The reorganization aims to focus news-gathering operations on the online delivery of news through websites and social media sites first and foremost. Josh Awtry, editor of the Citizen-Times, has said the new plan will focus more resources on reporting and digital media.
In human terms, that means that most newsroom employees were essentially fired and forced to reapply for new jobs, many of which pay less than previous jobs. Here is the list of people that are affected, as I know it from my sources (and unconfirmed):
Barbara Blake: Barbara is perhaps the newspaper’s most well-known reporter, having worked at the newspaper since 1974. Last December, her daughter, Casey Blake, wrote a great piece for the Citizen-Times recounting her mother’s career to mark Barb’s 40th anniversary. Casey is also a reporter at the newspaper. (Did not reapply for a job.)
Barbara has won numerous honors for her writing, including two Thomas Wolfe awards. She’s covered all the big stories of the day for the past four decades. She’s the newsroom’s mother figure, quietly checking in with everyone, taking on extra editing duties and helping organize Thanksgiving and Christmas newsroom dinners (along with Holly, see below). Read Casey Blake’s story about her mother, Barbara Blake, here.
Bill Sanders: Bill is the photo editor at the Citizen-Times. This is his second go-round at the newspaper, having first worked as a Citizen-Times photographer in the 1970s, I believe. Bill is a career newspaper photographer. Bill will stay on through most of September. (Did not reapply for a job.)
Bobby Bradley: Bobby started out at the newspaper as a graphic designer. Most recently, Bobby has been producing videos and shooting photos. I’m not sure how long he’s been at the newspaper. (Did not reapply for a job.)
Holly MacKenzie: Holly has been the newspaper’s staff librarian for years. As the newspaper has gradually cut back on staff, Holly was tasked with doing more and more regarding online archiving and most recently she’s been tasked with some copy editing duties. Holly has been with the Citizen-Times for at least 20 years, though I don’t exactly how long. (There was no new job for Holly to apply for.)
John Coutlakis: John came aboard the Citizen-Times in the early 1990s, as I recall. He is of Greek ancestry, and is well-known in Asheville’s vibrant Greek community. He’s a great photographer and is especially good as a sports photographer. (Did not reapply for a job.)
Polly McDaniel: I don’t know when Polly joined the newspaper, but she’s been a reporter/editor for her entire stint. Polly started as an editor/reporter overseeing home and garden sections. Her husband, Rick McDaniel, is a cookbook author and former food reviewer for the newspaper. Most recently, Polly has worked as multimedia editor. (Laid off.)
Here’s an updated/corrected bio, which Polly sent me Friday evening:
I was with the Citizen-Times for 16 years, starting as a copy editor, then rising to features editor, where I pioneered coverage of the farm-to-table movement in the food and home and garden sections and greatly expanded our arts coverage.
In 2009, I was promoted to multimedia editor.
I have since held a variety of roles, including content development. I crafted the framework for Asheville Scene for example. I also led the transition from the old Citizen-Times website to the new one that launched this year.
Clarke Morrison: Clarke has been at the Citizen-Times since the 1980s. He has been reporting on environmental issues for years, and most recently has worked the morning cops (public safety) shift. He’s a beloved grump, known in the newsroom as “The Grizz,” short for “grizzled veteran.” (Laid off.)
Jeff Ruminiski: Jeff worked outside the newsroom in a graphic design capacity.
There are five Gannett newspapers affected by this “newsroom of the future” experiment by Gannett: the Nashville Tennessean, The Indianapolis Star, the Pensacola News Journal, the Asbury Park Press, the Greenville News in South Carolina, and the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina.
While managers at other newspapers have clearly explained new reporter beats and job descriptions, we have yet to hear exactly who will be doing what at the Asheville Citizen-Times. More to come.
My heart goes out to those forced out. I’m angered by the process Gannett forced employees to go through, and I’m generally down about the prospects of the daily newspaper, which I worked for during my entire 20-year career until I was laid off last year.