Buffalo News full-time editorial employees safe from layoffs

The Buffalo News and the Buffalo Newspaper Guild have reached an agreement that will mean only two part-time sports clerks will lose their jobs in the newsroom. Outside the newsroom, at least seven jobs are proposed to be cut.

Guild members have to vote on the plan — which includes giving up raises, bonuses and higher Sunday pay — on Thursday, according to the Guild.

While the news that full-time newsroom employees won’t be facing the chopping block is good, it’s hard to take any kind of pleasure in this. The fact is the Guild is giving up a lot to save the jobs. And the News has lost several experienced, brilliant reporters to its cost-cutting buyouts. Case in point:

  • Sharon Linstedt, News business reporter recently lauded by the paper’s Editor, Margaret Sullivan, for her coverage of the crash of Flight 3407, which killed all aboard the plane and one on the ground. Sullivan wrote: “By 4 a. m., Linstedt had become a major source of information for the world, providing audio interviews for NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CBS. Linstedt was also the first to report that 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert was one of the victims.” That grit, expertise and experience will be gone from the paper by month’s end.
  • Fred Williams, perhaps best known for his business reporting. Recently, he’s been covering community news, including the beheading of a prominent Orchard Park woman.
  • Howard Smith, managing editor and former sports editor, who ended up in the media spotlight himself when News Sports reporter Tom Borrelli died last year from injuries sustained in a fall while covering a game and Smith was asked to comment on Borelli’s accomplishments.

While I’m happy that it appears the News might avoid newsroom layoffs of full-time employees at this time, my heart goes out to the folks in the Buffalo News newsroom, who in the past six months have dealt with the tragedy of the Flight 3407 crash, the unexpected death of a colleague who was covering a game, and the threat of losing their jobs.  Hang in there. Better days are coming.

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