MELVILLE, NY – Friday evening about 20 photographers at Newsday on Long Island were summoned to a meeting to learn that they had all lost their jobs.
Photographers were called, even those on their days off, and told to come in for a meeting with photography director Jeff Schamberry where they learned that their jobs have been eliminated. They were told that beginning Monday they could "re-apply" for new jobs that have been created in the photography department, positions with the title of "Visual Journalist" or "assistant photo editor."
"We have the 'opportunity' to reapply for either the job of 'Visual Journalist' or as an assistant photography editor," one of the long-time Newsday photographers told News Photographer magazine today. The photographer did not want to be identified by name because the photographer intends to re-apply for one of the new jobs.
"It was horrible," the photographer said about Friday night's meeting. "We were shocked. Personally, I think the handwriting was on the wall. They did this to the art department several months ago, and when that happened I thought that we would be next."
The Newsday photographer said that starting today the 20 photographers can schedule a meeting with the managing editor and photography director ("If we still have one ...") and re-apply for a visual journalist or assistant photo editor job, but that there are not 20 new positions and not everyone will be re-hired.
"We've heard the cuts are going to be drastic," the photographer said, "about 50 percent or more. There won't be 20 new positions."
One estimate says that the re-organized photography department may be made up of only 7 people, cutting 13 positions from the staff.
Reports at the end of last week said that Newsday would trim 5 percent of their overall staff (about 100 workers) in the newsroom and business side, and that the editorial cuts would hit members of the sports and photography departments the hardest.
The New York Observer reported that fired Newsday employees may be offered a buy-out package, and if so they'll have three weeks to accept the offer.
Newsday was sold by Tribune Co. to Cablevision in May for $650 million, but the newspaper's losses continued under its new owners and Tribune's profits from the sale didn't stem losses at the Chicago-based company, which today filed for bankruptcy.
Newsday publisher Tim Knight wrote last week in an internal Newsday memo that the ongoing loss of advertising revenue are to blame for this round of cuts. Facing their own loss of revenue, the paper also announced the newsstand price goes up a quarter, to 75 cents daily and $2 on Sunday.