Political columnist Howard Wilkinson and longtime photographer Michael Keating are among the 26 employees who are leaving The Enquirer as part of a buyout deal.
Last week was the deadline for editors at the newspaper to decide whether to accept voluntary “early retirement” buyouts from employees. Although The Enquirer hasn’t released any details, current and former co-workers of Wilkinson and Keating have posted their well wishes on social media sites.
Wilkinson confirmed the news on Facebook, adding, “Thanks to one and all.
It’s been a great ride. But you haven’t heard the last from me ... or Michael either... Michael and I were a team; and got to see and do some amazing things over the years. I will always be grateful for that.”
Sources at The Enquirer say others who are taking the early retirement buyout include Editorial Page Editor Ray Cooklis, Features Editor Dave Caudill, Staff Writer Steve Kemme, Copy Desk Chief Sue Lancaster, Sports Copy Editor Bill Thompson and Copy Editor Tim Vondebrink.
The Gannett Co., The Enquirer’s corporate owner, announced the buyout offer Feb. 9 and gave employees 45 days to decide whether to apply for the deal.
Under the deal, newspaper employees who are age 56 or older and have at least 20 years of service with Gannett as of March 31 are eligible. Although executives said 785 employees meet the criteria, the deal only is being offered to 665 employees “due to ongoing operational needs at the company.”
As part of reductions mandated by Gannett, The Enquirer has laid off about 150 workers during the past two years. Also, employees have had to take five unpaid furloughs during the past three years.