The Seattle Weekly has laid off at least four staffers since it was purchased last month by Sound Publishing, creating uncertainty around the newsroom. "I don't know what is down the line for us editorially," says the paper's editorial coordinator, Gwen Elliott. (The paper is currently operating without an editor.) "We are waiting to see what happens, how things streamline."
Elliott says she's been in the dark—"We're are kind of finding stuff out on the fly," she says—and isn't sure what designs the new owner, which publishes the Little Nickel, has in store for future layoffs or consolidations. "I would think that our budget has changed, but I've not been told how," she says.
Even though The Stranger and Seattle Weekly are rivals, in a sense, I take no pleasure in reporting this news. The number of journalists in Seattle has withered since my days as a youth—my first job as a pre-teen was as a Seattle Times paperboy and my dad was senior editor of the Seattle Weekly in its more robust days. Losing these folks sucks; these layoffs and Elliott's despondent tone, in my opinion, bode for an even suckier future. Ever since Sound Publishing purchased our rival from Village Voice Media, we've been told by former staffers—the editor and publisher, who both made hasty exits—that the departures "had nothing to do with" the new owners and there were, to the editor's knowledge, "no other changes imminent."
Now, it seems, changes were imminent and had everything to do with the new owners (who didn't return a call to comment on this story).
Perhaps I'm wrong; perhaps I'm a bad man for being a pessimist; perhaps Sound Publishing will resurrect the Seattle Weekly; I'd actually love that.
The paper has laid off clubs editor Erin Thompson and proofreader Mike Mahoney along with "at least" two people in the sales department, Elliott says. She adds that they have also hired a new publisher, Wendy Geldien, who used to serve as assistant publisher and replaces Kenny Stocker, and could not be reached for comment on future changes at the paper. Do they have anyone lined up to become the editor? "That I don't know either," Elliott says.