Two of the Roanoke Times announced firings this week are news employees. They are Tiffany Stevens, a young reporter, and Belinda Harris, the long-time librarian who, as I recall, was actually let go during an earlier purge, but brought back.
Belinda, who has always been immensely popular among the newsies, was at The Times when I was in the late 1970s, so she’s a valued veteran and a woman reporters have relied on for research over the years.
Two others among the seven people laid off, from what I’m told, are advertising employees Tyler Hardin and longtime employee Tammy Burdick. The other layoffs are also from advertising, according to my source, but I don’t know who they are. I’m told the position of retiring sports writer Randy King (who began at the paper as a high school kid when I worked there) will not be filled.
According to The Times, the layoffs were “spurred by a decline in advertising revenue from national retailers.” Across BH’s dozens of newspapers (31 of them dailies, including a number in Virginia) there were 148 positions eliminated and another 101 cut. There was no explanation of what constituted a “cut” position vs. an “eliminated” position.
Online shopping is apparently crippling newspapers across the country, which comes as no surprise to anybody.
Company Chairman/CEO Terry Kroeger is quoted as saying, “The data suggest our industry is changing, not dying” and hinted that BH is confronting those issues. He emphasized that “our news content has never been more important than it is right now and we will continue to deliver news to our customers the way they choose to receive it.”
The owner of The Times is based in Omaha.
(Roanoke Times photos.)