Emotions run high as TP layoffs announced

Times Picayune Editor Jim Amoss discusses the layoffs
Times Picayune Editor Jim Amoss discusses the layoffs

New Orleans, La. -- More than 200 Times-Picayune employees learned Tuesday that they are losing their jobs soon.

It follows the recent announcement that the daily newspaper will print publications only three days a week and re-focus on its online news operation.

"It's almost like a funeral inside, like a wake," said commercial artist Patricia Gonzalez after she got word she was being let go. She said she has worked at the TP for four decades.

Even though employees knew it was coming, Tuesday's developments still hit some like a brick.

"Next to my father's death, this is second in my life.  I feel like I lost my family, somewhat ashamed that I lost my job, or will be losing my job," continued Gonzalez.

Staff writer Danny Monteverde also received bad news about his job.

"It's rough today, and it's sad to see all my co-workers and friends, really, and family go through stuff like this, but I had a good six years, I really did.  I wish I had a lot more," he said.

Workers who have been axed are getting severance packages, but some were too distraught to pay attention to the details right away.

"I really haven't checked into the package, but I can't talk," Gonzalez said while choking up.

"I started out as a stringer and you know, went from a stringer to an intern, and did a lot of stuff in those six years," said Monteverde.

TP Editor Jim Amoss discussed the developments during a brief interview.

"It's a sad day when you have to say goodbye to good employees; it certainly feels that way," he said.

Despite all the layoffs and the walkback from daily publication, Amoss said the quality of journalism at the TP will not suffer.

"Our readers should know that going forward we are committed to having the strongest newsgathering force in the communities that we serve, and that we're committed to the kind of high quality journalism that they expect from us," he stated.

In the current news operation, Amoss said there are 165 full time positions.  Come the fall, there will be 139 full time positions in the news unit.  Amoss said 99 employees in the news division received offers Tuesday to join the new company in the fall.  And Amoss said there will be an additional 52 positions in news at that time, some full-time and some part-time.

"Our goal is not only the preservation of the Times-Picayune and the news report on NOLA.com. Our goal is to make it successful and to grow it," Amoss stated.

Amoss said laid-off workers can apply for jobs that will be posted.

"When we launch the new company we will have a significant number of journalists, especially newsgathering, reporters, photographers, videographers, graphic artists," he said.

"I'm never going to give up. I will be reapplying for whatever is available, even if it's to cut the grass outside; that's how dedicated I am to the company," Gonzalez stated.

Amoss said the loss of the city's only daily newspaper is not lost on him.

"I grew up in this newspaper, and I'm a native of New Orleans, and my parents live here and read the newspaper cover to cover, so I know the kind of feeling of loss that people expect when they don't have that print product in their hands every day.  But I think they will be quite surprised and pleasantly so at the substance of the editions that we are going to be giving them, and they're also going to be very pleasantly surprised at the changes and the richness of the report on our website," he said.

"I love this company, I love this company it's my family," Gonzalez said.

Amoss said the 202 employees who are being laid off are out of a total of 654 employees. He said going forward the new operation will have a total of 516 employees when "open" positions are filled. So he said there will be a net reduction of 138 employees.