North Carolina journalism took another blow Wednesday with major layoffs at the Greensboro News & Record and the Winston-Salem Journal.
The cuts were issued by parent company Lee Enterprises, which publishes 75 daily newspapers. The papers changed hands in January when Berkshire Hathaway sold 30 daily newspapers and 49 paid weekly publications to Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based newspaper chain. The acquisition was a $140 million cash transaction.
Greensboro is the third-largest city in North Carolina, following Charlotte and Raleigh.
According to a Tweet from John Newsom, a reporter at the Greensboro News & Record who covers higher education, the layoffs gutted one-third of the newsroom at the papers. It is at least the third round of layoffs since February 2018.
Today’s legacy news carnage:
The N&R and WS Journal lost a third of their newsroom staff today bc of cuts mandated by parent co Lee Enterprises.
I’m still here and still covering higher ed. But I’m gutted for my former colleagues. And it’s a huge loss for both communities.
— John Newsom (@JohnNewsomNR) September 16, 2020
The layoffs take a particular toll among the ever-thinning base of North Carolina’s sports journalists. Among those laid off are longtime News & Record sports columnist Ed Hardin and sports writer Jeff Mills, and sportswriters Patrick Ferlise and Conor O’Neill at the Journal.
Ed Hardin, in particular, is a legacy figure in North Carolina sports journalism. He has worked at the Greensboro News & Record since 1988 and has been a sports columnist at the paper since 1998; in 2014, he was named North Carolina’s 2014 Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Hardin confirmed the news in a Tweet on Wednesday afternoon that simply read “-30-“— an old-school signature used by journalists to denote the ending of a story. For Hardin, that story at the Greensboro News & Record is 32 years long.
— Ed Hardin (@Ed_Hardin) September 16, 2020
It has been a year full of local media shakeups. In February, the McClatchy Company—the parent company of dozens of local newspapers, including The News & Observer—filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That news was followed, in August, by the $312 million sale of the family-owned company to the New Jersey hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.
You can take a closer look at the breakdown of the local news ecosystem in “Who Owns the News?”, an August 5 INDY infographic that details the quickly-corporatizing ownership of North Carolina news organizations.
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