Whether by accident or by design, there was little evident fallout of the latest Providence Journal buyout in the days after 22 employees — including 12 on the news side — ended their time at the ProJo on Friday, September 12.
Rhode Island’s newspaper of record looked basically like its recent self, with a higher-than-usual number of local bylines than might be expected following the departure of such news stalwarts as Scott MacKay, M. Charles Bakst, and Mark Arsenault.
Then again, Bakst’s farewell column ran in the Sunday paper right after his departure, so his absence and that of his fellow former colleagues will be a lot more conspicuous in the time to come. Arsenault, too, published a story after his exit.
Tim Schick, administrator of the Providence Newspaper Guild, says he has not heard any indication of whether Journal management intends to fill Bakst’s high-profile position. There was no new word, either, on how the Journal will proceed with layouts necessitated, the company says, by how the buyout fell short of its goal.
Meanwhile, GP Plastics Corporation, a manufacturer of plastic bags for the newspaper industry has announced that the Dallas Morning News, the flagship newspaper of the ProJo’s parent Belo Corporation, will become “the first newspaper in Texas to utilize oxo-biodegradable bags, a leading-edge alternative to conventional plastic bags.”
The Phoenix recently reported on how the Journal, despite having editorialized against the use of plastic bags, remains a significant user of them in Rhode Island (see “The ProJo opposes plastic bag use — but it uses plastic bags,” News, This Just In, August 20.)
A GP Plastics’ press release quoted John Walsh, senior vice president of circulation for the Morning News in saying, “Our subscribers and advertisers will not see any change in the quality of the newspaper bags, but there will be a positive difference for the environment. This is just one example of the way the Dallas Morning News is a responsible, proactive member of the community.”
Reducing the environmental impact of the newspaper industry is all well and good, of course. Yet finding a way to maintain the vitality of what goes into all those plastic bags is pretty important, too.