The Sacramento Bee imposed its latest round of layoffs and company buyouts on Tuesday, targeting 15 editorial staffers and eight working on the production and copy desk.
The move follows several rounds of reorganization by the Bee and its parent company McClatchy, as local and regional newspapers across the country cope with losses to circulation and revenue.
Ed Fletcher, Bee reporter and labor representative, was among those dismissed. Others who lost their jobs include sports columnist Ailene Voisin, cannabis reporter Brad Branan and digital producer Kalin Kipling, who each posted the news on social media, plus business reporters Mark Glover and Hudson Sangree, according to Talking Biz News.
“It’s not an isolated incident,” Fletcher said in an interview. “Newspapers and news outlets are hurting across the country as they try to adjust to a changing business model. If people think they will continue to get the news for free, they have another thing coming.”
In an internal letter to Bee employees, Lauren Gustus, McClatchy’s new Regional Editor for California, told her colleagues that the layoffs were part of a company restructuring effort that seeks to foster greater collaboration between editorial staffers at different company papers.
Multiple new team members will be hired “with specific expertise to fill critical roles. We will also be saying goodbye to several valued colleagues,” the letter stated.
“Our future requires us to adapt and innovate, and we will continue to change as we forge a path forward,” Gustus wrote.
She added that the layoffs will be effective in early May.
The letter was provided to Comstock’s by Jeanne Segal, a spokeswoman for McClatchy. Segal said the restructuring sought to break down barriers among reporters and other staffers across McClatchy’s West Region, which includes newsrooms in Washington State, California and Idaho. Some coverage may take a more regional focus, Segal said, but only if it better serves local readers.
“The Sacramento Bee will remain a strong local paper because we have to be essential to our communities,” Segal said.
Gustus replaced Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar in January with the new title of regional editor overseeing all five of McClatchy’s California newspapers. Nearly one year ago, in May 2017, the Bee enacted a round of reductions to its local news, arts and sports coverage.
In its latest earnings report, McClatchy posted a net loss of $331 million for the 2017 calendar year despite record growth in digital-only subscribers in the fourth quarter. (The company’s adjusted net loss is actually down in 2017 compared to 2016, due to complex tax activity that when deducted resulted in a loss of just over $20 million, compared to just under $35 million the previous year.)
Four of the 15 newsroom layoffs announced on Tuesday were buyouts, Fletcher said. The Bee is required to notify its union, the Pacific Media Workers Guild, one month prior to layoffs taking effect.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include McClatchy’s adjusted net loss for both 2016 and 2017.