Several news reporters in Wyoming lost their jobs or saw their hours cut this week, as the COVID-19 pandemic puts the squeeze on an already struggling industry.
Adams Publishing Group owns the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, as well as its sister papers in Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs. In an email Tuesday, the company's CEO said full-time reporters would see their weekly hours cut to 30, while virtually all part-time reporters would be out of a job.
Meanwhile, the locally-owned Buffalo Bulletin laid off a reporter and another staff member, as reported by Wyofile.
Melissa Cassutt is the Wyoming chapter president for the Society of Professional Journalists. She said these cuts are troubling, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.
"Now more than ever, communities are turning to local media to get critical information like what number do I call if I have symptoms? Or what scams are out there?" Cassutt said. "Without local reporters doing that work, I worry about news deserts."
She said these reductions fit into a larger national trend of locally-run newsrooms downsizing, and going out of business.
"I work for a small local paper," Cassutt said. "I'm certainly understanding and empathetic to those pressures but people still remain a company's most valuable asset. And I encourage companies to explore any and all other cost-saving measures before reductions in staff."
Cassutt said local reporters are more important than ever, as they work overtime to cover the pandemic.
CORRECTION: This story was updated to note that the Buffalo Bulletin laid off one reporter, not two as originally reported.
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