Almost a year after the News Sentinel announced it would halt newspaper production for an all-digital product, the paper is laying off almost all of its staff.
Friday, seven of the eight remaining staff were let go.
Tom Davis, a current reporter and former sports editor for the newspaper, was one of the employees let go. He said they were called into a meeting for the announcement, adding that they “had no idea this was coming.”
The workers were told the layoffs were occurring for financial reasons.
“I’m devastated in a number of ways and I’m frustrated because our online traffic numbers were actually really good given our circumstances,” Davis said. “I have three kids I’m trying to put through college. So anytime you lose your financial position it’s scary, but that’s the nature of the media industry particularly at newspapers and websites.”
The general manager at Fort Wayne Newspapers, Pete Van Baalen, would only confirm personnel changes, but did say the News-Sentinel would maintain their online presence, and its page inside the Journal Gazette.
Davis said the one remaining employee for the paper would be political columnist Kevin Leininger. He explained that there’s a joint operating agreement between the Journal Gazette and News Sentinel which requires that the News Sentinel stay in business for its status as the conservative voice of Fort Wayne.
“Leininger obviously has a particular slant towards a conservative viewpoint,” Davis said.
Therefore, Leininger is being kept on staff to fulfill the joint agreement.
Davis added that the laid off workers were given severance packages and continued healthcare coverage.