The Triangle Business Journal is reporting that fourteen people were let go from The News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun, as part of layoffs across the publications’ parent company, McClatchy.
The TBJ, citing an email from N&O publisher Sara Glines, says five newsroom staffers and nine employees in business operations have been laid off:
“The News & Observer and The Herald Sun in Durham, like all newspapers, are facing unprecedented declines in print advertising and the newsprint tariffs have made a very difficult situation exponentially worse,” Glines said in an email. “While our digital audience and digital advertising revenue are strong and growing quickly, they cannot outpace this forecast for the second half of the year.
“We had no choice but to align our costs to those financial trends. Sadly, we did announce 14 layoffs across those organizations yesterday, including five positions in our newsrooms and nine positions throughout our business operations. Despite this difficult moment, we will continue to focus our resources on impactful local journalism and serving our communities.”
The INDY couldn’t immediately reach Glines or regional editor Robyn Tomlin for comment. A source at the N&O told the INDY that The Herald-Sun cut three reporters. (Mark Schultz, the western Triangle editor for the Herald-Sun and the N&O, referred questions to Tomlin.)
McClatchy, which is based in Sacramento, California, has owned the N&O since 1995 and added the Herald-Sun to its portfolio in 2016. CNN reported earlier this week that McClatchy, which owns two-dozen daily papers including The Charlotte Observer, was cutting its overall staff by 3.5 percent, affecting about 140 employees. Last month, McClatchy reported a net loss of $20.4 million in the second quarter of 2018—which is actually better than its performance in the second quarter of 2017, when the company lost $37.4 million. And there are some green shoots: Over the last year, McClatchy papers have increased digital subscribers by 34.5 percent, and digital-only advertising revenues grew by more than 20 percent, surpassing print advertising revenue in May and June.
Prior to the cuts, the News & Observer had a newsroom staff of about sixty, according to its website, and the Herald-Sun about a dozen.
Update: McClatchy’s PR director, Jeanna Segal, has confirmed to the INDY that layoffs did occur at The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, but declined to say which staff members or how many staff members were let go from each newsroom.