Publisher: Kent Co. Times staff down 28%, not 75%January 17th, 2011 at 5:04 pm by Ted Nesi under General Talk
I reached out to Nanci Batson, the Kent County Daily Times’ publisher, to see if she had a response to the column I highlighted earlier by its former editor Louis Hochman, who alleged the Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers publication has cut its editorial staff from 17 to four in recent years.
Not true, Batson said. The Kent County Daily Times had the equivalent of nine full-time editorial employees in 2007 and has about 6.5 now – a decrease of 28%, not the roughly 75% estimated by Hochman.
When Hochman was there, the editorial staff was producing two newspapers: the Kent County Daily Times and the Warwick Daily Times. According to Batson, at the time the Warwick paper had three full-time employees and one part-timer; the Kent County paper had seven full-timers and one part-timer; and the two papers shared three full-timers. Batson said she checked the papers’ employment records to be sure.
The Warwick Daily Times stopped publishing in 2007, so two of its three full-time editorial employees were transferred to other Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers outlets, Batson said. The Kent County paper currently has six full-time editorial employees and one part-timer.
I sincerely appreciate Matson’s transparency and her quick response. Numbers aside, though, Hochman’s larger point still stands: a newsroom that once employed 15 journalists to produce two newspapers is now employing seven to produce one. That means less journalism any way you slice it.
Update: In a follow-up e-mail, Matson praised her paper’s staff while acknowledging the challenges they’ve faced recently:
I’m very proud of all our employees at the Kent County Daily Times including those on our editorial staff. This daily newspaper has four full-time reporters covering local news, sports and important events in the communities it serves – far more reporters than the other news media in our market.
I think all news media (print, television, radio and Internet) have been affected by ongoing economic conditions and we’ve all been asked to do more with less. I believe our local business communities and readers can relate to that. But the Kent County Daily Times is a healthy newspaper and its staff is dedicated to delivering the best local news and sports coverage to its readers – as it’s done since 1892.
The Daily Times is facing a new challenge on its home turf from AOL’s Patch, which has sites in two of the four towns the paper covers: Coventry and – following the Patch-My02818 merger - East Greenwich. Patch isn’t in West Greenwich or West Warwick – yet.