Category Archives: Blood on the Newsroom Floor

The latest news on news media layoffs and downsizings.

Chart of the day: More signs of the death of print


Bad news for newspaper in a new survey [PDF] from the Pew Research Center, which reveals that print media are far down on the list of news sources folks of all ages turn to for information about the current presidential election circus. And as might be expected, the last of the flagging support for print comes from the Boomers, and the news is especially bleak for local newspapers.

Indeed, it’s arguable that print shouldn’t even be labelled as a mainstream medium:

BLOG News

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .


Bad news just keeps coming for stalwarts of the Fourth Estate north of the border.

First, CBC News covers the latest layoffs, this time in Halifax, Nova Scotia:

Eighteen Chronicle Herald staff have received layoff notices on the first day of their strike [Friday] at Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper.

Frank Campbell, vice president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said Saturday layoff notices had been issued to four photographers, 12 editors and two page technicians. He said the union’s lawyers are analyzing the legality of the move.

“It wasn’t on our radar that people would receive layoff notices while we were on strike,” Campbell told CBC News.

And from the Toronto Globe and Mail, specifics on layoffs by Canada’s media giant:

The country’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., is merging once-competing newsrooms and cutting about 90 staff as it tries to cope with declining revenue and a heavy debt load.

In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa – cities where Postmedia owns two daily papers – editorial staff will be joined together to work under one senior editor, filing stories and images to both publications. But the company is not closing any newspapers, promising to continue publishing two in each city, albeit with less distinctive content and fewer rival reporters working local beats.

Last April, as Postmedia closed a deal to buy 175 newspapers and digital publications from Quebecor Inc., executives from the company were promising that the newly acquired Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun and Ottawa Sun would remain competitors with the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen. The consolidation of written media that resulted was unprecedented for Canada, but Postmedia stressed that newsrooms would stay separate, pointing to its existing control of both the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun.

And some interpretation from a rabble.ca post headlined “Right-wing newspapers take over media markets in four more cities”:

Recent developments surrounding Postmedia’s layoffs and restructuring are particularly unsettling. Postmedia, which is largely U.S. owned, prints both the National Post and the Toronto Sun separately. But in its restructured form, newspapers like the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun will have one editor with roots in the Sun news side. Good newsrooms with balanced editorial policies will likely be replaced with right-wing automatons like Lorne Motley, the figure responsible for transforming the Calgary Herald into an attack dog for the oil and gas industry.

This same structure will be replicated across Postmedia-owned newspapers in Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver. The Province, the Citizen, the Herald, the Journal will now be in essence the Sun, Sun, Sun and Sun, respectively.

None of these corporate-backed media chains were ever known for their progressive views. But it’s bad news for democracy when Canadian news ownership is even more concentrated than in 2012: when Canada ranked first place in the G8 for concentrated media ownership.

Finally, on this side of the border, some specifics on a notable shutdown of a cable news network from TVNewser:

Winding down an entire cable news network takes time–and plenty of paperwork. When Al Jazeera America announced earlier this month it would end operations in April, hundreds of employees learned they would be losing their jobs.

>snip<

The mechanics of laying off a workforce estimated at around 700 people across twelve U.S. bureaus includes government-mandated reports that must be give at least 60 days notice of layoffs. The first of those reports was filed in New York State the day of AJAM’s January announcement on January 13, giving 90 days notice.

The New York Department of Labor filing discloses that 197 employees will be laid off, beginning as early as April 13. In the filing, Al Jazeera lists the reason for the layoffs as a “plant closing.”

And finally, via Mediaite, terrorism in the newsroom:

The backlash is mounting against Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for a horrible joke she attempted to make recently at a companywide meeting, and now many in her presumably deflated workforce fear for their jobs.

Mayer reportedly told the company that there will be “no layoffs… this week,” and although her comments were intended to be humorous, many who call the tech giant home are left wondering about their employment status within the company. “This is the reason employee morale is so low,” said one employee to the New York Post, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

According to reports, the comment in question from the CEO came at a January 8 meeting known as the “Friday FYI”. Mayer has served as President and CEO of Yahoo since June 2012, though many have questioned the direction of the company under her leadership.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .


Most of the action is happening north of the border, but there’s one especially notable set of layoffs south of the line, and we’ll begin with that one, via PetaPixel:

There’s more bad news in the photojournalism industry today: Sports Illustrated has laid off Director of Photography Brad Smith, Photo Editor Claire Bourgeois, and Photo Director John Blackmar. This comes almost exactly 1 year after the magazine laid off its entire roster of staff photographers.

Smith, who joined SI in 2013 after spending 6 years as the senior sports photography editor at the New York Times, confirmed the layoff news to PetaPixel in an email today.

The layoff comes as Sports Illustrated’s parent company, Time Inc, continues to try to convince photographers to sign its controversial photography contract. The timing is also curious due to the fact that one of the biggest annual sporting events in the US, the Super Bowl, is just around the corner.

The layoff of the SI photo team is breathtaking, given the magazine’s once prominent role as a home for some of the country’s best photographic talent.

A decade ago one of our oldest friends, a photographer whose work has graced the pages of the nation’s leading newspapers and magazines, predicted the demise of his craft, given the vast proliferation of digital cameras capable of executing by program the skills a film photographer took years to hone.

Still, the news is tragic, and marks the passage of an age.

Now to go north of the border, first with CBC News:

Newspaper chain Postmedia today announced sweeping changes to its operations, cutting 90 jobs across the country and merging newsrooms from multiple newspapers into one each in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

“We will continue to operate separate brands in each of these markets,” Postmedia CEO and president Paul Godfrey said in a memo to staff Tuesday afternoon. “What is changing is how we produce these products.”

The chain says two papers in those markets — the Sun and Province in Vancouver, the Herald and Sun in Calgary, the Journal and Sun in Edmonton, and the Citizen and Sun in Ottawa — will share newsroom resources, but continue to operate.

“Each city will have one newsroom,” Godfrey said, and the two papers will be run by one editorial team.

And still more layoffs, this time from Canadaland :

Thirteen Toronto Star employees have been laid off today, CANADALAND has confirmed. In a memo to staff, editor-in-chief Michael Cooke said ten tablet employees and three digital employees will be leaving the company in light of the Star closing its print centre. The Star will also be outsourcing customer service and administration work, which will affect about 15 staff according to an email send to the newsroom by publisher John Cruickshank.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .


Time to catch up on the latest grim news from the Fourth Estate.

First, the big news, and this time it’s television where the downsizing axe is falling.

From Al Jazeera:

Al Jazeera America will shutter its cable TV and digital operations by April 30 of this year, the company announced Wednesday. The decision by the AJAM board was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” said AJAM CEO Al Anstey.

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” Anstey wrote in an email addressed to all the company’s employees. The decision was no reflection on the work of that staff, he said. “Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled. We have increasingly set ourselves apart from all the rest. And you are the most talented team any organization could wish for.”

The announcement of AJAM’s closure coincides with a decision by its global parent company to commit to a significant expansion of its worldwide digital operations into the U.S. market.

Next up, a notable magazine sale is in the works, and layoffs are inevitable.

From the New York Times:

“If you really care about an institution and want to make it strong for the ages, you don’t walk out. You roll up your sleeves, you redouble your commitment to those ideals in a changing world, and you fight.”

That’s what Chris Hughes, the 32-year-old billionaire Facebook co-founder, wrote just a little more than a year ago about The New Republic, the century-old magazine he acquired in 2012. On Monday, Mr. Hughes, said, in effect, “Nah, forget about all of that.”

He put the magazine up for sale, throwing up his hands in frustration. “I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate,” he wrote.

And layoffs are on the way at a major metropolitan newspaper, reports Capital New York:

After a painful fall in which the Daily News was recovering from a downsizing that claimed the jobs of numerous longtime newsroom employees, has the tabloid been hit with cuts yet again?

Three sources familiar with the matter told POLITICO as much on Friday.

The details are fuzzy and a spokeswoman for the News declined to comment.

But the sources said the cuts appeared to be concentrated within a digital unit working out of the paper’s printing plant and administrative headquarters in Jersey City, where the News had assembled a team of around 30 or so web writers to produce traffic-friendly articles for nydailynews.com.

And a magazine downsizes, via the Boston Business Journal:

Boston magazine has cut a number of positions as part of a restructuring at its parent company.

The glossy publication, best known for its Best of Boston rankings and long-form features on the city’s power players, has cut senior editor S.I. Rosenbaum, one of three positions to be eliminated today [5 January].

>snip<

“Very sadly, three members of our Boston magazine team lost their jobs today as a result of our restructuring,” said Metrocorp president Rick Waechter in an email. “It hurts to lose dedicated team members and this was no exception. We wish them the best.”

Sheldon Adelson stirs up a journalistic free-for-all


Since this is an intimately personal essay, I’ll resort to first person [maybe someday we’ll offer a post on why we typically opt for the third person].

My very first job at a daily newspaper was as a cub reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, then and now the largest paper in the Silver State.

I was 19 when I started, hired on a fluke because I was owed a favor. There wasn’t an opening, and while I was assigned the night cops assignment then standard for newbies, I had six other hours a day to cover other things, five when two minor beats were added.

Since all beats were filled, the editor, Jim Leavey, asked what else I’d like to write about [a really remarkable option for a teenager]. So I said “How about civil rights, radical politics, and [Lyndon Johnson’s] war on poverty?”

A year later, I had won the paper the state’s highest journalism honors, the Best Community Service award from the Nevada State Press Association for my coverage of Sin City’s African American community — which had previously been covered, if at all, with brief statements from “black leaders” essentially picked by the establishment for their politically “safe” opinions.

The paper was then owned by Don W. Reynolds, an Arkansas old school libertarian and a man who let the paper alone, save for an occasional editorial. Some of the other editorials were written by me, and were notably provocative.

But that’s what the R-J was then.

As for now, let’s begin with a quote from a 10 April 2012 profile by Rick Perlstein for Rolling Stone about Sin City’s preeminent casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, now 82 and worth nearly $30 million, give or take:

Right before the grand opening of the {Adelson’s Venetian hotel and casino], in 1999, the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front. Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.

Marvels Arnodo, “Here you have a sidewalk that 12 billion people walk down, [and] the only people who can’t use it are the union!” The Culinary Workers argued before the National Labor Relations Board that Adelson’s attempts to keep them from demonstrating violated federal labor law. Adelson’s lawyers countered that their client’s First Amendment rights were being violated – because his threats of arrests were an instance of “petitioning the government.” The union won the right to protest; Adelson refused to comply with the settlement, copies of which the union passed out on that very same sidewalk. That was “fraudulent use of the seal of a government agency,” the Venetian argued, further claiming that union workers had “impersonated” NLRB officials, and that the volunteer labor activists had been coerced. The great civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz got involved – on Adelson’s side. “The Venetian has no property rights to the sidewalk,” a federal appeals judge told them in 2007. Unmoved, Adelson tried, without success, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  After all, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal, radical Islam and the right to more easily join a union were the two most “fundamental threats to society.”

Did I mention Adelson is nuts? But don’t take my word for it – it was George W. Bush who called him “some crazy Jewish billionaire.”

Adelson has one cause above all other, Israel, one he approaches from the zalous perspective of the Likud.

Consider this from an Adelson Family Foundation press release issued in Jerusalem on 29 April 2009:

The Shalem Center and the Adelson Family Foundation, today jointly announced the creation of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. The Institute will be funded by the Foundation with a gift of $4.5 million. The gift launches an academic and research institute that will develop, articulate and build support for the strategic principles needed to address the challenges currently facing Israel and the West.

The newly named Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies is part of the Shalem Center, a research and academic institute in Jerusalem. The Adelson Institute, whose founding chairman and head is Natan Sharansky, includes as fellows Lt. Gen (Res.) Moshe Yaalon, Martin Kramer, Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi. The institute will explore topics ranging from democracy and security, to nationalism, terror and identity.

“Long-term strategies have to be built on values, not short-term interests. Real, lasting interests are always connected to values like democracy, respect for identity, religious tolerance, and freedom. The gift and vision of Sheldon and Miri Adelson will enable us to tackle the most serious challenges facing the Middle East and the West and to build long-view approaches and plans that will ensure the stability and peace of Israel and of the free world,” said Adelson Institute Founding Chairman Natan Sharansky, a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center.

Now why do we mention Adelson?

It’s because he has just bought the R-J, paying a price that’s probably what it’s worth just so he can have a platform to advance his own interests, most notably destroying political enemies and ensuring that Nevada sends neocon Republicans to Congress instead of Democrats like Harry Reid.

Otherwise, journalism doesn’t really matter to Adelson.

From A 2014 report in the Israeli paper Haaretz:

Adelson already owns Israel Hayom, a free Israeli newspaper widely seen as reflecting the positions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is considered close to Adelson, and, more recently, news website NRG and religious newspaper Makor Rishon.

“I don’t like journalism,” Adelson said, highlighting what he said was the media’s insistence on focusing on the empty half of the glass.

And while Adelson contends he won’t endanger editorial independence, he’s already belied that claim, as reporters from the Las Vegas Review-Journal were able to document in a story published 19 December:

Just over a month before Sheldon Adelson’s family was revealed as the new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three reporters at the newspaper received an unusual assignment passed down from the newspaper’s corporate management: Drop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.

The reason for the assignment and its unprecedented nature was never explained.

One of the three judges observed was District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, whose current caseload includes Jacobs v. Sands, a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., by Steven Jacobs, who ran Sands’ operations in Macau.

The case has attracted global media attention because of Jacobs’ contention in court filings that he was fired for trying to break the company’s links to Chinese organized crime triads, and allegations that Adelson turned a blind eye to prostitution and other illegal activities in his resorts there.

But all their story didn’t make it in print, as noted by Newsonomics the same day:

In a cascade of curious events, the paper’s own reporters and editors attempting to report on the sale — and to question the potential editorial impact and brand damage of the “secret” sale — reportedly saw their online-first story significantly changed, and the presses subject to a brief halt, as the paper re-plated with a new version of the suspect story.

According to the Huffington Post, “[Jason] Taylor, the paper’s publisher, stopped the presses Thursday night to remove some noteworthy quotes from the paper’s story on the sale, as The Huffington Post reported Saturday. For instance, the edited version no longer included Review-Journal editor Michael Hengel asking who is behind the company and what are their expectations. Eric Hartley, who covers Clark County for the paper, tweeted the HuffPost story on Saturday night and wrote, ‘This is simply wrong.’”

Mike Hengel, the editor who allowed those reporters the freedom to report the actual news, was soon for the chop, as noted in a 23 December MediaWire report:

Hengel, who has led the Review-Journal since 2010, will be succeeded by an interim replacement selected by newspaper chain GateHouse Media. In the meantime, Adelson’s management will search for a long-term editor.

Earlier today, Hengel told the Los Angeles Times he first realized he’d accepted a buyout offer when he read about it in a front-page editorial written by Adelson’s new managers.

“I figured, I may as well see what the offer was,” Hengel told the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s his message to the newsroom announcing his replacement:

Subject: It’s been a privilege and a pleasure

To: Newsroom

All:

I may not get around to see all of you, so I’ll hope you’ll accept my thanks through this email. I admire you all and thank you for giving the RJ your very best while I was the editor. I leave here knowing that won’t change. You are professionals.

I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to work with all of you. And I was fortunate to be involved with a newspaper that breaks stories, not just news. The aggressiveness you have shown in covering the stories revolving around our new ownership has been inspiring. I am very proud of James, Howard, Jennifer, Eric and Jim for the their great work. I say that knowing that there are many others in this newsroom who would have performed just as admirably had they been asked.

I never imagined I would go out while working one of the great stories of my 40-year career. Yet, it happened. How lucky can an editor get?

I have no idea what I will do going forward, but I plan to stay in Las Vegas, so I’ll probably see you around. Until then, thanks again for everything.

Onward,

Mike

Next up, there’s this from a 27 offering from Dave Danforth, a columnist for the Aspen Daily News in Colorado:

We wanted to escape attention on billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s quiet purchase of Nevada’s largest paper in the last two weeks, but we can’t. It’s just too riveting. Two shoes dropped. Then, came a third when the paper dug up the identity of its new owner. Now comes the fourth, about a mystery writer and a Las Vegas judge whose performance was slammed — in a Connecticut newspaper 2,200 miles away.

Our lesson comes first. If you ever buy a newspaper in order to control what it prints, don’t follow the Las Vegas road map. Though Adelson has denied any intentions to make the Las Vegas Review-Journal a mouthpiece for his Republican leanings in an election year, practically no one in the outside world — or at the newspaper — believes him.

Now, we come to what simply must be a fictitious story. It involves a small daily in Connecticut taking a sudden interest in a Las Vegas judge who apparently sorely irritated Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino owner whose Sands Company runs the Venetian in Las Vegas.

More after the jump, including a notable cartoon. . . Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .


Plus an extra helping of Sheldon Adelson.

Today’s chronicle of the death of American newspaper journalism begins with the stories of the deaths of five U.S. newspapers, first with this from Poynter’s MediaWire:

As it warned it might, Trib Total Media will shut two century-old Pennsylvania papers after failing to find buyers and amid substantial cuts at other properties.

The company said it would close The Daily News in McKeesport (population 20,000) and The Valley Independent in Monessen (population 7,600) on December 31. That will result in layoffs of 87 employees combined.

The Daily News dates to 1884 and The Valley Independent to 1902. The company sold several other papers recently. It also announced a consolidation into one paper of and 153 layoffs at the Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Valley News Dispatch.

Next, from the Portland Tribune, the story of the demise of three newspapers in the the Beaver State:

The Oregonian will “substantially reduce” its news operation in Washington County in mid-January, consolidating its three county weeklies — the Forest Grove Leader, the Beaverton Leader and the Hillsboro Argus — into one publication.

>snip<

Sources report that at least 13 Oregonian news staffers accepted buyouts, including two with Washington County ties: Wendy Owen, a Beaverton Leader reporter, and Tom Maurer, the former editor of the three papers.

>snip<

In addition to the voluntary departures, several employees in the company were laid off, including the full-time news clerk in Forest Grove and an editor in Hillsboro.

Overall, the latest round of staff reductions affected 25 people, Sepulvado reported.

Next, across the border to the north to the Evergreen State and a report of job losses at the Seattle Times from The Stranger:

Seattle Times editor Kathy Best sent out a memo to her paper’s newsroom reminding staffers that it’s been “a tough budget year,” thanking them for their “creativity” in dialing back on day-to-day expenses, and announcing that “even after pulling all the change from all the seat cushions, we still need significant reductions in the newsroom budget.”

That, Best said, means making a reduction in the size of the paper’s newsroom. Seattle Times staffers have until noon on Dec. 31 to decide whether they might want to apply for what is essentially an inducement to depart: “One week of pay for each year of service up to 13 weeks.” (“Because this is considered a reduction in force,” Best added, “people who leave voluntarily also will be eligible for unemployment compensation, which currently is available for 26 weeks.”)

Best admitted that the timing of the announcement was “not ideal,” but suggested the holidays could be a time “to talk over your decision with your families.” She also said: “I don’t want to lose any of you and I know that doing so carries a price for our newsroom and for our readers. But we don’t have a choice if we want The Seattle Times to continue.”

On to Michigan, this time with job losses in Motown from Deadline Detroit:

The latest round at The Detroit News will be a blow to the paper.

Thirteen people taking this latest round of buyouts include columnists Laura Berman, Marney Rich Keenan and Terry Foster.

Others are music writer Susan Whitall, film reviewer Tom Long, reporters Tom Greenwood and Kate Lawson, photographers David Coates and Charley Tines and veteran editors Joanna Firestone, Judy Diebolt and Mary Bailey.

Then it’s on to the Empire State and a report on job losses at Newsday reported in a union memo, via Romenesko:

Newsday has decided to reduce staffing in three areas: three of five positions in the library, three of three in the Editorial Systems Group and two of four on the part-time support staff.

The titles affected are Library Database Administrator and Electronic Library Technician in the library, Technician in the Editorial Systems Group and Editorial Aide among the support staff. Management says the trims come as a result of technological changes: Hermes 11 has drastically reduced the workload of the techs in the library and ESG. And the support staff has for some time handled a lower volume of some of their core tasks, such as answering phones, relaying messages to and from staffers or tips from callers and other clerical tasks.

As per the contract’s language on staff reductions, the company is offering buyouts to the affected groups, and those employees will be thinking deeply about their futures over the next few weeks as the employees who accept the buyout or who end up being laid off (in the event not enough people apply for the buyout) must end their employment with Newsday by Feb. 15.

Then its on to Sin City, where billionaire casino mogul and zealous Ziocon Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Nevada’s largest newspaper had drawn scrutiny from reporters at esnl’s alma mater and first daily newspaper job, the Las Vegas Review-Journal — widely known to Nevadans as the R-J.

From the R-J:

Just over a month before Sheldon Adelson’s family was revealed as the new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three reporters at the newspaper received an unusual assignment passed down from the newspaper’s corporate management: Drop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.

The reason for the assignment and its unprecedented nature was never explained.

One of the three judges observed was District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, whose current caseload includes Jacobs v. Sands, a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., by Steven Jacobs, who ran Sands’ operations in Macau.

The case has attracted global media attention because of Jacobs’ contention in court filings that he was fired for trying to break the company’s links to Chinese organized crime triads, and allegations that Adelson turned a blind eye to prostitution and other illegal activities in his resorts there.

More from Poynter’s MediaWire:

A 1,900-word version of the investigation did turn up Dec. 1 in the tiny New Britain (Connecticut) Herald. The Herald is not a GateHouse paper but is owned by Michael Schroeder, the named manager for Adelson’s then-anonymous group as the sale was announced Dec. 10.

The Herald’s story is bizarrely constructed. It is framed as a national investigation of specialized business courts, suggesting that weak judges end up deciding cases critical to important businesses and local economies. Material on proposals to bring business courts to Connecticut — one of seven states that doesn’t have them — follows.

Then the story veers to Judge Gonzalez as a specific example of potential problems, alleging that her rulings on casino cases have been inconsistent and her performance rated low in a poll of lawyers.

A Review-Journal editorial sought to allay concerns:

Maintaining your confidence in our integrity starts with disclosure — and lots of it. Beyond the Adelsons’ politics, beyond their casino and convention business through The Venetian, The Palazzo, the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and properties in Pennsylvania, Singapore and China, they’re deeply involved in charitable and civic organizations. They have a foundation and a private school. We’ll disclose their ownership of the Review-Journal when covering the gaming industry, when government actions affect their properties, when Las Vegas Sands and its subsidiaries have business in the courts, and even when we’re reviewing or previewing shows, restaurants and events at their properties. We’ll disclose candidates and office holders who’ve received political contributions from the Adelsons. And if a story might cast a Las Vegas Sands competitor in poor light, we’ll disclose our ownership in that case, as well. We’ll disclose, disclose, disclose. That way, you can be the judge of whether we’re being fair or whether we’ve become a micromanaged public relations tool.

The Adelsons say their intentions are good, that they spent $140 million on the company “as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community. … We believe in this community and want to help make Las Vegas an even greater place to live. We believe deeply that a strong and effective daily newspaper plays a critical role in keeping our state apprised of the important news and issues we face on a daily basis.”

We’ll do everything we can to preserve our newsroom’s independence — and hold the Adelsons to their word.

But Ken Doctor of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation raises concerns that should be shared by everyone concerned about the perilous state of American newspapers:

Two summers ago, the web and a few street corners lit up in protest over the possibility of the Koch brothers buying Tribune’s then eight markets. Colorado Spring Gazette owner Phil Anschutz wanted to buy the Denver Post and Boulder Daily Camera, which would have given him control of three of the four largest papers in one of country’s most purple states. Digital First Media hasn’t wanted to sell its properties piecemeal, though it’s easier now to imagine owner Alden taking Anschutz’s money if he, too, is willing to overpay. Tribune Publishing itself, again, may be bid up.

There’s free media. There’s earned media. And there’s paid media. We’ll have to watch whether we can add a new category here in the daily press: bought and paid-for media, intended to swing both national and local elections, at prices far less than the cost of heavy political advertising.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .


Media layoff season continues, as newpapers and electronic media pare their staffs to appease the bean counters with lower staff costs for the coming year.

We’ll begin on the West Coast with a report on layoffs at the Portland Oregonian from Willamette Week:

The Oregonian is conducting a new round of buyouts and layoffs that could reduce the newsroom staff by as much as 20 percent.

Multiple sources tell WW that Oregonian editor Mark Katches told staff this morning that the newspaper is seeking 25 volunteers from the newsroom to take buyouts.

If the paper does not find 25 staffers who want to be bought out, sources tell WW, management will conduct layoffs to reach that number.

On 12 November, the Associated Press heralded some upcoming layoffs:

The owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers says it expects a buyout offer to cut its staff by 7 percent.

Tribune Publishing employees had to apply by Oct. 23. The company said in October that layoffs could follow the buyouts. Spokeswoman Dana Meyer said Thursday that CEO Jack Griffin had said last week on the company earnings call that “initial results indicate that the company will reach its internal targets” for buyouts.

Meyer declined to comment on how many employees took a buyout or how many employees Tribune Publishing has. As of the end of 2014, it had 7,595 full- and part-time employees.

And on Monday, Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times tweeted the final and devastating tab at California’s largest newspaper, the largest in Tribune Publishing’s stable:

The LA Times has lost 82 journalists (of about 500) in recent round of staff reductions, according to a list circulating in the newsroom.

Media blogger Jim Romenesko reported on the 25th on layoffs at one of the few remaining national newspapers, one which has published stories by esnl:

At an all-hands meeting last Friday, Christian Science Monitor staffers were told that the paper is restructuring and will cut about two dozen jobs over the next 18 months. “We will retain the capacity to cover the most important stories of the day,” says a memo to staff, “but a significant share of our resources will be focused on targeted topics.Unknown …This means we will cover fewer topics, but do so with authority, insight, and healing impact.”

On to Pennsylvania with a 13 November report on layoffs in Wilkes-Barre from the Citizens Voice:

Citing a “sharp decline” in some revenue streams, the Times Leader on Friday announced it had laid off three employees, according to a memo obtained by The Citizens’ Voice.

The email, from Publisher Doug Olsson, said the “incredibly difficult” decision to cut staff was the result of a strategic review by its owner, North Carolina-based Civitas Media LLC.

The review showed recent growth in local advertising, including revenue from online ads, but that the company has seen a sharp decline in revenue from commercial printing, private-party classified ads and pre-printed inserts from large retailers, Olsson wrote.

From newspapers on to magazines, first with this POLITICO Media report:

Magazine downsizing season is in full swing, and the latest victim is Wenner Media, where a handful of employees have been laid off, POLITICO Media has learned.

Among those handed pink slips were Peter Stevenson, the former longtime No. 2 editor of The New York Observer who had just taken a job as Men’s Journal’s deputy editor in September.

Wenner Media, which also publishes Rolling Stone and Us Weekly, had already weathered a round of cuts in June. It was unclear whether any titles beyond Men’s Journal were affected in this latest culling, and a spokeswoman for the company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

More magazine layoffs from the New York Observer:

Condé Nast is pulling the plug on Details, the company announced today. The forthcoming issue of the men’s mag will be it’s last, and its website will gradually transition to GQStyle.com.

“GQ Style, which has consistently been popular among upscale millennials and luxury advertisers alike, will significantly expand its digital presence and also increase to a quarterly print schedule,” said the memo. “As a result of these changes, Details will cease publication with the December 2015/January 2016 issue. Details.com will continue to operate as we transition to GQStyle.com in the coming months.”

Detail’s editor in chief Dan Peres and chief revenue officer Drew Schutte are leaving the company, according to the memo. The Wall Street Journal reports that at least twenty percent of the magazine’s 60 person staff will stay at Condé (which means that at least 12 staffers will have a mildly less depressing holiday season).

Still more on the Condé Nast-y cuts from the Hollywood Reporter:

Earlier this summer, Lucky magazine (which was launched under Conde Nast before being sold to BeachMint in 2014) was shuttered.

Seven editorial staff layoffs ensued at GQ, followed by yesterday’s news of the shuttering of Details magazine and the subsequent dismissal of over 55 employees in both the editorial and the ad sales divisions. Publishers at Teen Vogue (Jason Wagenheim) and Self (Mary Murcko) were also let go this month, with ad sales for both glossies condensing under Vogue’s and Glamour’s business umbrellas, respectively.

Today, another wave of layoffs was reported at the company. WWD confirmed that Glamour’s Latina-focused quarterly, Glam Belleza Latina, would fold, cutting five employees in the process, and also that Self was letting go of several editorial employees. The shuttering of Glam Belleza Latina comes less than one month after Hearst shuttered its millennial-targeted Latina magazine, Cosmopolitan for Latinas.

Additionally, The Daily Front Row announced today that a handful of editorial staff at Glamour magazine, including design director Sarah Vinas and accessories director Gretchen Gunlocke Fenton, were dismissed as well.

Lastly, even online sites aren’t immune from the chop, as noted by Cision:

Amid the shift to a political focus, Gawker has shuttered several blogs within its portfolio. These include The Vane, Defamer, Morning After, Valleywag, Millihelen, The Kitchenette, Flight Club, Indefinitely Wild and Throb.

>snip<

Finally, in a series of layoffs at the company, senior editor Jason Parham, news editor Taylor Berman and staff writers Jay Hathaway and Kelly Conaboy have left Gawker. Jezebel senior reporter Natasha Vargas-Cooper has also left, while Erin Gloria Ryan is leaving the blog to join Vocativ as deputy editor. Follow the transition at Gawker via Facebook and Twitter.