Yesterday Jersey Journal publisher Kendrick Ross announced that Jersey City’s only daily paper and its affiliated community weeklies had met first quarter revenue projections and will continue publishing for now, avoiding an April 13 closure that was threatened earlier this year. But the paper will be forced to press on with a smaller staff.
“The paper is living on to fight another day,” Bayonne reporter and Newspaper Guild Local 42 president Ron Leir says, “partly as a result of sacrifices made by employees.”
Those sacrifices include the departure of five editorial employees, several who have spent decades at the paper. Leir says that he is taking a buyout, along with sports reporter Leon Banks, life editor Rebecca Markley, columnist Earl Morgan, arts editor Jeff Theodore. That leaves seven guild positions in the editorial department. All eight editorial management positions were spared.
The guild also is facing the expiration of their contract — and the possibility of more job losses — in early June. Leir says they had tried to roll the next contract negotiations into these discussions, but that management balked.
Leir understandably has “mixed feelings” about leaving the paper where he’s worked since 1972.
“You get up every morning and you know where you’re going. You do that for as long as I have, and you don’t have to think about your place in the universe,” he says, adding that he be “exploring my other passion, which is acting,” and continue doing some writing.
The staffers will be leaving by May 1, according to Leir, and the Journal’s single-copy newsstand price, currently at 50 cents, may rise by an unspecified amount. He adds that future plans might include cutting features and syndicated items as well.
“I appreciate all that the Jersey Journal has done for me,” Leir says. “I’m just hoping that the paper can continue to survive for another one hundred years.”
MORE: Editor & Publisher is reporting that 12 other positions are being cut at the Journal, in the accounting, circulation, and sales departments. Spokespeople for the unions representing the drivers and the administrative professionals employed at the paper were not able to be reached this morning.