Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Owner of Pulitzer-winning East Valley Tribune Chops Newsroom in Half

Posted By on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Pop quiz: If you just purchased a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, you'd immediately layoff half the staff, right?

That's just what happened with the East Valley Tribune.

The layoffs came not long after a bankruptcy court judge OK'd the sale of the paper on Tuesday to Colorado publisher Randy Miller, owner of the Oro Valley/Marana paper The Explorer. The deal also includes several smaller papers in the Phoenix-area.

Here's the latest from Phoenix-area blog HeatCity.org:

Just 14 staffers will be left to run the Tribune’s news operations under the new owner, the sources said. The newsroom already underwent significant cuts in recent years and was down to fewer than 35 employees before today’s announcement.

Among those let go from the newsroom, the sources said, was the entire business desk, most of the copy desk and all but one photographer.

The Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for a series on how Sheriff Joe Arpaio's goal of fighting illegal immigration was hurting normal police protection in Maricopa County.

Newsroom layoffs seem to be Miller's M.O. Here's what happened after he bought The Explorerin 2007:

In addition to obvious cost-cutting measures, the move also has the appearance of turning the northwest-side weekly from a watchdog to a lapdog.

"Just by the people they got rid of, you could draw that conclusion," said Stebbins, who took over as editor in September. "It doesn't take a genius to do that. The owner of the company says he was able to operate the (Colorado) Daily in Boulder with a staff of three and a whole lot of stringers, a whole lot of freelancers, and apparently, that's the way it's going here."

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