More Details Emerge From Indianapolis Star (Gannett) Layoffs

The Indianapolis Star ended up losing 81 positions in yesterday’s Gannett bloodletting, 62 through layoffs.

According to the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, 26 were newsroom positions—copy editors, reporters, librarians, photographers and others.

Guild leader Bobby King wrote about the cuts on the Indy guild blog:

The answer Star publisher Karen Crotchfelt came up with was to gut suburban coverage, eliminate an entire layer of copy editors (that last line of defense which separates us from the animals in the blogosphere) and make a nip here and a tuck there to reduce expenses. Crotchfelt didn’t sugar coat things. Asked a question about the prudence of such cuts at a time when her corporate bosses are getting six-figure bonuses, she answered straightly: That’s how the corporate world works — boards of directors set profit targets, execs try to meet them, if they do they get bonuses. She said it well, I thought, and with the precision of an oncologist delivering word the cancer is malignant.

Star editor Dennis Ryerson, meanwhile, tried to put the happiest face on the reductions at a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon following the carnage. He barely paused to acknowledge the blood-letting, or to show empathy for everyone’s pain. Instead, he charged into a discussion of an exciting new flow chart that will guide the Star into its next chapter. He talked about how the Star would focus less on incremental stories and more on big picture, magazine style packages. He said readers would still find “magic” in their daily paper. And he said the elimination of one complete layer of the copy desk wouldn’t affect the quality of the news product, something that seems truly an incredible statement to this reporter, who’s had his bacon saved more than once by a rim editor who’s caught a misspelled name or an errant fact before it could find the light of print.

The irony: the Star is still profitable, just not as much as before.

Condolences to the many who have lost their jobs.