kalamazoo Gazette will lay off 77 employees.

The 223 positions being terminated range from officer managers and clerks, to press operators and technicians, to sales people and editors.

Both layoffs will be effective Jan. 2, 2012.

The letters were sent in compliance with the WARN Act, which went into effect in 1989. WARN requires employers to provide 60 days notice in advance of mass layoffs. The notification must be sent to either union leaders or the appropriate state agency, as well as the local government.

Both the Press and Gazette are owned by the same newspaper company, Booth Newspapers.

Read the rest.

Unhappy news from the homes of the Happiest Place on Earth™

That would be Orlando, Florida, home of Disney World.

From Poynter’s MediaWire comes word that 16 journalists are being given the ax at the Orlando Sentinel:

Current and former staff say 12 of those laid off were full-time employees; four were part-time. Movie critic Roger Moore was reportedly one of them. The cuts came from various parts of the newsroom but appear to have struck the copy desk particularly hard. In addition, I’m told that several open positions were eliminated. Editor Mark Russell told the staff how many had been laid off in a newsroom meeting on Wednesday, a source tells me. I sought a comment from Tribune Co. and will update if I get further information.

And here’s a critical detail from Richard Bilbao of the Orlando Business Journal:

The paper reportedly planned to lay off 20 people earlier this year, and had a mass layoff in 2009 during the recession. That’s when The Tribune Co., which owns the Orlando Sentinel, undertook widespread layoffs and other cost-cutting measures to deal with nearly $13 billion in debt, $8 billion of it incurred in its leveraged buyout in 2007 orchestrated by Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell. In an interview with Bloomberg Television in late 2009, Zell said the Tribune deal represented “certainly the most amount of money I’ve ever lost in a single deal.”

The detail is of interest to Berkeley readers, because Zell is our city’s largest private landlord, making hefty sums off renting expensive apartments to UC Berkeley students.

The dreaded C-word, consolidation

MediaNews isn’t the only chain engaged in delocalizing news by merging editorial operations for local papers into single, delocalized huds, invariably wracking up body counts in the process.

The latest C-move from Media Bistro’s Rachel Kaufman:

The American Independent is consolidating all its news from seven state sites into one larger site, which has resulted in at least one layoff so far.

The Minnesota Independent was the first to announce the news publicly, with a post from American Independent founder David S. Bennahum.

“After five years of operation in Minnesota, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news into a single site, The American Independent at,” Bennahum wrote.


MN Independent reporter-editor Jon Collins has lost his job, he told MinnPost’s David Brauer, who had the MN Independent shutdown news first.

Similar (okay, totally identical) farewell messages have been posted to the websites of the Michigan Messenger and the New Mexico Independent. Nothing yet from Colorado, Florida, and Texas, where the American Independent Network also has sites.

The Washington Independent shut its doors nearly a year ago, citing financial problems.

Read the rest.

And at least five bodies black-bagged in Virginia

From Joe Dashiel of WDBJ television in Roanoke:

A difficult economy and a shifting marketplace continue to bring changes at the Roanoke Times. A reorganization announced this week includes two voluntary retirements, three layoffs and other reassignments.   Managers say they are also positioning the newspaper for a “Digital First” approach that will bring dramatic Continue reading