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Star reducing staff ahead of headquarters relocation

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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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  • Dwindling numbers
    Before Gannett took over, the star had roughly 280 people in the newsroom. Gannett has destroyed this newspaper.
  • Sad
    As someone who works for the company in Indy (though not for the Star), it's getting harder and harder to tell people who my bosses are. A) because the literal answer to that question is not always clear and B) as a result of stories like this. No sincere and intelligent person is confused by the true meaning of 'quality-of-life' and 'business' journalism. A focus here annihilates the last remaining whiffs of responsible reporting at the star - which has produced some invaluable watchdog pieces on business frauds and local gov't in recent years. But you get what you pay for. And if nobody pays for it, what you get is fog-minded pap about how to spend money and avoid poor people downtown. If those are your interests, these are boom times.
  • Agreed
    Hey John, Couldn't agree more. I live in Brownsburg and we love the Flyer. They seemed to understand what actual news, sports and community stuff matters. I hope they never go the way of the Star!
  • Politics
    Other than Tully who covers politics at the Star? We get better political stories from the local bloggers and the IBJ.
  • Communty Newspaper
    Sorry Star readers but the community newspapers are still strong. I live in Hendricks County and the paper is awesome. The Flyer always has great local info. None of the national stuff. It is news I really care about.
    • Conservative bias
      The Star needs to die a slow, painful death. It does not reflect well on Indianapolis and makes Fox News look like the BBC in comparison.
      • no copy editors?
        I think the last thing the Star needs to do is eliminate their copy editors or have non trained copy editors doing that job. Have you read some of their stories? I think they need copy editors more than anything else sometimes.
      • Agree Brian
        I really enjoy complementing my on-line reading with the print version. People in my office who have the on-line only, miss so much. Our sports section is fantastic and the rest of the paper does what it is supposed to do - inform and challenge our thinking. I don't agree with everything but I enjoy reading the different points of view. The subscriber decline of the Sunday Star is just a sign of the times. My kids get everything on-line. But they too miss a lot. You may not agree with them all the time, but Tully and Smith are Indianapolis treasures. Good luck to the Star as they turn another corner and try to re-engineer themselves.
      • Print Preferred
        As someone who has to leave work everyday for lunch - I love my print version of the newspaper.
      • IBJ
        Thinking about how terrible the Star is and it's sad decline, it makes me grateful that we atleast have the IBJ!
      • Lack of Midwestern Values? Really?
        Dr. B - Indianapolis is out of touch with nationwide values. Smith and Tully bring some critical analysis and insight to issues, which the Star sorely needs. Unlike Varvel, they bring some moderation to issues. I worry that the Star will become too much like local broadcast news--light on news, empty analysis, resonation of Chamber and political voices without analyses, and too much "human interest" stuff.
      • For news...take the Fort Wayne paper
        After 30 years of taking the Indianapolis Star....I had to switch to postal order for the Fort Wayne paper. Fort Wayne still has a newspaper that covers news...(not just what the Chamber of Commence says.) I wish we could have a real Indianapolis/Indiana newspaper. The Star is not a "news" paper.
      • Copy desk
        "The cuts include...the entire staff of the copy desk, which reviews and polishes news stories before publication." With so many articles I have recently read on Indystar.com with grammatical, spelling and factual errors, I am SHOCKED they still employed copy editors. I can only imagine how bad the artilces are going to get.
      • The Demise of Print Media
        The slow death of an industry on full display. The IndyStar has somewhat tried to modernize out of survival, but doing so in a charge-to-view way will force a massive portion of their reader base to simply seek other sources. The Print Side has to be on its last leg, the Online Side can't exactly be raking it in with an expensive content/value for what is overall a pretty average newspaper. One thing you likely wont see these days... Someone reading the paper version of the Indy Star.
      • "Midwestern Values?"?
        What does that even mean? I think you mean to say "My version of midwestern values that I'd like everyone to adopt." Talk about out of touch.
      • "news' paper
        I disagree with the comments regarding Ms Smith and Mr Tully.. While one may not always agree with them, it is important to have local media that question the status quo. I moved here from a larger city, and find that too much of our ocal media is involved in civic and sports chearleading. Any large city needs to offer differing opinions. I don't agree with the blabber that comes from Chicks on the Right, but respect that there is a place for everything in the local paper. Sadly ours is becoming one of mindless feature stories that are offered in abundance elsewhere.
      • Staff
        Great idea Dr. B cut Tully and Smith so everyone will have the exact same viewpoint on every issue so you can get up every morning and have your beliefs perpetualy confirmed instead of challenged - what a great idea for a newspaper. Here's a clue for you - not everyone in the Midwest shares your values or mine. And for the record I have only felt the urge to write a columnist to take issue one time - and that was Erika Smith but I think she offers a voice that needs to be heard unlike the the nearly monolithic editorial page which leads me to nearly drop my subcription every week.
      • "Spin"
        Amazing "spin" from the Star...we are cutting staff by 15% which will lead to more business, investigative and quality of life stories! How about the quality of life of the people who are being cut? It's time for the Star to return to local reporters, not a new shift of Gannett staffers who are passing through for a year or so. And how about replacing E. Smith and Tully on your editorial board - they are so out of touch with midwestern values.
        • No pesky editing
          Wow. Recently when I complained about repeated inaccuracies in Gannett Star stories, I rhetorically wondered if they were intentionally crowdsourcing the fact-checking work their editors used to do. Apparently I stumbled upon their plan. Oh well. I was a 30+ year subscriber. Past tense.

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