New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper, The Star Ledger, narrowly escaped ceasing production this past week by coming to a tentative agreement with its production unions.
NJ.com reported that after two weeks of fierce and heated discussion, The Newhouse family, which owns The Star-Ledger, and the union negotiators were able to come to an agreement, but neither side got exactly what they wanted.
The publisher of the paper, Richard Vezza, told NJ.com that “The Star-Ledger lost $19 million last year and is on target to lose a similar amount this year. The continuing losses led to demands of $9 million in concessions from the unions—an amount based on what the paper determined it could save by outsourcing production.”
NJ.com also cited decreases in circulation and ad revenue as the main reasons for The Star-Ledger’s most recent financial troubles, since the internet is becoming readers’ preferred source of news.
However, this is not the first time the New Jersey paper has faced fiscal woes. In 2008, its owner, Advance Publications, told The Star-Ledger that it would be sold unless 200 of its non-union employees obliged to leave under a buyout-offer. Its newsroom staff was reduced by 40% that year.
As a New Jersey native, I can say that The Star-Ledger is easily one of the best publications in the state and I’m glad to see it overcome financial obstacles, again. However, I do worry that the quality of journalism will deteriorate as the publication is forced to cut more and more of its staff. Earlier this year, The Star-Ledger laid off 34 of its employees, 18 of which were from its newsroom.
New Jersey is an evolving state. While some of its changes are controversial and others are celebrated, they all need coverage from within the state. And that’s something that state publications have always done well in comparison to national media outlets. New Jersey isn’t alone in this strange media battle, which makes me worry about bigger states and how their state media is changing and quite possibly suffering.