Monday In December

Unless you’re a big winter weather fan, or happy about the start of a new work week, the phrase “Monday in December” seems rather foreboding. For that matter, so do some of our news items as we start the week…

WKYC BUYOUTS: OMW hears that our earlier fears regarding Gannett’s continuing effort to reduce staff at Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3 are true.

We passed along an item earlier from Dave Hughes’ DCRTV – that Gannett was actively offering buyouts to help further cut staff at its TV stations around the country.

The news came on the heels of at least four WKYC reporters exiting due to the station not renewing their contracts, and we wondered if this news was *in addition* to the exits of high-profile staffers like station veteran Obie Shelton.

It is.

OMW hears that Friday, Gannett officially offered the buyout package to WKYC staffers who are either over the age of 55, or who have more than 10 years of service with the company. We’re told that the buyouts are being offered to everyone except department heads and employees with personal services contracts (i.e. they would exclude on-air staffers).

They’re being characterized as “voluntary buyouts” for now, but Gannett has made it clear that if not enough people take the offers, more involuntary exits are likely…

NEWSPAPER WOES: Speaking of “involuntary exits”, our friends in the print industry are getting hit hard by economics – even more so than those in broadcasting.

We haven’t confirmed this one at all. But OMW hears that a rumor is floating around the Internet that more significant staff cuts could be coming to the Cleveland Plain Dealer – which could take effect soon as today.

The numbers we’re hearing are well into double digits, but we haven’t confirmed anything here.

But if you can’t reach someone at the Plain Dealer today, and have no explanation why…

MORE NEWSPAPER WOES: While we’re temporarily in Print Mode, OMW hears that you can put an asterisk next to “Kent” in the name of Record Publishing’s daily newspaper, the Kent-Ravenna Record Courier.

OMW hears that this month, the R-C is closing its operations office in Kent, leaving the Portage County city without a daily newspaper’s office for the first time since the mid-1880s. No, that’s not the mid-1980s, it’s the mid-1880s.

We’re told that the paper’s display advertising staff has been moving from Kent into the R-C’s Ravenna office, and the R-C classified advertising and web divisions will follow them east on Ohio 59 soon.

We hear the R-C, like most newspapers, has laid off a few staff members both in editorial and production…and is struggling with the surging price of newsprint.

The company will continue to operate its weekly division separately out of Commerce Drive in Stow, the home of papers like the Stow Sentry and the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press. Though that division is said to be doing better financially, it had to close struggling weekly newspapers in Bedford and Maple Heights earlier this year.

And obviously, the Record Courier will continue to cover Kent…it just won’t have production-related operations there…though we don’t know if the paper will operate a nominal “bureau” in Kent.

Record Publishing has a sister radio operation, of course…Wooster-based Dix Communications has a small group of radio stations, including country WQKT/104.5 and oldies WKVX/960 in the company’s hometown…

GARY’S BOOK: A veteran Cleveland TV news reporter, who recently retired after a 30 year run, has finished a book.

He’s WJW/8’s Gary Stromberg, who had been with the local FOX affiliate long before it switched networks from CBS in the mid-1990’s.

And as such, Stromberg’s new book – Aren’t You That News Man? The Funny Side of the Evening News – covers, among other things, his many years working for former WJW news director Virgil Dominic in both Cleveland and Atlanta.

Stromberg tells OMW that as the title suggests, the book not only reflects on the “the professional standards and guidance” provided by Dominic:

The book provides plenty of laughs. For the first time ever, it’s revealed how we smuggled a news tape on to the Channel 5 helicopter and had them ferry it to Cleveland without them knowing a thing about it.

From the book’s description:

Gary explains how legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel offered him a chance to join the New York Mets.

He reveals why he is grateful to the Beatles for helping him get into Northwestern.

And, for the first time ever, he explains why Channel 8 workers pulled the pants off of a producer, and ran them up the flagpole in front of the station.

The things you learn after a veteran reporter retires, eh?

It can be purchased via online publisher “iUniverse” in both softcover and eBook form, and Gary tells us you can also find it on Amazon.com, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it…

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