Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News & Observer cuts cartoonist and public editor to part-time


The roles of Dwane Powell, an award-winning editorial cartoonist, and Ted Vaden, the public editor, have been reduced to part-time as part of continuing cutbacks at The News & Observer.

Publisher Orage Quarles III confirmed to WRAL.com in an interview Tuesday that the N&O veterans would work on a limited basis.

“You have to look at the whole picture, not just parts of it,” Quarles said when asked about why the changes were made in two of the newspapers’ most visible positions. “I had to make decisions about what our needs are not only today, but in looking forward. That’s the gist of it.”

Asked if either was offered a buyout rather than a reduction to part-time, Quarles said, “I’d rather not get into that.”

Quarles also said that the N&O was continuing to review its staffing needs.

The newspaper offered buyouts to about 40 percent of its workers, including all full-time newsroom employees earlier this month. The deadline to accept those buyouts was Sept. 17. That offer followed a round of layoffs in June.

Multiple sources told WRAL.com that 16 newsroom employees accepted the buyout, including Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Pat Stith. The paper reported his retirement.

In a recent memo to the staff, Quarles had warned that if enough employees did not accept the buyouts, layoffs would follow. At least one journalist was laid off Monday, sources told WRAL.com.
UPDATE 12:03: From comments at Romenesko:
The WRAL story is misleading. The public editor's position became part-time back in June and is not part of the N&O's current round of buyouts.
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