by Sam Levin
The Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, the local newspapers owned by the same company as the Post-Dispatch and published online at stltoday.com are undergoing a major transition that involves shuttering two print editions and laying off twenty employees.
The official announcement from parent company Lee Enterprises calls this a streamlining initiative to focus efforts online, and says the communities where the papers were published will still be covered at stltoday.com. One laid-off journalist -- who got the call Saturday morning -- tells Daily RFT that the former staffers are not convinced.
"This doesn't just hurt the people that are laid off. It affects the communities that were being covered by these newspapers," the now unemployed writer, who wished to remain anonymous, tells us.
The weekly print editions of the Suburban Journal West and the Suburban Journal South are now officially discontinued, the company says, noting that news from these communities will be published at stltoday.com. Additionally, the announcement says, "expanded coverage of local prep, college and community sports will be available on stlhighschoolsports.com."
"By focusing our efforts online, our local news content can be distributed in a more timely way and over a much wider platform," Suburban Journals Publisher Brian Walsh says in a statement.
The St. Charles County Suburban Journal (St. Charles, St. Peters, Cottleville); St. Charles County Suburban Journal (Wentzville, Lake Saint Louis, Dardenne Prairie); the Collinsville Herald (Collinsville, Edwardsville and surrounding communities); and the Granite City Press Record (Brooklyn, Madison, Pontoon Beach & Venice) will still publish Wednesday print editions, the statement adds.
But these publications have faced losses through these cuts, and the former writer we spoke to says it's unclear how they will be staffed -- and how these communities will be covered -- moving forward.
"It's sad, because these papers have been around for so long," the individual says, noting that it may be difficult for many of the older journalists to find new work. "It's kind of hard to pick up from there when you are middle-aged and older."
Many saw this coming, the source says, but didn't know the layoffs and cuts would happen so soon.
Some are a bit relieved to move on, the reporter says, but adds, "It's just really sad."