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Denver Post layoffs estimate: 16 copy editors, nearly tenth of staff

Update: At this point, neither representatives of the Denver Post nor the folks at the Denver Newspaper Guild seem eager to talk in detail about a plan to lay off two-thirds of the copy editors at the paper of record. However, we've gotten more information about the likely fallout. In the end, as many as sixteen copy editors, representing close to a tenth of the Post's editorial staff, are expected to lose their jobs.

Post editor Greg Moore and I exchanged missed calls earlier this week, but he indicated he would talk about the subject at a later date, when plans are firmed up. The Guild, meanwhile, is limiting its public comments to a statement on view below that describes the layoffs as a "shortsighted cost-cutting measure that will irreparably damage The Denver Post."

One possible reason for mutual reticence: The Post and the Guild are currently negotiating a new contract. Because the latest pact expired in March, Guild members are working under an open-ended extension.

The copy desk at the Post is large, with as many as 25 people employed in this area. As such, the two-thirds figure translates to around sixteen layoffs by month's end. We hear staffers won't formally interview for the new gigs. Instead, they'll be informed about the attendant duties and can then choose to leave or express interest in sticking around. If more than the available number of positions take the latter course, seniority will determine who remains.

Specifics are in flux right now, as Moore implies. But in all likelihood, the future copy editors will be asked to do more than simply edit copy; they'll likely have other roles in the departments to which they're assigned, too.

Makes sense considering the shrinkage afflicting the Post's newsroom. The editorial department had approximately 200 employees prior to nineteen buyouts late last year, as well as subsequent layoffs to columnists Mike Littwin and Penny Parker, among others. As such, another sixteen departures would represent almost 10 percent of the editorial work force even taking into consideration occasional new hires.

Continue reading to see our previous coverage, including the full Guild statement.

Original post, 9:54 a.m. May 1: Last week, sources told us the Denver Post planned to lay off two-thirds of its copy editors as part of a newsroom restructuring, with discussion of the plan slated for a Monday meeting. That get-together took place, and while Post editor Greg Moore hasn't responded to our interview requests at this writing, an attendee confirms the two-thirds figure and includes details of an approach that's drawing strong objections from the Denver Newspaper Guild.

According to an attendee, the layoffs will go into effect at the end of May. In the meantime, copy editors can apply for the positions that will remain. We're told seniority will be considered when it comes to retention.

Late yesterday, the Denver Newspaper Guild responded with a statement about the layoffs. The entire item appears below, but here's the first paragraph:

We at the Denver Newspaper Guild consider ourselves partners with Denver Post management in the effort to position the newsroom and the company to thrive in the new media environment. However, we disagree in the strongest possible terms with the company's decision to lay off two-thirds of the paper's copy editors. We feel it is a shortsighted cost-cutting measure that will irreparably damage The Denver Post.

Thus far, three well-known Post editorial staffers have weighed in on the Guild's take. Music journalist Ricardo Baca dubbed it "well said," while heath-care specialist Michael Booth wrote, "We would be losing a vital layer of journalism and a dedicated and talented group of journalists. What distinguishes us is accuracy and fairness. Let's not pretend those values won't be eroded by this move. I hope The Post will realize how ridiculous and self-defeating it is to add so many vice presidents while subtracting so many actual journalists."

Added feature writer Claire Martin, "Thank you to every copy editor who asked questions that made a story better, more insightful, more accurate, more broad-minded. We need you far more than we need another layer of white guys in bespoke suits."

We've also left an interview request with the Newspaper Guild. When a representative or editor Moore get back to us, we'll update this item. In the meantime, here's the complete Guild statement, followed by a just-issued press release boasting about record-setting digital numbers generated across the Post's various platforms. The Post also published an article about its rising circulation, fueled mainly by online readers. But nothing thus far about the copy-editor layoffs has appeared.

Denver Newspaper Guild statement:

WE AT THE DENVER NEWSPAPER GUILD consider ourselves partners with Denver Post management in the effort to position the newsroom and the company to thrive in the new media environment. However, we disagree in the strongest possible terms with the company's decision to lay off two-thirds of the paper's copy editors. We feel it is a shortsighted cost-cutting measure that will irreparably damage The Denver Post.

A news organization serves a vital public role and must be viewed through a more complex lens than one that reduces the operation to just a bottom-line figure. For generations, professional editors represented by the Guild have helped make The Denver Post a trusted news source. This decision by the company could very well erode that hard-earned trust.

The media landscape continues to shift as new technologies demand new business strategies, but one thing must remain constant during this transition period: credibility. We understand the company needs flexibility to make decisions quickly, and we have afforded the company that flexibility with a labor agreement that allows the company to change newsroom operations and reduce the workforce. However, the Guild has serious doubts that the decision by management to slash the ranks of copy editors will result in a more efficient newsgathering process. Instead, we believe it will result in a loss of credibility as more mistakes and errors appear in print and online.

The Denver Post's reputation is at stake.

The Guild will continue to advocate on behalf of not only Denver Post staff, but Denver Post readers.

Thomas McKay Sara Burnett Kieran Nicholson Jim Ludvik Kyle Wagner Kevin Hamm Tony Mulligan

Denver Post press release:

Denver Post digital audience setting records on all platforms

DenverPost.com averages 60 million monthly page views; mobile page views increase 143%

DENVER (May 1, 2012) -- The Denver market is a national leader in embracing digital news delivery, according to a detailed analysis of the latest circulation figures filed by The Denver Post. Over the past six months, average monthly page views of DenverPost.com increased 52% to over 60 million, monthly mobile page views increased 143% to more than 18 million and Denver Post Facebook fans jumped 63% to over 225,000 average monthly fans.

The new circulation numbers demonstrate more and more consumers are turning to The Denver Post throughout the day for news and information, on the platforms of their choice.

"Hundreds of thousands of people still start their day with the printed Denver Post," said Bill Reynolds, Denver Post Senior Vice President of Circulation. "And throughout the day, our print readers are joining hundreds of thousands of more people who stay connected with our websites and mobile sites, use our apps and view the digital edition on tablets and laptops. These latest numbers show that people are consuming our news coverage 24 hours a day on every available platform."

The analysis of the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report shows total circulation for The Sunday Denver Post increased 10.6% to 595,363 for the six months ending March 31, 2012, compared to the previous reporting period (April-Sept. 2011). Total Saturday circulation increased 10% to 428,570 and daily circulation rose 13.6% to 401,120 during the same six month period (Oct. 2011-March 2012). The new numbers include circulation for home delivery, single copy and other printed copies and editions, plus readers accessing digital replica and nonreplica editions on mobile devices, tablets, e-readers and computers.

The Denver Post suite of mobile apps and sites are increasingly popular with smart phone and tablet users. Over the past six months, mobile page views of DenverPost.com averaged 18.2 million a month, an increase of 143%, and mobile unique visitors increased 91% to 471,000. During the same time period, monthly page views of The Denver Post digital replica edition averaged 4.6 million, a 42% increase, as more people accessed the digital edition on personal computers, laptops, smart phones and tablet devices.

Current traffic numbers for March 2012 show even more dramatic digital growth for The Denver Post. According to Omniture, Verve Wireless, Spreed and Doapps, DenverPost.com had 7.6 million unique visitors accessing 71 million pages in March, and mobile page views reached 24.6 million. The network of all Denver Post sites, which includes DailyCamera.com and ColoradoDaily.com, had 9.7 million unique visitors accessing 80 million pages in March.

"Denver is a fantastic digital market," said Ed Moss, Denver Post President and CEO. "Our current growth clearly shows that we're the brand people trust for news and information, and we're adding new features and products all the time. We just launched DP TV, a new two-minute lunchtime online newscast that's designed to keep people informed during their workday."

In the social media marketplace, Denver Post Facebook fans and Twitter followers continue to lead all local media competitors. Over the past six months (Oct. 2011-March 2012), the average monthly number of Denver Post combined Facebook fans increased 63% and Twitter followers increased 11%. As of March 2012, The Post has 630,603 combined followers on Twitter and 251,056 combined fans on Facebook.

The Denver Post is a brand of Digital First Media. Headquartered in New York City, Digital First Media jointly manages MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company properties. Digital First Media reaches 57 million Americans each month through more than 800 multi-platform products across 18 states.

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