The 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:

Today we lost six of our dedicated staff members at the @dbnewsjournal to layoffs. My heart is broken for all of them. This is a sad day for @GateHouse_Media newspapers everywhere.

— Nikki Ross (@NikkiInRealLife) May 23, 2019

“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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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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  1. Each of those laid off today is uniquely talented. Their loss will be tough on the few remaining journalists at The Ledger. Another sad and regret able day. Marilyn Meyer, former Ledger staffer

  2. A few dedicated reporters remain from a once proud newspaper. Gatehouse has laid waste to great papers across the nation — none more so than here. Yet they won’t comment. Funny, I never had that luxury. Why couldn’t they start with Bill Thomspon?

    Thank you Barry Friedman for exposing the hypocrisy.

  3. I was wondering why The Ledger was getting sorrier by the day. Now I know, due to the lay offs. I was sent a survey last year wanting my opinion of The Ledger. One of the questions was, did I think The Ledger cared about the community? My answer was No. The Ledger writes a couple of local articles, then fills the rest of the paper with ads. Time to cancel subscription.

  4. Here in Lakeland/Polk County we should explore the establishment of a Not-for-Profit Corporation to acquire The Ledger from Gatehouse and restore it to its status as a quality local paper, owned by local investors and businesses. The Ledger has shown its own ineffectiveness in the past week by not announcing the newsroom layoffs and by not reporting on the sale of Allen & Company, just to name 2 stories in one week that deserve coverage. The remaining staff (for example, Tom Palmer) continue to try to produce some quality material but the examples are far too few and infrequent.

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