rhode island suburban newspapers

Batson out, Boucher in as Southern RI Newspapers publisher

October 1st, 2012 at 11:58 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

One of Rhode Island’s largest newspaper chains is under new leadership.

WPRI.com has confirmed Jody Boucher replaced Nanci Batson on Monday as publisher of Rhode Island Media Group’s Southern Rhode Island Newspapers division, which includes nine daily and weekly newspapers in Rhode Island including the Kent County Daily Times.

Boucher has been the group’s advertising director for seven years. “Jody has a number of years of solid newspaper, print publication, and media industry leadership and experience, [and] her appointment to the position of publisher of our southern group of newspapers is a positive step for all of the communities our newspapers serve,” Melanie Radler, Rhode Island Media Group’s president, said in a statement.

Boucher described herself as “very excited” about the new job. “Our position in our markets is definitely positive as we continue to be the dominant news source for our communities,” she said in an email. Boucher’s previous experience includes two stints in the Chicago Sun-Times’ advertising department.

Rhode Island Media Group is the operating name of Marion, Ill.-based R.I.S.N. Operations Inc., which paid $7.6 million in 2007 to buy the Woonsocket Call, the Pawtucket Times and Wakefield-basked Southern Rhode Island Newspapers from the Journal Register Co. R.I.S.N. stands for Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers.

• Related: Seven employees laid off at Kent Co. Daily Times, sister papers (March 13)

Seven employees laid off at Kent Co. Daily Times, sister papers

March 13th, 2012 at 12:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

There’s more grim news from Rhode Island’s beleaguered newspaper industry.

R.I.S.N. Operations Inc., which owns nine daily and weekly newspapers in Rhode Island, recently eliminated seven full- and part-time jobs at the Kent County Daily Times and its sister papers, WPRI.com has confirmed.

The employees worked in several different departments, publisher Nanci Batson told WPRI.com. “The restructure was a business decision based on the current economic climate,” she said in an email. “We value the welfare of all our employees and we’re especially sensitive to those who lost their jobs as a result of this restructuring.”

“We appreciate the positive contributions they made to our newspaper team and their presence will be sorely missed,” Batson added.

R.I.S.N. Operations paid $7.6 million to buy the Daily Times, the Woonsocket Call, the Pawtucket Times and the Wakefield-basked Southern Rhode Island Newspapers group of weeklies from the Journal Register Co. in 2007. R.I.S.N. is incorporated in Marion, Illinois.

The layoffs come as R.I.S.N.’s papers face more competition. In addition to Edward A. Sherman Publishing Co.’s South County Independent and the Breeze Publications papers, AOL’s hyperlocal Patch network has created websites for Coventry, East GreenwichNarragansett and South Kingstown, North Kingstown and Woonsocket.

The Valley Breeze reported last month that multiple reporters and other employees were recently laid off at R.I.S.N.’s Pawtucket and Woonsocket papers, as well.

• Related: Publisher: Kent County Daily Times staff down 28%, not 75% (Jan. 17, 2011)

(photo: Echo Media)

Publisher: Kent Co. Times staff down 28%, not 75%

January 17th, 2011 at 5:04 pm by 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 mergerEast Greenwich. Patch isn’t in West Greenwich or West Warwick – yet.

Kent Co. Daily Times ‘a shell,’ decline ‘heartbreaking’

January 17th, 2011 at 10:28 am by under General Talk

Louis Hochman is currently a regional editor for AOL’s hyperlocal news network Patch in New Jersey. Back in 2007, though, he was managing editor of the Kent County Daily Times in West Warwick.

Gannett’s announcement last week that it would slice by half the number of journalists at three suburban Garden State newspapers led Hochman to pen some reflections for Patch about the grim news. In the course of doing so, he offered a stark take on what’s happened to the Daily Times in recent years (emphasis mine):

What’s truly tragic, and frightening, is that this sort of thing is happening everywhere. Before my time with the Daily Record, I worked at newspapers that have since downsized significantly or disappeared entirely. I recently visited the offices of a small daily paper in Rhode Island where I’d been the managing editor for a year. The newsroom itself was abandoned; there weren’t enough people left to fill it. The editorial staff of 17 had been whittled to four. The paper was a shell, with one or two original stories to report each day. It was heartbreaking.

If the numbers cited by Hochman are accurate, the Kent County Daily Times’ editorial staff has shrunk an astonishing 75% in the last four or so years. The paper is one of many around here that was damaged by the troubles of the Journal Register Co., its former parent, which sold the Daily Times and seven other local publications to Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers in 2007.

I write a lot about The Providence Journal’s challenges because of its high profile and statewide reach, but if anything the cuts made at suburban papers in Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass., have been even deeper and more damaging to civic life. Hochman’s new employer, Patch, could pick up some of the slack if its sites find an audience and AOL continues to fund it, but that remains to be seen.

Update: Publisher Nanci Batson tells me the Kent County Daily Times’ editorial staff is down 28%, not 75%, though that excludes the shuttered Warwick Daily Times.