The Richmond Times-Dispatch laid off 20 employees Wednesday, among them longtime state political reporter Tyler Whitley and graphic artist Hatley Mason.
Citing the ongoing slump in advertising, the newspaper, which is owned by Media General, reported today that the cuts affected the newsroom, marketing and advertising departments, as well as circulation and production.
Jay J. Levit, legal counsel for the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association, says five of the 20 cuts involved members of the reporters’ union, including Whitley and Mason. The other union members who lost their jobs: Penelope M. Carrington, a videographer who joined the paper in 1996; Lindy Keast Rodman, a photographer at the paper since 1980; and Julie Young, a part-time writer who started in the Flair department in 1999.
Mason had worked at the Richmond News Leader, The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post before coming to the Times-Dispatch to work as a graphic artist in the multimedia department in 1998, according to a profile on the paper’s website.
Whitley had been at the paper for more than 50 years, and in December was honored for more than 30 years of political reporting. Former governors Linwood Holton, Gerald L. Baliles, L. Douglas Wilder, Jim Gilmore and current Gov. Bob McDonnell attended the paper’s banquet honoring Tyler.
Reached at home Wednesday, Whitley declined to comment. Levit says the union employees received notice that their jobs had been eliminated -- effective immediately -- on Wednesday. Under terms of the union contract, Media General is required to give union members four weeks’ notice before their jobs are eliminated. By requiring them to leave the paper immediately, however, the employees receive an additional four weeks of pay on top of severance.
In a statement emailed to Style Weekly, a Media General official says, "We regret having to make any staff reductions, and we are assisting the affected employees," adding that the cuts "will have little impact on the digital and print products that 670,000 people in the Richmond region rely on."
Levit says layoffs at the Times-Dispatch were part of broader cuts across the company’s newspapers, possibly more than 90 total.
“It’s an economic layoff, and they have already laid off quite a high number in the not-too-distant past,” Levit says. The newspaper reported this morning that this year Media General has already eliminated 100 jobs company wide.