Reaction After Layoffs At The Commercial Appeal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The Commercial Appeal will soon be a much leaner newsroom operation after management announced layoffs to a sizeable chunk of employees Tuesday. Local 24 learned the cuts affected between 16 and 20 editorial staff in the nearly 70 person newsroom, including editors, photographers, and reporters, such as lifestyle reporter Michael Donahue.

Several commercial appeal staffers tell Local 24 it's been very emotional and tough as more than a dozen journalists with different experience levels and skill sets suddenly all face the same reality.

"Yesterday was extremely traumatic,” says Daniel Connolly, President of Memphis Newspaper Guild. “It was very sad for everyone involved."

One by one Tuesday, Connolly sat in as a dozen Commercial Appeal staffers and union members learned their jobs would be no longer available effective April 11th.

"As a guild rep, I was in a lot of the meetings, and it was everything from people expecting it to just absolute shock,” says Connolly.

The cuts came from media company Gannett, which purchased the Commercial Appeal last year and also affected staff at several other Gannett-owned newspapers across Tennessee.

"Ultimately, we need to get on more substantial financial footing so we can keep funding journalism,” says Connolly. Connolly promised the union would assist laid-off members in finding new jobs and negotiating severance packages. 

“Basically, it's telling them what to do, these are the next steps,” says Connolly.

News of the Commercial Appeal cuts angered and saddened longtime subscribers.

"I just don' think it's a good thing for the one newspaper that we've got to miss out on the all the cultural elements that are going on,” says Berry Fuller.

"Awful because the paper gets smaller and I guess this will impact it even more. I hate it,” says Joyce Lubin.

 

The Commercial Appeal's executive editor declined to comment Wednesday afternoon.


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