Arizona Republic Buyouts: 28 experienced edit staffers agree to quit

By Sarah Fenske

Twenty-eight reporters and editors at the Arizona Republic have accepted buyout offers from the Gannett-owned daily.

Sources say that executive editor Randy Lovely is telling staffers that the buyouts could help the paper avoid layoffs -- but only if the economy improves. Uh oh. We're also hearing that nearly a dozen editorial staffers turned down the buyout offers, so they'll probably be first on the list if the market here continues to tank. Still, hard to blame anyone for saying no; while the offer included three years of company-sponsored health insurance, staffers were offered just one week's pay for each year of service. Even the most veteran guys won't get to take a year off work.

It's seriously depressing news. Here at New Times, of course, we like to mock the Republic. But even we can't make jokes about most of the paper's institutional memory heading out the door.

And the worst part is that we're told many of the staffers who took the buyouts don't have other jobs lined up, at least not in the journalism/PR field. We hear that the beloved Richard de Uriarte, formerly an editorial writer, has landed a gig doing communications for Maricopa County. Steve Yozwiak, who was the Republic's legislative reporter for years, is reportedly headed to T-Gen. But that's about it.

The full list of buyout takers is after the jump. Much of the bio details come from an 11-page memo sent to the newspaper's staff and forwarded to us by sources.

* Barbara Yost. Yost was at the paper 35 years, most recently in its Entertainment Center. She won a prestigious James Beard award in 2007 for her series about the opening of Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale.

* Brent Whiting. Whiting was a reporter at the paper for 33 years, mostly covering courts and the police beat. A fair-minded journalist, Whiting was known for never taking himself too seriously -- and nevertheless always taking the job to heart. Whiting covered the retrials of two of the men accused of murdering Republic journalist Don Bolles, among other notable cases.

* Charles "Chuck" Kelly. Speaking of Bolles, Kelly was one of the young reporters on the Republic's team covering the aftermath of that murder. A consummate professional, he was the paper's go-to guy for decades and an excellent wordsmith. With the late Randy Collier, he broke news of the AzScam scandal. Kelly also covered Governor Fife Symington's fraud trial. He worked for the paper for 36 years.

* Norm Frauenheim. A world-class boxing reporter, Frauenheim was considered by some to be the paper's best writer.

* Richard de Uriarte. A 29-year veteran, de Uriarte may be best known for his work as the paper's Reader Advocate -- and for moderating political debates across the town in an avuncular, charming style. He was an editorial writer at the time he accepted the paper's buyout.

* Don Ketchum, who covered sports for 33 years and was the Diamondbacks' first beat reporter, and Tim Tyers, a 41-year veteran and former columnist for the Phoenix Gazette. He bled maroon and gold.

* Steve Yozwiak. An editor for the last seven years, Yozwiak was with the paper for 20 years before that, covering everything from the Legislature to the environment.

* Joel Nilsson, an editorial writer and editor in the West Valley with 31 years experience and Maureen West, a reporter and editor at the paper for 16 years. West worked for both the news and features departments. And though she officially retired last week, she'll stay on to complete one last project.

* Carol Sowers, who spent 34 years as a reporter, covering everything from the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 to the Buddhist monk massacre.

* Kyle Lawson, a 29-year veteran of the paper's entertainment desk.

* Zada Blayton, a 13-year veteran who worked mostly in the Features Department, and Mike Ging, an editor on the photo desk who, as a photographer, had done some great work in the early 80s standoff between Cochise County sheriff's deputies and members of a violent cult.

* Copy editors Phil Hennessy, Ron Porter, Ron Rinehart, Jay Watrous, Diane Wells, and Richard Casey.

* Kee Rash, an illustrator and page designer for 39 years; Alyson Star, a photo/image indexer for 19 years; and Suzanne Starr, an accomplished 23-year photographer and (more recently) videographer.

* Reference librarian Paula Stevens and Sherry Dupre, a database indexer who helped create the paper's first electronic archive.