In a combination of layoffs, buyouts, and voluntary departures, the Seattle Times newsroom is losing 22 people, according to internal emails obtained by The Stranger. The names on the list mark a loss of talent ranging from ambitious and energetic young staffers to editors who've been at the Times for decades. The departures come as the Times struggles with falling advertising revenue and attempts to become "more urgent [and] more reader driven."
Here's what we know about who's leaving:
Union members who were laid off or took buyouts:
Barbara Schechter, desk editor
Kelly Shea, news artist
Jeff Paslay, news artist
Angela Lo, page design
Tyler Sipe, photo
Ben Benschneider, photo
Lindsey Wasson, photo
Matt Pentz, sports
Doug Knoop, features
Paul Ramsdell, sports
These employees' final day was Friday, according to an email sent from executive editor Don Shelton on January 23.
Non-union employees who were laid off or took buyouts:
Kathleen Goodfellow, executive assistant to the editor
Whitney Stensrud, assistant managing editor in visuals
Andrew MacRae, senior product manager in audience development
Greg Rasa, digital news editor
Mark Watanabe, technology editor
Newsroom employees who will move to jobs outside the newsroom:
Sharon Pian Chan, deputy managing editor (Chan will now be vice president of innovation, product and development, where she will "lead content funding and development as well as maintain funder relationships.")
Agnes Al-Shibibi, desk editor (Al-Shibibi will now work for the opinion section)
Caitlin Moran, newsletter growth editor (Moran has "moved to product," according to Shelton's January email.)
Staffers leaving on their own without a buyout or layoff:
Jim Simon, senior editor for enterprise (Simon has taken a job at the nonprofit Honolulu Civil Beat)
Matt Doig, investigations editor (Doig has taken a job at the Los Angeles Times)
Audrey Carlsen, news applications developer (Shelton told employees in an email Carlsen has taken a job outside the company but did not specify where.)
Mary Ann Gwinn, books editor (Gwinn will continue to contribute as a freelancer, Shelton told employees.)
Some of the staffers named above have already had their last day at the paper, but departure dates vary. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment and has in the past refused to confirm the names of people leaving the company.
(3/5) As I returned to newsroom to update w. response & context some terrific longtime colleagues were leaving building for the last time
— Jim Brunner (@Jim_Brunner) February 4, 2017
Along with those names, three reporters initially faced layoffs but their jobs were saved: metro reporter Jessica Lee, politics reporter David Gutman, and breaking news reporter Vernal Coleman. Coleman will now focus on covering homelessness in a role funded by a grant, according to the January email from Shelton. Gutman's and Lee's new roles are not clear, but they will likely move to the paper's new Traffic Lab. UPDATE: Lee confirmed on Twitter that she's joining the Traffic Lab.
Along with the restructuring Shelton announced last month, the paper plans to shift editing resources from the evening to the morning in order to get more content out during the day (when, presumably, the Times' website sees more traffic). The afternoon/evening editing staff will soon be "one half its current size," Shelton wrote in a February 2 email to the newsroom.
For the next few months, reporters will rotate into an early-morning shift currently filled by Coleman. That, Shelton wrote, "will help our content generators better understand how to carve short, interesting items off their beats that can help us increase readership—and ultimately, subscriptions."
Elsewhere, sports reporter Geoff Baker will take over coverage of the Seattle Sounders, which Pentz covered. Managing Editor Michele Matassa Flores will temporarily fill Simon's and Doig's editor roles while the paper looks for a new investigations editor. With the loss of several photographers, "photographers will be stretched more thinly across all shifts," Shelton wrote, and photo and video editors will focus on "mission-critical stories."
The Seattle Times is also conducting studies of its readership, according to Shelton's email, and participating in the Knight-Temple Table Stakes Project, a $1.3 million project funded by the Knight Foundation to help four "legacy newsrooms speed up digital adoption." As part of that project, executives and editors will choose "three key initiatives" for the paper to focus on in 2017, Shelton wrote.
"The overall goal is to change the culture of our newsroom and company to be more digital and consumer driven, while better monetizing our digital products," Shelton wrote.
"That is a lot of change as we adjust and focus our newsroom to become more digital with fewer resources," he added later. "Thank you in advance for your understanding, patience and flexibility during this time of transition. I have no doubt that we can move forward quickly with your help."