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3 Alabama newspapers cutting about 400 jobs

3 Alabama newspapers cutting about 400 jobs

June 13th, 2012 in News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's three largest newspapers announced Tuesday they are cutting about 400 employees as part of their shift from daily publication toward online news.

The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, the Press-Register in Mobile and their website started notifying employees whether they would be offered positions with two new operating companies. The changes come as the newspapers plan to reduce publication to three days this fall to put more emphasis on the website.

The two new operating companies, Alabama Media Group and Advance Central Services Alabama, said they plan to post more than 100 positions, and all current employees are eligible to apply.

A sister publication, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, announced 200 cuts Tuesday. The four newspapers' parent company, Advance Publications, is shifting its focus in the digital age.

A spokesman could not say how many employees the three Alabama newspapers had before the cuts were announced Tuesday.

Steven Padgett, director of the Hall School of Journalism and Communication at Troy University, said a lot of newspapers consider their economic model broken and are looking for ways to fix it, like the three Alabama newspapers. But he said that conflicts with Warren Buffett buying 63 newspapers because he believes they have a bright future.

"Warren Buffett didn't become a billionaire by making really bad investments," Padgett said

As part of the newspapers moving operations in Alabama to two new companies, copy editing and design, advertising production and call centers are being centralized in Birmingham. Printing of The Huntsville Times will be moved to Birmingham this summer.

In Birmingham, about half of the newsroom employees were not immediately offered jobs.

One of them, veteran political writer Chuck Dean, said he was encouraged to apply for one of the vacant positions.

"It's an emotional day. It's hard to watch friends and colleagues be hurt and to lose something that they've cared about for a long time," said Dean, who's been with the paper 31 years.

Dean said he doesn't doubt the intentions of managers trying to figure out a new way to deliver the news.

"Journalism matters, and the way it's been paid for forever is no longer viable," he said.