Not true. Same # reporters. Not closing office. RT @SuziSteffen: Abandoning NKY? Wow RT @Andy_Brownfield: @Cincienquirer shuttering 2...
— Carolyn Washburn (@CarolynWashburn) August 2, 2013
"Not true" is Cincinnati Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn's response to a published report yesterday, saying the paper will close bureaus in Butler County and, across the Ohio River, in Northern Kentucky amid a layoff of about a dozen employees.
That story was by Andy Brownfield in the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Washburn's Tweet didn't address a similar story yesterday in CityBeat, which included more details -- including names -- about the layoffs. CityBeat's story also says the Enquirer is shutting down its Kentucky and Butler offices.
But here's what's missing from Washburn's response: What did the Enquirer do this week? Her Tweet doesn't deny there were layoffs at the paper. And her boss, Publisher Margaret Buchanan, didn't respond to a voicemail and an e-mail requesting comment, according to Brownfield.
Washburn says the Kentucky office will not close. But she doesn't acknowledge that the office, which was responsible for a Northern Kentucky edition, will no longer be staffed with reporters, according to that edition's editor, Steve Wilson.
Boots on the ground
Wilson, who was laid off, told CityBeat the paper would continue publishing the daily edition, with reporters working from the Enquirer's main newsroom in Cincinnati. He concedes the move poses a challenge.
“Clearly, all things being equal," Wilson said, "you want to have reporters based in the area they’re covering. That just makes sense. Everybody would agree with that. But in this case, they apparently had their reasons that made sense to them."
A Gannett Blog reader says in a comment the Kentucky office will, indeed, remain open, as Washburn says -- but only for advertising staff.
In the end, this may be all about semantics and rearranging the deck chairs. The Enquirer is shutting down its Kentucky "bureau" (journalism terminology) but keeping open an office for business purposes. And it's keeping the same number of reporters, but only by cutting other jobs in the newsroom.
Reaping what you sow
I have zero sympathy for Washburn's (and I assume Buchanan's, too) frustration with how this story has played out. Here's why:
As near as I can tell, the Enquirer itself hasn't reported anything about its cost-cutting, according to a search of its website this morning. And like every other Gannett paper I've checked, it didn't even carry a widely published Associated Press story about GCI's nationwide layoffs.
The Enquirer's handling of this news is a classic example of what happens when a paper doesn't do its job: in the vacuum that follows, rumors and speculation rush in. That's simple Journalism 101.
Earlier: Buchanan whistles past journalism's graveyard. And: An incredible list of professional women.