Management shake-up could shed a century of institutional knowledge at Las Vegas newspaper

I’m told by several sources that there was a major shake-up of management at the Las Vegas Review-Journal Tuesday afternoon, announced at a staff meeting by the current editor who appeared to be reading from a script.

It appears six top editors were told their jobs were being eliminated, to be replaced by two jobs β€” an editor in charge of the city desk and business and an editor to be in charge of features and sports. If, and that remains a big if at this point, four of those editors lose their jobs, at least a century of institutional knowledge about the newspaper, good journalism, the city and the state and its characters and history will disappear β€” along with a couple hundred thousand dollars a year in salaries and benefits.

I am looking to confirm that some of the editors were told they could take a buyout or apply for one of the two new positions, but if they failed to be hired for that position there would be no buyout but perhaps a much, much smaller severance pay.

If anyone has further details, please send them to thomasmnv@yahoo.com. Don’t use an R-J computer or email address.

22 comments on “Management shake-up could shed a century of institutional knowledge at Las Vegas newspaper

  1. davepresher says:

    It’s tough to watch the decline in print journalism. I am still an avid newspaper reader, even though i read a lot of it on-line. I think it’s time for the great Traditional Editors like yourself to become brand managers of future news sources! Go get’em Thomas!

  2. Thanks, Dave.

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  3. Hate to see this happen to people I worked with many years ago, who gave many good years to the R-J. If newspapers can adapt, they can survive. But I’m not sure about this mixed features/sports editor idea…

  4. I got a message from a sniveling coward via an anonymous emailer. Just to show how classy such sniveling cowards are, I am posting the email in its entirety with a few parenthetical remarks:

    “put this on your blog Mitchell: No one feels sorry that the newspaper tossed your fat (too true) overpaid (not really) ass out on the street and no one is surprised that 2 years later you’re still reduced to pumping out your drivel on the ‘blogs’ you hated for so long. you were an inferior editor who ran your organization based on an agenda, not journalism (a blood libel that deserves a punch in the nose at the very least). well guess what? harry got elected and you got shitcanned. how does it feel now (not very good)? i don’t blame the R-J management for trying to undo some of the damage you did. you weren’t a journalist you were an advocate. the best work the paper ever did was after you were shown the door (and that would be the one project that was started six months before I was shitcanned?). how does it feel to watch from the sidelines with no money, no mouthpiece and no one reporters to intimidate to push your point of view? can’t wait for Vin, Glenn and johnny boy (I assume this person is talking about John Kerr) to get the boot next. bye bye old farts, bring in the new blood and maybe they can salvage the mess. (those old farts made a lot changes in how this state is run and can be proud of what we accomplished)

    (I thought Steve Friess left town.)

  5. Mike Stuhff says:

    Several years ago, the political editor of another major metropolitan daily in another state told me that we need journalists more than we need newspapers.
    I am one of those dinosoars who still likes print altho I have adapted to a screen and keyboard and know the world has changed since the days I threw newspapers from a bicycle.
    We still need newspapers. We can’t know how they will be or be different. (Remember that Mr. Gutenberg thought his market would be bibles.)

  6. Right you are, Mr. Stuhff.

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  7. […] about this week’s management shuffle at the Las Review-Journal on Sept. 1 when the paper names the two editors who will take the place of six. Dana […]

  8. bc says:

    So Thomas, what is the future of newspapers? I must admit that I am addicted to reading newsprint, although I read bits and pieces of several out of town papers on my computer screen, and there will be a paper on my driveway every morning till my own final rest.

    But if there are no newspapers, who is going to sit through the city council meetings, school board meetings, follow the police blotter and the legislature and the AP feeds. The journalist puts these together in an even handed way into stories we can read and have an understanding of the world around us.

    Some folks confuse the news side with the opinion side, but it has been my experience that the majority of papers keep the two sides separate. But if we depend on bloggers and TV personalities to give us the news, the opinion and news will not be separate and we will be back to the days of the yellow sheet news.

    What is the answer Tom, what do you see?

  9. The profession is still needed but the business model is coming apart at the seams, bc. Most people don’t realize the current business model is only about a century old. Prior to that papers were arms of political parties or survived on government printing contracts. I’m not sure how it will shake out.

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  10. Steve says:

    You know, I can be wrong. I can be right. But at the least I am who I say I am and I stand up for what I say. That letter was full of shit. Whoever wrote it needs help, badly.

    Whoever wrote it also has zero understanding of just how thick a journalists skin becomes over the years.

  11. Mitch, perhaps you can explain this because I sure don’t understand it.

    I have a Sunday-only subscription to the RJ. Yesterday, I walk outside and find a copy of the RJ sitting in my driveway. I assumed the carrier made a mistake. But, there was a letter inside stating that I’d received a free upgrade & would now be receiving the RJ every day, at no additional cost.

    So, why would they be upgrading subscriptions for free at the same time that they’re dumping people who bring so much experience to the table?

  12. They need the numbers for the advertisers. The cost of an ad in a 100,000-circulation paper is far less the ad in paper with circulation of 200,000. They need the paid subscribers but they need ads far more.

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  13. That makes sense Mitch, thanks.

  14. Steve says:

    That sounds like the internet approach is coming to the print version. Ouch.

  15. Much as I consider my time at the RJ a mixed bag, I’m kinda sorry for the state it’s in. It was my job for 5 years, It kept me employed during the worst economy of my lifetime.

    As for the state of newspapers, even as an IT guy who loves to get his content electronically, there is something familiar and calming about physically holding and reading the paper. I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

  16. Hank Bond says:

    I worked for Mitch in two departments. I was on the copy desk in business and was editor of the View Newspaper, including a start-up and profit boom in Pahrump. In the year and a half I worked for Mitch he never ridiculed, misled, lied or yelled at me. My rear end was fatter than his and he always promoted paying his people over his own pay. As for what the R-J has become it is far less local, less well sourced and will pay a severe price by cutting those who have vision and help drive the value of content. That’s where I see the industry. The metros have quit giving readers what they need and even deserve in light of profits and making margins for large scale owners. In addition, there has been a sad decline in managers such as Mitch and a few others such as Bob Mong at the DMN who welcome employees who challenge them in journalistic terms. They look to those who work for them and their ilk to make the products better. I have no issue signing my name and I am proud to have worked for Tom Mitchell and called him friend since 1999.

  17. Thanks, Hank.

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  18. Jan Graham says:

    If that email is from a “journalist” at the newspaper, then they are in trouble. That person cannot articulate except with curse words and hate…too bad for the RJ. While Mr. Mitchell may not be perfect, he did the best “damn” job that he could do, which obviously was not appreciated. Because of the economy, the decline in the circulation, and someone’s streamlining ideas, he got the boot. Not because of the jibber-jabber posted above. I am sure they are paying less from the current managing editor, and frankly they are getting less. Thomas does not have to answer to anyone now and his editorials can be his opinion without having to weary about readership, the owner, etc. Jan

  19. But the pay is not so good, Jan.

  20. […] all top management layoffs at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the departure of two high-profile staffers at the Sun, I […]

  21. […] past Tuesday at a staff meeting everyone was told six top editor positions were being “restructured” into two. A couple […]

  22. […] news and business, one to oversee sports and features. Sources: Paper Cuts tips; Jim Romenesko; 4th St8 Related posts: < 25 employees laid off, August 2012 layoffs, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada […]

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