Category Archives: Community journalism

Quote of the day: The slow death of journalism


From The State of the News Media 2013 by the Pew Research Center:

Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978. In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%. Time magazine, the only major print news weekly left standing, cut roughly 5% of its staff in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs.  And in African-American news media, the Chicago Defender has winnowed its editorial staff to just four while The Afro cut back the number of pages in its papers from 28-32 in 2008 to 16-20 in 2012. A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer nonprofit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.

This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

Headline and Quote of the day II: Another draft?


From the Hartford [Connecticut] Advocate:

Former Hartford Advocate Writer Brews Unemployed Reporter Porter

From the accompanying story by still-employed Advocate reporter Michael Hamad about the post-newsroom career of Jon Campbell:

“Porter style beers were first popularized in the nineteenth century by merchant sailors and manual dock laborers,” the label reads. “Unemployed Reporter is crafted in the same tradition, honoring a profession likewise doomed to decline and irrelevance.”

For this new class of “expendables,” the label goes on, “we’ve included chocolate and roasted barley malts that are as dark and bitter as the future of American journalism, and a high alcohol content designed to numb the pain of a slow, inexorable march toward obsolescence. While Unemployed Reporter is especially delicious as a breakfast beer, it’s still smooth enough to be enjoyed all day, every day. And let’s be honest: what else do you have going on?”

Journalism’s big bucks, honest and otherwise


It’s tough being a journalist these days, and with salaries frozen or cut, accompanied by mandatory furloughs, it’s getting harder to make ends meet.

RT’s Kristine Frazao and comedian Negin Farsad discuss one option open to some journalists, the art of the ecdysiast [a word coined by one of our favorite journalists, H.L. Mencken]:

We think the Houston society reporter may be on to something. What better way to learn about society than by witnessing its underbelly firsthand?

We have a great deal more faith in her reporting than, say, reporters and TV talking heads who take big bucks to speak to banking and corporate conclaves, the subject of an essay by Yves Smith at naked capitalism.

An excerpt:

We are much easier to manipulate than we want to believe. Social psychologist Robert Cialdini, in his classic book: Influence: The Art of Persuasion, reported that people who received a gift as minor as a can of soda were more receptive to a sales pitch. There’s a reason drug companies would give doctors pens, note pads, and desk toys.

And journalists have a much more basic problem. Most financial reporters spend a lot of time with senior people in the industry. Big firms already can sway coverage by playing the access journalism game and by artful packaging that seeks to frame the debate (or if you are Jamie Dimon, you just go on loudly and confidently about things that aren’t true). And a few notable exceptions, like Larry Summers, people in positions of influence are usually pretty smart and persuasive. I wrote after my visits to the Treasury that it took a day of two to detox. Journalists are in this every day. It’s not hard to see that even ones who are well intentioned are likely to have the relentless barrage of propaganda influence their thinking (although there are quite a few writers that readers can easily name whose pretenses of objectivity is pretty thin).

Read the rest.

Indeed, while the stripper’s job gives her insight in a sector of society most journalists either never see or admit to seeing, journalists who feed at the corporate and bankster trough merely get their egos flattered in return for what amounts to hush money.

We suspect the stripper journalist can tell us a lot more about the real world faced by the 99 percent than the journalists who grow fat off Big Money.

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, philly.com 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.

>snip<

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.

>snip<

“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 Philly.com 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.

>snip<

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 Newsweek.com 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

Charts of the day: Financial fall of U.S. newspapers


First, via Reflections of a Newsosaur, a somber depiction from the Newspaper Association of America of the collapse of American newspaper revenues in the last five years:

Next, via The Atlantic, another NNA chart showing pattern of decline since 1950:

Finally, via the Project for Excellence in Journalism, graphic evidence of online advertising’s failure to boost declining revenues:

Another major attack on newspapers underway


For folks who care about the survival of community newspapers, this one’s a biggie.

From The Rural Blog:

Paid-public notice advertising, or “legal ads,” in newspapers are “under threat,” Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Director Al Cross wrote for Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists. Cross, who also publishes The Rural Blog, said SPJ members and chapters “need to help defend” public-notice laws from lobbying by local governments who tell state legislators publishing the notices on government websites would be just as effective and cheaper for taxpayers. Cross disputes that, citing lack of Internet adoption (especially in rural areas) and research that shows citizens aren’t likely to surf websites to find notices.

Cross says the notices are an important part of the business side of journalism, while informing citizens and helping reporters find stories. They “encompass a wide range of important information,” including government budgets, financial statements, audits, local ordinances, hearings, environmental permit applications, water-system reports and foreclosure sales, he writes. They are also “a necessary leg of the three-legged stool of open government, along with open-records and open-meetings laws.” They are also a “significant source of revenue” for county-seat weekly newspapers, and cutting them would “lead to fewer jobs in journalism, and less journalism.”

State newspaper associations are lobbying against the move, but have not always been successful, Cross writes, noting new laws in Ohio. They will likely be a greater target as governments face more pressure to make cuts, he writes. Reporters with no knowledge of how public notices work compounds the problem, he adds, noting that SPJ chapters should educate journalists about their importance and function and join newspapers in lobbying against elimination or reduction of them.

Read the rest.

Such advertising, referred to in the newspapers as “legal ads,” include mandated filings of everything from fictitious business names [DBAs] to property foreclosures, notices of bids and major projects undertaken by governments, public meeting announcements, and much, much more.

You’ve seen the ads, usually printed in that tiny type called agate in the trade.

Legal notices are last remaining strongholds of classified advertising, which was once the primary source of income for community newspapers, a dependable revenue stream which was largely killed by the advent of the Internet, with Craigslist being the arch villain in the eyes of most publishers.

One can make a decent argument that with the steady decline of newspaper circulation, print is becoming irrelevant as the go-to source for news and information. But if you feel that skilled reporting about events of local importance is vital to a healthy democracy, you should be worried when governments call for cutting off a major revenue stream.

It works out well for politicians and bureaucrats, who will have less scrutiny of their actions as already sadly diminished reporting staffs are cut even more, but it won’t serve the community well.

Yes, we know that American journalism is in sad shape, but the public won’t be better served by making it even more irrelevant.

And if you think other sources will fill the gap, think again. As we noted in our last Blood on the Newsroom Floor post, nonprofits created to fill the gap are starving and dying from reduced funding.

Just remember that the authors of the Constitution thought a vibrant press so critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy that they enshrined it in the First Amendment. In that light, killing off its last dependable source of revenue is an ominous move indeed.

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, Philly.com 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 Philly.com 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 Philly.com 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 BRoss@local-10.com.

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: 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:

CONFIDENTIAL

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:

From R.G. RATCLIFFE:

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

The view from the Gunfighter’s Seat


Nikon D300 16 January 2011, 20mm, 1/250 sec, f4.5

Two phrases from the days of the Old West still resonate in modern speech. The first, of course is “Shotgun!,” the call made when claiming the front seat next to the driver.

The term originates from the days when folks traveled by stagecoach. When passing through dangerous country or when the stage contained a valuable cargo, an armed, shotgun-toting guard as assigned to sit up top on the bench beside the driver.

The other term, less well known, is “the gunfighter’s seat.” It’s the chair in the corner of the room farthest from and facing the door. It’s name comes from it’s preference by ever-vigilant armed men who lived in daily expectation of violent confrontations with other armed men.

Sitting in the gunfighter’s seat gives a panoramic view of everyone in and entering the room.

We snapped this shot the other day while waiting for a friend at a local tavern. The Stetson belongs to esnl. Appropriate to our theme, it’s the Gun Club model.

Back in the 1970s, we had a friend who’d been a Los Angeles Police officer before signing up with the Central Intelligence Agency, then retiring to take a job in private security in the corporate sector.

We took him to a nice little French restaurant in Santa Monica, and planted our posterior in the gunfighter’s seat, which left him, the former cop and spook, seated facing the corner of the room.

We talked a few minutes, and then he stopped. His eyes lit up, followed by a grin, then a quick shake of his head. Then he fixed me with a bemused smile and intense gaze, followed by a laugh as he shook his head again.

“Brenneman, you son of a bitch, you did it on purpose!” He didn’t have to say what “it” was. I’d put him in the one seat in a crowded room certain to make to make him the most uncomfortable.

I smiled. He nodded.

We’ve always picked the gunfighter’s seat, a lesson our children quickly learned, sometimes to our disadvantage, as when they prankishly plant themselves in our chair of preference, forcing us into the blind seat because they know it’ll bug us, just as it did our ex-spook friend so many years before.

The journalist and the gunfighter

In many ways, the mindset of a journalist shares many traits with the gunfighter of yore, most particularly a peculiar sort of hypervigilance, attuned to changes and anomalies in the environment.

Because of our life circumstances, we’re particularly attuned to environmental changes and out-of-the-ordinary events.

We’d like to think that we turned what might have been a handicap into an asset, as is the case of many of the best journalists we’ve met during the course of the decades we spent behind first a lens and a typewriter, and later, a lens and a word processor [what an infelicitous pair of words].

Some of the best journalists are misfits. Why else would smart, perceptive people work at a craft where they earn much less than they might had they opted for law, medicine, business, or countless other “careers”? We suspect a lot of good reporters heard the same phrase we heard from our mother more than once: “Why a reporter? You could’ve been a doctor!”

Journalism, at least for us, is a calling, an engagement with the world that evokes the fullest possible use of our abilities, knowledge, and experience, turning an innate and potentially enervating vigilance into a positive force engaged, hopefully, for the benefit of the larger community.

But such is life in the Gunfighter’s Seat.

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 signonsandiego.com 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 WRAL.com.

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.

>snip<

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

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.

Another California newspaper sale pending


After the recent sales of the San Diego Union-Tribune to a conservative hotel baron  and the San Francisco Examiner to a Canadian media chain, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat is about to change hands.

Amy Chozick of the New York Times reports:

The New York Times Company said on Monday it was in advanced talks to sell 16 regional newspapers, another indication the company was divesting itself of assets to concentrate on its core newspaper business.

Halifax Media Holdings of Daytona Beach, Fla., is currently negotiating the purchase of the Times Company’s Regional Media Group, a division that includes newspapers across the country like The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida; The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif.; The Star-News in Wilmington, N.C.; The Gainesville Sun, also in Florida; and The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama.

Combined, the papers have a Monday-through-Friday circulation of 433,251 and 1,755 full-time employees. Analysts estimated that the sale of the regional papers would be completed later this week and priced at around $145 million. Robert H. Christie, a spokesman for the Times Company, declined to comment.

Read the rest.

Now for the really bad news.

No, we’re not talking about the layoffs that inevitably follow takeovers. We’re talking something much worse, at least for those of us who cherish the journalistic tradition of the absolute separation of commercial sales and reporting.

If  Halifax CEO Michael Redding follows the same course he took after taking over the Daytona Beach News Journal, reporters may soon find themselves doubling as subscription and advertising peddlers.

FlagerLive dished the dirt in this 31 March story:

Daytona Beach News Journal Publisher Michael Redding marked the one-year anniversary of the newspaper under his co-ownership with an offer to most of the 400-some remaining employees of the paper, including editors and reporters: Anyone selling a three-month subscription to the paper would get a $25 bonus, or $50 for a six month subscription. Anyone selling $100 worth of advertising would get $50.

Redding described the arrangement—highly unusual in news-gathering operations, and forbidden, for ethical and journalistic reasons,  in many that maintain a strict separation between news-gathering on one side and advertising and marketing on the other—as an “incentive,” rather than a requirement: no expectations were set. But staffers have had no raises in four years and were promised none this year. Redding offered up his human resources director, Patty Morris, as an example of what others could do: Morris, he said, netted about 200 new subscriptions through her church.

Read the rest.

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 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 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.

>snip<

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.

>snip<

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: 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.

>snip<

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.

Quote of the day: All the news that’s gone AWOL


Via media blogger Dan Kennedy at Media Nation, a quote from recently laid off reporter James Craven, late of GateHouse Media’s Norwich [Connecticut] Bulletin on the devastating community impacts of radically downsized newsrooms:

The thing about reduced community coverage is that you do not notice it while it is happening. It is, if I may be so bold, like a cancer. It works below the surface, until one day when suddenly it becomes all too apparent. There will be referendums that may not be covered as fully. Some school functions — that first grade play that in the past featured your son or daughter — will be bypassed. On holidays, like Veterans Day, decisions will be made to forfeit coverage in some communities because there just is not an extra reporter.

Read the rest.