After repeated rounds of layoffs, it's hard to imagine the Oregonian having anywhere else to cut. But the news business's grim prognosis marches on, so the cuts continue.
In a memo issued to staff this morning, Oregonian/OregonLive top editor Mark Katches announced the departure of 11 newsroom staffers—a steep blow to the state's largest newspaper.
"It’s with a very heavy heart that I bring you this news: Today, the positions of 11 of our colleagues in the newsroom are being eliminated," Katches wrote. "All 11 staffers have been notified this morning. For most of them, today will be their last day."
News of the layoffs was first reported by Willamette Week. It was confirmed by some Oregonian staff online.
For those inclined to point fingers at The Oregonian or our parent company Advanced Publications: Ad revenue across our industry continues to plummet precipitously. Layoffs in local newsrooms are happening everywhere. And it fucking sucks. https://t.co/PMmUnUMT48 pic.twitter.com/70pkxvU98q
— Shane D. Kavanaugh (@shanedkavanaugh) January 31, 2018
The Oregonian is far from alone in its troubles. Even as sorrowful tweets circulate about this latest blow to the newsroom, employees at the East Bay Times, the Bay Area paper that won a Pulitzer last year, are saying goodbye to coworkers, as are newsrooms around the country.
It’s a very sad day in the East Bay Times Walnut Creek office. 17 goodbye cards to sign. Each card represents about a quarter of a century of institutional knowledge. They served the communities. And they’re our friends.#supportlocaljournalism pic.twitter.com/NYswxPFEZm
— Matthias Gafni (@mgafni) January 31, 2018
That doesn't make today's loss any less painful for Portland and Oregon. While diminished, the O still commands the largest newsroom in the state—a staff that puts together impactful investigations and solid enterprise. Willamette Week notes this is at least the sixth round of layoffs at the paper, owned by Staten Island-based Advance Publications, since 2010.
Update, 1:59 pm: Oregonian employees got a second memo today, it turns out. John Maher, president of Oregonian Media Group, also sent out a jargony missive suggesting the smaller staff is "well equipped."
"As Mark mentioned in his note to staff, our audience continues to grow at high rates," wrote Maher, who called the layoffs a "difficult decision." "Our news and content is consumed by more people today than ever before."
That growth has been chipped at by the fact that "the underpinnings of the business have changed," Maher said. "Our path is forward. We have a capable team that is well equipped for success in this challenging environment."
He wrapped up: "While we may be smaller today, the day is coming when we’ll be growing our ranks."
According to Twitter and sources in the newsroom, the paper laid off its city hall reporter, a business/retail reporter who also contributed solid political coverage, a health reporter, a breaking news reporter, and more.
To Samantha Bakall, Molly Blue, Allan Brettman, Jessica Floum, Susan Green, Anna Marum, Lynne Palombo, Mike Richman, Lynne Terry, Jerry Ulmer: Life is better on the other side. Trust me.
— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) January 31, 2018
Here's Katches' full memo:
It’s with a very heavy heart that I bring you this news: Today, the positions of 11 of our colleagues in the newsroom are being eliminated. All 11 staffers have been notified this morning. For most of them, today will be their last day.
We will miss those who stood shoulder to shoulder with us. We are grateful for their contributions, for their professionalism and for their steadfast service to our community.
You’re probably asking yourself, when will these cuts end? I wish I could answer that. Although we have made progress growing our digital audience while also producing award-winning, and important journalism, the revenue picture continues to pose challenges for our company – as is the case across the media landscape.
If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to approach your director or come speak to me.