Louisville’s Courier-Journal cuts 50 jobs, half from news staff


by Mike Colombo


Posted on June 21, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 21 at 11:53 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-  After a day of layoffs at the Louisville Courier-Journal, the newspaper reports that 50 jobs were cut, half of those from the news staff. The cuts include a longtime editorial writer, and the downsizing of Velocity, the paper's free tabloid.

With Tuesday’s cuts, a total of 145 Courier-Journal employees have been let go since 2008.

The economy has not been kind to the media industry, television and radio included, and declining advertising revenues have caused more job casualties at the Courier-Journal.

There were a lot of good days during Tamara Ikenberg seven year run as a pop culture feature reporter for the Courier-Journal. However, Tuesday was not one of them.

"Some of them would say goodbye. We saw people coming out of the elevator with boxes full of stuff. It was really an awful, awful, pillaging of a day. It was insane,” said former Courier-Journal reporter Ikenberg.

Ikenberg was one of 24 let go from the newsroom staff, which also includes long-time editorial writer Betty Winston Baye.

"They're letting a lot of great writers and people go. It can't help but affect the content of the paper,” said Ikenberg.

Close to half the staff assigned to Neighborhoods was laid off, and the weekly publication Velocity will now be integrated into the main newspaper.

The Courier-Journal’s 50 job cuts represent about 10 percent of the papers staff, while the 700 total cuts by its parent company, Gannett, represent about 2 percent of companies 32,600 employees.

The Courier-Journal also eliminated their Indiana State House Bureau.

A Gannett blog is reporting Gannett Co. Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow made $9.4 million last year, including a $1.75 million cash bonus, based partly on his ability to reduce costs through layoffs and furloughs. 

In a letter released to employees Tuesday, Gannett US Community Publishing division president Bob Dickey, owner of the Courier-Journal wrote:

"While we have sought many ways to reduce costs, I regret to tell you that we will not be able to avoid layoffs. Accordingly, approximately 700 employees within USCP, or about 2% of our company's overall workforce, will be let go. National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends."

Arnold Garson, president and publisher of the Courier-Journal, was not available for comment.