By Sharon Dunten, SPJ Region 3 Assistant Regional Director and editor of SizingUpTheSouth.com
Fort LauderdalE/Boward County, FLORIDA — Emily Bloch, former south Florida’s Sun Sentinel community newspaper reporter, was one of many laid off by Tronc (former Tribune Publishing) last week along with hundreds of other community journalists throughout the country. Bloch is also a SPJ Florida board member.
She spoke to Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” last week about her layoff. “I was one of the people cut along with six other editorial staffers,” Bloch said to Stelter. “I was also the youngest, the others being left high and dry with mortgages, families, mouths to feed, etc. The bright side — before leaving I was able to drop a story on local politicians unknowingly breaking a law.”
Bloch left the Sun Sentinel that has the circulation of more than 163,000 weekly subscriptions and more than 228,000 for the Sunday issue.
According to the July 27 “Reliable Sources” newsletter, Bloch said this was the third or fourth round of layoffs at the Sentinel in her “less than two years” at the paper. “And to add insult to injury,” she said, “Tronc posted a job opening hours after the layoff announcement at the Sentinel for editor and reporter positions.”
“Tronc posted a job opening hours after the layoff announcement at the Sentinel for editor and reporter positions.” – Emily Bloch said to CNN’s Brian Stelter
“Emily Bloch is blessed. Even when she gets laid off, she lands on her feet. Not only did she get a front page story right after her editor calls her – yup, she was laid off on the phone – she even got two job offers from smaller newspapers after the dust settled,” said Michael Koretzky, Society of Professional Journalists national board member and SPJ Region 3 Director.
“I have no doubt Emily can go to another paper and be a great reporter. I also have no doubt if she gets laid off again, she’ll land on her feet again,” he said.
New York Times best-selling author and independent blogger, Jeff Pearlman, also weighed in about Bloch’s layoff in his blog, “Tronc kills hopes and dreams, saves $35,” and wrote that Tronc “kicked Emily to the curb — a multi-million dollar company saving (and this is pure guesswork) $35,000 a year and directly hurting its coverage.”
Pearlman wrote that Bloch is “everything you’d want in a journalist— skilled, edgy, hard-nosed, relentless, fast.”
According to a 2017 Pew Research Center newspaper analysis, at least 36% of the largest newspapers across the United States – as well as at least 23% of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 20.
Pew reports that those with the highest circulation will most likely be affected in the future. The New York Daily News was also one that felt the deep cut this week. With a circulation of more than 200,000, the Daily News lost 50% of its editorial staff in Tronc’s mass layoffs. This community newspaper has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes.
“It’s a shame that it’s turned into a matter of when, not if, you’ll get laid off in your career,” – SPJ Florida President Christiana Lilly
“Almost every member of our [SPJ Florida] board has been laid off or been in a newsroom where they’ve watched their colleagues pack up their cubicles thanks to what companies like to call ‘restructuring.’ Its a huge blow to your self esteem and to the morale of the newsroom in general,” said SPJ Florida President Christiana Lilly.
Lilly asks how can we expect journalists to work when they’re constantly under a cloud of cloud of doubt, wondering if they’ll have a job next week? “It’s a shame that it’s turned into a matter of when, not if, you’ll get laid off in your career,” she said.
The newspaper layoffs are not only affecting the once higher paid 50-plus journalists anymore. Younger journalists face are also dodging ongoing layoffs, and they are asking, “who is going to do the work, the investigating work for their communities?
Ken Doctor, a Nieman Lab news industry analyst, said in one of his columns that thirty-something journalists are facing layoffs and many are trying to stick it out. He writes about hearing a young journalist say, “I’m still here because I love my job, and I ‘ll hold out while I can, but the scariest part is seeing important news going uncovered, knowing the things we should be investigating, but just can’t. We do good work, but community is truly underserved … I have many years of many changes in this industry ahead.”
“Newspaper employment across the country declined from around 46,000 to 39,000 … to put that in perspective, that’s fewer people than the depressed coal-mining industry employs.” – SE Cupp in her CNN.com column “SE Cupp Unfiltered.”
These changes continue to be seen by the numbers who are still employed in newspaper industry. “Newspaper employment across the country declined from around 46,000 to 39,000,” wrote SE Cupp, a columnist for CNN.com’s “SE Cupp Unfiltered”
this week. “To put that in perspective, that’s fewer people than the depressed coal-mining industry employs,” wrote Cupp.
She also shared that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, journalists employed by newspapers are fewer than roofers (116,410), telemarketers (215,290) and fitness trainers and aerobic instructors (257,410). Cupp is a nationally syndicated conservative political columnist, culture critic, and author and also is an opinion columnist for the New York Daily News.
Sharon Dunten is editor of SizingUpTheSouth.com, SPJ Region 3’s journalism news website for the South, and is the SPJ Region 3 Assistant Regional Director. She is a freelance journalist/photojournalist at Dunten Media Services LLC based out of Atlanta, Georgia. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for more coverage of job losses in the journalism industry in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on SizingUpTheSouth.com, SPJ Region 3’s journalism news website for the South.