Black Friday at the ProJo


Today is the implementation day for the ProJo news layoffs -- the first of their kind in the history of Rhode Island's statewide daily.

After a lengthy delay in reporting the news -- something noted by N4N and by trade journal E+P -- the Journal offers a business front story today on the cuts. Neil Downing's piece retraces the sad state of the newspaper industry, although it doesn't suggest the human toll of the cuts, which include a younger staffer whose wife is pregnant, an experienced staffer still recovering from a complicated injury, and many longtime staffers who will be hard-pressed to find new jobs in their chosen profession.

The Journal will continue to have 199 people employed in its news-gathering operation, so it will remain the largest news organization in Rhode Island, [publisher Howard] Sutton said.

“Even with this reduction in our news-gathering and editing ranks, we still have almost 200 people working in our newsrooms, which is a sizeable commitment to provide our readers with news and information,” Sutton said in an interview at the company’s headquarters on Fountain Street in Providence.

True, but the effect of the ProJo's downsizing is abundantly clear to its readers, and the paper's approach in seeking a stronger future leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

The Providence Newspaper Guild lists the employees who are losing their jobs:

Cynthia Benjamin Copy Editor
Thomas Cahir Editorial Asst
Sarah Cooke Photo Editor
Patricia Erickson Copy Editor
Name withheld by request Reporter
Kelli Gomes Editorial Asst
Name withheld by request Pagination Asst
Linda Henderson Librarian
Kathleen Hill Copy Editor
Katherine Imbrie Reporter
Brandie Jefferson Reporter
Daniel Johnsen Copy Editor
Karen Johnson Copy Editor
Willie Jones Editorial Asst
Sara Kaplow Photo Editor
Laura Kirk Reporter
Karen Maguire Regional Editor
Mildred McLean Copy Editor
Name withheld by request Editorial Writer
Ellen Monaghan Office Asst
Frances Ostendorf Copy Editor
Jean Plunkett Regional Editor
Patricia Pothier Editorial Asst
Steve Rawson Pagination Asst
Name withheld by request Copy Editor
David Scharfenberg Reporter
Name withheld by request Editorial Asst
Pamela Thomas Section Editor
Doreen Tracey Editorial Asst
Judith Webber-Lonardo Copy Editor
Meaghan Wims Reporter

The Guild describes the latest ProJo cuts as part of "the most significant downsizing in its history."

The count includes 28 Guild-represented employees and three managers. Two workers, originally slated for layoff were spared. One by the resignation of a more senior reporter, and the other by transferring into an open job in advertising.

In making the cuts, the Journal is eliminating the news department’s entire part-time workforce.

These cuts come on top of the 22 positions eliminated in September through buy-outs, which included 12 from the newsroom.

Meanwhile, most remaining employees await word as to how their assignments and the newspaper itself will change as a result of the cuts.

“The newspaper we have known will disappear October 10,” said Guild President John Hill. “Next week, we will begin work for what is effectively an entirely new company.”

To honor our departing colleagues and their contribution to the newspaper, the Guild will hold a reception Friday October 17, from 5 until 8 p.m. at Blake’s Tavern, located at the Corner of Washington and Matthewson streets in Providence. The reception is open to all Journal workers, regardless of Guild membership or management status.

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