(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Dozens of people will lose their jobs following the shutdown of The Pueblo Chieftain’s printing facility. Employees who are now trying to talk publicly about losing their jobs say they are being threatened by The Pueblo Chieftain’s parent company.
The Pueblo Chieftain is Colorado’s oldest daily newspaper. Executives from their parent company, Gannett, notified employees Tuesday night that they have decided to shut down printing production in Pueblo. Come August, over 50 employees will be out of a job.
The printing and packaging of The Pueblo Chieftain and the other papers they print, such as USA Today, will now move to Denver. The papers will be driven down and delivered each day. The six journalists at The Pueblo Chieftain will keep their jobs, just without an office.
FOX21 had interviews scheduled with employees who wanted to speak out against this decision
until they received a call from a Gannett representative. According to employees, they were told if anyone spoke to the media, they would be terminated immediately, losing all compensation, and severance pay.
Employees, some of whom have been working for the paper for over 25 years, say they feel disrespected and outraged. Community members, and state officials, including Attorney General Phil Weiser, and other notable politicians are saying this is a huge blow to the Pueblo community.
“The lives of the people who live here are not a profit-opportunity for an out-of-state corporation. They’re real experiences of a community,” said Colorado State Senator Nick Hinrichsen (D-District 3).
The Pueblo News Guild released a statement expressing their disapproval of Gannett’s decision: “The Guild believes Gannett’s decision will further degrade the newspaper’s reputation in the community. The Chieftain won’t have that well-known downtown location, that big blue home base of operations where reporters, photographers, and editors can meet with each other and their news source.”
Puebloans are just hoping this isn’t the first step toward a total shutdown.
“I don’t know if it means that someday The Chieftain doesn’t exist, I certainly hope not. It’s been a long history in Pueblo… There’s a strong need for local news in Pueblo so we’d hope that the company acknowledges that and understands how important Pueblo is,” said Jeff Shaw, President & CEO at the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation.
According to a statement from Gannett, this was a business decision, in order to cut costs for the company: “We deeply appreciate the many years of service from our skilled team and remain committed to providing readers with quality content, while connecting our valued advertising partners with the consumers they want to reach.”
The cuts at The Pueblo Chieftain are a microcosm of the larger trend going on with Gannett, which stands as one of the largest newspaper companies in the country. In less than four years, their workforce has been reduced by over 14,000 employees, according to NPR.
“It is a trend that we are seeing throughout the country where journalism is becoming less and less local and it’s becoming less and less independent. It’s becoming more and more corporate,” said Sen. Hinrichsen.