Hearst Connecticut Media that occupies the largest digital footprint in the state including the Connecticut Post is undergoing some growing pains trimming its combined 200-strong editorial staff by roughly 15 percent via buyouts and layoffs. Among the 30 or so veteran journalists departing for buyouts soon doyen Connecticut Post Editorial Page editor Michael Daly and genial reporter John Burgeson.
Hearst has emerged as the largest news presence in Connecticut with daily papers from New Haven along the shore all the way to Greenwich and 20 weeklies. These days print publications are an afterthought–the combined print circulation of its eight dailies just about 60,000–the digital operation of its online news sites is the new revolution. Advertising departments push the digital and give away print ads as part of a package.
Many print publications and the associated expenses have gone the way of the 8-track player giving way to growth in digital. It’s the reinvention of news organizations.
Kristen Hare, who reports for Poynter, journalism news industry leader, writes:
The company announced a buyout offer Oct. 2. It ran through Oct. 9. Here’s part of the memo Poynter obtained from Paul Barbetta, president and group publisher:
“… Our overarching goal continues to be to provide the most relevant state and local content to our readers in Connecticut. While change can be unsettling, we believe moving our newsroom forward is essential to keeping our organization strong for the years to come … .”
On the afternoon of Oct. 26, according to an internal email, Barbetta and Matt DeRienzo, vice president of news and digital, held a call and meeting with remaining staff
DeRienzo, who recently came to the job from Local Independent Online Publishers, spoke with Poynter last month about why he was returning to newspapers.
When the buyouts were offered based on years of service some veteran staffers jumped at the lump sums while others unable to pack it in financially balked. That led to layoffs going out but this can be tricky stuff legally so those severance agreements could align more closely to buyouts to avoid lawsuits from sexagenarians.
Hearst also recently entered into a content partnership with the nonprofit news site Connecticut Mirror that focuses on government and politics.
DeRienzo, for one, is noodling ways to beef up the Connecticut Post’s Bridgeport coverage. It’s befuddling that the newspaper covering the state’s largest city has just one full-time writer on the beat, but that may change soon as the new man in charge of news and digital examines deployment options.
–30– is used by old-time scribes to signify the end of a story. Perhaps it’s not the end for some of them. Take the buyout, enjoy the windfall, and stay on as a part-time columnist.