Among the casualties of the new lineup are graphic designer Rob Lunsford and reporter Cody Lowe, both 30-year veterans who accepted the buyout of employees older than 55 with more than 20 years’ experience.
Additionally three other positions will be eliminated, that of Shaun Hoy, a sports copy editor; Kurt Heine in metro; and Jim Ellison, who works with online copy. All will be gone by Dec. 1.
The reorganization does not eliminate the print version of the paper, but will put more effort into the online paper.
Tarrant’s letter says, “… the recession continues to hold on and we do not expect to see growth in our print advertising base. The moves we are announcing today demonstrate that, while we are certainly not abandoning print, we are pursuing growth where growth continues to reside — on the digital side of our company. As painful as today is, I hope you will find some solace in knowing we are aggressively pushing forward. We must do so, now, so we can remain a competitive and vital business, one where your own careers can continue to grow.”
Tarrant’s letter says reconstruction begins immediately with “… the first concrete steps in building a newsroom that is oriented first toward delivering news online. We are reorganizing the online news team in anticipation of the dramatic changes that will occur next year as we install a new content management system, redesign Roanoke.com, launch a new mobile application and further explore the delivery of news via tablets.
“These efforts, combined, represent the online equivalent of getting a new printing press. The newsroom, working closely with IT, will be investing considerable time and money in this digital expansion. Roles will undoubtedly change, and the reorganization we announce today reflects just the first wave in what will be an ongoing evolution.”
There will be several re-assignments to meet the new goals, Tarrant says: Ryan Loew will direct sports/photo/video; Stephanie Ogilvie moves to news/social media; Marie Stewart will handle features/blogs; and Meg Martin will lead copy desk/design.
Other changes include moving Belinda Harris from the library to editorial as coordinator of Letters to the Editor. There is also a plan to organize reporters into three teams.