Number Of Newspaper Veterans Among 34 Let Go By Times Free Press; Curtis Adams Says Print Papers Across America Fighting Same Battle

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Chattanooga Times Free Press on Tuesday laid off 34 employees, including several with decades of service at the morning newspaper.

Teresa Chumley, a circulation department veteran, said others with long tenure on the list included Ward Gossett in sports, Judy Spears, Nellie Jordan, Martha Tiffin and Jim Hazard. 

Ms. Spears had been with the newspaper for over 50 years after being hired by the late Chattanooga News Free Press Publisher Roy McDonald.

Former County Commissioner Curtis Adams, who worked at the newspaper for over 40 years and calls himself "a newspaper nut," said, "It's a sad day, but it's what's happening all over America. I feel sad for the employees," but he said management has little option. "You have to have so much money just to open the doors every day. And they have lost so much advertising."

Mr. Adams said, "When I was circulation manager, I would say there are 10 houses on the street and all 10 take the paper. Now it's two houses out of the 10. We used to have 102,000 daily and 115,000 on Sunday. Now it's about half that."

He said, "I talk to people all the time and ask them if they read the newspaper. A lot tell me they don't ever read a newspaper anymore. They say they get it off the Internet."

Mr. Adams said some newspapers, including those in Huntsville and Birmingham, are trying to cope by going to just three days a week. He said he once wrote a letter to Editor and Publisher magazine in which he said, "Start printing three days a week and you might as well call the undertaker."

He said he worked with some of those affected by the layoffs "and they are great employees. They put their heart in that paper."

He said of Ms. Spears, "Mr. Roy thought the world of her. When we had a tough problem to solve, he would say, 'Get Judy in here, and she will take care of it.' "

Chattanooga Times Free Press President Jeff DeLoach issued this statement:

"In an effort to better position the Chattanooga Times Free Press to continue providing award-winning journalism and advertising for the community, the company is making structural changes that better align us with today’s technology, which have also resulted in the elimination of some jobs.

"Today the Times Free Press has reduced its workforce by 34 positions as part of a necessary strategy to align the company to meet consumer demands for how news is received and consumed. Seventy percent of the personnel reductions are in support service areas that are being absorbed by advances in technology as well as centralization of activity within our company.

“While every job loss is a difficult decision, we believe these changes prepare us for continued future growth. With improvements in technology and changes in the way we now interact with readers and advertising clients, we want to make sure we have the best resources to effectively and efficiently serve our community today and tomorrow.

“We believe today’s changes allow us to be more efficient while causing no disruptions to the quality or delivery of the content that our readers and advertisers have come to trust. It is our intention to continuously evolve, as all businesses do, ensuring that we continue to meet the expectations of our readers and our advertising partners for years to come.”

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