Monday, September 26, 2011

Update on Newspaper Buyouts

Here's an update on the buyout situation at a Roanoke daily newspaper, which we told you about a week or so ago. It appears that reporter Duncan Adams and copy editors Mark Bullock and Jerry Stone are not eligible because they come up short of the 20 years of service necessary to qualify. Our contact said they might be. The combination of 20 years' service and 55 years of age is the cutoff.

A contact speculated this morning that metro columnist Dan Casey would be eligible for the buyout. He is not. He has been at the paper 17 years and is 53 years old, so he doesn't make the cut on either count. It would have been quite an irony if Dan had come in under the wire. The guy he replaced as columnist, Joe Kennedy, lost his job in a buyout in 2007.

One of those who apparently does qualify for the buyout is Publisher Debbie Meade, who has been at the paper for nearly 30 years and, by my accounting, is right on the edge of 55 (she was a Virginia Tech student in 1976).  It will be interesting to see if she takes the buyout, providing she is eligible.

The details of the buyout--again from somebody who has a copy of the memo--include 22 weeks' pay and $5,000. There is no mention of an insurance stipend. Employees leaving would likely be eligible for COBRA coverage (which they pay for about 18 months before being left uninsured).


  1. Last time I saw this much personal information about people working for the Roanoke Times was on Bill White's website. Not good company to be keeping Dan.

  2. Phil:
    I think Bill White's motives were a bit different from mine. Newsroom employees of the largest publication in the region are public figures and they give up privacy because of that. I'm one of them and if you ask me anything, I'll gladly answer it. Whether they will continue working for that publication has a lot to do with the quality of reporting we can expect, a function that is crucial to the quality of life in this region and, therefore, important for people to know. The fact is that I know many of these people and like and respect them a great deal. I don't believe Mr. White could say that. Your comparison is a bit off, I'd say.

  3. We will have to disagree on far off my comparison is to truth. I believe I am making a very close analogy. Like his, my guess is your continued attacks are self motivated.

  4. "Self-motivated," meaning exactly what? Everything I do is "self-motivated" and I have a "self-interest" in everything I do, as well. My interest here is in telling people that a number of good people's jobs are on the line again and that one of the region's major sources of hard news is trimming its veteran staff. If you think I'm profiting from this, that I'm happy about this, that something else underlies it, then you're wrong. I hope these people get a fair shake and I will be sad if they don't.

  5. Dan:
    We all feel bad when jobs are lost and I also hope all works out for everyone in the area who has lost or possibly may lose their job.

    You are wrong on publishing the personal information about these good folks. Just because they work for a newspaper does not make their personal information regarding age, length of service and compensation public domain. Even if being a reporter for the local newpaper would make you a public figure, many of the people you have mentioned are not even reporters.

    As for self motivated, it seems to me that your agenda began after you ended your employment with the paper. From what I gather, that may not have been your decision.

  6. Your posts are sounding increasingly angry and bitter and I'm not quite sure how you might be affected by this, but it appears you are somehow hurt. I am sorry if you are.

    People who work in the newsroom in any capacity (and that includes researchers) are part of the reporting process and are public figures. I did not report anybody's income and I did not say that the people mentioned had been confirmed as being on the list. I said their names had been reported to me by people at the publication. It was up to the reader to take from it what he would. This is not a publication. It is a blog that you seem to be reading more into than is there. The blog airs things out freely and allows those who want to comment to do so--people like you. It has a large following because people are interested. It is not "monetized," so nobody profits.

    These are not attacks (your word) on anybody, but simply reports on a business that affects many people and because of that is news itself.

    My employment with the publication ended when I retired. I got a retirement check until I chose a flat payment. My guess is that I would have been fired within months had I not retired, so you are probably right about that. I was fired in 1981 by the same publication. We had very, very different approaches and philosophies for and about the publication I edited and I simply left when it reached an intolerable state. My feelings about that began before I left, not after I left.

    By the way, your last comment went into my spam, which I only found tonight.