Local News

Fallout Continues Over Layoffs At Herald-Sun

Posted January 4, 2005 4:48 a.m. EST

— After 115 years under the same local ownership, new owners from the Paxton Media Group officially took over the


Monday. Their first order of business was letting go of some of the top officials along with dozens of other employees.

Mary Taylor spent Tuesday doing something she has not done in years -- updating a resume. After working at the


for more than a decade, the former production director suddenly found herself without a job Monday afternoon. Since then, she said the phone has not stopped ringing.

"People are calling to say, 'I'm praying for you. I care about you. What can I do to help?'" she said.

Taylor was among dozens of people let go right after new owners took over the paper. Employees said they were told finances are behind the cuts.

"I understand the business sense of it, but when you work somewhere 16 years and you care, you don't expect to be treated like that," she said.

Former Vice President Toby Barfield said things happened very quickly after news of the sale.

"They said you can't touch the computer. You can't touch the phone. You have to leave right now," he said. "We had no idea that 30 minutes after the closing of the sale, our heads would start rolling. It was a total shock."

Barfield admits the paper had been struggling financially in recent years, but said the


was rebounding with an 8 percent increase in revenue.

"For the last six months of the year, we were going great guns. We were showing healthy gains," he said. "People take their paper as their own personal possession. It's not 'the' newspaper."

Barfield said people in the community want to know what kinds of changes they will see in the paper. The new owners and new management refuse to comment about the changes.

There is no firm count on the exact number of employees let go. Insiders tell WRAL the new management plans to get rid of about a quarter of the 350 workers. All the exiting employees received a severance package based on years of service.