The Citizen-Times cut loose some of its best, most experienced people today. Six people from the newsroom, all of whom had been with the paper for years.
Jaime McKee and her son, Lucas.
The first to go was Jaime McKee, who started at the paper in 1998, while she was still in college.
I think she grew up in that newsroom as she grew into someone who knows more about the web than anyone I know. I don’t know how they plan to maintain a quality web site without her.
I’m sure she’ll do well, either with another full-time job or as a freelance web builder. I know I’d hire her. Her husband is a teacher and we all know how hard it is to live on a teacher’s salary in North Carolina.
If you want to know more about Jaime, visit her blog at http://www.lovejaime.com/
The next to go was Rob Mikulak, a copy editor with 40 years experience in the business. He was two years away from retirement and an excellent editor. No one knew more about newsroom operations and no one had a keener eye for mistakes in copy.
Rob also happens to be my husband. We haven’t put that out in public a whole lot because we didn’t want the Tea Party to go after him the way they did me. He always said, “Someone in this house has to have a real job.”
It’s not that he thinks running a small nonprofit isn’t a real job; it just doesn’t pay a real salary yet.
Anyway, he’s been counting the days until he can retire, and the countdown just accelerated to zero. He seems relieved, but the paper will be less reliable without him.
Then there’s Jason Sandford, the popular Ashevegas blogger. Jason brags that he has been hired at the paper more times than anyone else — four. He is a native of Asheville, and he knows everyone.
Former publisher Randy Hammer considered him an asset partly because of all the people he knew and who would talk to him. That’s a pretty powerful thing in the communications business.
Jason is so even-tempered — a rarity in this business. He loved coming to work every day and he often made the days a little more bearable for those of us who were less even-tempered.
Jason will continue to work on Ashevegas. Look for him to do good things with it.
Susan Reinhardt has a huge following because of her quirky sense of humor — part Southern belle, part neurotic mother of teenagers.
We all identify with her takes of family and friends. We see ourselves in her or her Aunt Betty.
Susan also has a huge heart for people who are less fortunate, and her telling of their stories touched a lot of hearts.
She’s never been a “hard-news” writer, but her gift for story-telling earned her a huge following. She will be OK as she continues to tell her stories in books.
Thomas Fraser came to the paper six years ago from another Gannett newspaper in New Jersey. We had a number of mutual friends, since I worked at papers in Central New Jersey.
Thomas worked the worst shifts, 3 to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and he rarely complained.
I couldn’t find a photo of photographer John Fletcher, one of the most talented people I know, so I included one of the photos he took.
Fletch takes breathtakingly beautiful photos of our mountains and he captures the best of the people he shoots.
I was surprised to hear he was one of the ones let go today.
Actually, I was surprised to hear about all the decisions. These are six really talented people who have always performed well. They have been loyal, hard-working, good employees.
Without these people, there will be fewer stories on the Citizen-Times web site, fewer stories in the paper, more mistakes, less truth.
Perhaps that’s what Gannett wants. This huge corporation cares nothing for talent, for loyalty, for the value of people who work for them, or for informing people of the truth.
Newspapers used to be a better way to get information than television; they could go into depth and analyze the issues. That’s not true anymore. There are so few people in newsrooms anymore that no one has time to investigate anything, and that’s how big business wants it.
Newspapers are killing themselves. The Citizen-Times is profitable — for now; Gannett is profitable. But they continue to make decisions that leave people less informed, when information is supposed to be what they sell.
All six of these people who were canned today will lose their insurance unless they can afford COBRA. Fortunately for all of us, the Affordable Care Act takes effect in January, so my husband, who has had bypass surgery, and I, with my asthma, will be able to get health insurance.
Shame on Gannett.