One of the more surprising subscribers to the ProJo buyout is 41-year-old Mark Arsenault, a fine reporter who has a sideline in writing mystery novels. I profiled him in 2006.
Tim Schick, administrator of the Providence Newspaper Guild, says management has set a final buyout deadline of midnight tonight. Twenty-one people have thus far put in for it -- 11 on the news side, including Charlie Bakst, Scott MacKay, Pawtucket reporter John Castellucci, and sportswriter Steve Krasner, according to Schick and Guild president John Hill.
Arsenault, who has an appreciation for whimsy, notes that he has spent 10 and one-quarter years at the ProJo, 25 percent of his life. But considering how he has one book in the works at St. Martin's, another one completed, and an idea for yet another, the time felt right. He was out of work for a while prior to arm surgery over the summer, Arsenault says, and he enjoyed the experience of spending his days at home, tapping at the computer.
"There's never a perfect time to place a very large wager on yourself and your abilities," he says, "but if not now, when?"
Arsenault plans to focus on fiction, although he still wants to practice journalism. As someone capable of writing both serious narrative journalism and well-tuned idiosyncratic features, he will be missed.
Arsenault is married to former ProJo scribe Jennifer Levitz, now in the Boston bureau of the Wall Street Journal.
While MacKay painted a dim picture of the ProJo's direction, Arsenault sees it differently. He described how a previous buyout opened fresh paths for him, including the chance to cover the State House, and in terms of younger staffers, he says, "Now it's going to be their opportunity."