Denver Post to lay off two-thirds of its copy editors?
Within the past several months, the Denver Post has made buyout deals with nineteen staffers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mike Keefe, and laid off popular columnists Mike Littwin and Penny Parker, among others. But the cuts aren't over. In an internal memo on view below, editor Greg Moore teases a decrease in the number of copy editors; our sources say as many as two-thirds of the positions could be eliminated. And that's not all.
Earlier this month, sources told us about pay cuts for sports columnist Woody Paige and opinion writer Vincent Carroll, the layoff of Viva Colorado editor and publisher Rowena Alegria and editorial print reductions estimated at eighteen pages per week, with ten of those said to be coming from the sports section.
Not that editorial is the only department facing diminution. Indeed, Alegria was officially a business-department employee -- and Moore's e-mail to staffers, sent Tuesday afternoon, alludes to downsizing at divisions across the width and breadth of the Post's operation. This jibes with "Service Woes at the Denver Post," a piece published earlier this week in Colorado Pols, a blog that continues to have a tense relationship with the paper of record. Back in 2010, as you'll recall, a Post lawyer sent Colorado Pols a letter alleging that the site was lifting too much of its content. In response, Colorado Pols declared that it would stop using any Post material, and it's stuck with this policy (and typically alluded to the paper generically) for nearly two years.
And what are the service woes at the heart of the latest Pols item? The writer, ID'd as Awen, says after not receiving a copy of the paper, she called for a re-delivery, but was told the Post is now offering this option only on Sundays because "that whole department has been laid off."
It's unlikely the same thing will happen at the copy desk. However, one source describes the expected changes as "massive," while others use the aforementioned two-thirds estimate. The memo doesn't offer specifics, and when contacted yesterday, Moore texted that he was traveling and would be unable to add anything before a Monday staff meeting at which he'll describe what's happening in greater detail.
In the meantime, a Post article published today notes that the paper has started marketing space in its building that will be vacated next year after administrative offices for the Colorado Supreme Court and justice administration relocate. Post president and CEO Ed Moss notes in the piece that the Post leases, rather than owns, the building, and confirms that if another company wanted the entire structure, the paper would consider moving. However, he "stressed that the newspaper will continue to operate."
Once upon a time, such a reassurance would have been unnecessary -- but not now.
Here's the Moore communique, which begins with a grim recitation of the troubles afflicting the journalism industry as a scene-setter for future belt-tightening.
I apologize for using email for this communication, but I think it is critical to give you some information about plans for the future of the newsroom.
I believe we are all aware of the continuing economic challenges facing this industry and The Denver Post. Print revenue continues to plummet. Digital revenue is increasing, but not at the speed needed to offset the print losses. Divisions all across The Post have been cutting costs -- including us. Unfortunately, our costs are still not in line with our revenue.
We are trying to make further cuts smartly, but with some dispatch. In discussions with The Guild, we have talked about the need to streamline our production workflow to cut costs, operate more efficiently and maintain quality.
We have focused our attention on consolidating steps in the editing process so that traditional copy editing is done at the content-generating level. That is going to result in a reduction in the ranks of copy editors. Following this, virtually every job in the newsroom will change in some way. The editing and crafting of our copy will have to be shared throughout the newsroom.
There will be a staff meeting on Monday to talk in more detail about this and how the new workflow can be accomplished.
We understand that a major move like this is not done without anxiety and pain. But the way we have been doing things must change, and we have to find creative ways to streamline our production process for both print and online.
When we did the buyouts last November, I explained that there would be more changes to come. In recent weeks, we implemented some cost reductions along with other divisions in the building. So I trust this is not entirely unexpected.
It is important to understand that whatever we do, we will continue to put out a high-quality product. I am sure there will be a lot of questions as we work through this with The Guild. I will do my best to answer your questions on Monday.
Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
More from our Media archive: "'We don't need the Denver Post,' says Colorado Pols' Jason Bane."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.