Friday, January 18, 2013

Fading Star-Ledger

Newark, New Jersey skyline
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Star-Ledger
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thirty-four newsroom jobs evaporated at The (Newark) Star-Ledger yesterday, as the Advance Publications-owned daily shed 10 percent of its workforce, according to accounts by the Star-Ledger and Associated Press.

The ravages of Superstorm Sandy joined declining circulation and plunging ad revenues on the usual laundry list of reasons for the massive job reduction. Although the pink slips were distributed among the IT,  circulation and advertising departments, the shockwaves were strongest in the newsroom, where 18 employees were ousted, including copy editors, photographers, news and photo editors.

The Star-Ledger, the nation's 16th largest daily with a combined digital and print readership of 311,904, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, has seen its newsroom shrink to 175 from 195. "TUOL" has chronicled the ongoing financial hardship of the Star-Ledger (see "TUOL" post 7/13/12), which included a massive buyout in 2008 in which 304 workers, including 151 newsroom staffers, took the money and ran.

Star-Ledger publisher Richard Vezza, in an understatement, called yesterday a "difficult day," while Editor Kevin Whitmer acknowledged the daily was unable to continue to support certain positions on the paper.
Terminated staffers were given a week-and-a-half severance pay for each year of service to a maximum 26 weeks and provided health care and job counseling during that period.

The Newhouse family-owned Advance Publications wielded the job axe at other chain publications yesterday, including The Express-Times in Easton, Pennsylvania, which trimmed 12 jobs from its 234-member staff, and the South Jersey Times, which employed 150 before 11 workers were sent packing.

According to the AP account, the Star-Ledger is the largest content provider to the free Web site, which draws from Advance-owned dailies and weeklies. The Star-Ledger is a non-union shop.

The layoffs resonated among the devoted New Jersey-born staff of "TUOL," which turned to the Star-Ledger after the afternoon daily Newark Evening News folded, and read the paper throughout middle school and high school.
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