At Least Three ProJo Staffers Sign Up For Latest Buyout

Apr 20, 2017

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. Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill says another staffer subscribing to the buyout, a reporter, asked to not be identified.

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.