The Ledger Continues Reducing Its News Staff

The Ledger pressroomThe Ledger continues reducing the size of its news operation, laying off five newsroom employees, including two of the three top editors, according to multiple sources; they said the move was a part of nationwide newsroom layoffs from parent company GateHouse Media.

Those laid off today were:

  • Allison Guinn, 35, the assistant managing editor who oversaw local news and features coverage. Guinn previously covered Lakeland city government.
  • Andy Kuppers, 46, the assistant managing editor who oversaw sports, business and production. Previously sports editor and news editor, he has spent most of his career at The Ledger.
  • Scott Wheeler, 54, a photographer who joined the staff when he graduated from the University of Florida in the mid-1980s. The photo staff, which once numbered 10, is down to two.
  • Sherri Valvo, 53, a multimedia editor who has also been with the newspaper since the 1980s.
  • Erik Henriksen, 42, who compiled calendars and listings. He worked at the Winter Haven News Chief before it was acquired by The Ledger in 2008 and has been a Ledger employee since then.

With absence of both assistant managing editors leaves just The Ledger’s executive editor to oversee the newsroom, the Poynter media training organization noted in its report about the GateHouse layoffs.

Ledger Publisher Brian Burns declined to comment, referring all questions to Lori Catron, a GateHouse vice president in Daytona Beach. She has not responded to questions posed by email.

The layoffs leave The Ledger newsroom staff at 16, compared with a high of 99 employees in 1999.

A GateHouse employee told the Business Insider the layoffs could affect up to 200 news employees nationwide. GateHouse CEO Mike Reed initially denied the 200 figure but later told Poynter that the number was “a couple of hundred.”

He downplayed the layoffs, saying the cuts are “immaterial” compared with the company’s workforce of 11,000, prompting an angry tweet from Tessa Duval, an investigative reporter in Louisville:

The Daytona Beach News-Journal lost six newsroom employees today, a reporter tweeted:

“We have layoffs and new hires that you would expect with a company of 11,000 employees,” GateHouse CEO Reed told the Business Insider. “We’re trying to reallocate expenses and resources from non-sales and non-content producing places and put those resources and expenses into producing more content and more sales, which would put us in a better position for long term success.”

Indeed at The Ledger, no reporters were affected by this round of layoffs, although entertainment writer Paul Catala’s position was eliminated in February.

The Ledger has steadily downsized the newsroom as the print advertising model faltered at newspapers nationwide.

The first layoffs came before The New York Times Co. sold The Ledger in 2012. Subsequent layoffs included 11 in March 2015, two in April 2016 and four in July 2016.

GateHouse owns 156 daily newspapers, 364 community publications, and more than 555 local websites in 39 US states. It has grown rapidly in the past decade while cutting costs through downsizing and centralizing of operations, such as the editing center in Austin, Texas, that assembles pages for The Ledger and provides some copy editing.

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