Gazette announces layoffs, buyouts amid pandemic

  • The Daily Hampshire Gazette on Conz Street in Northampton. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2020 6:19:03 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Eight full-time employees of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, including Editor-in-Chief Brooke Hauser, are being laid off or taking voluntary buyouts due to the continued economic impact COVID-19 is having on the newspaper.

“We are moving forward with a restructuring of our workforce so we can put our company on a stronger path for the future,” Gazette Publisher Michael Moses wrote in a companywide email Tuesday morning that announced the staff reductions.

Moses also praised those leaving the company. “I appreciate and respect their dedication and professionalism and wish them only the best in future endeavors,” he wrote.

In an interview, Moses said the challenges posed by the pandemic are to blame for the organizational changes.

“The goal here is to rightsize this company to preserve a sustainable business model which we’re hoping will thrive post-pandemic,” Moses said.

The staff reductions come following a summer in which the newspaper’s printing press was shut down and the distribution department closed, resulting in layoffs. The Gazette’s 115 Conz St. building also was put on the market. 

As part of the latest adjustments, Joan Livingston, editor in chief for nearly two years at the Greenfield Recorder, another newspaper owned by Newspapers of New England, will assume a newly created role as editor in chief for the Pioneer Valley.

Livingston said she is up to the challenge of overseeing coverage by the Gazette, where she worked for 21 years, the Recorder and the Athol Daily News, and is devoted to hyperlocal news coverage.

“I thank Publisher Michael Moses for having confidence in my ability to make this new collaboration a success,” Livingston said. “My first task will be to get to know the Gazette’s staff and share our thoughts on coverage. I also welcome input from our readers.”

Livingston started her journalism career as the Gazette’s Worthington’s correspondent, being paid by the inch for each story, then continued as the Hilltowns reporter and eventually editor of the newspaper’s former Easthampton bureau.

Moses said the newsgathering will remain distinct for Hampshire and Franklin counties, but that “the road map will require a change in how we work, and what we need to do that work. We will need to be nimble, responsive, and innovative.”

Hauser, who announced via Twitter her departure from the position she held for about 2 ½ years, said she is troubled by the cuts made in the newsroom, and called for new ideas and visions in how the newspaper operates.

“I loved my time at the Gazette,” Hauser said. “It’s possibly the best and worst job I’ve ever had.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone on staff and beyond and I’m really proud of the work accomplished during my tenure here,” Hauser added.

Though the Gazette has been considered a learning newsroom, Hauser said some reporters have also taught her about how to cover topics such as policing and climate change and making sure the community’s diverse voices are heard.

“They have questioned the way we do things,” Hauser said. “They are doing their jobs when they ask these questions.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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