Gazette-Mail Staff Size to Drop After Post-Merger Reapplication Process
Updated: July 20, 2015 at 2:10 p.m.
According to leaked tape obtained by West Virginia Focus, The Charleston Gazette-Mail publisher and other executives said the staff size of the merged paper will drop following the reapplication process.
In a Monday meeting, publisher Susan Chilton Shumate estimated the post-merger staff size to be between 65 and 68 (West Virginia Focus reports The Gazette currently has 45 newsroom staffers, while the Daily Mail budgets for 33 positions, with some currently unfilled).
As West Virginia Focus reports:
Everyone on staff will at the newly merged paper reapply for his or her job. Positions will be posted by July 31 and employees will have until August 7 to submit their resumes and cover letters.
“You’re basically reapplying for a position with the new Gazette-Mail,” said Crystal McIntyre, Charleston Newspapers’ human resources director. “Everything you’ve accomplished, put in these resumes. Don’t think we know everything.”
A hiring committee—consisting of Shumate, former Gazette executive editor Byers, and former Daily Mail editor and publisher Brad McElhinny—will review the applications and begin conducting interviews by August 10. Gazette-Mail officials say they hope the process will be completed by August 21, according to the leaked tape of the meeting.
Reports also indicate that staffers questioned the prompt announcement of the merger and were also told to not publicly speak to other media about the merger and reapplication process.
Also reportedly on the leaked tape, Shumate said the company is planning to send out a press release to "make a positive spin" about the merger.
Updated: July 20, 2015 at 3:15 p.m.
According to members of The Charleston Gazette-Mail staff, the new publisher says employees of the merged paper will have to reapply for their jobs.
Staffers are also reporting that those who aren't rehired will be given a severance package that equates to one week's pay for each year worked at either paper. That news was handed down during a 3 p.m. meeting at the offices of Charleston Newspapers.
Gazette-Mail employees will have to re-apply for their jobs.— Erin Beck Won’t Be Satisfied Until There Are Nine (@3littleredbones) July 20, 2015
Original Post from July 20, 2015 at 12:05 a.m.:
Charleston, West Virginia is now a one newspaper town.
According to an announcement Sunday afternoon, The Charleston Gazette and The Charleston Daily Mail will become The Charleston Gazette-Mall effective Monday.
News of the merger comes on the expiration date of a final judgment from a settlement with the Department of Justice, stemming from anti-trust suit. In a document dated July 19, 2010, the final judgment was set to expire five years later.
"This is not one paper gobbling up the other," read one sentence from a story on The Charleston Gazette's website announcing the merger.
The announcement of the merger also states "the two newspapers are combining newsroom functions with the exception of editorial page content" and says the Gazette-Mail will be "committed to two completely independent editorial pages."
The announcement also says The Gazette-Mail:
"will produce more local coverage than either newspaper could individually. We can dedicate increased resources to investigative reporting and bolster our online presence with more breaking news and multimedia. For West Virginia features, photography and sports, The Charleston Gazette-Mail will be second to none."
Various staff from the two papers say they were informed about the news of the merger Sunday afternoon, shortly before the announcement was made public.
Staff have also said a Monday meeting is scheduled to determine some of the steps forward as part of the merger. Potential layoffs are of concern to many, as questions remain to what degree a combined publication can sustain the staff of what was two different papers.
For a behind the scenes report on the merger, see this article from West Virginia Focus.
Here's a look at what some current Daily Maill staff were tweeting after the news came down:
Former Daily Mail staff also chimed in with varying sentiments:
It's hard, just looking at the numbers, to say Charleston, WV needs to be a two newspaper town, but was it better for it? Surely.— Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) July 20, 2015
Did some of us @ both papers wonder abt combine effort, 2 have 1 big staff make 1 great product playing to each paper's strengths? Of course— Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) July 20, 2015
A thoughtful process might have guaranteed that product. The nobody-knows-anything surprise that is unfolding is not comforting.— Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) July 20, 2015
The joyous newsroom is, I'm told, a rare thing. The DM had one.— Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) July 20, 2015
And, of course, a hashtag emerged for those who had connections to the paper to share memories:
There were also other tweets from other members of the public:
Editor's Note: Dave Mistich freelances some arts reporting and a music column for The Charleston Daily Mail. He began that endeavor in November 2010 and has continued since.