Newspapers are in such trouble, they even fire editorial executives of color

Dean Baquet was “perp walked” out the door of the LA Times a few weeks ago. He enjoyed only about one year as executive editor and VP. When asked what’s next for him, he said “I’d rather not speculate on the future.”

Roland Martin the African-American executive editor of the Chicago Defender, lasted a bit longer, two-plus years as executive editor.

“I don’t have a job lined up … but I am definitely staying in Chicago,” said Mr. Martin.

Martin, you may remember defended paying his reporters $25,000 a year because “they are on a mission and have to know what it’s like to struggle.”

Mr. Martin may have a future at Gannett.

The journalists laid off in the newsroom of the San Jose Mercury News last week include the immediate past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Veronica Villafañe.

The 2007 NAHJ convention is to be held in San Jose, and Villafane, who remains an ex-officio member of the NAHJ board, is convention co-chair. That will be a bit uncomfortable for the Hispanic group, not so for most of the editors that have to pull 12-hour days hunched over their computers, while they meet and greet among their elite group.

Like other employees, Villafañe, an anchor and reporter for the Mercury News “convergence” arrangement with the local NBC affiliate, said she was told to wait by the phone to see if she was one of those who would be called and told they were on the layoff list.

The layoffs were immediate. Voicemail messages told callers that these employees no longer worked there, and e-mail messages to their Mercury News accounts bounced back.

“I’m really surprised and very disappointed that a newspaper that used to be of such quality has sunk to this level,” Villafañe told Journal-isms. “They needlessly terrorized everybody. Nobody knew who was going to get the ax. Is this really a good working atmosphere? My thoughts are with the people who were left behind.”

Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, lost his job earlier this year when his company, Knight Ridder, where he was assistant vice president/news, went out of business.

Esther Wu, president of the Asian American Journalists Association and columnist with the Dallas Morning News, was one of those who took a voluntary buyout at.

Ownership is a large factor in determining a newspaper’s newsroom diversity. Gannett continues to be the leader, measured by a Newsroom Diversity Index that compares the share of jobs held by journalists of color with the nonwhite share of the population in the newspaper’s circulation area. Gannett’s index is 89 (100 equals parity with the circulation area).

Among the larger newspaper groups, the average index of all their newspapers (weighted by circulation) is:

Rank, Newspaper Company,
Average Newsroom Diversity Index (100= parity)

Gannett Co. (Va.): 89
McClatchy Co. (Calif.) 71
New York Times Co. (N.Y.) 69
Cox Enterprises (Ga.) 66
Advance (Newhouse) (N.Y.) 63
Freedom Communications (Calif.) 59
Pulitzer (Mo.) 59
Scripps (Ohio) 56
Tribune Co. (Ill.) 55
Dow Jones (N.Y.) 52

3 thoughts on “Newspapers are in such trouble, they even fire editorial executives of color

  1. I don’t remember ever seeing this in my daily newspaper. Although, I haven’t been reading it except online for the past two years.

  2. Well, this blog is pretty stupid. One, Martin wasn’t fired; he decided to leave, which caught his employers by surprise.

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