Zlotnicki was one of 10 N&O employees laid off last week -- and the only newsroom employee to get axed.
Zlotnicki had been with the N&O for 17 years, the last five in the sports department where he has produced, written, edited and helped design the very successful Outdoors section. The reader says the Outdoors section pulled in money and readers for the N&O.
If the N&O wanted to ramp up its local news, it would have recognized Zlotnicki was a valuable asset that should be kept.
The reader says,
“This weekly feature was chock full of LOCAL features about fishing, hunting and other outdoor adventures. It was one, if not the most successful sections of the paper in these lean times. Mike "Z" (as he is referred to) had a network of contacts around the state second to none and was always ahead of the curve on stories the readers wanted. He is truly a "good old boy" something of a rarity in the newspaper business.”
Apparently there are two or three other sportswriters at the paper with less seniority -- and less of a following -- than Zlotnicki, but they get to stay.
More odd: a movie reviewer with less longevity gets to stay.
The reader says employees are wondering why the N&O didn’t pink slip the movie reviewer. The reviewer has been with the N&O less than 5 years and hasn’t exactly impressed fellow employees with his work ethic.
“Not to mention the fact that he writes movie reviews which is something that can be out sourced without any effect (after all movies aren't something locally produced and critics are a dime a dozen). The word is he is totally protected by Linda Williams… she is loathed by EVERYONE in the newsroom and will try and destroy anyone who stands up to her.”
The reader also says word around the newsroom is Linda Williams and Zlotnicki have had several arguments over the years and this was her chance to get even.
Seems like a loss to the N&O and to readers. (You can see a video of Zlotnicki talking about the Dixie Deer Classic earlier this year here.)