“Sacramento Bee Lays off 44 Employees,” says the headline…

Our once proud newspaper is a shell of its former self. When I saw this, the first thing I thought of was, “After all the layoffs, I didn’t think there were 44 people left in the building.”

I see this and I think of Marco Smolich the sports editor, and the guys upstairs who helped me when I was a snot-nosed 20-year-old with a semi-pro basketball team. (Yes, there was basketball in Sacramento before the Kings. The Prospectors played at Mira Loma High School the two years I was part-owner. And we never asked the people of Sacramento to do anything except come to the games and maybe buy a hot dog.)

I think of the days I delivered the afternoon Bee in 110 degree weather, when even the dog wouldn’t chase the paper boy down the street it was so hot. I think of the ways The Bee has been a part of the cultural arts in Sacramento, how we wouldn’t have a Music Circus without the late Eleanor McClatchy and the support she so willingly gave to the arts in our city.

A newspaper is a reflection of the community it serves, they say. So what does this say about our community, other than that we are broke. The Bee didn’t respond well when the newspaper business started to go south a number of years ago. Now, they have an on line presence, but they are forever playing catch up. Maybe they will make it, maybe they won’t. No one seems to care any more. Can you imagine what it must be like to work someplace where the ax falls every three months and the person next to you disappears?

A city loses its most public voice and what happens? I guess those of us in Sacramento are about to find out. Because while The Bee is not gone, only life support keeps the heart beating for now. The stories are written by people who live elsewhere, or are pulled from wire services. We haven’t had a newspaper for several years really. We are fast becoming a city without a face.

Just one man’s opinion…

7 thoughts on ““Sacramento Bee Lays off 44 Employees,” says the headline…”

  1. I agree with your article. What I don’t understand is why McClatchy’ still pays Gary Pruitt (I think his title is CEO) so much for heading up a firm that is seriously losing ground! The last disclosure printed in the Bee said his annual salary + bonus was over $1 million. Just a couple of years ago, his combined salary & bonus was over $2 million. Go figure…

  2. Thanks for your comment Gloria.

    The sad thing about The Bee is that many good local contributors are gone. We have no travel editior, which hurts our company. There’s little in the way of local opinion or commentary.

    Good people work at The Bee. But a lot of good people have been let go. I understand the finnces of the business world. It’s too bad a community asset like a newspaper has to be hostage to corporate profits. Having said that, I understand why they continue to lay people off. They can’t afford to pay them, plain and simple.

    But it they don’t come up with a better plan, The Bee is not a viable part of our community. Not like it used to be. That is sad.


  3. Mark–

    Don’t forget about your stint as GM of the Sacramento Rebels, our minor league hockey team.

    Those were great days, eh???

  4. Mark,

    I agree with all you’ve written about the Bee. It’s just not the paper it once was. One good thing about it though is that the Bee is one of the sponsors for the Music Circus this year. That announcement was made by Mr. Lewis at the first dress rehearsal for The Producers.


  5. John – Hey buddy, good to hear from you after all these years! Actually, it was Assistant GM, but yes, those were the days. The rink they skated in is an empty lot near our office. Sacramento had a short but colorful hockey history. Don Benard (sp?) was our boss and being a part of a hockey team was an interesting experience.

    Always wanted to learn to skate, but I think when you pass 50 or so, it’s better to try not to break your butt on purpose!


  6. Elaine –

    I sent a personal response, but it’s worth commenting on here. It’s nice The Bee continues to support Music Circus and other arts-related groups in our community.

    Over the years, The Bee’s name was right there every time you saw a list of arts sponsors. They still often are. I just wish they reflected more local stories in their news.

    They are to be commended for continuing some level of community support, even in extremely difficult times for the newspaper industry. But they are less and less a true voice for and of our community. And we need that.


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