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Who'll stop the pain at the ProJo?


In the aftermath of informational meetings held separately yesterday by the Providence Newspaper Guild and management at the Providence Journal, Guild members have "lots of questions" and "lots of concern" about the buyout announced earlier this week, Guild administrator Tim Schick tells me.

"We have started referring to the seniority list as Schindler's List," Schick says. "It's sort of a bad joke," since in the event of layoffs, senior staffers will have the greatest job protection.

I write about the buyout, which follows two previous rounds of cuts, in this week's Phoenix:

For those who want to look for a silver lining, the local cuts could be smaller — five percent than those being implemented (14 percent) at other Belo newspapers, since the paper says it would settle for just 35 voluntary departures. And regardless of what happens, the Journal will remain Rhode Island’s most important news organization.

Yet the continued watering down of a once-vital civic institution, which has played a lead role over the years in helping to root out wrongdoing by public officials, has become clear to even the most casual readers.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that California-based Verve Wireless, which provides mobile versions via cell phone of 4000 newspapers, from 140 publishers, “believes it can save the dying local newspaper by making it mobile.”

So far, however, even though the combined print and Web circulation of most newspapers equals the total of the bygone print-only era, the industry has yet to come up with a new economic model for sustaining meaningful reporting into the future.

While I've looked at the reaction of some senior staffers, the names of those taking part in the buyout -- due to be implemented September 12 -- won't be clear until the sign-up period ends on August 20.

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