Yesterday afternoon, Corey Hutchins called me to find out what I knew about the latest round of staff reductions at The State. I pointed him to my report two weeks ago, and chatted a bit about what I had learned since then. Beyond a few names, I had little else to say to enlighten him.
Corey’s report was just published by Columbia Journalism Review. And for me, the most pertinent part is the names of the longtime colleagues:
A number of entries disappeared from the paper’s online listing of newsroom staff between Thursday and Friday, though it was not immediately clear whether all the changes were related to the buyouts. Some of the names not on the current list include features reporter Joey Holleman, education and religion reporter Carolyn Click, associate editor and editorial board member Warren Bolton, photojournalist Kim Kim Foster-Tobin, sports columnist Ron Morris, and sports writer Neil White, who had been with the paper nearly 30 years.
Investigative reporter John Monk, who has deep sources in the legal and law enforcement worlds, is still listed, as are veteran environmental reporter Sammy Fretwell, business and military reporter Jeff Wilkinson, and longtime newsman Clif LeBlanc….
I had already told y’all about Warren and Neil, the only two I had confirmed of the dozen I had tentatively identified. Nothing in Corey’s report contradicted anything I had heard. I will say that some of the people I’ve heard are leaving are still listed on the newsroom’s online roster. Maybe I heard wrong; I don’t know.
Today is Warren’s last day. Here’s the only notice I’ve seen of that in print, at the end of his column today:
Editor’s Note: After 29 years with The State, the past 18 as a member of the editorial board, Mr. Bolton is leaving the newspaper. His insight and his journalism have enriched our community.
Kind of makes my farewell tour from the paper — three columns on the subject, a whole day’s letters to the editor, and multiple blog posts — look like an extended display of narcissism, doesn’t it?
My thoughts and prayers are with those leaving, and with those staying behind, from the top of management to the lowest folks on the totem pole. They’ve all been fighting a tough battle for years, and it just got harder for most of those left behind.
I’d love to be able to help, if I could.
Well, yeah, Brad, but you were the first high-profile whackee.
Yeah. There was a news story, and I was in the lede. Although there were two other vice presidents besides me in the group, they weren’t known to readers.
By the way, have I ever showed you the column I wrote that foreshadowed my being laid off? It was less than two months before the event. I ran across it when trying to find the story that announced the layoff, to no avail. It seems to be gone.
I say foreshadowed, but I mean only indirectly. I never had the slightest idea, before the day I was told my position was being eliminated, that it was going to happen. But I knew I was going to have to lay off others, starting with my friend (and one of the best cartoonists in the country) Robert Ariail. And I actually believed that, in the worst-case scenario, I would be the last person left in editorial. Why? Because I had vast experience with every job involved in putting out the paper, so if one guy was going to do it, I was the guy. It was a deeply depressing thought. It never occurred to me that skill set wouldn’t even enter into the publisher’s calculation, that he would go purely by who made the most money, which was me.
So Cindi has ended up being the last, for now at least. (And over the last few years she’s had to pick up those skills that I had then, because somebody had to get the pages out.) I don’t know whether she’ll get help going forward or not. I hope so.
But anyway, this sense that it was all closing in, and that we were running out of time, was growing in my mind. And consequently I was getting more and more impatient about the issues we wrote about year in and year out. So I wrote this piece. An excerpt:
And that’s what I felt in those last days — impatience. Which is why my last column at the paper was about the things I was impatient about.
I read it at the time. Cindi definitely has the impatience thing down.
Her impatience is still too wonky and polite. Now that’s she’s the last one left, I’d suggest a Sherman-esque slash and burn of the political forces in South Carolina. What is there to lose at this point?
Change the tired format of the editorial page completely. Do SOMETHING different. Change the layout, change the fonts, more cartoons, more infographics, throw in some left vs. right bac and forth columns on a topic… how about WANTED posters with the face of some politician every week with a listing of their “crimes”? That might get some attention.
Or she can just keep doing the same thing until the clock runs out in a couple years.
By my count, at this moment there are only 10 “reporters” left at the paper, although there may be others with digital titles that in effect also produce content. With three photogs, 1 copy editor and 1 editorial writer, there is obviously almost nothing left to cut if they still intend to continue as a 7-day publicaiton.
What do you think happens next? A move like the Advance publications where they stop home delivery on most weekdays? Merge newsrooms with a local TV station?
It is all so deeply sad. So many great people have left.
I don’t understand how reporters have bylines but aren’t listed on the web page as such.
They’ve already stopped delivery to my home many weekdays and some Sundays.
Yes, I got so tired of not getting my paper, that I switched to an e-subscription
Y’all, Joey Holleman confirmed on Facebook over the weekend:
Aw, geez. I hope he lands somewhere good. I always enjoyed his pieces.