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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Everett Herald lays off nearly half its newsroom staff

By Emerson Drewes Seattle Times

The Everett Herald laid off 12 editorial staff members last week, about half its newsroom, nearly three months after the Snohomish County paper saw a change of ownership.

The cuts are to “invest in and organize our team to move forward to produce a product that continues to improve and serve,” said Todd Carpenter, chair of Carpenter Media Group, in a Herald article posted Thursday.

Carpenter has owned the Herald since March, along with 43 other Washington and Alaska newspapers operating as Sound Publishing, after acquiring publisher Black Press.

The layoffs included the paper’s executive editor and managing editor, a page designer, a web producer, six reporters, and two photographers.

The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, representing 10 Everett NewsGuild staffers who were laid off and eight others who remain at the Everett Herald, protested the move and arranged for a one-day strike Monday, requesting the jobs to be reinstated.

“These layoffs would not only hurt union workers, but cause a tragic loss of talent in the newsroom,” said a statement from the union.

“Everett NewsGuild members believe these cuts will damage the Herald’s ability to provide the quality local journalism readers deserve.”

Union and nonunion newsroom employees, community members and fellow journalists showed support by joining in on Monday’s walkout.

Public officials also came to the strike to show their support including: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett; Rep. Mary Fosse, D-Everett; and Everett City Council Member Paula Rhyne.

Union members wore red as they walked through downtown Everett, starting at the corner of Colby and Hewitt avenues, and ending in front of the Everett Herald offices on Colby Avenue and 41st Street.

Around 20 participants held signs with statements reading, “AI can’t replace us,” and, “Say ‘no’ to union busting,” among others, while chanting sentiments like, “Union busting is disgusting.”

The group received many honks from drivers in solidarity.

The Everett NewsGuild, which formed in fall 2022, has been working toward its first contract since March 2023, but it hasn’t reached a contract agreement.

Still, the union said the company cannot enact layoffs without negotiating with guild-represented members.

Carpenter Media Group did not respond to a request for comment.

While Publisher Rudi Alcott said after the layoffs that “operations are not going to change much” and “readers won’t notice,” the newsroom strongly disagreed.

With a smaller newsroom, local news stories, like breaking news, school sports and photography opportunities, may be skipped over, said Sydney Jackson, a grant-funded health reporter whose contract ends this summer.

It “is not going to cut it.”

“The company’s position is that this is going to lead to sustainability in the long run. We aren’t sure how that’s actually going to play out,” said Jackson, who was not laid off. “And we’re challenging them to find a different way to go about that.”

No one has been effectively laid off yet due to lack of a collective bargaining agreement, but the date the company aims for is July 1, according to Nicholas Johnson, a page designer who was notified of his impending layoff.

Newsrooms across the United States have seen a wave of layoffs in recent years due to dips in readership, advertising and COVID-19.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in January alone, the news industry saw 528 layoffs, with mass layoffs coming from large media organizations like the Los Angeles Times, GQ, Sports Illustrated and many others.

In 2023, there were 3,087 layoffs in the news industry, the highest since 2020, when layoff numbers hit more than 16,000.