Community World ends

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Today, the Tulsa World is spiking its Community World editions. All CW employees have been laid off.

The Community World editions were established in 1993 under the leadership of Charlie Biggs. The intent was to stave off the growth of suburban papers. It seems like the launch of the community papers also helped the World starve the Tulsa Sentinel of ad revenue. (The Sentinel was a weekly paper published by Landon Jones, grandson of Tulsa Tribune publisher Jenk Jones. The Tribune ceased publication on September 30, 1992; the Sentinel launched about a month later.)

Emily Priddy, who was an associate editor for the Community World's Westside edition, writes on TulsaNow's forum about the end of the weekly regional editions:

Their Web site doesn't mention this today, but the Tulsa World is ceasing publication of the Community World and has laid off the entire CW staff. I notice that the announcement on the front of today's Westside issue -- which was added after we'd proofed the Westside pages, and which resulted in a reporter's actual work being spiked to make room for it -- omitted that bit about the layoffs. The announcement also neglects to mention the fact that those laid off were given absolutely no warning and received eight days' pay and 26 days' benefits in exchange for their loyalty to the company. And it entirely fails to notify readers that two of the people laid off had been hired less than two weeks earlier.

One woman had signed a lease on a new apartment four days earlier. Another had put a down payment on a condo a week before the axe fell. One girl had quit a job at Urban Tulsa Weekly just three weeks ago to come to the Community World. A woman who has struggled financially for several years had just gotten back on her feet and was about to move into a house. Another has worked for the company for ... 13 years, I think? She repeatedly asked for an explanation of why we were given no warning that this was coming and no time to find other jobs or make other plans. She was given a reason for the layoffs, but she received absolutely no explanation for the callous manner in which the layoffs were handled.

Money will buy Armani suits and Ferraris and all sorts of other pretty toys. It will put a few kids through Holland Hall, and it will buy their grandma's best friend a byline on a column that someone else ghostwrites for her. But there is one thing money -- even old money -- can't buy: Class. And I've seen far more of that commodity in Oakhurst, Turley, and my beloved Red Fork than I see coming out of the mansions around Woodward Park this morning.

The "grandma's best friend" reference is to Danna Sue Walker, whose byline appears over the World's society column. In an e-mail to me, Emily wrote:

My heart is breaking for my colleagues -- some of whom worked for the World for more than a decade and deserved much, much better than they got, and some of whom were hired less than two weeks ago, only to be terminated before they'd had time to finish walking their beats. Laying off some staff members is understandable: Newspapers are doing it all over the country as upper management struggles to cope with the pressures of competition from the Internet and other media outlets. Laying off staff members with absolutely no warning -- and then giving them a severance package consisting of eight days' pay and 26 days' benefits -- is unconscionable. I'd expect that kind of treatment from Wal-Mart. But I expected better than that from a mom-and-pop business that's been in the same family, serving the same community, for a century.

I thought old money was supposed to be classier than that. Apparently I was mistaken.

The CW editions were where you'd find some of the most interesting and well-reported stories in the paper. Let's hope those talented reporters are able to continue serving Tulsa's readers in some other venue.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 5, 2008 12:00 PM.

Jack's back! was the previous entry in this blog.

Five years later: Remembering Abigail Litle, victim of hate, victor in faith is the next entry in this blog.

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