Last-minute layoffs target long-time workers, hit newsrooms hard
OAKLAND — More news workers have been laid off at Digital First Media newspapers as the company approaches its new fiscal year on July 1.
The layoffs appear to be targeting long-time newsroom employees as well as management in the newspapers’ human resources departments.
After three people in an already bare-bones newsroom were given two weeks’ notice at The Monterey Herald, five more California news workers were let go this week from the Bay Area News Group (BANG), which includes the East Bay Times (Oakland) and the Mercury News (San Jose). Four of the five were women.
The news hit BANG employees hard as they were still reeling from last month’s copy desk layoffs that followed a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
The East Bay has also lost a human resources employee, and the Monterey Herald’s long-time human resources director was given notice Thursday.
At the Denver Post, nine people have been laid off this month, including five in management. One human resources employee who worked more than 29 years at the Post was laid off, as was a mailroom employee hired in 1972. All but one were in their 50s and 60s.
At DFM’s Detroit-area papers, at least 10 non-union sportswriters, advertising staff and others have been laid off at several regional newspapers including the Oakland Press, plus one Guild member (a sportswriter with 24 years seniority) at the Macomb Daily.
In the Philadelphia region, four employees have accepted company buyouts, including staff at the Pottstown Mercury, the Delaware County Times and the Norristown Times-Herald. A prepress employee at the Times was laid off.
The layoffs came just as 13 NewsGuild units at the DFM papers are scheduled to enter into wage negotiations in July.
DFM is the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain in terms of circulation, and is in turn owned and controlled by the New York vulture hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which has been on a buying and investment spree in recent months.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that a photographer was laid off at The Trentonian.