At The Chron: Where You Going With Those Boxes, Boy?

It's been an excruciating five-week wait for employees of Houston's only daily newspaper who are scheduled to learn today and tomorrow if they still have jobs.

As one nervous reporter described it on Twitter a few days ago, "Out working on plans B-through-F. Anything to take mind off impending Tuesday doom."

Today, then, is Doomsday. To be followed Wednesday by Doomsday II.

Yesterday, Chronicle executives told employees the latest round of layoffs at the newspaper, first announced as a cut of "at least" 10 percent in mid February, would amount to a 12 percent cut company-wide, employees said.

Several newsroom sources said the layoffs in the editorial department would exceed that percentage.

The Chronicle hierarchy took steps yesterday to ensure no employees ripped off the Hearst Corp. by spiriting away anything that didn't belong to them. Security guards stopped anyone carrying boxes out the door and told them they would have to provide written authorization from a supervisor.

Some employees who cleaned out their filing cabinets yesterday of old story clips and other residual flotsam from their years at the newspaper in case they were fired today had to return to the fifth-floor newsroom for a permission slip.

Among those laid off is Janet Elliott, a reporter in the Austin bureau who was given an early notice of her dismissal weeks ago, employees said.

Hers was a "special case," apparently to ensure she'd still be available to cover the current session of the state legislature, a coworker said.

Elliott has continued to cover the Texas legislative session since receiving news of her dismissal.

A colleague noted she "has had a great attitude" and expressed hope she would help the newspaper cover the remainder of the legislative session before joining the unemployed.

Other employees opted for voluntary buyouts, newsroom employees said, including Assistant City Editor Burke Watson, Food and Wine Editor Lindsay Heinsen and Lowry Allen, a copy editor who wrote a blog in 2007 about coping with hearing loss and his decision to receive a cochlear implant device.

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