NOTE: Numerous updates with details and commentary below.
N&R lays off a bunch of folks. No names or job descriptions in the initial report, which says 41 jobs have been eliminated.
Comments welcome from anyone with info (anonymous comments are possible; email me if you wish).
"The effectiveness of the newspaper's daily operations will not be jeopardized," [publisher Robin] Saul said. "We remain committed to providing both excellent journalism and the highest level of customer satisfaction."
Tough times in this business. Whether you love the local paper or loathe it, remember that the folks who lost their jobs are real people -- your neighbors. Let's show them a little respect and support.
UPDATE: I'm not going to post any names until I cross-check them, but one early email from an N&R staffer says:
There's a pretty sad air about the building right now. They used to always tout Landmark as the company that never lays people off, just gets rid of them through attrition. I guess that's out the window. A lot of people are angry about the way this was handled.
UPDATE II: N&R reporter: "A fucking bloodbath."
The newsroom tally is reportedly 11 fulltimers, 6 parttimers gone.
A well-placed source says, "Some newsroom reporters learned about the layoffs when they got calls from other newsrooms. I'm so angry. There are a lot of really good people that I'm not going to see in this office again."
Among the missing:
- Eric Dyer, a high-profile former Raleigh reporter who is said to have spent his own money to follow the Edwards '04 campaign when the N&R wouldn't pay for travel. My source says, "So much for loyalty."
- Maria Johnson, a well-regarded feature writer.
- Tom Taylor, who just recently began a B1 advice column.
- Monica Chen, a reporter in the High Point bureau who started just days ago.
A reporter says, "The reputation was, we don't do layoffs, we do attrition and hiring freezes. At the end of the day, I thought we were better than publicly-traded companies, but we're not. [Landmark honcho Frank] Batten just made a $100 million gift to UVA, I guess with profit margins down he couldn't afford $200 million."
"There is a lot anger right in this newsroom. [Editor John Robinson] has known this was coming for a long time."
"I don't think anyone believes this is the end of it. [Robinson] said it was, but when pressed he said for now it is. I know what that means -- I'd better polish my resume."
UPDATE III: Other reported layoffs include staffers from the library and copy desk, photo staff, and sports and news designers. Not sure if I should report names of people who were not bylined in the paper, so I'll hold off on that for now.
I'm hearing a lot of anger directed toward JR, and that's inevitable given the situation, but I feel horrible for him, too. This cannot be easy for him, and the nature of the publishing business is that he works for the money guys, and they call the tune on staffing levels.
UPDATE IV: A very brief blog post by John Robinson, who promises more to come.
UPDATE V: A source close to the situation says:
I don't think someone who hasn't worked at the paper every day recently understands how bad things are getting.
I agree with you that today must have sucked for JR. He's a good man, and I feel for him. But most reporters at the paper, or at least my young friends, were demoralized well before today by management's incapability to do the things on the Web site they've been talking about for years. Demoralized by the Wray coverage, which hurt our credibility -- not necessarily because it was wrong, but because Lorraine never should have gotten a single byline on it (appearances, unfortunately, matter). And demoralized by continued attrition, which was really hurting the quality of the paper. Today was just the slathering of a whole hell of a lot of icing on the cake.
There seems to be no game plan from the newsroom bosses on how to make the localized Records publications work. Nor were those publications born out of any real desire for community journalism; they exist entirely to cut costs and to squeeze more ad revenue out of areas the paper hadn't mined in a while. It is a hideous mess.
UPDATE VI: Another name reportedly on the layoff list: Jonelle Davis -- a fairly new reporter in Rockingham.
Don't know what that means for coverage of our neighboring county.
I'm hearing concerns that the layoffs, which seem to have tended toward newer hires, have diminished diversity on the staff.
UPDATE VII: An N&R staffer writes:
As I've had a little more time to think about the effect all of this is going to have on the newsroom, trying to set aside the sadness of losing people I enjoyed working alongside, I can't see a way that we can overcome this. The news staff had already been cut bone-thin from attrition. Now we lose five more boots-on-the-ground people (four writers and a photog) at a time when we're already struggling to fill the paper. Particularly affected are our bureaus. We're left with one main-sheet reporter each in Rockingham and High Point. We'd been limping along in High Point with one reporter for a while and the result hasn't been great. In Rockingham we have a weekly, advertising driven community news pre-print section that must be filled. So if we've only got one reporter up there, can he even have time to do anything substantive? Or do they move someone from an already anemic Greensboro staff to help? Well, you get my point.
I seriously worry that this is the beginning of our suicide spiral. That so far we've been the depressed kid cutting our arms to see what happens while managing to miss our arteries.
UPDATE VIII: Friday June 8. The N&R print edition covers the layoffs at the paper by running the same detail-free press release from the publisher it put on line yesterday.
Lots of emails from staffers and former staffers overnight, into the wee small hours of the morning. Thanks for the info, and for your trust.
A reminder: I have contributed an opinion column to the N&R for a decade, but have never been an employee, and can count the number of times I've been in the building. I know a lot more people there than I used to, in some part because the web has helped open the place up, but my comments are coming from a wide range of staffers and ex-staffers.
UPDATE IX: The view from the sports desk.
UPDATE X: John Robinson writes, "Next week, we'll begin reinventing the paper. I respect the people who left here yesterday too much to suggest that things will be the same. We'll focus on what we can do well and what our audience values, and drop the rest."