UPDATED below with more details on layoffs at the Burlington Free Press, as well as the announcement of a layoff at Seven Days.
This is expected to be a mournful week in the media industry — especially in the local market.
News giant Gannett is set to eliminate thousands of jobs nationally and an undetermined amount locally at the Burlington Free Press.
The Free Press' sister papers have already trimmed more than 650 workers as of this morning (not all of them forced layoffs) according to a running tally by Jim Hopkins at Gannett Blog.
As "Fair Game" reports this week, the slumping national economy is causing ad revenue to dive precipitously — especially in classified ads (employment, housing, and auto the hardest hit). Remember, the Free Press has already laid off six employees, two managers, and outsourced some of its work to Kentucky and India this year as an effort to cuts expenses.
Local television station WCAX-TV has had to lay off workers for the first time in a generation. Three workers were told the news yesterday, with two more lay offs to be announced. Additional, across-the-board measures were taken to cut expenses. Those are said to affect all employees.
Here's the statement posted on their website:
Channel 3 made some reductions in personnel this week and cut some expenses.
Likemany companies, we are seeing declining revenues in the currenteconomic crisis. Consequently, we have had to lay off severalemployees — some of them familiar faces to you, and friends to us.
The company regrets these layoffs but felt they were unavoidable. Outof respect for their privacy we are not identifying those affected, butwe shall miss them, and wish them all the best of luck.
Of course, everyone wants to know who they won't see anymore on the small screen.
Seven Days has learned that the three let go include morning sports reporter Shawna Lidsky, as well as morning part time producer and reporter Rachael Morrow. Also, long time photographer Steve Longchamp was let go after more than 20 years at the station.
No word yet from the other TV stations about whether the slumping economy will force them to take similar measures. But, we're checking.
Also, no immediate news from Burlington Free Press Publisher Brad Robertson as to when there might be additional layoffs announced at the state's largest newspaper.
"We are not ready to announce anything that relates to layoffs," he told Seven Days this week.
Staffers we talk to are walking on pins and needles, and say little is being said inside the fortress at 191 College Street, only fueling the angst.
In the previous rounds of layoffs the newsroom hasn't taken the brunt of the losses, and hopefully for readers' sakes that will remain the case.
Seven Days is including itself in today's list of media companies announcing staffing cuts. Though, in our case it's one employee.
Seven Days has eliminated a position — News Editor Brian Wallstin's — in anticipation of smaller papers in 2009. The job didn't exist before 2007, so the paper is accustomed to functioning without it. That said, Brian will definitely be missed.
Secondly, we've learned the names of the first two laid-off Free Press staffers. They are: Myra Mathis-Flynn in Features and Rob Eley, a longtime editor and reporter. In fact, Rob was the Metro Editor at the Freeps when I worked there in the early 90s. A great guy and a big loss for the paper, as he has been leading the organization's efforts to put more searchable databases online.
In all, the Free Press will eliminate 14 positions — five vacant jobs will not be filled and nine people will be let go (with severance pay).
Ed. Note: Sorry this post disappeared for a bit! It was a technical glitch on our end. — C. Resmer