Even the most savvy reporters can be caught off guard. “I didn’t see this coming two weeks ago,” said Sacramento Bee writer Deb Kollars, explaining how she learned that her two-and-a-half decade career in journalism was coming to an abrupt end.
On August 26, the Bee gave most of its employees just two weeks to decide: Leave the Bee now and we’ll cut you a deal that could help ease your transition into a different career, or into retirement, or stay and see what happens next.
Kollars was most recently the Bee’s main education writer, but she covered many beats over the years. Along with Bee reporters Matt Weiser and Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, she received major awards and recognition for a series of investigative stories on Sacramento’s vulnerability to a catastrophic flood.
She already had been considering a career change, but with little time to make a decision, Kollars accepted the buyout. She’s now enrolled at McGeorge School of Law. Her last day was Friday, September 12.
The list goes on. Veteran reporter Art Campos, well-known features writer Bob Sylva and prominent food critic Mike Dunne are just a few of the other names on the list.
Some Bee employees weren’t included in the buyout offer, such as the Bee’s Capitol Bureau reporters and columnists Marcos Bretón and Ailene Voisin. And according to the Bee’s own reports about the buyouts, each employee was offered two-weeks salary for every year of service at the paper.
In all, about 10 percent of the newsroom took the buyout, in what is only the latest round of cost-cutting moves at the Bee and McClatchy Co. newspapers around the country. In June, the Bee cut staff across all departments by about 10 percent—through attrition and layoffs. In the process, the Bee has lost many of its most-experienced and accomplished reporters.
87 employees leave the Sacramento Bee
List of McClatchy buyouts during August and September - updated
Buyouts at the Sacramento Bee
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