Newspapers and Indianapolis Star and Publishing and Media & Marketing

Star reducing staff ahead of headquarters relocation

August 11, 2014
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The Indianapolis Star is planning another round of staff reductions as it prepares to move into a new downtown headquarters.

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, which represents most of the Star's newsroom and building-services employees, said the newspaper intends to chop newsroom staff and management 15 percent over the next few weeks—a move that will decrease the employee count from 124 to 106.

The cuts include five of the Star's 11 photographers and the entire staff of the copy desk, which reviews and polishes news stories before publication. Some of those duties will be assumed by other staff members as part of a newsroom reorganization.

The guild said the cutbacks mark the sixth round of layoffs at the Star in six years.

The Star is on track to move Sept. 29 into a new home in the former Nordstrom space in Circle Centre mall downtown at the corner of Meridian and Georgia streets after operating at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. for more than 100 years.

Star Editor Jeff Taylor could not be reached for comment Monday, but he acknowledged staff changes were in the works in a column posted on the Star's website late Monday afternoon.

Without offering specifics, Taylor said the Star was "taking steps to significantly recast our newsroom in coming weeks. We will expand our reporting staff, further sharpen our focus on being responsive to the interests of our readers in real time, and deepen our community connections."

Taylor said more reporters will be dedicated to investigative, business and "quality-of-life" coverage.  

"To accomplish this, we will reduce the number of managers and streamline and reposition some jobs in our production process," Taylor wrote. "That comes with pain. But it's a necessary change for the future ..."

The guild said the reorganization is expected to result in six more reporters on the staff.

Sources said some of the cutbacks will be accomplished through attrition and by management's asking employees to volunteer to step down. At a meeting Monday, Star managers told the staff that employees would have to reapply for positions at the newspaper.

The strategy is part of the "Newsroom of the Future" game plan being used by parent company Gannett Co. as it standardizes job descriptions at all its papers.

McLean, Virginia-based Gannett announced this month that it plans to divide its print and broadcast operations into separate public companies.

Gannett's publishing arm will retain the Gannett name and include USA Today, 81 local U.S. daily publications and Newsquest, a regional community news provider in the United Kingdom. The company's  broadcasting and digital arm, which has yet to be named, will operate the company's 46 television stations and websites such as CareerBuilder and Cars.com.

After Monday's Star staff meeting, the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild posted this on its Facebook page: "What the paper is telling the public is that there will be 6 more reporters. And there will be. With beats like beverages, party crasher and holidays and observances. No, we are not making this up. Welcome to the future."

Gannett acquired the Star in 2000. Since then, circulation at the Sunday Star has dropped from 363,000 to about 280,000. Employment in news operations has fallen by more than half.
 

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