News

East Valley Tribune Layoff List Includes Many Longtime Local Journos

Jim Ripley, the Trib's executive editor, will reportedly retire in January.

By Ray Stern

The layoffs at the East Valley Tribune went deep, affecting some of the most prominent bylines at the paper, sources say.

The most notable: Executive Editor Jim Ripley announced he will retire in January, the month most of the laid-off staff will be dismissed from the job.

Forty-six of the 142 to be let go came from the editorial department, and many of these were the paper's most experienced editors, reporters, photographers and graphic-design employees, including:

* Editors Patti Epler and Bob Satnan. * Features funnyman Mike Grady and movie critic Craig Outhier. * Photo editor Brad Armstrong and photographers Ralph Freso, Julio Jimenez and Paul O'Neill. * News graphics team members Scott Kirchhofer and Gabriel Utasi. * Web site director Chris Lavelle. * Veteran religion reporter Lawn Griffiths. * Sportswriters Mike Tulumello and Craig Morgan. * Reporters Paul Giblin, Nick Martin, Jason Massad, Tony Natale, Mary K. Reinhart and Dennis Welch.

The fired folks will all get to stay until the actual D-Day in January, sources say. The Trib wanted to give people a three-month window in which to find a new job -- and to keep them motivated during their waning days, they'll also be getting a severance package worth two weeks' salary for each year of employment.

Beyond the individual pain layoffs like these inflict, the Trib's restructuring means two cities, Scottsdale and Tempe, lose the local newspaper they've had for decades.

Scottsdale had the Scottsdale Progress since 1948, and the ancient Tempe Daily News had been published in some form since 1887. Both were both purchased years ago by Cox Newspapers, formerly a parent corporation of the East Valley Tribune. Some believed the progenitor papers all but died after they were absorbed into the Mesa-centric Tribune , which put fewer resources into covering these cities. But there's no mistaking it now: The old papers are truly history.

Not only will home subscription stop in these cities, but sources confirmed the Trib won't even cover issues in these communities anymore.

"It's really hard to take," says Steve Wilson, former Progress editor, now communications director for the state Attorney General's office. "For a city of [Sottsdale's] size to be without its own newspaper -- it's a real sign of the times."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern