Newsroom employees at The Register-Guard learned Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 21, that most or all of the newspaper’s copy editors will lose their jobs by May following the sale of the family-owned business to a private equity firm.
Details were still unclear Thursday morning, but from Facebook posts and conversations with past and current staffers it appears that the newspaper, which is being sold to GateHouse Media as of March 1, will outsource copy editing to GateHouse’s Center for News & Design in Austin, Texas. The center serves more than 200 GateHouse publications.
One source said the RG would retain two of its eight copy editors locally, dropping their pay from about $25 an hour to $15.
All of the RG‘s current reporters, according to reports, have retained their jobs, as well as their previous pay. The main difference, one source told Eugene Weekly, is that under GateHouse all employees work “at-will,” meaning they can be dismissed at any time for any or no reason. The current contract between the RG and The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America, which represents about 60 workers in the building, says that employees can be fired only for good cause. The contract will be re-opened for negotiation on March 1 when the sale closes.
Newspaper copy editors are the final control on quality in journalism. They factcheck stories before publication, correct typos and lay out many pages.
We’ve asked for more information from both the RG and from TNG-CWA and will update when confirmed details are available.
EW arts editor Bob Keefer worked at The Register-Guard for 30 years before his retirement there in 2013.