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.
This 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 begun discussing their departures and posting their well wishes on social media sites.
So far, CityBeat’s emails sent this morning seeking comment haven’t been returned.
Gregory Korte, an ex-City Hall reporter at The Enquirer who now works at USA Today, posted, “I grew up reading Howard Wilkinson's politics column in the Cincinnati Enquirer. It's one of the reasons I got into this business, and I was delighted to work and learn alongside him for so long. And Michael E. Keating? The best political photographer I've ever worked with — he could turn a podium shot into pure art. A real reporter's photographer. Now they're both taking a buyout and retiring. The Enquirer has done just fine without me, but I can't imagine it without these two.”
Another former Enquirer reporter, Ben Fischer, posted, “Howard Wilkinson you're one of the all-time greats. And that goes for baseball fandom, general good guys AND political reporters. Everybody's going to miss your prose and insights this election season.”
Wilkinson confirmed the news on Facebook, adding, “Thanks to one an 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.”
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.
At the close of the offer period, editors reviewed applications and made final decisions; some people who apply for the deal potentially could've been turned down if their position is deemed essential to the newspaper’s operation.
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.”
Sources at The Enquirer say executives are looking to shed 26 employees at Cincinnati’s only remaining daily newspaper. It is believed that 19 of the positions will come from the newsroom, while six people will be affected in the advertising department, and one person in the online/digital content department.
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.
Although it’s moving staff out of its offices in Kentucky, The Cincinnati Enquirer intends to continue publishing a daily Kentucky edition with unique content for Northern Kentucky.
Editor Steve Wilson was among those laid off from The Kentucky Enquirer yesterday. He will remain at the newspaper for four weeks, along with several colleagues who were also laid off.
Wilson told CityBeat that The Enquirer isn’t backing away from its commitment to northern Kentucky, but acknowledges problems posed by the layoffs.
“Clearly, all things being equal, you want to have reporters based in the area they’re covering. That just makes sense. Everybody would agree with that,” Wilson says. “But in this case, they apparently had their reasons that made sense to them.”
Wilson won’t speculate on the reasons, but he cites cost
concerns as an ongoing problem. “Gannett, like most companies, is very
bottom-line-driven, and they had to do something to reduce expenses,” he
says, pointing to the continuing trend of downsizing in the news industry.
Following the demise of The Cincinnati Post in 2007, The Cincinnati Enquirer and its Kentucky edition made strides to appeal to northern Kentucky readers. One example: The newspaper stopped referring to the region as “Greater Cincinnati,” instead adopting “Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky” — a lede-unfriendly moniker that was meant to show The Enquirer was serious about reaching out.
But a source close to The Enquirer who asked to remain anonymous questioned the success of those efforts, given yesterday’s layoffs.
Gannett Blog claims 23 people were laid off at Enquirer offices, but it’s difficult to confirm the report because of Gannett’s secrecy with staffing issues. More than 400 people lost their jobs at Gannett newspapers around the nation, according to the blog.
Based on information gathered so far, the local layoffs span through the Cincinnati and Kentucky versions of The Enquirer, Community Press and Community Recorder.
A source close to the situation told CityBeat that eight reporters, two editors and one photographer are moving from the Kentucky offices to downtown Cincinnati, with the remaining Kentucky staff members laid off. Staff members were also moved from the newspaper’s West Chester office, which covered Butler and Warren counties.
Original reports claimed the Kentucky and West Chester offices were closing, but they will apparently remain open for reporters in a limited capacity.
The source gave the names of five people who were laid off: Wilson; Bill Cieslewicz, a mid-level editor; Jackie Demaline, theatre critic and arts writer; Paul McKibben, breaking news reporter; and Ealer Wadlington, listing coordinator.
When asked about the layoffs, Gannett spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told journalism industry blogger Jim Romenesko, “Some USCP (U.S. Community Publishing) sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions.”
The nationwide layoffs come a couple weeks after Gannett CEO Gracia Martore proudly claimed on July 22, “We are accelerating our transformation into the ‘New Gannett’ every day.”
Updated on Nov. 4 at 12:03 p.m.: Added final layoff numbers from Gannett Blog.
Updated on Aug. 6 at 11:13 a.m.: Added the latest layoff numbers from Gannett Blog.
Updated on Aug. 6 at 10:47 a.m.: Reports now say that The Enquirer will keep its Kentucky and West Chester offices open in a limited capacity. The story was updated to reflect the latest news.
It's well-known that The Enquirer has been timid about calling out local corporations on possible misconduct or shady dealings ever since the newspaper paid $14 million to Chiquita in the late 1990s when the produce giant threatened to sue following the publication of a damning special section on its alleged practices in Central and South America.
In the years since, The Enquirer's business coverage has been tepid, and some reporters have alleged they were told to not pursue certain stories after advertisers complained to the publisher.
The Cincinnati Enquirer and its parent company Gannett went through another string of layoffs today, including the reported closing of the newspaper’s Kentucky office.
[CityBeat followed up on this story on Aug. 2 here.]
Jim Romenesko reported on his journalism industry blog that there were layoffs at The Kentucky Enquirer, the Kentucky edition of the local newspaper. One commenter on Gannett Blog echoed the report, saying the Kentucky offices had been closed down and moved to Cincinnati.
Gannett Blog reports 11 layoffs at Cincinnati branches, including the Community Press and Community Recorder. That coincides with more than 150 layoffs at newspapers around the country, according to the blog.
Because of Gannett’s secrecy with staffing issues, it’s difficult to confirm any specific report. No names have been provided yet.
CityBeat was tipped off about the layoffs earlier in the day by a source close to The Enquirer.
A spokesperson wasn’t available for questions about the layoffs, but Jeremy Gaines, vice president of communications at Gannett, told Romenesko, “Some USCP (U.S. Community Publishing) sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions.”
Gannett CEO Gracia Martore proudly claimed on July 22, “We are accelerating our transformation into the ‘New Gannett’ every day.”
Sometimes you come to work, fire up the ol’ coffee maker and get straight to all the funny websites you like to read before you get started. Other times the boss calls a staff meeting and informs you that you work for a different company now and that new firewalls are going to block your fantasy baseball league during work hours.
Today CityBeat employees were notified that effective immediately we are all part of SouthComm Inc., a Nashville-based publishing company that owns and operates alternative weeklies in six mid-sized Midwestern and Southern markets.
The change is a good thing for a number of reasons. Many of us at CityBeat are already fans of the nearest SouthComm paper — LEO Weekly in Louisville. It is obvious that SouthComm values the creative presentation of local arts, music and culture and the thoughtful news coverage readers have come to expect from CityBeat. SouthComm’s other award-winning publications include Nashville Scene, The Pitch in Kansas City and Creative Loafing papers in Charlotte and Tampa.
We’re actually quite proud that our editorial history and relevance to the community were valued by SouthComm. The company offers access to expanded resources currently not at our disposal, and the SouthComm owners go way back with CityBeat’s founding editor and publisher, making this situation more like “Join our fun team and successful business model,” than “Give us the keys and let us control you.”
While CityBeat will no longer be locally owned, the autonomy SouthComm has offered its other publications and its continued interest in expanding its portfolio is exciting as we continue to build upon our recent staff changes and the success of other entities we operate, including the MidPoint Music Festival and A-Line Magazine.
SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell noted in the official press release CityBeat’s body of work and the potential of the Cincinnati market:
“CityBeat has a long history of covering the local government, music, arts, and culture scene in Cincinnati,” Ferrell said. “We look forward to having them as part of the SouthComm family of publications. We are excited to expand into Cincinnati, which is a very good city for us to build out our model of having multiple niche publications in each market.”
immediate change will be noticed very little by our general audience,
Bockrath will continue to serve as CityBeat
Publisher and we will continue to be locally operated. As part of the
acquisition, John Fox, one of the founding owners, will serve as a
consultant with SouthComm. Fox was CityBeat's
Editor and Co-Publisher from its inception in June 1994 until the end
of 2010, when he became Director of CityBeat Events. He leaves day-to-day responsibilities at CityBeat
and will be announcing an exciting new venture soon.
Also as part of the acquisition, founding owner Thomas R. Schiff departs as CEO of Lightborne Publishing, the official owner of CityBeat, A-Line Magazine, MidPoint and all of our other entities. We would be extremely remiss in failing to recognize Tom’s unwavering support of CityBeat over the past 18 years — without it the CityBeat enterprise wouldn’t be what it is today.
no secret that Cincinnati presents a challenging media landscape,
with the country's largest daily newspaper chain (Gannett, owner of
and largest radio station chain (Clear Channel, owner of multiple AM
FM stations) poking their publicly traded practices into every corner
of our town. But their existence presents a rare opportunity to stand
out by continuing to offer readers the thoughtful and personal
experience they have come to appreciate from CityBeat.
If the quality of SouthComm’s other publications is any indication,
this acquisition is part of a new and exciting future for us.
UPDATE: Although CityBeat got this list from sources within The Enquirer's Elm Street offices, some bloggers now say James Jackson hasn't been laid off. With no official word forthcoming from The Enquirer or Mr. Jackson, we'll change his status to "unclear."
UPDATE II: Jackson just tweeted the following, circa 10:30 p.m. "In this economy, these are tough times for all, and I'm so sad about friends losing their jobs, equally grateful also still to have mine."
The Enquirer’s top two sports editors are resigning from the newspaper.
Assistant Managing Editor/Sports Barry Forbis and Deputy Sports Editor Rory Glynn announced their resignations last week in separate emails to fellow staffers.
Forbis, whose resignation becomes effective April 4, is leaving to join Fox Sports as a deputy managing editor in Los Angeles.
In his email, Forbis wrote, “I’ll be working with Jason Whitlock, Jen Engel, Bill Reiter, Greg Couch, Reid Forgrave, Mark Kriegel and A.J. Perez, not to mention a bunch of old friends. It’s a talented group, the job pays pretty well, and, uh, it’s L.A., so I’d have to consider it even if everything were perfect here. It’s not, of course, but you know as well as I do the challenges we have faced and the challenges you will continue to face.”
Forbis also thanked his co-workers, adding, “I want you to know how privileged I feel to have worked with you. I’ve worked with a lot of great sports departments. I don’t know of any who did more with less. You guys are better at just plain getting it done than any group I’ve worked with.”
Glynn announced his departure in an email to the sports staff, which was then forwarded by another person to the entire news staff. The resignation apparently becomes effective Friday.
In his email, Glynn wrote, “Last week, I told Barry … that I’ve decided to resign at the end of the month. Barry knows this is something I’ve been wrestling with for months now; bless his persuasiveness, he’s talked me out of it on a couple of occasions. But it’s time.”
Glynn added, “You all don’t need me to go on about the challenges we all face. I’ll just say the ever-growing demands of this job and the demands of raising four kids are difficult to balance, and if sometimes
Online Sports Content Manager Nick Hurm will replace the editors on a temporary basis.
As part of reductions mandated by its owner, The Gannett Co., 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.
Hundreds of streetcar supporters packed the Mercantile Library last night outlining the several different ways they plan to campaign to save the project — including various forms of litigation The Enquirer typically enjoys playing up as potentially costly to taxpayers — a story similar in concept to the anti-streetcar protests The Enquirer gave attention to leading up to the election.
The Enquirer’s cursory wrap-up of the event was removed from the cincinnati.com homepage this morning, and it's currently not even listed on the site's News page even though it was published more recently than several stories that are. Left behind on the homepage is a real joke of analysis: the fact that the $1.5 million monthly construction cost divided by 30 days in a month amounts to $50,000 per day, assuming workers put in the same amount of time every day in a month and the city gets billed that way, which it doesn’t.
The $1.5 million figure has been known for weeks, but $50,000 per day sounds dramatic enough that concerned taxpayers everywhere can repeat it to other ill-informed people at the water cooler. If these math whizzes wanted to really piss people off they would have broken it all the way down to $34.70 per minute, 24 hours a day. Man, fuck that streetcar!
At least the story’s third paragraph offered a piece of recent news: Halting construction will still cost the city $500,000 per month because it will be on the hook for workers who can’t be transferred and costs of rental equipment that will just sit there. (For Enquirer-esque context: It will still cost $16,667 per day or $11.57 a minute to temporarily halt the project.)
Also, the note in the headline (“Streetcar, which Cranley plans to cancel, still costing $50K a day”) reminding everyone that Cranley plans to cancel the project that is currently costing money seems unnecessary considering THE ONLY THING ANYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT SINCE THE ELECTION IS THAT CRANLEY PLANS TO STOP THE STREETCAR. It does nicely nudge readers toward the interactive forum they can click on and publicly lament how people who don’t pay taxes have too much control over our city.
(Additional professional advice: Consider changing the subhed from, “It'll be costly to stop, and costly to go on, but work continues until Cranley and new council officially stop it” to something that doesn’t sound like you have no idea what the fuck is going on.)
For context, the following are the streetcar stories currently presented on the website homepages of local media that have more talent/integrity than The Enquirer:
Cincinnati Business Courier: Feds: If you kill the streetcar, we want our money back
CONSERVATIVE MEDIA BONUS: 700WLW even has a relevant piece of streetcar news, although you have to scroll past a video of Russian kids wrestling a bear and an article suggesting that Obamacare is the president’s Katrina (whatever that means): Feds: Use money for streetcar or pay it back.
Merry Christmas. Now, get out.
A memo sent today from a top Gannett Co. executive indicates layoffs are coming at the company’s newspapers — including The Cincinnati Enquirer — by the first week in December.
Just hours after a Swiss bank froze access today to a legal defense fund established for WikiLeaks provocateur Julian Assange, a group of hackers have shut down the bank's Web site in an escalating "infowar."
A group calling itself Operation Payback took responsibility for the Internet attack on the Swiss bank, PostFinance, via its Twitter account. "We will fire at anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks," the group said in its announcement.