Here's Houston Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen's memo to the staff about Black Tuesday:
FROM: Jeff Cohen
RE: Newsroom Reduction
The Chronicle employment cutback that Jack Sweeney has communicated to us began this morning. Each department in the newsroom is affected in one way or another.
This is a sad day. A newsroom is like family and saying good-bye to so many good journalists is painful. Along with you, they have built the Chronicle into one of the strongest regional newspapers and Web sites in the country.
The Chronicle is providing severance packages and the Human Resources department is offering as much guidance and outplacement help as possible.
These cuts are part of broader expense reductions necessary for us to remain competitive as we work through difficult times for both the national economy and the newspaper industry.
With the job eliminations, we are making a number of alterations to the way we cover the city and produce the newspaper and Web site:
-- Beginning Monday, the News, Business, Sports, Features and Opinion copy desks are merging into one production desk that will handle all of our daily, weekly, niche and special sections.
-- The Business and News assigning desks are merging into six reporting teams.
-- We'll combine many beats, reduce our daily photos and graphics assignments and we will make adjustments to the way we produce chron.com.
Editors and department managers will give you more detail at staff meetings this afternoon or tomorrow. We also will continue to communicate with various memos about a restructuring of the organization, assignment process and work flows of the newsroom.
Making so many changes at once is a challenge. Please be flexible and do whatever you can to help those around you. If you see a better way to do something, let me know.
One thing will not change: our mission as journalists to inform, educate and entertain the readers of our newspaper and Web site and to hold government and other powerful institutions accountable. We will continue our long-term strategy of focusing on:
-- Aggressive watchdog reporting;
-- Daily enterprise that readers cannot get anywhere else;
-- Being first to market with breaking news coverage online;
-- Explaining Houston's diverse communities;
-- Dominating coverage of the Houston's master narratives;
-- Community Web site development and the harvesting of as many components of Web 2.0 as possible.
We'll continue to do that with a remaining staff of talented journalists that numbers well more than all of our major local competitors combined. What's most important is our large and loyal audience of more than 1.3 million readers and users of our Web site daily (and 1.7 million on Sunday) who depend on us to help make their lives better. Many of them are facing the same hardships that we are going through now. Remember that they are who we work for.
In closing, I want to return to those leaving today and offer them thanks for their service and best wishes for the future.
And here are some more names:
(We're sticking with bylines that people will know for the most part.)
Bill Hensel, the Continental beat reporter
Marc Carreau, NASA reporter
Clay Robison, Austin bureau
Steve Jetton, a longtime editor (Apologies, mea maxima culpa, but at least he still has a job.)
Michael Murphy, UH athletics beat writer
MK Bower, Rice athletics beat writer
Brad Hem, technology reporter
Lynn Cook, oil reporter
Other names to come, unfortunately.
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