Latest Round of Layoffs Hits Sacramento Bee

Back Web Only Apr 24, 2018 By Allen Young

The Sacramento Bee imposed its latest round of layoffs and company buyouts on Tuesday, targeting 15 editorial staffers and eight working on the production and copy desk. 

The move follows several rounds of reorganization by the Bee and its parent company McClatchy, as local and regional newspapers across the country cope with losses to circulation and revenue.

Ed Fletcher, Bee reporter and labor representative, was among those dismissed. Others who lost their jobs include sports columnist Ailene Voisin, cannabis reporter Brad Branan and digital producer Kalin Kipling, who each posted the news on social media, plus business reporters Mark Glover and Hudson Sangree, according to Talking Biz News

“It’s not an isolated incident,” Fletcher said in an interview. “Newspapers and news outlets are hurting across the country as they try to adjust to a changing business model. If people think they will continue to get the news for free, they have another thing coming.”

In an internal letter to Bee employees, Lauren Gustus, McClatchy’s new Regional Editor for California, told her colleagues that the layoffs were part of a company restructuring effort that seeks to foster greater collaboration between editorial staffers at different company papers. 

Multiple new team members will be hired “with specific expertise to fill critical roles. We will also be saying goodbye to several valued colleagues,” the letter stated.  

“Our future requires us to adapt and innovate, and we will continue to change as we forge a path forward,” Gustus wrote. 

She added that the layoffs will be effective in early May. 

The letter was provided to Comstock’s by Jeanne Segal, a spokeswoman for McClatchy. Segal said the restructuring sought to break down barriers among reporters and other staffers across McClatchy’s West Region, which includes newsrooms in Washington State, California and Idaho. Some coverage may take a more regional focus, Segal said, but only if it better serves local readers. 

“The Sacramento Bee will remain a strong local paper because we have to be essential to our communities,” Segal said.

Gustus replaced Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar in January with the new title of regional editor overseeing all five of McClatchy’s California newspapers. Nearly one year ago, in May 2017, the Bee enacted a round of reductions to its local news, arts and sports coverage.

In its latest earnings report, McClatchy posted a net loss of $331 million for the 2017 calendar year despite record growth in digital-only subscribers in the fourth quarter. (The company’s adjusted net loss is actually down in 2017 compared to 2016, due to complex tax activity that when deducted resulted in a loss of just over $20 million, compared to just under $35 million the previous year.) 

Four of the 15 newsroom layoffs announced on Tuesday were buyouts, Fletcher said. The Bee is required to notify its union, the Pacific Media Workers Guild, one month prior to layoffs taking effect. 

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include McClatchy’s adjusted net loss for both 2016 and 2017.


Alan (not verified)April 24, 2018 - 8:45pm

The "regional editor for California" was named executive editor in Fort Worth in June. So she was there for what, eight months? And now a journalist in her mid-30s is in charge of several newspapers?

Jon (not verified)April 25, 2018 - 2:48pm

Sad sign of the times, but print media is doomed. The good news is there is great content online (free and paid), including from some of these newspapers that are going under. I'm happy that sites like Huffington Post, Slate and Daily KOS offer insightful political news.

vivian (not verified)April 26, 2018 - 7:44am

The Sacramento Bee is none of the things it claims to be. I am currently a subscriber, but I don't like either the print or the digital edition, as both are poorly produced. There is almost no content on its pages, just ads. This is especially true of digital edition.

Cheryl (not verified)May 15, 2018 - 11:03pm

I am currently a subscriber to the Bee and have been since 1989. However, that will probably change very shortly. They have a SERIOUS non-delivery problem and do NOT care in the least. This has been going on for at least a year. They have the nerve to send notes saying please be patient, the paper will be late (10AM), we don't have a carrier (staff will deliver). Recently on the nextdoor neighbor web site, many complained about this issue ... so, it is not just me. The delivery service changed their name and continue to not deliver the Bee and (for me) the Wall Street Journal. The Bee charges many times what the WSJ does and delivers only occasionally a very thin paper with old news. In my opinion, they are stealing money and abusing the advertisers and the subscribers. I doubt if any of this is shared with the advertisers and I am seriously considering contacting some local TV News to tell them and encourage a story would let the advertisers spend their ad money more effectively elsewhere . Even the consumer complaint line (automated) doesn't always work and today I was diverted to an automated line in the news room. I never received a return call or credit for the last 2 days of NO paper. A business that wants to exists at all does not operate like this...they are committing corporate suicide...it is not the consumer, it is the newspaper industry. And, they no longer have my respect and soon not my money.

Visitor (not verified)April 29, 2018 - 2:57pm

The only improvement I can think of lately has been one spanish tv channel's (KTFK?) soccer games listing added

Alex Berg (not verified)June 14, 2018 - 5:07pm

Many years ago -- about TWENTY years ago -- I personally advised Das Bee to adopt the Huffington Post economic model in this new age of online media supplanting traditional print media....They completely ignored this suggestion, and NOW they're PAYING FOR IT..... now empty of Warren Buffett's cash.... This paper has been a disaster of late, in every way, including public policy.... and it deserves to close its doors forever....betraying the public trust in favor of billionaire patronage.....and so it is now circling the drain.....GOOD RIDDANCE...