New Orleans' venerable Times-Picayune has laid off nearly half of its newsroom staff—and a third of its total workforce—just weeks after the paper announced it's cutting print publication to three days a week. More than 200 staffers—including 84 of 173 newsroom workers—were given notice yesterday at the newspaper founded in 1837, reports BusinessWeek. Award-winning restaurant critic Brett Anderson, longtime sports columnist Peter Finney and religion writer Bruce Nolan were among those axed. The layoffs take effect Sept. 30.
The "mood started out at melancholy and quickly plunged from there," noted a blogger. "The decline was chronicled in adjectives: Depressing. Heartbreaking. Devastating." In Alabama, three major dailies also owned by the Times-Picayune parent company, Advance Publications, laid off close to 400 employees, many of them in the newsrooms at the Birmingham News, the Press-Register in Mobile and the Huntsville Times, AP reports. (Read more Times-Picayune stories.)