Monday, August 04, 2008

Bad News from the Star-Ledger

Almost every morning I wake up, make coffee, and browse the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest and most respected newspaper. The Star Ledger has been with me for as long as I can remember and is one of the things which, in my mind, makes the state more than just a punch line for garbage, corruption, and mafia jokes.

And yet, I missed this front page story from last Thursday until my dad pointed it out. The Star Ledger is about to go under for all intents and purposes:
“The owners of The Star-Ledger announced yesterday they will sell the newspaper if they cannot win union concessions and persuade a large number of nonunion, full-time workers to take buyouts in the next two months.”

The paper’s owners, the Newhouse newspaper chain, has threatened to sell the paper off if 200 of the newspaper’s 756 nonunion full-time employees don’t take buyouts. The Ledger’s total workforce is 1,412, so we’re talking more than 10 percent of the paper’s staff.

While it’s not the New York Times or Washington Post, it’s no community publication either. It sells 350,000 papers daily and 520,000 on Sundays, and has won Pulitzers and other national awards for their investigative pieces. It’s exposed prostitution rings, ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James’ corruption, Jim “I am a gay American” McGreevey’s sleaze (how was he not indicted, anyway?), and many other scandals.

Will the Ledger be able to keep up with a considerably reduced workforce? This is bad news for the people of New Jersey and good news for its corrupt powerbrokers and assorted malcontents. Here’s a piece from the Times about the whole thing.

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