Dec 8, 2022 - News

The St. Cloud Times' newsroom decimated by staff cuts

The St. Cloud Times front page from 2019


The 93-year-old St. Cloud Times has been slashed down to almost nothing, leaving its central Minnesota community with minimal news coverage.

What's happening: Parent company Gannett has been laying off and buying out journalists across the country for the past four months, and that's hit the St. Cloud Times hard.

  • As of Wednesday, the Times listed just three journalists — all reporters — on its staff page. As recently as 2014, the newsroom had 36 employees, and just a few months ago it listed nine staff.
  • It also cut its Saturday print edition back in April.

Why it matters: The decline of the St. Cloud Times leaves a metro area of 200,000 people without a well-resourced news organization to watch over government and inform the public.

What they're saying: St. Cloud University department of mass communication chair Dale Zacher called the Times a "ghost newspaper, ... a shell of its former self. It is still publishing, but it is not doing anywhere near what it used to."

  • St. Cloud does not have any local TV stations. Radio stations WJON and KNSI have newsrooms, and there are a couple of small weekly community papers, Zacher said. Also, the Star Tribune has a St. Cloud-based reporter who writes a newsletter.

Yes, but: There's little coverage left in the way of local government meetings and features about the community, Zacher said. It's a lot of repurposed press releases and police blotters.

State Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud) said he worries about the loss of reporters who have covered the community for years.

  • He said while remaining staff are "doing the best they can," the drop in resources dedicated to local coverage is "a real blow to civic engagement in our communities."

Zoom out: McLean, Va.-based Gannett owns more than 200 daily papers, including USA Today, but has been losing money in part due to a decrease in advertising spending. Gannett doesn't expect revenue to rebound until 2024, according to Poynter.

  • It cut hundreds of jobs in August and just recently cut hundreds more.

Of note: Axios asked Gannett how the barebones St. Cloud staff can keep producing a daily paper.

  • "While incredibly difficult, implementing these efficiencies and responding decisively to the ongoing macroeconomic volatility will continue to propel Gannett's future," a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

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