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Friday, May 24, 2019

More Ohio Journalists Slashed as Gatehouse Media Continues to Purge

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2019 at 12:16 PM


In a move that executives at GateHouse Media are spinning as a "restructuring" for the future, more than 100 journalists at GateHouse publications around the country have been laid off. Among them are editors and reporters at Ohio publications like the Columbus Dispatch, The Akron Beacon-Journal and the Canton Repository.

The current round of GateHouse layoffs follows an earlier purge of about 60 positions in January and February, cuts that Gatehouse execs have described, and continue to describe, as no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Mike Reed, CEO of GateHouse’s parent company New Media Investment Group, characterized the current cuts as "immaterial" to Business Insider, and told Poynter that the layoffs were likely to be misrepresented.

“We have 11,000 employees. A lot to me is 2,000,” he said.

Poynter reported Thursday that six positions were cut at the Dispatch, including that of feature columnist Joe Blundo, "who volunteered to cut back to one column a week."

The Columbus Business Journal elaborated. The other five who lost their jobs were veteran business reporter Tim Feran, Washington bureau reporter Jack Torry, librarian Linda Deitch, editorial assistant Michelle Campbell, and editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler.

At the Beacon-Journal, according to an internal memo, seven positions were cut, including one librarian, one copy editor and five sports statisticians.

Andrew Pantazi of GateHouse's Florida Times-Union, in Jacksonville, has been tracking the company's layoffs on a spreadsheet and has tallied approximately 100 in total. Akron and Columbus appear to be two of the hardest hit publications. Only the newspaper and magazine in Worcester, Mass., which lost 10 total employees, sustained deeper cuts.

Pantazi's spreadsheet notes that three unspecified positions in Kent, one editorial assistant position in Canton and one sports reporter position in Massilon were also laid off.

Dispatch editor Alan Miller wrote in a column Friday that the paper "lost several colleagues on Thursday to layoffs resulting from the significant pressures on the newspaper industry."

These significant pressures, which undoubtedly exist, have been used to excuse the disemboweling of the American press by get-rich-quick investors like Gatehouse's New Media Invesment Group, a company that has grown in infamy for its acquisitions and ensuing staff reductions.

In Cleveland, Plain Dealer editor George Rodrigue cited industry pressures when the paper outsourced its print production hub and laid off more than a dozen journalists in its newsroom this year. He used similar language, calling the layoffs a "painful adjustment." 

Business Insider estimates that roughly 2,700 journalists have lost jobs this year alone.

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