March 19th was the last day of work for nineteen staff writers at the Chronicle Herald.
Earlier this week management announced it would lay off 10 news room reporters and give buy-outs to another nine in an effort to shave off $1.5 million from its budget.
“The mood today in the newsroom is subdued. It’s sad to be leaving; some of us are not going to be unemployed because we’ve reached retirement age, but lots of young people will be,” said Peter Duffy, longtime writer for the Chronicle Herald and president of the Halifax Typographical Union.
Kristen Lipscombe, former education reporter at the Herald had only worked at the paper for five years before she learned this past Monday that she would be laid off.
“I’m disappointed that its come to this…it’s a dark day for journalism in Nova Scotia.” said Lipscombe who along with most of the staff in the newsroom today was dressed in black.
Initially, there were 24 jobs on the chopping block, but through negotiations with the union, this number was pared down to 19.
“A lot of the proposals to save jobs, came through at the eleventh hour. We recognize the economic situation, but even so, we think there was a better way than to come around with an axe and lop off 24 heads,” says Duffy.
Duffy believes that management could have resorted to more “creative tactics” such as seeking out federal funding for modified work weeks and offering unpaid vacation time to staff.
On March 14th, the Halifax Typographical Union held a rally at the Grand Parade.Â About 150 showed up to the event and speeches were given by members of the union, politicians from all three levels of government and Stephen Kimber, professor of journalism at King’s University.
According to Duffy this is the first time in the history of the Chronicle Herald that the paper has resorted to mass layoffs to reduce its budget. Duffy believes it likely will not be the last.