Tronc recently slashed in half the newsroom at the New York Daily News, and the Belleville News-Democrat also announced the layoffs of veteran journalists. The Belleville story hit Shop Talk panelist Will Buss especially hard because he worked at the paper until just a couple years ago.
Buss said some of the people who lost their jobs in Belleville had been at the paper for 20 or 30 years. He said the paper is losing institutional knowledge by getting rid of those workers. He said there is not much remaining at the newspaper compared to when he left it.
Buss also said he is outraged by Tronc’s layoffs, and he said companies that continually cut their newsroom staffs show a reckless disregard for journalism.
Panelist Rich Egger said Tronc has talked about emphasizing breaking news and online content. He wonders how the company plans to achieve those goals with fewer journalists. He said reporters are needed to do the work.
Egger said he understands that companies want to make money but he feels that’s often done at the expense of good journalism.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said journalism is an important service to the country, especially now when reporters are being questioned about the truth and whether they have an agenda. She said newsrooms need people in place to edit and fact check, but layoffs open the door to more mistakes.
Crighton said newsroom layoffs generally seem to target veteran journalists who make more money than their younger counterparts. She said quality can suffer when those veteran reporters and editors are sent packing.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.