Friday, March 14, 2014

BJ cutting closer to the bone

The report that the Beacon Journal is eliminating six more news positions through buyouts and/or layoffs prompted a larger context of how the paper is  cutting its staff still closer to the bone.  From former BJ staffer John Olesky, current editor of the BJ Retirees blog, comes a dramatic tale of newsroom shrinkage.

 Olesky writes,
"The BJ laid off 25 % of its newsroom staff - more than 40 people - in 2006.  In 2008 the BJ lost about 350 combined years of experience in one day.  The math...tells me that the BJ has gone from more than 160 to, after the next cut, barely more than  60.  
"That's about a 63% reduction in staff.  Those left at the BJ, as talented as they are, can hardly be expected to provide the same output as they did with 100 departed brethren."
The company is offering a year's severance to those who accept buyouts.  However, one reporter  told me  that even though she may opt for the buyout, she's not certain it would be accepted because the decision would be made by high-ups.

As a personal note, I can sympathize.  As the paper's former metropolitan editor with a mature  staff at peak levels, I still felt short-handed at times, particularly because of illnesses or vacations. At that time, my responsibility included a two-member Columbus bureau and the paper's bureau in Washington - neither  of which exist today.

It is also troubling to see the BYj relying more on "special to the Beacon Journal"  stringers and from other Ohio newspapers. Yes, the wireless hi-tech times have caught up with the paper, as sad as that might be.  And it also means that the microscopic coverage of government, large and small, is finished at the point of no return.

It will be missed.  Terribly so.

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