July 24, 2018

The “meeting,” which lasted less than a minute, instructed staff to read a coming email. The email, written in the first person, had no name attached. In it, the media company Tronc told half of the journalists at the New York Daily News to clean out their desks and leave by the end of the day.

Gone, too: editor-in-chief Jim Rich, who had tweeted out a heads-up early Monday: “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”

The reference was to the paper’s solid efforts to hold local officials accountable, in one case fighting for years to get documents showing how the city dragged its feet on fixing its horrid and dangerous housing for hundreds of thousands of people. Earlier this month, one story prompted Donald Trump to be billed $48,000 more after a reporter asked if the president could claim a New York residential exemption if he lived in Washington.

Rich, who could not answer my email queries because of a severance agreement, did update his Twitter bio Monday to read: "Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction."

The Tronc memo gave only vague reasons for the changes at the money-losing paper, such as focusing resources on content and approaches readers find most relevant. The company bought the Daily News for a dollar (plus liabilities and debt) in September. At the time, Tronc's flagship paper, The Chicago Tribune, described the purchase as “a stunning and bold bet on the future of newspapers.”

Tronc operates newspapers in U.S. markets that include Chicago, Baltimore, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Named to replace Rich and departing managing editor Kristen Lee: Robert York, the editor and publisher of The Morning Call, a Tronc-owned newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Kevin Convey, a former Daily News editor, said the cuts will leave as few as 40 journalists to cover a city of 8.5 million people. He also questioned the effectiveness of Tronc to improve the digital efforts of the paper. Readers from Europe still got this response Monday when seeking a Daily News article:


Quick hits

PROFILED?: Is it because she’s a journalist? Her Middle East heritage? NPR correspondent Leila Fadel touched a nerve when she described a pattern that seemed too frequent to be coincidence of stops and searches and interviews by TSA and immigration authorities. Said NPR weekend host Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: “This is a person who has reported from the toughest places in the world, detained and interrogated by repressive regimes. Amazing that this would happen here.”

NEW EXECUTIVE EDITOR: The Tampa Bay Times has named Mark Katches to the top editorial position at the paper, Poynter’s Kristen Hare reports. Katches has been the senior editor of The Oregonian in Portland since 2014. He previously was an editor at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and at the Center for Investigative Reporting.

A TOWN CHIPS IN: When fire gutted a Vermont weekly, townspeople helped get out the next edition of the 165-year-old paper, The Boston Globe’s Amelia Nierenberg reports. A hand-to-hand relay saved the computers, and the library offered space for the journalists. The latest edition of The Vermont Standard, out two days late on Friday, had a two-word headline: ‘Thank You’.

PLAY TO PAY?: Candidates in Hawaii are complaining that a paper is forcing them to buy an ad if they want to be included in the voters’ guide. West Hawaii Today will publish the guide on Sunday, reports Honolulu Civil Beat.

WHOOPS: Fox and Friends thought it was getting a pro-ICE Democrat on Monday morning. It booked the wrong Democrat, and got an anti-Trump message instead, The Daily Beast reports.

THOSE NEWSPAPER TARIFFS: The tariffs raise the cost of newsprint as much as 30 to 35 percent — and could speed the death of some newspapers, Ken Doctor writes.

NEW HOST: Seven months after WNYC fired Leonard Lopate, the public radio station has hired Alison Stewart to host a new two-hour afternoon radio talk show. The Peabody-winning Stewart, who has been contributing to The Atlantic Live and to PBS Newshour, begins this fall, the station announced. Lopate, 77, whose departure followed harassment claims, has resurfaced on New York radio station WBAI. That move prompted a longtime WBAI hip-hop host to quit.

What we’re reading

CITIZEN NO MORE?: Yes, there’s a new task force to deal with fraud committed by naturalized citizens. No, there won’t be a major uptick in the 20 or so cases processed each year. In comparison, more than 700,000 people become U.S. citizens each year. “We are not out there looking for people to denaturalize,” Daniel M. Renaud, associate director for field operations at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, tells The New York Times.

EXPOSED: Georgia state representative faces calls to resign after exposing himself and yelling racial epithets on a nationwide TV show.

TODAY’S WRITING TIP: "Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." Often attributed to Mark Twain, the tip has been traced to legendary Kansas editor William Allen White.  

On Poynter.org

  • How a daily coped with a tornado. By Kristen Hare.
  • Hello El Segundo: The LA Times says goodbye to old digs, goes suburban. By Taylor Blatchford.

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A belated welcome to Poynter’s new managing editor, Barbara Allen, who edited this.

Thanks for your patience while I was on vacation. Have a great Tuesday.

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