Creative Loafing cuts seven from staff

12/23/08 Seán Kinane
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Tampa’s alternative weekly newspaper Creative Loafing has terminated seven full-time employees, including writer Alex Pickett, music critic Wade Tatangelo and copy editor Anthony Salveggi. Most of the paper’s local hard news coverage was done by Pickett and political editor Wayne Garcia.

Creative Loafing editor David Warner says the layoffs will not affect the paper’s news coverage.

The region’s two daily newspapers have also made sharp cuts to news staff. The Tampa Tribune announced in July that it was trimming 50 newsroom jobs. Last month, the St. Petersburg Times and its online presence announced a major restructuring.

Creative Loafing Publisher Sharry Smith said her paper will still include an emphasis on local news despite the layoffs. Smith said Creative Loafing is shifting its focus to become a web-first media company..

“What we did is instead of approaching it from a budgetary standpoint, we all sat in a room and said, ‘OK, if we were to rebuild our company as a digital media company today -- if we were to start a company -- what would that newsroom look like, what would our sales staff look like, across the board, what would it look like. And then from there we were able to identify what the positions were that were needed and where we could look for restructuring the staff to accomplish that strategic plan.”

The company also publishes papers under the Creative Loafing name in Atlanta, Sarasota and Charlotte, North Carolina. In a controversial takeover last year, Creative Loafing acquired alternative newsweeklies in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Some believe that purchase played a part in the company’s need to apply for bankruptcy protection in September. The paper’s editor David Warner said financial problems are common throughout the newspaper business. “All of those things impact us.”

Learn more at Creative Loafing.

Alex Pickett declined to be interviewed for this report.

Full disclosure, this reporter has written freelance articles for Creative Loafing.

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Real alternative

So, it turns out that just like any other big company, creative loafing was buying out others, which forced it;s finances to go bad, which forced people to get the ax. Really, can the whole "we are trying to be a web" company, because there is still a need for non internet media, especially since the internet becomes lee free than it used to be. Folks, this is a wonderful reason, to remember WMNF. WMNF does not have to answer to someone in Atlanta or wherever that is trying to maximize profits, local coverage be damned.