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Indianapolis Star hit with new round of job cuts

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The fifth round of layoffs in five years at The Indianapolis Star has claimed 11 members of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, although the newspaper’s depleted reporting staff escaped the latest cuts at the local unit of Virginia-based Gannett Co. Inc.

The cuts involved three copy editors, three clerks, two custodians, a part-time photographer, a part-time graphic artist and an assistant calendar editor.

In addition, two managers not part of the Guild—News Administrative Editor D. Todd Moore and Breaking News Editor Kevin Morgan—were let go. Moore had been with The Star since joining as an intern in 1980; Morgan joined the newspaper in 1984.

The Star’s editor, Jeff Taylor, declined to comment.

The layoffs were announced Monday. Although no reporters were involved in the latest cuts, "it still hurts," said Robert King, a Star reporter and president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild.

Newspaper management told the Guild that the cuts were part of an ongoing “resizing” aimed at reducing costs while minimizing effects on the news product, King said in a note to members published on the Guild's website.

In 2011, the Star laid off 62 employees, including more than 15 percent of its newsroom staff. That left 136 newsroom employees, down from 230 in 2007.

This week’s layoffs “once again revive an old fear that has subsided a bit in the two years since the last layoffs—that the knife of force reductions can be brought out with little notice,” King told Guild members.

He said the cuts also underscore how the Star “continues to be a less hospitable place for its most veteran staffers,” with seven of nine newsroom staffers cut Monday with more than 30 years experience.

“This follows issues that other veteran employees have faced in recent months, from the worst evaluations of their careers to demotions. This is a serious matter we will look further into,” King wrote.

The Star's sports department recently underwent a major overhaul, which included the reassignment of some of the paper's most-tenured beat writers.

The Star’s former society columnist, Susan Guyett, sued the paper in 2010, alleging age discrimination led to her job loss. The paper later brought back her column, written by a staffer under age 40, according to the suit. The paper eventually reached a settlement with Guyett.

In 2011, the Guild launched a “Save Our Star” campaign to build public awareness of local journalism and of Gannett’s efforts to downsize the local operation. The effort coincided with the Guild's contract talks.

In early 2012, the Guild reached a two-year contract with the Star that brought pay raises of 2 to 4 percent. The union was not successful in stopping management from outsourcing a number of page-designer jobs to a Gannett operation in Louisville.

Gannett bought the Star in 2000 from Central Newspapers Inc., which had been controlled by the Pulliam family, in a $2.66 billion deal that included several other newspapers and media outlets.

Gannett is selling the newspaper's longtime headquarters at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. and is negotiating to relocate to the former Nordstrom store at Circle Centre mall.

King credited the paper’s publisher, Karen Crotchfelt, and editor, Taylor, for adding back reporters over the last year in areas such as investigations, features and higher education. 

But he also told Guild members the latest layoffs seemed to have been directed by the paper’s local leaders rather than by Gannett’s corporate staff.

“Here’s a solution,” King told members. “Hire some people who can sell advertising on the Internet. Get some folks there who can think creatively enough to generate some new damned revenue streams.”

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  • Do Some "Snow Fall" Type Content....
    The IndyStar just needs to "build" content like this: http://jimromenesko.com/2012/12/27/more-than-3-5-million-page-views-for-nyts-snow-fall/ It's just that easy. http://goo.gl/Xz9QHv
  • Propaganda now or back then?
    For those who are complaining that the Star is now a "left-wing propaganda rang", let it be known that the Pulliam family, since selling their paper, have begun writing for Evangelical Christian publications such as "WORLD Magazine" and "Christianity Today". That should tell you everything you need to know about the ideological slant of the Star back in those days; it really couldn't go any further to the right.
  • Indy Star Advertisments
    I am sick ant fed up with getting my Indy Star almost every morning and finding an advertissing stick-on glued to the front page. Hey Indy Star put these stick-ons on the doors of your new ofices and keep them off the front page of my paper. THANKS.vaft
  • Star Setting
    The IBJ passed the Star long ago. I agree with the previous poster who stated that the Star's web site is so clotted with ads that it never loads and is virtually unusable.
  • the next------!
    the next major corporate announcement after they officially announce that they are moving to the former Nordstrom location is that the Indianapolis Star is becoming a Thursday---Monday publication--BTW -folks---the reason that there will continue to be a Monday edition is due to the COLTS and NFL coverage.
  • Another option
    I agree with the previous comment suggesting the IBJ do to a daily paper. The Star has become an embarrasmen and an insult to intelligence. Their business section (or page) seems to consist of thinly veiled PR releases.
  • Indianapolis Star
    As a frequent letter to the editor writer, I find the comment laughable when using "right-wing nuts" like myself as evidence that the Star doesn't lean left. Really?
  • Indianapolis Star
    I am waiting for Matthew Tully and Daffy Dan Carpenter to write honest columns about the greedy corporation that they work for. Hypocrites!
  • "Newspaper" a misnomer
    The "Indianapolis Star" is an embarrasment to our city. It has no interest in news reporting - only influencing public policy (in a negative direction). I finally cancelled my subscription about four years ago after realizing the only real value I was getting from the cheap tabloid was to line the bottom of my bird cage. I feel empathy for those let go, but am confident they will soon find themselves in a better place!
  • At Least We Have Company
    First off, anyone who thinks the Star is "a left wing propaganda publication" is so far off to the right they are not able to even see the center...not that they would try. Among the many problems with the Star is its owner's primary objective: shareholder value. Talk to anyone in a city where Gannet has acquired their local daily and you hear the same story: veteran staffers let go, outsiders brought in, quality gone.
  • Newspapers need to reinvent
    First of all when someone loses a job it is tragic and they have my sympathy. Second, I don't have a real problem with the value I get with the print edition combined with the on-line presence. I am pretty much an independent and I don't have a real problem with the different points of view presented. I love reading our paper. Of course Butler BB, the Colts and Pacers are a big part of that and they do an excellent job there. Media is extremely dynamic and the Star must adjust.
  • Left Wing Propoganda???
    I'm not sure how anyone in their right mind (no pun intended) can say that the Indianapolis Star has leaned that far to the left. Have you ever looked at the letters to the editor, most of which come from the same far right-wing nut jobs all of the time? What the far right is most terrified of is that there is some semblance of balanced news reporting. Perhaps their time would be better spent sitting in front of their televisions watching Fox News propoganda or listening to Rush Limbaugh on whatever radio station feels obligated to air his so-called talk show.
    • SAD
      It's sad to see people who are so close to age 65 being let go; now, they don't have any healthcare until their Medicare kicks in. Who can afford Cobra? I feel bad for these folks as it happened to me in 2011 and it took me 1-1/2 years to find a job.
    • Let's start over
      I am a lifelong newspaper reader who finds the Star to be an embarassment. I do believe that the IBJ does a good job. I especially like that we get a fairly broad spectrum of opinion in opinion section and the investigative reporting has been quite good. I would very much like to encourage the owners of this paper to go to a daily. A city of our size needs a decent paper. And it sounds like there might be some experienced people around who might be willing to work for you. I'd love to see you do it.
    • Adios, institutional memory
      By replacing long-term, more expensive employees with youngsters who don't know or care who Bill Hudnut is or was, payroll costs are cut. Cut, and cut again, until there's only bone left and no meat. Institutional memory is vanishing and you can expect for "Bert Service" in the news.
    • Developers, Writers and SOA
      The Star needs development and content talent to create REAL value. Build a news engine services(Service-oriented architecture (SOA)that add VALUE for people in central Indiana. Really USE technology to add value. The Star needs writers who can generate REAL content that is local but can get a wider audience (content for Indy AND the nation) AND have local writer write about national issues. Until the Star does these things it will continue to lose viewership. It CAN be fixed, but the Star needs to look for people in areas OTHER than journalism, imho. http://goo.gl/tLe9a
    • discrimination by any other name
      I would assume that the motivation for replacing a reporter with 30 years worth of experience with someone who is 30 years old is to save money on payroll. Age discrimination is illegal, but does that protect a highly paid older employee from being replaced with a younger person who is willing to do the same job for less?
    • Kindness?
      To Susan: A fellow I used to work for took people to lunch to fire them. One fellow caught on right away and asked, "You are going to fire me aren't you?" The boss replied, "well yes" and the guy said, "Well then I don't have to ^$&^%##!@ eat lunch with you." There aren't any kind ways to let someone go.
    • Old must go
      Interesting that the Star continues to let go "older" associates when the 40yr+ audience makes up the largest segment of people reading newspapers these days. Soon the IndyStar will be a USA Today with a 4page Indy news insert.
    • more advertising?
      “Here’s a solution,” King told members. “Hire some people who can sell advertising on the Internet. Get some folks there who can think creatively enough to generate some new damned revenue streams.” Sell advertising on the internet? Their website is so cluttered with ads that it is difficult to find the little news content that exists.
    • Nothing but ads
      Left wing propaganda? Compared to what? Am I reading the same newspaper? The content in general has taken a steep nosedive. Often the front page is some silly lifestyle story. There is no business section to speak of. The Saturday paper is mostly car dealer ads. Since I am not interested in sports, that does not leave much.
    • Unbelievable
      Why can't layoffs happen with kindness, if that's possible civility and compassion? Why degrade, deflate and torture someone and then lay them off. Is the treatment trying to get their long term employees to give up and quit first? Then they wouldn't have to pay out severance? There is going to be a revolution in this country if everyone is treated like this.
      • Unfortunate
        I feel terrible that long-time workers have lost their jobs. Indy Star's decision to ditch balance and objectivity and become largely a left wing propaganda publication resulted in the alienation of most of its readership. These loyal workers are now paying the price. Very unfortunate all around.

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