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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Best headline of the day: the Reader is not laying off staffers

Posted By on 03.14.12 at 05:24 PM

Design by Paul John Higgins
  • The appropriate (but not intentionally so) cover of this week's paper
  • Design by Paul John Higgins
I figured I’d lead with the good news.

Now for the rest.

There have been some disconcerting headlines this week about goings-on at the Reader, and the reports more or less accurately describe the rumbling (OK, cursing) at 11 E. Illinois.

The most recent, from this afternoon, are "Alt-weeklies in Atlanta, Chicago, DC to be sold, but first pay cuts‎" and "Chicago Reader chain cutting wages, jobs as 'suitors' come courting."

The more encouraging news—but hey, that was yesterday—was the inquiry "Is new-and-improved Reader about to change hands again?" as well as our own post from Mike Miner that "The Reader's publisher seeks a buyer‎."

Back to today.

Two weeks after launching a brand-new website, two days after news broke that we're being more actively shopped than ever, and the day we're unveiling our new mobile site and publishing an ambitious—and, rest assured, very Reader-ish—bar guide, I had to announce to the editorial staff that we’re cutting budgets across the company—including our editorial department’s.

As our publisher, Alison Draper, has pointed out to me and others, there are “two parallel initiatives” at play here:

(1) The potential sale of the Reader, which is not exactly new information but has gained traction because interest in buying the Reader reportedly has heated up.
(2) The reduction of wages across the company (composed of the Reader, Washington City Paper, and Creative Loafing Atlanta), the reduction of employees’ hours at the Reader, and layoffs at the Atlanta paper, where I spent a decade as a writer and, later, editor in chief before coming to the Reader a little over a year ago.

In the year since my arrival, this staff has been in the trenches working on the overhaul of the print edition, which added a glossy cover and expanded music coverage on the B Side, and the transformation of the website, which we spent eight months obsessing over.

To have done that work, only to be met with this news, is . . . sobering. But at least we have a new bar guide to help with that.

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