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Layoffs at the Post-Standard

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Layoffs at the Post-Standard
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It was a somber day at the Post-Standard. We've learned of dozens of layoffs. At this point, we don't have a confirmed total and the Post-Standard management said they won't be releasing a statement until Tuesday via their website. Our Katie Gibas spoke with industry experts earlier about what these cuts will mean for newsgathering in Central New York.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The news about layoffs at the Syracuse Post-Standard is all too familiar of a story for newsrooms across the country.

"In response to the internet and in response to the recession, it's like a perfect storm, the two of them coming together, so the cuts that are occurring in Syracuse, you can go to pretty much any newsroom in the United States and see these," said David Rubin, Newhouse Dean Emeritus.

But that didn't make the announcement any easier.

"On every level, this is a painful thing to look at," said Rubin.

Joel Kaplan, the Newhouse Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Studies, added, "It's changing the profession. A lot of journalists are losing their jobs. A lot of good journalists are losing their jobs."

This comes after the Post-Standard announced in August that to preserve the newspaper, they would be reducing home paper delivery to three days per week and restructuring operations. Two new companies were created: one focusing on newsgathering, the other offering support services.

A month ago, company officials announced that the Post-Standard and are forming a new digital company called Syracuse Media Group, along with a partner company called Advance Central Services Syracuse. Monday, employees found out if they would be offered a job in either company or a severance package.

"They're actually still a profitable news organization and I think they could have continued on with a daily newspaper doing what they're doing, but eventually, they were going to hit the wall and they were going to start losing money. And what I think they saw was, 'Hey, let's make these changes now while we're still a profit making institution because you make those changes then a lot easier. Once you're losing money, it's a lot harder to makes those changes," said Kaplan.

Industry experts say they're concerned what these cuts will mean for news in Central New York.

"Communities like Syracuse end up with a greatly depleted newsgathering force. And that's the big problem. How to we rebuild that newsgathering force?" said Rubin.

Kaplan added, "Why the news media is so important, why it's considered the fourth branch of government, is because it is supposed to have a watchdog function. It's supposed to inform people about what's going on in their government and in their institutions. If you can no longer cover those things, then there's no one there to watch them."

Experts say if done properly, the changes have a good chance of preserving the newspaper for the future. But until that day, it's a sad one for Central New York journalists.

Sources tell YNN that the severance packages being offered to employees, include one-and-a-half weeks pay for every year of service, plus health insurance during the severance period.

The two new companies are looking to fill 60 positions and employees who are offered severance packages are able to apply for those positions. Otherwise, laid off employees will be asked to stay on the job until January 31st.

The Syracuse Press Club issued a statement that reads, "The Syracuse Press Club is disheartened to learn of the layoffs at the Syracuse Post-Standard Monday. Changes in the delivery of news are inevitable, but the Press Club is greatly disappointed with the decision to lay off journalists with roots here in Central New York. A daily newspaper, and the news people who produce that product, serves a vital role in our community. We wish all staff members at the Post-Standard the best during these changes."

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