GateHouse keeps cutting
Local journalism is a field full of landmines. One day a reporter could have a job, and the next day he or she is laid off. Possibly even worse, the reporter could be left as the sole staffer to put out an entire paper, which is what happened to Bill Shaner, a columnist for Worcester Magazine.
Shaner’s colleagues, editor Walter Bird Jr. and culture editor Joshua Lyford, were laid off as part of a set of broader layoffs by GateHouse Media. The loss of two out of Worcester Magazine’s three remaining editorial staffers leaves Shaner to put out a paper by himself. And from his recent tweets looking for freelancers to help, and what it takes to publish a weekly, he’s in over his head. Gatehouse put him there, along with the axing of six staffers at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Gatehouse announced last week that it was laying off about 200 employees in a company reorganization. Mike Reed, the CEO of GateHouse parent New Media Investment Group, told Poynter last week that this was “a small restructuring, which I’m sure will be misreported.” He said the company has 11,000 employees.
During this round of layoffs, at least 45 newsrooms were impacted, according to Business Insider. Andrew Pantazi, a reporter at the Florida Times-Union, has been tracking the layoffs in an Excel spreadsheet, which shows a total of 25 people laid off across Massachusetts, including some at the Herald News in Fall River, the Standard Times in New Bedford, and the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.
Shareholders of New Media Investment, the corporate parent of GateHouse Media, last week rejected a proposed compensation plan that included $1.7 million for GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis. It would appear investors are nervous that shares of New Media Investment are down 45 percent from a year ago. The shareholders approved a $100 million stock buyback program to help increase share prices.
Lyford and Bird Jr. published their own newsroom obituaries today. “I know this,” wrote Bird Jr. “Worcester and Central Mass deserve great journalism and people like the amazing folks who, for even the slightest bit of time over the past 40-plus years, toiled in some capacity for Worcester Magazine.”
Lyford was a little more morose. “I am sad that this is my final column and sadder still that there isn’t much of a state of journalism out there to look forward to,” he wrote. “There is much more I want to say here, about how limp this ending is and how it didn’t have to be, but it’s more important to me that this goodbye gets published than it is to be upset with the factors that led to this.”
Shaner perhaps put it best on Twitter. “Today Gatehouse Media laid off Worcester Magazine’s editor and arts editor. I am the only editorial staffer left, with a full paper to put out next week. Pray for me.”
Notes from the Legislature’s sports betting hearing — House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he intends to bring a bill to the floor this session. (CommonWealth)
With a deadline looming, a New Bedford charter school bill inches along on Beacon Hill. (State House News)
Attorney General Maura Healey is suing national e-cigarette retailer Eonsmoke, alleging the company targeted underage buyers and failed to verify that online buyers were 21 or older. (Boston Globe)
Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge, says Bob Mueller clearly handed off his investigation to Congress, and predicts the courts will uphold the legislative branch’s authority examine President Trump. (WBUR) Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez thought there “wasn’t a lot said” by Mueller in his first public remarks as special counsel yesterday, and he agrees with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approach of investigating Trump but not opening a formal impeachment inquiry. (WGBH) Congressman Jim McGovern, the House Rules chairman, says the Judiciary Committee should open a formal inquiry into whether impeachment is warranted. (WGBH)
Incredibly, US military personnel carried out directives set in motion by White House officials to cover with a tarp the name of decorated war hero John S. McCain on the side of the warship named in his honor — and in honor of his father and grandfather — so that President Trump wouldn’t be upset by seeing the name of his late nemesis on his recent trip to Japan. (Wall Street Journal)
The city of Lowell settled a lawsuit filed by a group of Asian-American and Latino voters who claimed the municipality’s all at-large electoral system violated the Voting Rights Act. Without admitting guilt, the city agreed to scrap the current system and replace it with one of four options. (CommonWealth) The Lowell Sun has details on the four options.
Massachusetts voters took away inmate voting rights in 2000, and now a group called Mass POWER is mobilizing to try to restore inmates’ voting franchise through a constitutional amendment that could potentially be on the ballot in 2022. (WGBH)
Rep. Seth Moulton may not hit the polling and fundraising targets needed to secure one of the 20 slots for the Democratic presidential debates scheduled for late June. (Boston Globe)
The Barnstable Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday to limit sales of flavored products to adult-only businesses — tobacco stores, smoking bars and vape shops — that allow entry only to customers age 21 or over, effective the end of June. (Cape Cod Times)
Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger says it would be very difficult for his company to film in Georgia if its new restrictive abortion law takes effect January 1. (Reuters)
For more than 50 years, Metco has stood as a hallmark effort to address racial disparities in education. But for the progressive civil rights program to keep pace with the national dialogue around race, inequality, and white supremacy, stakeholders say it’s time to reexamine and recommit to Massachusetts’ once-radical program, writes Brendan McGuirk at the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.
UMass Lowell professor Jack Schneider says charter schools are losing their luster and support nationally because the model has not delivered on the promises that accompanied its introduction to US education. (Washington Post)
Far more members of the Hampshire College board of trustees resigned in early April than previously disclosed. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Kathleen Smith, who is retiring as Brockton superintendent of schools, has the support of the Salem School Committee to be that district’s interim superintendent. (Salem News)
The Boston Teachers Union says it has reached an “agreement in principle” on a new contract with the city. (Boston Globe)
Holyoke Media, with the help of a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, intends to convert a building into a performance and production space. (MassLive)
Worcester City Councilor-at-Large Gary Rosen calls for a public hearing on the future of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority, saying the agency’s bus service is “inefficient, underutilized, taxpayer-subsidized, and possibly obsolete.” (Telegram & Gazette)
A former State Police trooper due to be sentenced next week in the department’s fraudulent overtime scandal said in a letter to the federal judge in the case that nearly every member of his former troop engaged in similar behavior, but only a few “were singled out for federal prosecution.” (Boston Globe)
At a meeting in Dorchester, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins defended her plan to curtail prosecution of low-level offenses, but she might reconsider her lenient approach to trespassing after complaints from residents of Hailey Apartments in Jamaica Plain about non-residents making a nuisance. (WBUR)
The driver of a pickup truck yelled anti-Semitic insults and threw a penny at Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman while he was walking in Peabody on Saturday. The town plans a unity and inclusion rally on Wednesday. (Salem News)
Quincy lawyer Michael Moscaritolo, who was convicted on charges stemming from a violent robbery in 2015 that left a Marshfield man dead, will not be sentenced until after he is retried on a murder charge. (Patriot Ledger)MEDIA
In the wake of Charlie Kravetz’s abrupt departure as general manager of WBUR, the station’s largely advisory board negotiates new oversight powers with station owner Boston University. The key change gives an executive committee of the board the power to hire and fire the general manager. (WBUR)