Tue
Sep 19 2017
03:28 pm

CWG says in a comment below that the KNS has laid off Don Jacobs and Wayne Bledsoe. This just after reports of a 41% subscription price increase.

UPDATE: Gannett Cuts One Percent of Workforce, Lays Off Tennessee Journalists

39
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jbr's picture

Did Don Jacobs ever write for

Did Don Jacobs ever write for Metro Pulse? Someone wrote an extremely thorough article on the whole James White Parkway thing in Metro Pulse years ago. It was an excellent article.

Herb's picture

we sure got screwed

The KNS PILOT was a huge ripoff to the taxpayers. Who ever wrote than PILOT should be in jail. Taxpayers lost over ten million dollars.

cafkia's picture

You are correct sir. The big

You are correct sir. The big ugly AF building is NOT in downtown though keeping them in downtown was part of the sales pitch. And now they are eliminating anyone that might actually be able to knowingly report on local issues.

I'd say it was money well spent if your goal was to insure the ignorance of those folks that despite your best efforts, stubbornly continue to show up at the polls.

Bbeanster's picture

The KNS PILOT was a huge

The KNS PILOT was a huge ripoff to the taxpayers. Who ever wrote than PILOT should be in jail. Taxpayers lost over ten million dollars

I agree with quite a bit of this, although I wouldn't put anybody in jail. That whole PILOT deal (or was it a TIF?) was a boondoggle. Decreeing that lower Mechanicsville is "Downtown" doesn't make it so. The whole thing was tied up with a complicated land swap deal involving the News Sentinel, a local bar distributor and contaminated property down by the Coster Shop that the Development Corp was cleaning out for the city.

The details are growing fuzzy, but some may recall the great contaminated soil scandal that ensued when some hauler contracted to carry dirt to hazardous waste landfills got behind deadline and decided to dump it in remote Knox County locations instead. I think the time constraint had to do with the NS needing to get its building done in time to house the gigantic new press ordered from somewhere overseas.

Rikki Hall and I went out looking for dump sites before the story went public. We had a lead on a Brushy Valley location in NW Knox Co. but the worst spot was in South Knox County where the dirty dirt got dumped in a sinkhole and contaminated a whole community's water supply. Burnett's Creek, I think??

H
ell. Maybe I *would* put somebody in jail.

Herb's picture

Who?

Somebody in Knoxville wrote that PILOT for the Knoxville Sentinel. Who was it? Anyone?

Rachel's picture

Close. Burnett Creek.

Close. Burnett Creek.

barker's picture

Close

Betty, your memory is of events 15 years ago is remarkably close but, as you concede, fuzzy. Eagle Distributing was, indeed, the intended tenant for the Coster Shop property, but the reason for the project’s aggressive demolition schedule had nothing to do with KNS. Ray Hand could build whenever he wanted - the KNS building would be built on property he had once owned, but it did not affect Eagle’s operations at all. In fact, he backed out of the project before the Coster Shop site work was complete without losing out on the sale of a single can of Bud.

The demolition company never was contracted to haul contaminated dirt to hazardous waste landfills; it was never supposed to haul contaminated dirt off the site at all. The contractor was supposed to haul demolition debris -- bricks, concrete and the like -- off site without mingling it with the highly contaminated soil. State law allows such demolition debris to be used as fill. They took the some of the rubble to a residence on Brushy Valley Road in North Knox County, where the owner, a sheriff’s deputy, wanted to level her backyard to give her two kids a better place to play. A couple of business properties received small amounts. A good portion went to the sinkhole in South Knox County. All of a sudden, well water downhill from the sinkhole on Burnett Creek Road became contaminated. Long story short, when the debris was removed from the sinkhole, about 10 percent of the material was contaminated soil.

I will say this about state government under Gov. Phil Bredesen - it was responsive. Though in many ways shackled by the way environmental laws are written, TDEC did a great job documenting the incident and holding the city and its contractors accountable. Bredesen persuaded the Appalachian Regional Commission to appropriate money for a water line so Burnett Creek residents could have clean water.

Bbeanster's picture

Don never worked for Metro

Don never worked for Metro Pulse.
He was a police reporter at the Journal until some time after the odious Gerald Garcia became editor, then very presciently got himself hired by the KNS.
He's got 30-plus years covering law enforcement here.
Wayne has beneath the KNS even longer.
Gannett's been cutting muscle for some time, and now they're down to the bone. Losing lots of institutional knowledge and good will.

Not that it matters....

KNS-SUCKS's picture

They should have gotten rid

They should have gotten rid of Jack McElroy, Tom Chester or Jack Lail. None of those guys do shit and they all get paid well over six figures.

Rachel's picture

I'm out of expletives.

I'm out of expletives.

Factchecker's picture

Slashed product at increased prices

What a great business plan. Largely brought to us by "free market" conservatives, no doubt. I exercised that judgment about their product long ago. I know, I know--local reporting. This problem is a victim of technology, though, and if it weren't for other benefits of technology, life would be worse than ever before in virtually every way.

We're doing this world wrong. All the power is at the top and it's taking its toll on critical liberal democracies like this one. (Not directly related, but to illustrate: Why is the free world at the behest of Donald Fucking Trump and Kim Jong Un?)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Wayne Bledsoe

From Wayne's FB page:


Dear friends, As is getting around I have been laid off from the News Sentinel. It's been a good 36 years, but things have changed a lot in the past few years. I still loved the job, but the atmosphere was increasingly depressing, so I'm actually very happy about this change. Due to our union contract (join your union if you're lucky enough to have one), I have a year's dismissal pay, so I'm in good shape. If you hear of any good jobs where you think I'd fit, let me know. I don't expect to make my living as a writer anymore, but, hell, I'm a guy who delivered singing telegrams dressed as a rabbit at one time in my life, so I'm open to possibilities! The thing I WILL miss is writing about local musicians and helping to get the word out in print about great artists. This puts all that much more pressure on you, Steve Wildsmith! Much love to all of you.
- Wayne

Good to know he's okay financially in the coming months. Still, I have some personal experience being too old to get hired for much of anything and too young for Social Security and Medicare, so he's sure 'nuf in my thoughts.

Seems to me that Wayne has suffered too many tragedies. After the passing of his wife and later his oldest child, he remains a single dad to his other two kids, you may know. He so deserves some good fortune. Hope it's right around the corner...

yellowdog's picture

"Free market" has no room for journalism

This is not a brief for Gannett. Since the beginning of USA Today, it has been an enemy of journalism.

Even so, Gannett is the symptom, not the cause. Profit-making at the level required of publicly traded corporations is incompatible with the kind of journalism a democracy needs.

Knoxoasis's picture

The "free market" had plenty

The "free market" had plenty of room for journalism and newspapers for centuries until technology made print journalism increasingly obsolete. Just like the free market had plenty of room for oil lamps until the electric light bulb made oil lamps obsolete. The problem isn't the market, it's technology. Journalism is an enterprise, and like any enterprise that suffers technological disruption, it just has to adapt.

Andy Axel's picture

Journalism 2020: "All the news

that's fit for 140 character splutters."

yellowdog's picture

Technology is certainly part of it, BUT

It is also the case that the investor class once was willing to settle for a profit margin that Wall Street now cannot tolerate. When making, say, 8% on your investment is not enough, you make different choices.

Metulj From the Lurkzone's picture

Ah, yes. The Temporal Fix

Alternately, the fundamental internal contradiction* of capitalism requires technological change at points in time to restart capital accumulation.

*Growth requires increase in the price of labor; profit requires that labor cost be minimized.

JaHu's picture

The "free market" had plenty

The "free market" had plenty of room for journalism and newspapers for centuries until technology made print journalism increasingly obsolete.

I guess people could line their bird cages with old computer monitors.

michael kaplan's picture

Profit-making at the level

Profit-making at the level required of publicly traded corporations is incompatible with the kind of journalism a democracy needs.

Absolutely true. I wrote about that issue (of fair return on investment) re: the Daylight Building.

michael kaplan's picture

I find it hard to understand

I find it hard to understand why such a talented bunch of journalists can't get it together to start a sustainable print weekly. If Blank can do it on a shoestring, why not others?

Knoxoasis's picture

Maybe you should ask Coury.

Maybe you should ask Coury.

michael kaplan's picture

Coury published a FAQ of why

Coury published a FAQ of why the Mercury suspended publication.

jbr's picture

It seems their funding model

It seems their funding model is fine. The public, myself included, needs to step up more if we want that kind of journalism in our community. What people want in general, is an information entity that reports objectively and thoroughly without being hesitant because of any potential financial heavy handedness. I like the non-profit,reader supported model. But us readers need to be more proactive and dependable with our support.

Mother Jones funding
MOTHER JONES IS NONPROFIT, READER-SUPPORTED JOURNALISM

michael kaplan's picture

Agree. I would have been

Agree. I would have been happy to pay, say, $1 per issue, but there wasn't a formal way to do that. Newsstands are long gone, along with those coin-operated bins. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times print editions still seem to be doing well, so I'm not sure the format is dead.

sobi's picture

Notice, if you will,..

...that the WSJ, the NYT, and Mother Jones are all playing on a much larger stage that the KNS or the Journal or MP or any other locally-owned rag besides Esquire (chortle) and Special Reports (har!) ever did, and not that it makes me happy, but that whole nonprofit funding thing won't work at local scale, especially if supported only by readers, because that's a wish instead of a sustainable model. That's a bet I'd make, anyway.

And yeah, it wasn't "the free market" that killed pulp craption like the KNS. Actual reportage has to be paid for somehow, and for a very long time, it's been paid for by people who wanted to read what it said. That's free market. Put enough shit in there that's worth a damn (a project the KNS abandoned a long time ago), and that people need and can't get anywhere else, you can find a way to get paid enough for it that smart people who are good communicators will be sufficiently driven by the mission to do the work, because it is good and necessary work. Problem now is that there are too many options for that to be as relatively easy as it once was, and people with the highest need to reinvent themselves generally ain't got no imagination, anyway.

I hate the whole sorry situation. Local news, solid, current, deep, not balkanized, transparent about its ideology, lips decoupled from the teat of corporate direction, fearless, and fearlessly honest, is more necessary today than it's ever been. Looks like if that kind of thing is going to happen, it'll be because someone does it as a labor of love. I doubt anybody's up to it, and the more I look at what I just said, the more I think, "I just described a fantasy and should probably delete this."

cwg's picture

And places like NYT starting

And places like NYT starting a non-profit arm only kills local journalism more:

(link...)

sobi's picture

Like, makes it more deader?

I suppose. And it's probably not appropriate for this thread, but the whole nonprofit journalism enterprise seems suspect anyway, because it's essentially government funded and/or enslaved to the views of its donors, at least potentially, anytime they feel like messin'. Which ultimately means it can be controlled by the very kinds of things to which it's supposed to always be opposed, especially when it's a big national organ like the NYT, or of which it's always at least supposed to be asking penetrating questions. That's journointegrity? Or is that a thing anymore?

bizgrrl's picture

I suspect it is not easy. It

I suspect it is not easy. It is also not cheap.

KNS-SUCKS's picture

You obviously haven't been

You obviously haven't been paying attention.

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