The Phoenix Network:
 
 
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 

Who’ll stop the pain?

Another round of cuts looms at the ProJo
By IAN DONNIS  |  July 30, 2008
projo_signinside.jpg

Will the last reporter to leave the Providence Journal please turn out the lights?

No, things haven’t yet gotten that bad. Still, the news dropped Monday by the Belo Corporation, the ProJo’s Dallas-based parent — that a company-wide buyout will eliminate up to 54 local jobs, including 37 on the news side — represents the latest incision in a painful dance of many cuts. That similar things are happening throughout the newspaper industry, and in such nearby cities as Boston, Hartford and New York, is of little consolation.

In Rhode Island, the buyout targets maximum reductions in the following job classifications: five section editors; four copy editors; four reporters (print and online); five columnist/special writers (which include critics and reviewers); and four photographers, among others.

Just who will leave won’t be known until a sign-up period ends on August 20, and the buyout offer isn’t particularly generous: “1.5 times weekly base pay for the first 15 years of continuous service, 2.5 times weekly base pay for years of service over 15. (Program caps at 21 years/40 weeks pay).”

The departures may nonetheless include some of the ProJo’s most veteran reporters, photographers, and editors. At the other end of the spectrum, a few of the most recently hired reporters could be vulnerable if too few (or too many) other staffers take the buyout, since Providence Newspaper Guild seniority would apply.

One insider describes what will be left as “murder and mayhem, sports and spike heels,” the latter being a reference to the ProJo’s forthcoming women’s lifestyle’s initiative, known as “In her shoes,” which is slated to have a heavy Web emphasis.

This is a bit harsh, considering how the ProJo’s crown jewels — the paper’s State House bureau and its investigative team — are unlikely to get axed.
 
Then again, political columnist M. Charles Bakst, who had already been mulling retiring next year, and metro columnist Bob Kerr are among those considering the buyout. If they go, it’s open to question if the Journal will maintain the columnists’ high-profile real estate on the front of the Rhode Island section.

And the buyout will make the ProJo, long a medium-sized jewel of American journalism, even thinner after it went through two similar rounds. One was to make it a more attractive target before Belo bought it (and the main prize, the Journal Company’s nine television stations) in 1997. The paper then lost a cumulative 1603 years of experience when 52 Guild members (and 38 other workers) subscribed to a subsequent buyout in 2001.

“It certainly is demoralizing,” says one reporter. “As it stands, we’re already working so hard and still not getting to all the news we should. Cut 10, 15, maybe 20 people out of that mix? I can’t even imagine. Even worse is to consider some of the names that might go. They’re people who are the real heart and soul of the place, and they’re not easily replaced. If we lose too many of the real stars at once, it could take years to recover.”

Tom Heslin, the ProJo’s acting editor, and publisher Howard G. Sutton, didn’t return calls from the Phoenix seeking comment.

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Appetite vanishes for vetting “editorial mysteries” on casino switch, News worth paying for?, A curious editorial switch on the Harrah’s casino, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Media, Newspapers, Bob Kerr,  More more >
| More


[ 04/23 ]   6th Annual SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival  @ Warwick Museum of Art
[ 04/23 ]   Veronica Meadows, by Stephen Thorne  @ Trinity Repertory Company
[ 04/23 ]   "Graphic Design: Now in Production,"  @ RISD Museum
ARTICLES BY IAN DONNIS
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   RHODY'S LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT FINDS ITS GROOVE  |  February 23, 2009
    Five years ago, when Farm Fresh Rhode Island (FFRI) launched its mission of promoting Ocean State-produced food, co-founder Noah Fulmer discovered a curious disconnection in the local food chain.
  •   TICKET TO RIDE  |  February 11, 2009
    In April 1999, two weeks after I started on the job at the Providence Phoenix , the FBI raided City Hall, formally unveiling the federal investigation that would land Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr., Rhode Island's rascal king, behind bars.
  •   ADVOCATES RENEW PUSH FOR PUBLICLY-FINANCED RI ELECTIONS  |  February 04, 2009
    During a news conference Tuesday afternoon in the State House rotunda, proponents of significantly expanding publicly financed elections in Rhode Island — a concept they call "Fair Elections" — cited a litany of reasons for why it would be good for the Ocean State and its citizens.
  •   THE UPSIDE OF HOPE IN RHODE ISLAND  |  January 29, 2009
    Everywhere one turns these days, there's seemingly more bad news about Rhode Island: the unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation, tops 10 percent — and the state's running out of unemployment assistance.
  •   BROGAN TAKES ON TEENS, SOCIAL NETWORKING IN TEASER  |  January 28, 2009
    Former Providence Journal reporter Jan Brogan is out with her fourth mystery, Teaser .

 See all articles by: IAN DONNIS



  |  Sign In  |  Register
 
thePhoenix.com:
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
TODAY'S FEATURED ADVERTISERS
Copyright © 2014 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group