RI’s Media Decline — Projo Staff Cuts, Providence American Stops Printing and Pivots to Digital

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

 

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More buyouts at the Providence Journal

The Providence Journal announced yet another staff reduction last week. The company, owned by GateHouse Media, has offered the remaining staff a buyout. The newspaper, which once had a newsroom of more than 300 in the 1980s, now has fewer than 15 news reporters before this most recent reduction.

This is the third major staff reduction at the newspaper over the past year. In the most recent fall report, the daily print circulation had shrunk to less than 44,000.

Another Rhode Island newspaper — the Providence American -- has stopped printing and is looking to pivot to digital.

“Obviously, the medium has changed — people want to reach out, advertisers want to reach out to a larger segment of the community. I think that can be done more efficiently these days both with TV, and the internet and digital broadcasting,” said Peter Wells, publisher of the community newspaper which has a focus on issues impacting people of color, in an appearance on GoLocal LIVE.

“We’re going to be doing that as well, we’re going to be transitioning to a digital base.  It may not say the Providence American..but it will still have the same impact of publishing stories that impact the communities of color in Rhode Island,” said Wells.

WATCH THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW ABOVE

In the 1980s, Frank Graham founded The Providence American — Rhode Island’s “Black newspaper” -- with a focus on covering the African-American community.

In 2006, Wells, a former Housing and Urban Development official purchased the newspaper from Graham.  Wells explained how he expanded the coverage of the paper for all people in the minority community.

“In 2006, when I acquired the rights to publish the Providence American, it was to keep it going. Frank Graham had some medical issues and could no longer publish the paper and since I was retiring from the federal government...[I'd say] it was purely by accident,” said Wells

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Peter Wells, Providence American

"I think it had originally started in 1986. Frank Graham was one of the first people of color on TV as a new anchor. Frank wanted to do more stories about the minority community. The news station he was on at the time wasn’t too happy about that type of news content, so he started the Providence American to be an outlet for the minority community. Back then it was known as the ‘black newspaper’ — when we [took over] the paper in 2006 we wanted to make it more inclusive. We called it the paper that addressed the community of color, which of course includes Latinos, African Americans, Caribbeans, Native Americans — we’re a bit more inclusive," said Wells.

The new digital version is expected to launch in the next few weeks and it will be named Provamnews.com, according to Wells.

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More cuts across Gannett

Not Just Rhode Island

Across the country print, television and digital news organizations are seeing more and more staff reductions.

This month, digital news company BuzzFeed's slashing 15 percent of its staffing coupled with HuffPost’s 7 percent reduction were major hits to the digital news business. “‘This is going to be a tough week,’ Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, wrote in an email to his staff on Wednesday. On Friday, the newsroom learned just how tough, when the company laid off 43 of the roughly 250 journalists who worked in that division, according to a BuzzFeed spokesman,” reported the New York Times.

Newspapers across the country saw more dramatic cuts as Gannett, owner of USA Today and hundreds of other newspapers across the country, made newsroom cuts across its papers across the board.

 
 

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