Six of Seattle Weekly’s 21 employees will lose their jobs at the end of the year.
The Seattle Weekly told six of its 21 employees this week that their jobs would be terminated at the end of the year. According to Seattle Weekly publisher Bob Baranski, the cuts largely hit the editorial and production departments.
“We’re shifting to a variable-cost model,” Baranski said. “Which is another way of saying freelance versus (full-time) staff.”
Baranski became the publisher of the Weekly in January, after 2½ years as vice president of sales and associate publisher at the San Diego Business Journal.
The Weekly is part of Sound Publishing company, which purchased the paper from Village Voice Media Holdings in early 2013 and owns 49 others, including the Bainbridge Island Review and The (Everett) Herald.
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“The Weekly’s acquisition by Sound Publishing is coming into a position of full strength and leverage,” Baranski said. “We’re in great shape.” He said he was not aware of any other Sound Publishing papers contemplating staff reductions.
Baranski described the layoffs as a signal of the Weekly’s “further integration into the company. There are many resources we can share.”
Seattle Weekly readers, he said, can expect to see stories from other Sound papers in its pages, and he offered the Peninsula Daily News’ coverage of the arrival of the Shell oil rig earlier this year as an example.
Baranski emphasized that these adjustments will not affect the tone or range of the Weekly’s coverage.
“There’s nothing diminished here,” he said, adding that, in the newsroom, “there’s a lot of excitement about what we’ve got coming up,” including the launch of a redesigned website. “But, as you can imagine, there’s some somberness among the staffers and an awful lot of gratitude for what everyone has contributed.”
These changes at the Weekly come at a moment of shifts in Seattle’s media landscape. In the past few weeks, the University of Washington announced its intent to buy KPLU and public-television station KCTS absorbed the websites Crosscut.com and What’s Good 206.
Nevertheless, Baranski said, Seattle is “still a very healthy media market … I feel very, very optimistic about where we’re going.”
Three Seattle Weekly staffers declined to comment for this story; executives of Sound Publishing did not return requests for comment.