OAKLAND — In a devastating blow to the East Bay’s alternative weekly newspaper, the East Bay Express on Friday laid off one-third of total employees including its entire editorial staff. The Express will continue publishing but with a few editors relying on freelance writers instead of staff.
The editorial staff of staff writer Darwin BondGraham, Managing Editor Janelle Bitker, Associate Editor Azucena Rasilla and Calendar Editor Beatrice Kilat were among the layoffs. Robert Gammon remains as editor and beginning on Monday Publisher Stephen Buell returns to the newsroom after a hiatus.
The layoffs came in the wake of the Express losing a lawsuit filed by Terry Furry, its ex-sales and marketing director who sued claiming he was illegally denied overtime pay. Buell had been attempting to sell the Express, with at least two groups interested, but any hope of selling the paper appears to have ended with the court decision from earlier this week.
Furry is demanding approximately $750,000 from the Express. According to a blog by Gammon posted on Wednesday, the First District Court of Appeal “remanded the case to the trial court to determine how much Furry is owed. The court also ruled that the Express must pay his legal bills.”
“It was a sad day for the East Bay Express today,” Gammon said in a phone interview Friday. “The people laid off were all fabulous journalists and they are going to be sorely missed.”
Check back for updates.
Rasilla tweeted this earlier today:
So, ready for some news…. since I’m getting flooded with texts and DMs, and I know my journo friends are already working on this, I might as well be the one to break the news… I, along with @JanelleBitker @DarwinBondGraha and @_beatricek have been laid off from the Express pic.twitter.com/NsfwnP7b3d
— Azucena Rasilla (@ChroniclesOfAzu) January 12, 2019
Source:: The Mercury News – Business