Detroit News and Detroit Free Press facing news staff cuts

Cuts threaten watchdog role

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Two pillars of local journalism are facing cuts.

Sources confirm a Crain's Detroit business report that indicates the entire editorial staff at the Detroit News has been offered buyouts -- regardless of seniority.

They have a week to decide before layoffs are announced.

Sources tell 7 Action News staffers at the Detroit Free Press will be made a similar offer as early as Wednesday.

Tim Kiska is a former staffer for both papers.

"This is not good, I don't think, for public discourse at all. This is a disaster," Kiska said.

Ad revenues and circulations for both papers have been declining as more people turn to websites and social media to sell goods and services -- and to catch up on current events.

But the newspapers are more than just news gathering and advertising mediums. Both are fierce watchdogs of local and state governments.

It was the News that broke the story of an affair and cover up by state lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat that led to their ouster.

Both papers spent thousands in legal fees to expose the corruption at city hall when Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor.

"They spent something like $700,000 in legal fees... to get the documents they needed," Kiska says.

Buyouts and layoffs are disturbing trends for newspapers nationwide -- leaving some to wonder: Who will guard the guards themselves?

"I would like to be a crooked politician right about now, because the number of eyes watching you have just come down," Kiska said.
 

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