The jobs of two “producers” who handled those functions have been cut in Asheville, as well as the job of copy editor Casey Swaney, who’s worked for the newspaper for 22 years. Corporate parent company Gannett has been consolidating work functions such as copy editing and page design for several years, driving a steady decline in staffing alongside other cuts in newsrooms, including reporter layoffs.
The two producers took other jobs within the Gannett company, while Swaney declined to move for another job and took a severance package that was offered, I’m told.
There are eight news reporters left at the Citizen-Times, according to the newspaper’s contact page on its website, and three photographers.
The moves comes fresh off the recent sale of the newspaper building. The newspaper staff is now a tenant on one floor of 14 O.Henry Ave., which has been home to the Citizen-Times for about 80 years. The plan is for the newspaper to lease back one floor of the building and remain in downtown Asheville for a couple of years. The building will be renovated and soon home to new renters.
The news of another staff reduction and the sale of the building caps a decade of significant cost-cutting measures by Gannett. Seeking to stave off steady revenue losses triggered by declines in print circulation and print advertising, the Citizen-Times over that period has laid off dozens of employees, closed its local printing plant, reduced the size of the print product and reduced the circulation footprint of a publication that once boasted a wide reach across the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Last I heard, AC-T like most Gannett papers, was still turning a profit. Just not enough for the greedy corporate owners in McLean VA. They should be ashamed. “Media consolidation” is just another term for cutting the heart out of American democracy.
“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.” John Adams
In this case, “restraint” comes in the form of people who buy existing press outlets and drive them out of business, just to line their own pockets.