Layoffs hit The Commercial Appeal

The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal is planning "major changes" to its print edition "and, consequently, in staffing," according to a memo that went out to employees. The Memphis Newspaper Guild says on Facebook that 13 jobs are going from its bargaining unit:

Seven in editorial. (Two photographers, four reporters, one copy editor)
Four in customer service.
Two in transportation.
In addition to those 13, four people outside the Guild bargaining unit lost jobs. That usually means managers, but we're not sure.

"The print product is being reorganized to reduce space and save on newsprint and production costs," the memo reads. Among the changes, coming Thursday:

  • It will publish only one edition, discontinuing its DeSoto, Mississippi, edition.
  • Its business report will move inside the A section, with a standalone section only on Sundays.
  • It will publish one editorial page between Mondays and Saturdays.

Scripps, which owns the paper, announced plans in July to join with Journal Communications and spin off its newspaper unit.

In an email to staffers today, Commercial Appeal Publisher George H. Cogswell III said "The senior management team and I looked long and hard at many options and did everything we could to limit the number [of] jobs to be eliminated." People who found out today was their last day got two weeks' pay and are eligible for severance packages, Cogswell wrote. His note ends:

I promise to do all in my power, and ask for your continued support, to change the trend of these last several years that [has] hit our industry and The Commercial Appeal so hard. I believe that we will!

Correction: This post originally said the memo referenced at the top of the post went out today; it went out late Sunday night.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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