Durham Councilman Criticizes Herald-Sun Sale, New Owners
Posted January 6, 2005 4:15 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Emotions boiled over Thursday at a Durham City Council meeting over the sale and layoffs at a local newspaper. The shakeup at the
drew the ire of Councilor Eugene Brown.
"This week, a Durham institution was changed and not necessarily for the better," he said. "The citizens of Durham deserve better."
After 115 years under the same local ownership, the paper was recently sold to the Paxton Media Group. On Monday within minutes of the sale, dozens of employees were let go.
"It is not good business to cut 25 percent of the workforce and expect employees' morale to remain high or expect Durham to continue to have a viable quality newspaper," Brown said.
Brown said the paper is more than just a business.
"They purchased a unique Durham institution that on a daily basis reflects the heart of our community," he said.
Brown tipped his hat to the former owners and management, then questioned the new owners' commitment to the community. He said Paxton Media puts profit above all else.
"A group whose highest vision is the bottom line, a group who thinks more about the next paycheck than the next edition and all of us in Durham may suffer because of it," he said. "As a native and public official, I cannot sit back in silence and without protest and watch the demise of my hometown newspaper."
On Thursday, WRAL spoke with Bob Ashley, the new editor of the newspaper. He said Brown is entitled to his opinion, but the paper and its management have no comment on how the employees were let go or on what kinds of changes readers can expect to see in the paper.