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ProJo buyout falls short of goal; Questions remain


Twenty-two Providence Journal employees -- 12 in news and 10 in advertising -- have taken the company up on its latest buyout, leaving unanswered for now the question of whether the newspaper will resort to layoffs to reach its target of eliminating at least 35 jobs.

As reported here yesterday, two of the big names who are leaving early next month are political reporter Scott MacKay, a 24-year veteran, and the versatile Mark Arsenault, a 10-year scribe. Since Arsenault has covered politics at times, these departures, coupled with that of political columnist M. Charles Bakst, represent a serious loss for the ProJo's traditionally strong political coverage.

Each of these reporters has imbued the Journal with some of the texture of Rhode Island, of its politics and its quirks, its charms and its flaws.

In terms of how the post-buyout Journal will structure its political coverage, including the question of whether it will fill Bakst's position, "Everyone has questions, but we don't have the answers yet," says Providence Newspaper Guild administrator Tim Schick.

I'll post an update if acting editor Tom Heslin and publisher Howard Sutton choose to speak with me about the buyout.

According to a newgroup e-mail circulated among Guild members,

The Guild expects to hear from the company by the end of next week on whether additional staff cuts are necessary. If they are, the Guild and the company will need to discuss how additional reduction will occur.

Below is the list of job titles where the company has offered buyouts.  The first number preceding the title is the number of people who have applied for the buyout in that classification. The second number is the maximum positions the company is willing to cut for that job title.


1  -  3 Advertising Sales Representatives (print & on-line)

0  -  1 Assistant Telephone Room Manager

5  -  5 Inside telephone Sales

0  -  2 Sales Assistants

2  -  2 Advertising Promotion Specialists

0  -  1 Promotion Assistant

1  -  2 Secretaries

1  -  1 Publications Clerk 


2  -  5 Section Editors

0  -  4 Copy Editors

2  -  5 Columnist/Special Writers

4  -  4 Reporters (print & on-line)

0  -  2 Artists

0  -  2 Photo Editor/Designers

0  -  4 Photographers

0  -  1 Visual Technician

2  -  3 Departmental Assistants

1  -  2 Library Assistants

0  -  2 State Staff Office Assistants

1  -  3 Editorial Assistants

  • Rob said:

    What about Patinkin?? Have not seen anything from him since August 3...

    August 21, 2008 12:42 PM
  • Ian Donnis said:

    To the best of my knowledge, he's not among those taking the buyout.

    August 21, 2008 1:00 PM
  • Anne said:

    Is Peter Lord staying?

    Also, what's the deal with this new R.I. Business Quarterly thing they're partnering with the Chamber of Commerce on?

    August 21, 2008 3:00 PM
  • Joe Ouellette said:

    I can't say that I'm all that dissapointed Charlie Bakst is leaving. The column he did on Cicillines' brothers "going to jail" party wasn't all that good.

    August 21, 2008 3:26 PM
  • Ian Donnis said:

    Anne, I'm told that no other "big names" among the news staff beyond those I've already identified are leaving.

    Joe, judging a columnist based on one column? C'mon. Charlie has a wealth of political knowledge. And regardless of whether one agrees with his viewpoint, his public-minded coverage has been an important part of the ProJo.

    August 21, 2008 3:48 PM
  • rhody said:

      I hope Charlie reads the above comment. God knows, the man could use a good laugh.

    August 22, 2008 1:07 AM
  • Joe Ouellette said:

    In some industries, you're only as good as your last performance. That was the last thing I read.  

    Bakst always presents Cicilline as this honest, reform minded elected official. When in reality, Cicilline's just as bad as Corrente or anyone else of that stature.

    For example, from time to time, a city will bring in a consultant to assess and reccommend staffing levels in the fire department. All cities follow the reccomendations because they do not want to jeopardize public and worker safety. Keep in mind, firefighting is a pretty dangerous job (walking into burning buildings and all).

    All cities go through a Board of Contracts to requisition such a report. In 1997 Paolino went through the Board and that report was made available to the city council and the public. In 2005, Cicilline went around the Board of Contracts by using the City attorney to requisition the report. Why? He did this to conceal it, to keep it away from the public.

    A changing of the guard is in order

    August 22, 2008 8:02 AM
  • Ian Donnis said:

    Note: the comment to which Rhody referred was deleted for offensive content.

    Joe, I think Bakst's writing about Cicilline has been more multi-faceted than you suggest.

    August 22, 2008 9:48 AM
  • Joe Ouellette said:

    Ian: Yes, you may be right. And I can't say I've read all of his stuff.

    Exactly how has Charlie been critical of Cicilline?

    August 22, 2008 10:25 AM
  • Ian Donnis said:

    He panned Cicilline's post-snowstorm news conference performance.

    He was critical of Cicilline having gone to the time for his brother.

    August 22, 2008 10:52 AM
  • Come mourn the death of journalism | Providence Daily Dose said:

    Pingback from  Come mourn the death of journalism | Providence Daily Dose

    September 11, 2008 1:51 PM

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