providence journal

David Scharfenberg has a timely Providence Phoenix story on steps to make the Providence Journal more competitive as it — like other newspapers — wrestles with a soft ad market and an inexorable decline in print readership.

Three of the Providence Journal’s best photographers — Connie Grosch, John Freidah and Ruben W. Perez — are among the layoffs at the ProJo, RIPR has learned.

The newspaper says 23 people have lost their jobs.

Grosch is well known for her coverage of the Statehouse. She’s been a mainstay of the Smith Hill media for many years, offering insight into the human quality of politics through her photography.

The Providence Journal reports that it has eliminated 23 jobs, including 16 Providence Newspaper Guild positions, following up on plans to cut spending at the statewide daily by $1.2 million.

The cutback represents 5 percent of The Journal’s work force. The reductions come about two months after 11 employees accepted a voluntary separation offer. 

The once firmly Republican editorial page of the Providence Journal is going in a different direction after backing a string of Democratic candidates, throwing its support to Brendan Doherty in the down-to-the-wire race with David Cicilline.

Doherty’s campaign, via a news release, offers this commentary:

Providence Journal managers have closed the door on cost-saving talks with the Providence Newspaper Guild and plan to move ahead with layoffs in the first week of November, according to Guild president John Hill.

Hill says a ”very bad” October revenue report made management unwilling to offer a guarantee of no layoffs in 2013. Management plans to eliminate enough positions to cut spending by $1.2 million.

Providence Journal management and the Providence Newspaper Guild are expected to conclude talks aimed at averting layoffs by the end of the month, although the outlook remains unclear, says Guild president John Hill.

After a series of buyouts extending to the time before the Dallas-based Belo Corporation bought the Providence Jounal in 1997, layoffs remain possible as the newspaper looks to cut $1.2 million in expenses.

The targeted figure for cuts — the rough equivalent of 16 employees in advertising, circulation, and the newsroom — was identified in a Facebook post by reporter Linda Borg.

The Providence Newspaper Guild sent a letter to Providence Journal management, suggesting the two sides work together to find savings that could preclude layoffs at the statwide daily.

According to a letter distributed today to members of the Guild, the largest union at the ProJo: 

The company said it was interested in the idea, but wouldn’t be able to respond with specifics until after the first week of October.

Providence city government and the Providence Journal have reached an agreement on the ProJo’s tax assessment lawsuits that will lower the newspaper’s property tax liability on its properties in Providence by about $2.5 million.

Under terms of the deal approved by Superior Court Judge Patricia Hurst, the Journal will get a tax credit of $625,000 in 2012, $833,333 in 2013 and about $1 million in 2014.

The settlement was filed in court last Friday before a trial on the issue, which was scheduled to begin today.

As the Providence Journal continues to wrestle with the challenges facing old-line media, reporters at the statewide daily are being encouraged to increase their use of social media.

A recently issued five-page set of social media guidelines “demonstrates a lot of faith in the professionalism of the people who work here,” says reporter John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild. ”Basically, the policy is, ‘don’t be a jerk.’ “

The Providence Journal, the state’s largest newspaper and the local arm of the Texas-based Belo Corporation,  has long called in editorials for non-profit institutions in the capital city to pay more to support city government. This has led the newspaper to support Mayor Angel Taveras’ efforts to get more payments-in-lieu of taxes from Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Women& Infants Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital.