Gannett News, the far left mainstream media giant based in Tysons Corner, Virginia, announced drastic cuts in its staff in all its major Tennessee publications on Tuesday, including The Tennessean and The Daily News Journal here in Middle Tennessee.
“Today we underwent and completed a reduction in personnel in our news division in several of our Tennessee markets, as part of a transformative strategy for the USA TODAY NETWORK–Tennessee,” Tennessean publisher Laura Hollingworth wrote in an email to employees of Gannett’s Tennessee operations, the Nashville Scene reported.
“We recognize that this has been a tough day, and we respect and appreciate the work of all our colleagues, especially those who have been impacted by these actions — through no fault of their own,” Hollingsworth said in her email.
“A year after acquiring the Commercial Appeal and Knoxville News-Sentinel, Gannett made sizable cuts today in both of those newsrooms, in addition to laying off three reporters locally,” the Scene reported:
In Memphis, sources tell the Scene that 17 staff members were eliminated in the newsroom, including seven digital producers, two photographers, two reporters, one clerk and five editors. In Knoxville, 11 were eliminated from the newsroom, including four managers. The cuts largely follow the “Newsroom of the Future” model implemented in Nashville, which slices out middle managers and copy desks in favor of a newsroom with editors and planners at the top and reporters at the bottom, with little in between.
At The Tennessean, food columnist Jim Myers — whom the paper has promoted on billboards and in marketing campaigns — and 12th & Broad manager/host Marcia Masulla were laid off. Michelle Willard was laid off by the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, too. Incredibly, Myers was hosting a Tennessean event just last night for readers as part of the paper’s Storytellers series, only to be given severance papers this morning. The reductions follow a dribble of cuts in October. But unlike those, which were part of a nationwide bloodletting of 2 percent of Gannett’s overall workforce, these cuts appear to be confined to Tennessee.
“In contrast to the continued decline of the The Tennessean in both personnel and quality of local news coverage, The Tennessee Star has prospered since its launch on February 6, far exceeding our expectation,” The Star’s managing editor, Christina Botteri, said.
“For example, inside of our first month, we were visited by more than 100,000 people, and each visitor read about three articles with each visit. Our Facebook page ‘likes’ are already over 2,000, and we have a great level of engagement that is growing by leaps and bounds. Our morning newsletter, the Tennessee Star Daily, enjoys a staggering rate of readership at more than two-and-a-half times the industry standard.”
“I believe people are responding to our fresh perspective, and especially to our actions each day that fulfill our commitment to readers that we want to be their go-to, trusted platform for news, analysis and opinion.”
Although Botteri was not specific, she made it clear the The Star has no plans of slowing down: “I am incredibly lucky to work with an absolutely stellar team of innovators, experts, and journalists – just wait until you see what’s coming next!”