Thursday, October 2, 2008

Big Cuts at Spokesman-Review

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 4:00 AM

It's a tough time to be in the news business.

The most recent, and most drastic, cutbacks in newsroom staff was announced earlier today at the Spokane, Wash.-based Spokesman-Review.

Editor Steven Smith announced that the paper's management have decided to cut up to 27 employees from its newsroom, representing one-quarter of the newsroom staff.

Smith also announced his own resignation, effective Friday, telling his staff, "I’ve told you all before how I felt about a layoff of this scope. It was not a layoff that I personally could support or sustain, and so I am resigning. If it’s any consolation, it saves a couple of positions, which saves a few reporters, but that really isn’t the point. The point is it’s time,” according to Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell's Eye on Boise blog.

Company-wide, 60 employees will lose their jobs in an effort to keep the paper profitable.

In the next two weeks, the company will be accepting voluntary resignations and offer severance, in an effort to limit involuntary layoffs. After that time though, those employees with the least seniority will be cut.

The layoffs—which will affect editors, reporters, photographers and support staff, as well as four to six newsroom managers—have some wondering if the paper will be able to maintain its quality.

"I think the impact of these cuts on the newsroom is devastating," Smith said in an article published on the Spokesman-Review Web site. "That's not a belief that the paper is going to be damaged in a devastating way."

The Spokesman-Review layoffs come on the heels of cutbacks announced at the Idaho Statesman. The daily paper will layoff 15 additional employees, including six from the newsroom, in an effort to cut costs.

The paper previously reported that 22 production employees will be losing their jobs after printing of the Statesman moves to the Idaho Press-Tribune plant, which also prints the Boise Weekly.

Other openings from attrition have not been filled.

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