At 2 p.m. today, we let go four incredibly talented longtime CL employees: managing editor/digital and food critic Besha Rodell, staff writer Scott Henry, arts writer Curt Holman, and special projects director (and former managing editor) Chanté LaGon.
There is no other way to put it: Losing these people as full-time employees is a blow to our company and our community, and they cannot be replaced. My great hope is that they will see fit to continue contributing to the paper and online as much as our freelance resources allow.
You can see from the internal memo I’ve pasted on the jump that this is part of a companywide reorganization. One element of that, as I mention in the headline, is a 5 percent pay cut companywide. The memo goes into more detail.
Posting will be light or non-existent the rest of the day.
Last thing: I owe it to the talented folks here to point out that we’ve still got a fantastic group of journalists, and we’ll still be doing great work. Just with heavy hearts.
UPDATE: CL group publisher Alison Draper talks to Poynter's Andrew Beaujon about today's news:
March 14, 2012
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
FM: ALISON DRAPER & TAMMY BAILEY
Today’s news of company-wide wage reductions, job restructuring, and job eliminations, combined with Monday’s report of increased activity from potential buyers of the Chicago Reader, makes for a difficult week for our organization. The expressions of serious interest from potential suitors bring to light the tremendous opportunities on the horizon.
We must do what so many news media organizations around the country have done: realign our organizations and ourselves to face the new and rapidly changing media landscape.
The job eliminations and wage reductions are a necessary action to put each of our properties on solid financial footing, allowing us to protect our organization against uncertainty—and therefore continue the important work we do.
Our papers and websites are of great value and importance to our cities. It is important that we continue providing the same high quality publications and services to our readers and advertisers, and having the proper operating and expense plan is imperative. Regardless of who the shareholders are, we need to be nimble and concentrate on sustainable growth initiatives.
As you all know, as covered in the Chicago press, the properties have had an increased number of inquiries from potential suitors. Our owners have expressed interest in exploring those opportunities. We believe this provides an opportunity for our properties to align with a new owner who understands the legacy of our brands, respects the impact they have in our cities, and has the infrastructure and vision to help bolster our unique local reach in the rapidly evolving digital media environment. We have been working very closely with Atalaya and Bulkley to ensure this is possible.
As we undertake this process, we all must stay focused on continuing to execute our strategies for increasing audience and revenues. We know this is not easy for any of us, however we are more committed than ever to produce great content for our beloved cities. Your hard work and dedication as we strive to achieve the best outcome for Washington City Paper, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and the Chicago Reader are integral not just to our near-term goals, but to the kind of future we want for these iconic publications and for ourselves.
Alison & Tammy
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