Better days: Herald employees on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.

UPDATE: At least two other DFM papers laid off workers this week: the Denver Post announced the layoffs of four Guild-covered employees and at least two managers in inside circulation, while the East Bay Times — whose staff was recently hit with layoffs days after winning the Pulitzer Prize — has laid off two advertising employees.

MONTEREY — The Monterey Herald laid off three news workers Wednesday, leaving an already minimally staffed newsroom stripped to bare bones.

The layoffs come just weeks after The Herald’s staff won five awards and two honorable mentions from the California News Publishers Association for environmental and business reporting, writing, photo illustration and best front pages.

The workers — two longtime newsroom employees and the paper’s obituary clerk — were given two weeks’ notice.

The Herald laid off obituary clerk Roberta Little, eliminating that revenue-earning position. Little has worked at The Herald for 27 years, serving as ad traffic supervisor among other titles. Little has a long career in newspapers, starting at the Patterson (Calif.) Irrigator before moving to the Monterey Bay Area.

The loss of award-winning photographer David Royal leaves the paper with only one photographer on staff. Royal has produced stunning online photo galleries and videos that, he said, “kept the community and greater world audience aware of what was going on in an area that draws interest across the globe.” He’s worked for the paper for 12 years total, from 2003-2008 and 2010-2017.

Also laid off was Christy Hoffknecht, whose job titles most recently included copy hub liaison and night and weekend editor. Hoffknecht has “worn many hats” at The Herald over her 16 1/2 years at the paper, and recently told “I’m most proud of how our newsroom has managed to pull together to continue to produce high-quality work and get the big stories covered well, even in the face of dwindling resources.”

Guild co-chair James Herrera said, “Workers find it maddening that employee cuts and reductions in service and content continue to be the owner’s strategy.”

“I thought we were done with this — we’re at bare bones as it is now. It’s just hard to believe,” added one worker.

The last day at work for the three will be Wednesday, June 28, The Herald’s human resources director, Gabriele Winn, told the Guild in an emailed statement.

The Herald is owned by Digital First Media, the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain in terms of circulation. DFM 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 weeks.