September 29, 2022

Good morning, everyone. Tom Jones is on vacation, but the team at Poynter is keeping tabs on the latest media news and analysis. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today.

Mark Pickering, formerly a journalist at the Boston Herald, recently went looking for his old company’s offices. With some shoe leather sleuthing, he found them — on the fourth floor of an office building in suburban Braintree. Some outsize photos and a relief of the paper’s familiar newsboy logo were mounted in the hall.

But midday, midweek, no one was there.

The Herald is among the ranks of still-publishing newspapers and their sites that no longer have an office for reporters and editors. A partial list: Miami Herald; New York Daily News; Orlando (Florida) Sentinel; The Hartford (Connecticut) Courant; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

The Miami Herald is a McClatchy outlet, but the latter five are part of Tribune Publishing, acquired by Alden Global Capital for $631 million in a June 2021 auction. Disposing of real estate is a big part of the hedge fund’s cost-cutting playbook.

Alden exerted financial pressure on Tribune for 18 months before the sale. Most of the moves to abandon office space took place at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when coming to work was considered a health hazard. With the rental expense off the books, return or relocation has gotten deferred indefinitely.

The Capital Gazette is a different case. Its newsroom closed after a gunman burst in and killed five staff members in June 2018. New offices were opened but closed again in 2020.

The lack of a physical office is not an insurmountable barrier to getting a daily news report together. But editors and reporters will say something important goes missing when there is no face-to-face interaction. Plus, community members are cut off from the newsgathering workforce.

Pickering wrote about his hunt for the Boston Herald newsroom for The Contrarian, a Substack newsletter (scroll to the second item). He told Poynter that for a follow-up, he will try to track down another outlet in Alden’s MediaNews Group chain: The Lowell Sun.

Images of Ian

In case you haven’t been tethered to The Weather Channel all day like some of us, you can still find stunning photos from across Florida from before and during Hurricane Ian’s collision with the Sunshine State.

The Tampa Bay Times, which Poynter owns, has a collection from across the Gulf Coast. So does The Washington Post, which shows images from Tampa, Fort Myers and Charlotte Harbor. USA Today, which owns several local newspapers along the Gulf Coast, also included a collection of images from around the state.

And check out this video of the “reverse storm surge” in Tampa, from WTSP, and an explainer of why it happens from The New York Times.

Layoffs hit CNN

On Tuesday, several news organizations reported a small number of layoffs at CNN’s editorial and sales teams. The New York Post reported the layoffs hit CNN’s podcasting team. Poynter’s Tom Jones has reported on a series of shakeups at the network since Chris Licht took over as CEO of CNN. Those shakeups include the cancellation of Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” show and big changes in daytime and prime-time programming.

New York Times reporters lobby editors to get involved with contract negotiations

As contract negotiations between The New York Times and its union drag on, workers there are lobbying senior leaders to get more involved, Vanity Fair reported Tuesday.

New York Times journalists, who are represented by the NewsGuild, have been without a contract since March 2021. In recent weeks, workers have grown increasingly vocal about their frustrations with the company as the two sides clash over issues ranging from return to office policies to racial disparities in performance evaluations.

Stagnant wages remains one of the biggest sources of contention, especially since workers have not received a contractual raise in more than two years. (A Times spokesperson told Vanity Fair that the company has doled out millions in bonuses and noncontractual raises). Meanwhile, The New York Times is thriving and has made several high-profile acquisitions this year, paying $550 million for The Athletic and a seven-figure sum for Wordle.

This has led to Times journalists appealing directly to their editors, asking them to intervene. Employees wrote an open letter to business section editor Ellen Pollock and sent hundreds of emails to executive editor Joe Kahn, CEO Meredith Kopit Levien, publisher A.G. Sulzberger and opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury, according to Vanity Fair. Kahn reportedly told National desk members at a meeting last week that he found the protracted contract negotiations concerning.

New York Magazine reported earlier this month that a strike could be imminent, but two reporters told Vanity Fair that the union has not started organizing for one yet. In recent years, NewsGuild shops have threatened strikes and work stoppages with increasing frequency to propel contract negotiations. Last month, 300 Reuters journalists held a 24-hour strike to protest stalled negotiations.

Colorado Springs alt-weekly goes nonprofit

The Colorado Springs Indy will become a nonprofit, publisher and executive editor Amy Gillentine announced Wednesday. The 30-year-old alt-weekly, along with sister papers Colorado Springs Business Journal and Southeast Express, will be a part of public charity Sixty35 Media.

A new site will launch next month with coverage from all three publications, and the paper will start a membership program and drive in November. Indy founder and owner John Weiss will step down.

“We’ll also be able to seek grants from foundations that support the local community — because the study results are clear: Cities without robust media are cities where costs to taxpayers rise, and residents are less engaged,” Gillentine wrote.

At a time when many outlets are struggling to stay afloat, more and more are considering the nonprofit model. The Chicago Reader, a 50-year-old alt-weekly, converted to nonprofit status earlier this year (after a lengthy battle with one of its former owners), and New Jersey Hills Media Group, the largest group of weeklies in the state, made the transition last year.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts retiring

Nationally syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts is retiring after more than 30 years, the newspaper reported this week. “There’s a certain sense of emotional investment that goes into writing a column,” Pitts said. “And I’m emotionally exhausted.”

Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts knew from an early age that he wanted to write. He has worked as a columnist, a college professor, radio producer and a lecturer, according to his website.

Pitts, who will be 65 in October, was a music critic before becoming a columnist. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2004.

“Among Pitts’ nationally famous columns was his fiery response to 9/11 (‘Did you want to tear us apart?’ he demanded of the terrorists. ‘You just brought us together.’),” wrote colleague Connie Ogle. “He wrote about the 50th anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. White poverty and the devastating effects of opioids. Neo-Nazis vomiting hatred in Charlottesville. He drew fans and critics from across the political spectrum and never let those he saw as a threat to democracy off easy.”

Monica Richardson, executive editor of the Miami Herald, said Pitts “has dealt with race and politics and culture with an authoritative voice without apology. … He says what people are thinking and can’t find the words to say.”

In a 2019 interview with American University School of Communication, where he was teaching an opinion writing course, Pitts was asked, “Why writing?” “That’s an easy question. Why not writing?” he said. “There’s an expression, ‘Writing is not fun, but having written is.’ And that’s one of the truest things ever said. For me, it’s the most fun that you can have.”

Pitts’ final column will run Dec. 14 and afterward, according to the Herald, he plans to write fiction.

Media tidbits

  • Veteran news anchor Katie Couric announced on her website that she underwent breast cancer treatment after receiving a diagnosis in June. “Please get your annual mammogram,” she said. “I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer. But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening.”
  • The International Women’s Media Foundation has published a practical safety guide for global newsrooms to better protect journalists from online violence. According to a release, the guide funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies builds on years of feedback from newsrooms and journalists in a step-by-step process that “helps newsrooms to raise awareness, secure accounts, develop policies and issue statements of support on behalf of journalists.” You can read the 46-page report here.
  • Spectrum News NY1 meteorologist Erick Adame was fired after the station learned that Adame had been performing for an adult site. “The person who sent the pictures appeared to be determined to shame or harm Mr. Adame,” The New York Times’ Liam Stack wrote. “But in the wake of his firing, which he made public in a post on Instagram, a wave of support for him emerged online.”

Today’s Poynter Report was written by Amaris Castillo, Rick Edmonds, Angela Fu, Kristen Hare and Ren LaForme.

Have feedback or a tip? Email us at

Clarification: This story has been updated to include the Orlando Sentinel in its list of newspapers without physical offices. 

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