Staffers at Syracuse's Post-Standard found out today if they'll have jobs after January of next year.
Columnist Dick Case, was among those called in to the publisher's office, and told he's being let go. We are told he is one of 112. Publisher Stephen Rogers makes the official announcement tomorrow.
Case, who has been with the Syracuse Newspapers for 54 years, says he was pleased that Rogers spoke with him personally. "I think the community is changing, but so is our business" Case told us. "I think this change to more of an emphasis on the dot com is inevitable."
A quick look around the SU campus affirms his words, with many students walking between classes checking their phones. All we talked to told us they get their news online.
Former Newhouse School of Public Communications Dean David Rubin says students think newspapers are obsolete, but that the issue here is not how the news is delivered. The issue, he says, is "how do you pay for a collection of talented professional newsgathers? That's the issue."
The Newhouse School Career Development Office is also watching the change: "It's not the best news, says Director Kelly Brown, "but it's certainly not unexpected." She--and Rubin--say the layoffs actually present new opportunities for current students, who are being trained in social media skills. Rubin also says the 'demise' of the newspaper could open the door for more media competition, that the internet as the medium levels the playing field and takes out the huge stumbling block of starting up an expensive printing operation.
The Post-Standard's management has said it expects to allow laid off workers to re-apply for 'new' jobs, and that the number in the newsroom will not decrease, however it's expected to be at lower salaries. Not all the layoffs will be in the newsroom: a press room operator tells us 3 of the 12 workers there have gotten notices, as the paper cuts back its printing schedule. But many of the people going are working journalists with hundreds of years of community background and experience, and losing that collective knowledge is a concern. "What matters is the people who are doing this, says Rubin, "and are there enough people doing it so they can get a salary and get benefits and be professionally trained so we have a pretty good idea of what's happening in this community." Figuring out how to make enough money from online operations continues to be an issue for all news media.
Late this afternoon, the Syracuse Press Club Board of Directors issued this statement on the layoffs:
"The Syracuse Press Club is disheartened to learn of the layoffs at the Syracuse Post-Standard Monday. Changes in the delivery of news are inevitable, but the Press Club is greatly disappointed with the decision to lay off journalists with roots here in Central New York. A daily newspaper, and the news people who produce that product, serves a vital role in our community. We wish all staff members at the Post-Standard the best during these changes."