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Buyout-Depleted ‘Star-Ledger’ Reassigns Two Journos — To Mailroom

By Joe Strupp

Published: November 19, 2008 10:55 AM ET
NEW YORK When a newspaper cuts its staff, those who remain in the depleted newsroom become valuable. But as The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. slowly says farewell to 151 newsroom folks who took buyouts last month, at least two longtime journalists have been reassigned to the mailroom.

Reporter Jason Jett and Assistant Deputy Photo Editor Mitchell Seidel have been filing, sorting, and delivering mail for more than a week, according to sources.

Jett and Seidel, who could not be reached for comment, apparently declined to take one of the buyouts offered this fall as part of a companywide move to cut costs.

Publisher George Arwady threatened to sell or close the Advance Publications daily last summer if at least 200 buyouts were not taken and new deals forged with two unions.

In the end, the buyouts were met, with 151 of the newsroom’s 330 staffers taking them, along with other non-newsroom employees. In recent weeks, news folks have been leaving little by little, with all of those taking buyouts expected to depart by the end of the year.

Editor Jim Willse declined to comment on the mailroom assignment, while other staffers confirmed the move and revealed their surprise but requested anonymity.

As the buyout-takers continue to leave, the paper distributed a list to employees of those who will stay. The list is posted below.

Those staying include Willse, top columnists Bob Braun and Mark DiIonno, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Matt Rainey, Trenton bureau chief Thomas Martello, Web site video telecast host Brian Donohue, popular sportswriters David D’Alessandro and Paul Needell, political veteran John Farmer, and TV critic Alan Sepinwall

No list of buyout-takers has been publicly distributed. But E&P has learned that it includes Assistant Features Editor Anne-Marie Cottone; Pim Van Hemmen, assistant managing editor/digital; two-time Pulitzer finalist Robin Gaby Fisher; courts and enterprise reporter John Martin; 25-year reporter Gabriel Gluck, and features writer Steve Hedgpeth, who wrote the popular Ricky Retro column.