As an alumnus of The News & Observer, I was distressed — but not surprised — to hear that the paper would lose 70 people, including 16 in the newsroom. The N&O announcement is part of job cuts across the McClatchy chain.
The Raleigh paper has yet to say publicly which 16 people in the newsroom are among those losing their jobs. They are “known unknowns,” as someone once said. The Web staff and the news copy desk apparently survived intact, although sports lost a copy editor.
The lack of detail is puzzling. It seems imperative for a newspaper to tell its readers which journalists will no longer be providing news in the community. As my colleague Leroy Towns suggested recently, transparency is essential, especially in this day and age. Yet, judging from this story at WRAL.com, the N&O will be reluctant to explain who is being let go, leaving readers to figure out whose bylines have vanished.
Equally disheartening is the indication that local news coverage will suffer. That’s a bit difficult to decipher from the story about the cuts, but here is a sentence that says a lot:
The N&O will begin producing only two daily editions: one for the Triangle and one for the rest of its circulation area.
In other words, Chapel Hill and Durham will no longer have a separate edition of the N&O, resulting in a “one size fits all” local coverage across the Triangle. That’s unfortunate and ironic, given the increasing emphasis on local news.
Only a dozen years ago, the N&O was vigorously competing with the Durham paper for readers there. That seems like an eon now.
UPDATE: John Drescher, executive editor of the N&O, told me in an e-mail that he has no plans to publicly announce who was let go. Also, a previous version of this post said no copy editors were laid off; one sports copy editor is affected.