June 21st, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: Media

More Than 35 Newsroom Staff Laid Off at The Oregonian

UPDATE: Layoff list tops 90 people. Here's the letter publisher N. Christian Anderson sent employees.

oregonian boxPhoto by Aaron Mesh

Newsroom layoffs at The Oregonian have topped 35 reporters, editors and photographers today as the paper reduces home-delivery days and cuts staff.

Among the more prominent names WW has confirmed The Oregonian has laid off are editorial columnist David Sarasohn, environmental reporter Scott Learn, and Multnomah County reporter Dana Tims

Many staffers have begun posting their own layoff announcements on the web.

Sports reporter John Hunt wrote this morning on Twitter that he is flying home after being laid off with a phone call in Omaha, Neb., where he was covering the Oregon State Beavers baseball team in the College World Series. Music writer Ryan White has written a farewell message online.

The layoffs are continuing this morning, as Oregonian editors hold one-on-one meetings with staffers to inform them whether they are being moved to a new company, Oregonian Media Group, or laid off. 

UPDATE, 2:24 pm: Reporters at The Oregonian have continued announcing their own layoffs via social media.

Southeast Portland reporter Steve Beaven, North Portland reporter Casey Parks, home and gardens reporter Bridget Otto, agriculture and forest reporter Eric Mortenson and Oregon Coast breaking news reporter Lori Tobias all confirmed they have been laid off. (Parks used the traditional reporter's signifier to end a story: "-30-".)

Otto's layoff carries an extra symbolic weight: She is the daughter of longtime Oregonian publisher Fred Stickel.

UPDATE, 7 pm: Sources tell WW that The Oregonian has laid off about 95 employees in the last two days—at least 45 in the editorial department. That number, which is reportedly near final, would represent one quarter of a 175-person newsroom.

(MONDAY UPDATE: The most recent numbers reviewed by WW show The Oregonian's newsroom is currently at 218 people. That means layoffs equal about 22 percent of the newsroom.)

Reporters who have confirmed their layoffs on social media this afternoon include home and gardens reporter Kym Pokorny, PAC-12 college sports reporter Paul Buker, and PSU and University of Portland sports reporter Jim Beseda. Oregon Arts Watch reported the layoff of theater and dance critic Marty Hughley.

The layoffs also hit several employees at the Oregonian-owned Hillsboro Argus. Staff photographer Michal Thompson confirmed his layoff on Twitter this evening.

"Sept. 27 I will end a 33-year career covering Hillsboro and the surrounding communities photographically for readers of the Hillsboro Argus," he wrote.

ORIGINAL POST, 11:15 am: Staffers gathered last night at Higgins Restaurant, where they spent the entirety of a $3,500 bar tab donated by citizens who called the restaurant, including Mayor Charlie Hales, who personally chipped in $50. (More money has been donated today.) During the evening, reporters huddled over a bar table to read a hand-written list of colleagues who had been fired.

The Oregonian and its New Jersey-based owners, Advance Publications Inc., revealed Thursday morning that the paper will be reducing home delivery to four days a week—Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday—and offering subscribers a web version of the newspaper called "MyDigitalO." (That name will be abandoned, the paper's publisher told Oregon Public Broadcasting today.)

Employees at the newspaper received an email from publisher N. Christian Anderson III yesterday at 10:38 am—more than 20 minutes after The Oregonian released the news of its delivery reduction and staff cuts on its website. 

CLARIFICATION, 12:41 pm, June 24: Anderson has asked WW to clarify that he first informed staff of changes at the paper at 10 am Thursday, more than 30 minutes before he sent the email. This has been independently verified by staffers who attended that meeting. WW also reported that time in its original post about the layoffs.

The email reads as follows. (NOTE: WW initially reported the email contained bold and underlining. This was incorrect.)


Dear colleagues:
 
Today we are unveiling exciting plans for the future of our company.
 
On October 1, we will launch Oregonian Media Group and Advance Central Services Oregon, two companies that will work together to expand our products and services for consumers and advertisers of The Oregonian and OregonLive.com.   We will strengthen our digital focus in particular.  At the same time, we will continue to publish The Oregonian.
 
The new companies will be structured this way:  Oregonian Media Group will be responsible for digital and print content, sales and marketing.  Advance Central Services will provide production, distribution, IT, finance and human resources support for Oregonian Media Group.
 
Many employees from The Oregonian and OregonianLive.com will be offered positions in the new companies.  Our goal is to inform each of you as quickly as possible – we’re aiming to do this by end of day June 21 – of your employment status.   A number of positions will be eliminated and we will seek to treat those employees with dignity and care, offering severance packages that will include pay commensurate with service, funding for COBRA premiums and outplacement services.
 
We intend to answer all of your questions as quickly as possible.  Information about our plans, including a press release and anticipated FAQs are attached here, and an announcement has been posted on OregonLive.com.  This information will also be discussed with you in individual meetings with your manager.
 
Thank you for your continued commitment to our company.
 
Regards,
Chris


 
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