Enquirer Layoffs: 2011 Edition

Although it doesn't compare to the wholesale hacking and slashing of staff that occurred in 2009, the latest round of layoffs at The Enquirer includes several positions in the newsroom, which already had seen significant reductions.

At least 16 people on the newspaper's editorial staff were laid off, and another chose to retire, according to reliable sources at the paper.—-

The layoffs are the second round this year. About a dozen people were let go from The Enquirer in February.

The reductions occurred on the orders of Robert J. Dickey, U.S. newspaper division president at The Gannett Co., The Enquirer's parent firm. Dickey ordered a roughly 2 percent reduction in the division's overall workforce nationwide, which he attributed to advertising declines caused by the weak real estate and automobile sales sectors, along with slow job creation.

Among the editorial staff laid off Tuesday by The Enquirer were Karen Andrew (calendar listings editor); Charlie Brewer (Kentucky online content manager); Barrett Brunsman (Clermont County reporter); Ernie Coleman (photographer); Stacy Doose (videographer) and Amie Dworecki (photographer/videographer).

Others laid off were Cicely Enriquez (Moms Like Me producer); David Hofmeister (assistant local news editor); Aimee Howell Hirt (features reporter); Eileen Kelley (Cincinnati Police and breaking news reporter); Cindy Kranz (education reporter); Lori Kurtzman (pop culture reporter); Ron Liebau (news content manager); Peggy O'Farrell (health and environmental reporter); Janinne Thompson (news aide); and Jewell Walston (assistant news editor).

Also, Mark Ivancic, a 15-year company veteran and the top editor at The Kentucky Enquirer, decided to retire.

Additionally, it's believed several people on The Enquirer's advertising sales force were let go.

At the same time, The Enquirer has hired several people to work part-time in various positions in the newsroom, at a cheaper rate of pay than those who were laid off.

Dickey's memo stated another round of furloughs — unpaid vacation days — were planned. Gannett forced most non-unionized staffers to take a five-day furlough in 2011's first quarter, as well as at various times throughout last year.

Wall Street apparently liked Gannett's action, as its stock price increased about 4 percent from late Monday to late Tuesday.

Nearly 1,400 employees were laid off at Gannett's newspaper holdings nationwide in 2009, including 101 people at The Enquirer. During that round, staffers let go included longtime Op/Ed columnist Peter Bronson and the entire staff of the now defunct CiN Weekly.

Jim Hopkins, who operates the excellent Gannett Blog, a forum for current and former employees at the media giant, said the hardest hit newspapers were in Louisville, Indianapolis and suburban New York.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville cut 50 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce; The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., eliminated 47 of its 375 jobs, or about 12.5 percent of its staff.

In Indiana, 62 employees were laid off at The Indianapolis Star including 26 in the newsroom, which amounts to more than 15 percent of its editorial staff.

So far, Hopkins has tallied about 575 layoffs at 33 media outlets Tuesday. This is Gannett's fourth mass layoff since August 2008.

Even as Gannett continues to winnow its ranks, top executives are being well-compensated. Dickey received $3.4 million in compensation last year, compared to $1.9 million in 2009.

Writing at the Poynter Institute's website, Rick Edmonds called The Enquirer "depleted" and said cutting more people in the newsroom would be a move Gannett eventually would regret.

Metro papers like The Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News that have adopted a high price/high quality circulation strategy know readers will not be satisfied with skinny papers that have little worth reading,” Edmonds wrote. “So those newsrooms are protected and, in a few cases, growing.”

Edmonds added, “In my view, sucking another 15 jobs out of the depleted Cincinnati Enquirer or 26 from The Indianapolis Star as Gannett did Tuesday, risks accelerating losses of print circulation and, in turn, print ad revenues, (which are) still significant. But all-in digital enthusiasts will say, so what, that’s not the future.”

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