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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BREAKING: Oregonian Layoffs Started This AM, Updated With List: Brooks, Rivera, Boule

Posted by Matt Davis on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Updated, 5:54pm The O is probably not done with layoffs just yet. I'm hearing that the publisher is shooting for about 60+ layoffs in total over the coming weeks.

Updated and bumped up at 11:30:

There appears, at least to the sources I am in contact with, to be a strong degree of nepotism in the list of people who have so far been preserved from the Oregonian axe today. So far apparently saved from the chop: Executive Editor Peter Bhatia's wife Liz Dahl—an editor; Former editor Sandy Rowe's daughter Mims Copeland—a designer; and Bridget Otto—a former Homes & Garden editor, and daughter of former publisher Fred Stickel.

The cuts come as staff have had to endure several weeks of new editor Peter Bhatia redecorating Rowe's office. The office is right in the middle of the news room: Bhatia not only repainted and made improvements, but he put up black shades so that reporters could no longer see inside.

Big name chops that stick out so far include Karen Brooks, the paper's food writer. Food editor Martha Holmberg, editor of Food Day and MIX, recently left, so it's odd to see that the Oregonian appears to be giving up on the local food scene.

Margie Boule is obviously one of the paper's longest-standing columnists, and probably among the highest-paid employees at the paper.

I've listed 19 of the reported 27 victims of the chop after the jump, so far, with apologies ahead of time for spelling errors—hey, we're an alt weekly. Lest anyone misinterpret my tone to think I'm crowing about this, I'm not—at least half a dozen of these employees have young children. But the Oregonian is a major institution in this town and as such deserves the same scrutiny as, say, the District Attorney's office or city hall.

Severance is reportedly one week of pay for every week year of service, with health coverage ending at the end of that period of severance.

Original post, 9:39

I'm hearing from several sources that the Oregonian started making calls this morning to the unlucky newsroom staff who will be losing their jobs in the paper's first round of post-buyout layoffs.

This is the first time the paper has ever done layoffs. Historically there was a "no-layoff" pledge, which the paper rescinded last year, as of February 1. The paper has also offered three rounds of buyouts since 2008.

At its peak in 2007, the O's newsroom had around 450 staff. With the latest layoffs, which are expected to number around 30, the newsroom is expected to be around 200—still 100 times the size of the full time Mercury newsroom.

The paper hired a conservative new publisher at the end of last year, and is also considering a tabloid format.

Update, 10:59: The O seems to have also made this announcement at 9:39 this morning:

“These layoffs are a painful but necessary part of our 2010 budget, which was developed to ensure financial stability for The Oregonian now and in the future,” said N. Christian Anderson III, president and publisher of The Oregonian.

•Dylan Rivera
•Karen Brooks
•Margie Boule
Sean Shawn Vitt
•Steve McKinstrey
•Fred Joe
•Andy Parker
•Ruth Mullin
•Susan Goldsmith
•Sherry Rainey
•Joe Bruggar
•Patti Rekston
•Alan Borrud
•Becky Links
•Eric Baker
•Bo Herzog
•Cynthia Davis
•Joan Harvey
•Rob Furniss Furnas

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