providence journal

Welcome back to my Friday column. (Sorry to miss you last week; there was a little snow, as you might have heard.) Your thoughts and email are welcome, as always, at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

The Providence Journal is losing its excellent education reporter, Jennifer Jordan, who's leaving for a job at an education and economic mobility advocacy group.

Jordan writes in an email to friends and colleagues that she will be a senior writer at Opportunity Nation, a Boston-based coalition of non-profits. The organization's website describes its focus as expanding opportunities for residents of low-income neighborhoods, and fighting the "zip code is destiny" mentality.

Movie looks at wind turbine controversy

Jan 25, 2013

A documentary looking at the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project opens Friday at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence. The movie "Cape Spin" focuses on the battle to construct 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. A visiting professor at the Brown Center Environmental Studies, Dawn King, says the movie focuses on the fight between wind supporters and those who really don’t want turbines in their backyard.

Ian Donnis

Connie Grosch, the highly respected photojournalist who was laid off in November as part of broader cost-cutting at the Providence Journal, has been hired as the press secretary for Congressman David Cicilline.

"I couldn't be more thrilled," says Grosch, who is slated to start in the new role on January 22.

We’re offering a slight break from TGIF’s usual format this week with a look back at how 12 of the big questions of Rhode Island politics played out in 2012. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the blog or by email: idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

Question 1. Will Governor Lincoln Chafee offer a more coherent message that helps lift his slumping approval rating?

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.’ “

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