Hard Times at the News
More cuts are coming: this spring, at least eighteen graphic artists, copy editors, and others will have to choose between buyouts and moving to Grand Rapids, where a central staff will now handle those functions for the News and seven other Michigan papers.
In December employees faced an end-of-year deadline to decide whether to take the buyout or take their chances in an uncertain future. "It's like going to a funeral every day going to your job," says one copy editor who expects to leave. This person, who asked not to be named, says the News is "a very sad and fearful place right now."
What went wrong? News publisher Laurel Champion politely declined to comment, and editor Ed Petykiewicz has ignored repeated emails and phone calls from the Observer. But in a front-page column in December, Petykiewicz wrote that the News is "coming to grips with the same economic forces that triggered downsizings by local companies." While putting a positive spin on the paper's plan to emphasize more local news, he acknowledged that in the future the paper will have fewer staffers and fewer pages. "The timing of these changes is triggered by the recession," Petykiewicz wrote, "which is choking the economy and hurting our advertisers."