by Sam Hieb
Just last night I was watching an episode of my favorite TV program “The Sopranos,” and in one scene the dialogue centered around characters who had (wink wink) entered the witness protection program.
Sometimes I feel as though some of my favorite (wink wink) Greensboro News & Record columnists have entered the witness program. Just about every time I find out that they’re no longer with the paper when I look for their column and it’s not there. Latest example is editorial page editor Steven Doyle. Admittedly I would read his columns for the express purpose of disagreeing with him. But to be fair, his non-political columns were often thoughtful and entertaining.
But on Wednesday morning I turn to the editorial section and Doyle’s column is not there–replaced by a Walter Williams column. I honestly didn’t think much of it–vacation, maybe–though why would anyone in the paper business take vacation a week before a major election?
Turns out Rhino Times editor John Hammer has his ear to the ground:
If you had any doubts about Greensboro losing its daily newspaper and becoming a part of the Winston-Salem Journal, we had more proof that is well on its way this week. Steven Doyle is no longer the editorial page editor, which means the News & Record has no editorial page editor, just as the daily paper has no executive editor, managing editor or anyone in particular over the news department.
Allen Johnson is still the executive editorial page editor, which means he is in charge of the editorial pages for both the News & Record and the Winston-Salem Journal. The only other name in the publisher’s box is Alton Brown, who is publisher of both the WSJ and the N&R.
If there was an announcement that Doyle, who before becoming editorial page editor was the managing editor, was leaving, it must have been tiny because I have been looking for it and could never find it.
But you can’t really blame the folks at BH Media or Warren Buffett for the lack of staff; it is the state of the industry. Many people don’t realize it but newspapers are supported almost entirely by advertising, and print advertisers have largely gone to other media. Subscriptions for newspapers usually account for between 10 percent and 15 percent of the gross revenue and, of course, subscriptions are way down for daily newspapers across the country.
As if a layoff—even–or especially— in the newspaper business would be considered news. It’s just that certain columnists have their followers and are perplexed when they open their papers on a certain day and the column is not there.