Thursday, May 16, 2019

Illinois editor resigns from GateHouse paper to spare layoffs

Angie Muhs
The editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, resigned Friday in hopes of preventing more layoffs. When the general manager escorted Angie Muhs from the building Monday, staff writers accompanied her as a show of respect. Muhs had been at the paper since 2014 and became the president of the Associated Press Media Editors last year.

According to Journal-Register staff writer Dean Olsen, Muhs hoped to save money on staff salaries in hopes that owner GateHouse Media would not make any more newsroom reductions. "Olsen said the newspaper had about 35 reporters when the union formed in 2012. Today, the newspaper has 15 editorial staffers, including part-timers, and three managers," John O'Connor reports for The Associated Press. The paper's sports editor was laid off in March, the photo editor was laid off this month, and many beats like city hall and education do not have full-time reporters, according to Olsen.

GateHouse got the paper in 2007 as part of its $380 million purchase of Copley Press's Midwest holdings. The largest owner of newspapers in the U.S., GateHouse has been frequently criticized for buying papers and laying off staff. Though it didn't respond to O'Connor's requests for comment, the company "in the past has rejected the notion that its motivations are strictly financial and has pointed to measures it’s taken to keep news flowing at newspapers across the U.S.," O'Connor reports.

Olsen said Muhs was an asset to the paper and would be missed. "It’s sad she felt she had to do this because GateHouse says its focus is local news," Olsen told O'Connor. "We’re waiting for them to show us how they’re going to fulfill that mission."

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