Twelve Providence Journal employees -- four in the news department and eight in advertising -- have agreed to take the company's latest buyout. The Providence Newspaper Guild expects the newspaper to move ahead with layoffs, since it hoped to eliminate about 30 positions.
The Guild members taking the buyout include Tracy Breton -- a longtime member of the paper's former investigative team, who has focused on covering legal issues in recent years -- religion reporter Richard Dujardin, op-ed contributor Froma Harrop, a member of the Journal's editorial board, and sportswriter Mike Szostak.
Breton, Dujardin and Szostak have been mainstays of the ProJo for decades.
Breton covered the courts and legal affairs beat at the paper since 1974, and was the first female court reporter at the Journal to cover every big trial over the last 40 years. She was part of the paper's investigative team when it won a 1994 Pulitzer for investigative reporting,
With the departure earlier this year of Mike Stanton, and now Breton, only two member of the ProJo's former investigative team, Bill Malinowski and Paul Edward Parker, will remain at the paper.
The eight ad workers who accepted the buyout include people in ad sales and ad makeup, Hill said.
Hill said the Guild expects to hear back from management on how it plans to close the gap between the number of workers taking the buyout and its target, although the precise timing is not certain.
The Journal laid off 23 people last year, in one of the paper's rounds of cost-cutting.
The ProJo, like other newspapers, has been vexed by shrinking circulation and diminished ad revenue, a trend that accelerated over the last decade or so. It has repeatedly cut staffing through buy-outs and other cuts.
Critics like former Journal reporter Dean Starkman have rapped executives with ProJo parent A.H. Belo for receiving bonuses while the RI paper continues to reduce its resources.
This post has been updated.