Ten years ago, on March 23, 2009, the staff of The Ann Arbor News – then a daily afternoon print newspaper founded in 1835 – was summoned to an all-hands-on-deck meeting.
Naturally, there was rampant speculation across departments about a possible second round of employee buyouts, or scaling back to print the paper only two or three days each week. News metro editor Steve Pepple (who now works at the Detroit Free Press) pulled aside business team leader Stefanie Murray and assigned her to report on whatever was said at the meeting.
“I had no clue what I was about to cover,” Murray says.
When the gathered throng finally fell silent and the News’ publisher, Laurel Champion, stepped up to the lectern, the 272-person staff (including myself, who had worked at the paper since 2004) learned that the company would permanently shut its doors in July. As more readers turned to the internet for free news (and free classifieds, once a major income source for the paper), the News’ business model had become increasingly unsustainable.
“I’ll never forget the audible gasps from several in the packed room,” says former News sports reporter Kevin Ryan. “Personally, I knew in those moments that my journalism career was going to end.”
Some News staffers went on to take jobs at the then-new digital media ventureAnnArbor.com, which integrated with MLive Media Group and adopted the Ann Arbor News name four years later. But for many, the News’ closure indeed marked a transition into new careers and new markets. READ THE REST HERE