Five ProJo Staffers Sign Up For Latest Buyout

Apr 20, 2017

Update II: Jack Khorey, who spent close to a half-century on Fountain Street as a reporter and editor, is also taking the buyout. He has most recently served as city editor.

Update: John Kostrzewa, the Providence Journal's assistant managing editor for business, commerce and consumer issues, is taking the latest buyout offered by GateHouse Media, management, RIPR has learned.

Kostrzewa could not be reached for comment. His exit marks a setback for business coverage at the Journal.

A respected editor, Kostrzewa reported for the ProJo after joining the newspaper in 1988. He was named business editor in 1997.

A Holy Cross grad, Kostrzewa was a member of an Akron Beacon Journal team that won a 1986 Pulitzer, according to his bio.

"At the Journal, Kostrzewa was assigned in 1991 to work with a team of reporters and editors set up to report on Rhode Island’s banking crisis after the collapse of a private insurer of 45 banks and credit unions," the bio continues. "The team’s coverage won the 1991 Sevellon Brown Award for public service reporting presented by the New England Associated Press News Executive Association. In 1992, the team won first place awards presented by NEAPNEA for general news and spot news coverage.

"Kostrzewa’s special report, 'Secrets of the Tower: The Betrayal of Marquette Credit Union' was a finalist for a 1993 Penney-Missouri Journalism Award."

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At least three Providence Journal newsroom staffers have signed up for the newspaper's latest buyout, including longtime reporter Karen Lee Ziner.

As previously reported by RIPR, Deputy Executive Editor Peter Phipps is also among those signing up for the buyout. Another staffer subscribing to the buyout, a reporter, Greg Smith, who originally asked to not be identified.

Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill cautioned that these details are preliminary, following a 2 pm deadline Thursday for ProJo staffers to express interest in a buyout announced last week. He said the Guild has not received details on advertising employees who may have signed up for the buyout, and there may be additional newsroom staffers who expressed interest.

GateHouse Media-backed management has warned that layoffs could result if an unspecified target for reducing staffing isn't realized to cut costs.

Hill said the Journal is expected to reveal Friday whether it will accept the buyout offers from those who have expressed interest.

Even if that happens, he said, staffers signing up for the buyout could pull back for a short time afterward (although that has happened only once, with the late photographer Andy Dickerman, in many rounds of staff reductions on Fountain Street).

Ziner has reported at the Journal for 37 years, focusing in recent history on immigrants in Rhode Island.

"Quite simply, it's time," she said of her decision to take the buyout. "Working here has been a source of pride and privilege, and provided a family. A newsroom has its own collectively quirky soul embracing people who flourish amid delightful chaos. Grateful to have been part of that, and hope in some small way that my efforts have made a difference."

A Guild activist, Ziner was assigned as a veteran reporter to the night police beat in 2001 -- a move later deemed by a National Labor Relations Board judge to be a punitive and illegal act.

She has also won a series of awards for her reporting and is known as a skilled writer, including an Overseas Press Club of America award for a five-part series on the closing of Cambodian border camps.

This story has been updated.