Local ownership was supposed to save newspapers from the ruthless profit expectations of the big chains. Wishful thinking: the new private owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a group of local businessmen headed by Brian Tierney, first engaged in hard-ball negotiations with the newspaper union. Now the owners have dropped the ax on about 70 editorial employees. This means that, after the cuts, the Inquirer will have 400 newsroom staff--down from its 80s and 90s staff of 500 +, with 15 foreign bureaus.
The New York Times reports that the paper's gambling beat reporter is one of the victims--even as gambling becomes one of the top state issues. This excerpt from the Times story is revealing (and helps to explain the Call's own meager reporting on the slots license aftermath):
Among those who received calls last night and was told he was losing his job was Jeff Shields, a reporter who covers gambling, a young and growing industry in Pennsylvania.
“These last two weeks, knowing this was coming, have really been Kafkaesque,” said Mr. Shields, 41, who has been at the paper for almost four years. He said he hoped to parlay his knowledge of the gambling industry into a job at a paying Web site or doing research.
A subject he would like to write about is the effect of casinos on their hometowns — “the kind of story you might pitch to an editor but in this day and age would never get approved,” he said, alluding to declining ambitions at many daily newspapers.
His editor, Eugene Kiely, 47, who made the call to Mr. Shields, is also leaving The Inquirer, although voluntarily, and will take a job at USA Today. He said he wanted to continue his newspaper career at a place he thought would be “stable.”