Nine staffers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are accepting severance packages from the newspaper, effectively saving the jobs of four employees who would have been laid off.
That’s the word from The Riverfront Times, an alt-weekly in St. Louis, which last evening reported that the employees leaving the paper include popular columnist Bill McClellan, five reporters, two editors and a paginator. Among the reporters leaving is Virginia Young, a longtime statehouse reporter who recently broke a controversial story that named a woman who asked police to investigate whether she’d been sexually assaulted.
The resignations came at the end of a months-long negotiation process, according to a statement from the United Media Guild, a union representing the Post-Dispatch newsroom employees. Earlier in the year, managers at the newspaper vacillated about whether they would lay off employees or offer long-term employees buyouts. After some back-and-forth, the newspaper first announced it was laying off four employees, but ultimately agreed to take nine volunteers and grant them severance.
McClellan will continue to write one column per week, according to the United Media Guild.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is owned by Lee Enterprises, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after an unsuccessful debt renegotiation. The next month, a judge approved a bankruptcy exit plan for the company, which owns 47 other dailies. Earlier this year, the newspaper chain announced it was paying off a portion of its debt early, a move attributed by CEO Mary Junck to “strong performance and cash flows.”
The Post-Dispatch won the Pulitzer Prize this year for breaking news photography.