ATLANTA, GA (October 10, 2013) – Photographers at three Cox Media Group newspapers tonight confirmed severe cuts in their photography departments, with a deadline of only a few days to decide whether to accept offers of voluntary buy-outs before layoffs.
News also spread tonight that Thomson Reuters plans to lay off five percent of their newsroom staff. That means as many as 150 people will lose their jobs, based on newsroom employee numbers released earlier this year by Thomson Reuters. The rumor also spread tonight that Reuters plans to save more money by closing their Miami bureau.
In late August, Reuters canned all of their contract sports photographers in North America and replaced their sports photo feed with images from USA Today Sports Images. A source inside Reuters said the move was to save money covering sports so that the budget could be allocated to covering more news events instead.
Today at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cox flagship paper, news spread that the 10 person photography staff will be cut to only five people by November 1st.
At the Austin American-Statesman in Texas, one veteran photography editor and two photo staff members have been offered voluntary buy-out packages. Also 35 buy-outs were offered in the Austin newsroom to qualified employees.
At The Palm Beach Post, Cox staffers at the Florida newspaper who are over 55 years old with 10 years of service or more, or 65 with five years of service, have been offered buy-outs. They have two weeks to decide, a photographer told News Photographer magazine tonight.
In October 2011, Cox launched a restructuring plan to consolidate copy editing and page designing jobs to central desks at the Cox papers in Dayton, OH and in Palm Beach. The move slashed jobs at the Austin and Atlanta papers. Dayton does the design and copy editing for the Features sections for all Cox papers and the News sections for Atlanta and Dayton. Shared services in Palm Beach produce the News sections for Austin and the Post and the Sports sections for all of the newspapers.
A few days after Reuters told their North American sports photographers their services were no longer needed, one of the USA Today Sports Images photographers was fired for transmitting a photograph that allegedly showed Yankee Ichiro Suzuki making his career 4,000th hit. The image was not Suzuki's record-breaking hit; the photo was from a different Suzuki at-bat. The photographer had missed the actual hit, and had filed a different image with a misleading caption claiming that it was the record swing.
In a goodbye memo to his coworkers, a veteran Reuters newsman raised some interesting questions about Thomson Reuters's financial dealings over some high-dollar external contracts that have been signed while the company is slashing away at the internal expenses associated with supporting a newsroom operation.