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Posted Jun 12, 2012, 3:08 pm
The Times-Picayune announced Tuesday that it was letting go one-third of its staff, cutting 201 employees from the company as it restructures to focus on its website, the paper reported.
The layoffs come after the New Orleans newspaper announced that it was scaling back its print edition to publish just three times a week: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Out of 173 Times-Picayune newsroom staff, 84 were notified Tuesday that they will be let go and given severance packages, according to the paper. Those who were not fired were offered new jobs with Nola Media Group, the new company that is overseeing The Times-Picayune news coverage beginning in October.
"I guess I'm trying to figure out how I didn't fit into the new organization," Katy Reckdahl, a laid-off reporter, told WWL News station. "I think they've torn apart an institution."
Among those laid off include the Times-Picayune's James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic Brett Anderson, veteran sports columnist Peter Finney, and religion writer Bruce Nolan, according to the newspaper.
"Those who are in are mostly relieved that they will be working," wrote former Times-Picayune writer Renee Peck. "And even many of those who didn’t make it say they are simply relieved it is over. The past three weeks have been hell."
Advance Publications, the paper's New York-based parent company, is implementing similar lay-offs at its Alabama papers as well, including Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville dailies, Poynter reported. 400 Alabama Advance employees are being laid off, including 60 percent of the editorial staff at The Birmingham News, according to Poynter.
"For journalism, this is a signal development," wrote former Times-Picayune reporter John McQuaid in the Atlantic Monthly. "New Orleans will now be the largest American city without a daily paper."
"And during a time when newspapers are being hollowed out, The Times-Picayune has managed to retain its hard-won reputation for local journalism and, especially post-Hurricane Katrina, become an important community voice," McQuaid continued. "Maintaining that reputation has depended on the owners' backing. Now that has effectively been withdrawn."
Last month, after the three-day publishing announcement was made, 70 New Orleans civic and business leaders sent a letter to the paper's owners asking the company to sit down with the community before moving forward with its cost-slashing, WWL television station reported.