The layoffs come as part of a move by the newspaper’s corporate parent, Gannett, to experiment with creating what it has called a “newsroom of the future.” The plan is to focus newsroom folks on the digital delivery of information first and foremost, using a number of different metrics that help indicate what readers want. That includes everything from website page clicks to the number of comments on a story to the number of Facebook “likes” a story gets.
Gannett essentially fired the newsroom staff at the Citizen-Times and four other newspapers recently and forced anyone interested in a job to apply for newly defined jobs. Reporter Clarke Morrison and editor Polly McDaniel were laid off. Five other employees did not reapply for a job. They were: Photographers John Coutlakis and Bobby Bradley, photo editor Bill Sanders, archivist Holly MacKenzie and 40-year veteran reporter Barbara Blake.
We still don’t know exactly what those jobs are in Asheville, but a few are becoming clear.
For example, Jess McCuan, editor of the Citizen-Times’ weekly entertainment publication called The Scene, has announced that she is no longer editor of that publication. She’s landed a new job as some sort of analyst focused on the print product. Will there be a new editor of The Scene? Will it be edited from afar, just as most of the page layout and design is done now? It’s unclear.
In a column last Sunday, Citizen-Times Editor Josh Awtry offered this explanation of the reorganization:
When our news team discussed this future newsroom and the big additions to skills we needed to serve the community, some were ready to face the challenges.
At the same time, five of our journalists voluntarily decided this was the right time to hang up their press passes. We’re sad to see them go, but we respect their decisions and deeply admire everything that they’ve given to the community. And, unfortunately, there were two journalists whose skills weren’t a match for the roles needed to best serve you.
In every single one of those cases, those who are departing can leave our newsroom with their heads held high. I’m proud to have worked with them and will vouch for their professionalism and integrity.
As we move forward, many of those positions will be refilled to increase coverage where you’ve asked for it. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be recruiting half a dozen high-caliber photojournalists, videographers and reporters who have a mind for community service and the skills to match.
We also know that you don’t build a top-tier team by reducing wages. We’re setting the bar higher for our team, and that doesn’t happen by offering less.
This week, we’ll share more details on our team and the specific reporters who will connect you with answers at every level.
Meantime, here’s the job listing for the photojournalist job:
The Citizen-Times in Asheville, N.C., is looking for visual journalists to round out our news team.
If you’re the right candidate, you’ll have a top-tier portfolio of project work and single images. But you’ll back it up with a great collection of video work and a track record of using social media to share images with the community. We’re seeking versatility and speed — you should be as comfortable with stills as you are with video, and as comfortable shooting from a phone in a pinch as you are with a DSLR.
You’ll also hunger for the space to display your work — and we aim to deliver. Over the past six months, we’ve added documentary photo-driven features to our Friday and Sunday papers, including space for deep photo stories and “behind the lens” featurettes that give photographers a chance to talk about why they chose to photograph a subject a certain way.
Having a thorough knowledge of technology is a plus — we’re always looking for someone to try out the newest digital approach or experiment with a way to get their photos to the web in creative, wireless ways. And any writing clips are a bonus; we love well-rounded journalists.
Night and weekend work may be required.
Asheville is a vibrant community in the heart of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, and is home to some of the nation’s best mountain biking, hiking and kayaking. It’s also known as a top restaurant destination and boasts more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
We understand and appreciate a diverse workforce.
And here’s the listing for the social issues reporting job and the growth and economic issues reporting job.
I lived thru the demise of the photgraphic film industry and ultimately had to leave it. The hard-copy news industry strikes me as having the same issues as film did. We can lament the loss of jobs but it is like defending buggy whips. Economics moves on.
“And, unfortunately, there were two journalists whose skills weren’t a match for the roles needed to best serve you.”
“unfortunately, there were two journalists whose skills weren’t a match for the roles needed to best serve you.”
I don’t know anything about Polly McDaniel, but I’ve seen some solid reporting from Clarke Morrison over the years, and I was surprised and disappointed to see him get cut loose.
I remain extremely skeptical that this latest round of institutional-memory-shedding will create a paper that does a better job of “serving us”.
What should be mentioned in the job postings is the reason for the swath of open positions. It should also warn that anyone who fills these job should expect to have to reapply for these jobs in a couple of years or so.
Bet they dropped the salaries/pay rates quite a bit for the new positions…
Where did you hear or read that, cwaster? That would mean they lied in this press release when they wrote, “We also know that you don’t build a top-tier team by reducing wages. We’re setting the bar higher for our team, and that doesn’t happen by offering less.”
any writing clips are a bonus; we love well-rounded journalists.
– “Willingness to fill the newspaper racks around town in your spare time considered a plus.”
– “Janitorial experience also welcomed.”
– “Salary range: low enough to earn you a hardship deferment from those J-school loan repayments.”