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As pointed out in this

blog

, the

Rocky Mountain News

recently offered what was described as a "voluntary separation package" to fifty

Rocky

employees age 55 and older who have worked at the tabloid for at least ten years. This plan, which is intended to shrink the staff by twenty workers, or about ten percent, has led to speculation about who might depart from inside and outside the paper.

Take "Who's in the Line of Sight at the Rocky?," a recent post on the Colorado Confidential site. In it, Wendy Norris (assisted by Sandra Fish and Brian Conway) lists a slew of Rocky longtimers who likely received invitations to go away -- among them TV critic Dusty Saunders (pictured), who was feted last September for his half-century at the paper. An account of the celebration, which was hosted by Harry Smith of CBS' The Early Show, can be found here.

Other possibilities? They include:

Associate managing editors Dennis Dressman and Jim Trotter, business editor Rob Reuteman, architecture critic Mary Voelz Chandler, movie critic Robert Dennerstein, editorial types Vince Carroll, Peter Blake and Linda Seebach, reporter Burt Hubbard (who would be "a huge loss" in Norris' estimation), fellow writers Lou Kilzer, Gary Massaro and Jean Torkelson, and Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby, who, Norris suggests, "could probably take the money and run to, say, ESPN."

This roster features some of the Rocky's best-known scribes, and while it's highly unlikely that all of them will split, the loss of even a few veterans like these would undoubtedly distress readers even as it saps the institutional knowledge that's key in newspapering. In the meantime, speculation about such matters is bad for the morale of those too young to be targeted, and that could convince some of them to start job hunting, too.

Clearly, the news about the News isn't especially upbeat right now. -- Michael Roberts

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