Going through 'The Changes'

Without referencing any of the near four dozen jobs eliminated a couple weeks ago 17 from the newsroom, including three photographers and three reporters Ventura County Star Editor Joe Howry wrote a column published in Sunday's edition that highlights how much better the suburban LA paper's local coverage is about to get.

Howry says "the changes we are making center on preserving the quality and quantity of local news." He says "the changes we've made are substantial, but they don't include fewer news reporters covering local news or a decline in our overall news coverage." He says he's "confident our local news coverage will increase as a result of the changes." (All the bold was added for emphasis by yours truly.)

Here's the gist:

"We understand how unsettling changes to the newspaper can be. To help readers navigate the changes, Monday's paper will provide a visual, comprehensive guide to how The Star has been reorganized.

The Star is evolving. We have become more streamlined and, in many ways, much more efficient. The one thing that has not changed through the evolutionary process is our DNA. We will continue to be the most complete and comprehensive source of local news in Ventura County."

There's even a John Lennon lyric quoted in the piece, though perhaps those who lost their jobs might consider a David Bowie lyric more apropos, something from "Changes," because "... They're quite aware of what they're going through."

Anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows how heavily corporate budget cuts and staff reductions weigh on the editors who must impose them. No one in this business wants to see anyone lose their job, particularly in an industry where people put so much effort into their work. I don't doubt for a second that Howry, for whom I used to write, hates like hell that it's come to this. Those who remain in any newspaper's employ after such a devastating layoff must soldier on, not just because their own futures depend upon it, but out of an obligation to the readers they serve. At the same time, however, those who've been let go as part of "changes" intended to strengthen the company's financial position deserve to at least be acknowledged, don't they? After all, everyone leaves eventually, and who wouldn't want to be well-remembered?

See related Native Intelligence post here.

* UPDATE: Romenesko has a post about Ventura County Star cartoonist Steve Greenberg, who was among those laid off.

TJ Sullivan

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