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A longtime editor for the Beaver County Times was laid off this week, the latest move by the paper’s parent company to downsize its operations.

Tom Bickert, who served as editorial page and investigative editor, was informed by Gatehouse Media on Thursday his services would no longer be needed.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I’ve seen this coming for a while, given the state of the industry,” Bickert wrote in a post to social media.

“I will miss the talented, dedicated people that I’ve worked with over the years, and I wish the best for those who remain.”

Bickert had worked at the paper for 35 years, and has spent 40 years in the news business, according to his post.

Nearly 200 people wrote wishing Bickert well, including Beaver County Commissioner Tony Amadio, who said he was sorry to hear the veteran journalist was leaving the paper.

In the past several weeks two of the paper’s staff reporters resigned to take other jobs, including business reporter Jared Stonesifer and courts reporter Rachel Wagoner.

In February, GateHouse laid off seven employees at the paper, including all of its remaining photographers and videographers. Gatehouse had previously axed the Times’ entire design staff, outsourcing that work to a hub it runs in Texas.

Bickert appears to have fallen as part of a nationwide restructuring effort by GateHouse, which publishes 156 daily newspapers and 464 community publications in more than 615 local markets across the country.

Mike Reed, CEO of New Media Investment Group, GateHouse’s parent company, told the Poynter Institute Thursday that the move primarily affected editorial staff.

“We are doing a small restructuring — at least that’s what I would call it — that I’m sure will be misreported,” Reed told Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

“We have 11,000 employees. This involves a couple of hundred.”

The Times is down to a total newsroom staff of 12; it had 60 in its heyday according to Poynter. The majority of the hard news bylines appearing in the paper now originate from just 2 reporters, J.D. Prose and Daveen Rae Kurutz. Along with Prose and Kurutz, the paper lists two sports reporters, a features reporter, and an entertainment reporter.

The paper has been advertising for a replacement business reporter, although it is unclear when the position may be filled.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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Little Jimmy
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Little Jimmy

Shut that rag down already. That paper has been irrelevant for years now.

sezme
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sezme

it used to be a good paper and in some ways still is. the feature news stories, histories and mysteries, local music and entertainment are all great. but where is the REAL local news? only on john paul’s site. not much but a glossing over of the county workings in the times, and overly long editorials. what happened to all the letters to the editor? the local crime page? beaver county most wanted? a list of all recent police activity? you can blame some of the demise of newspapers on the digital age, but not all of it. a paper that can devote 10 pages to sports, and very little to in depth county problems needs to restructure itself.

Sardonicus
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Sardonicus

“… never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Raven
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Raven

Go to Timesonline.com and you will see this, if you do not have paid access. In my opinion, this was a critical mistake by the paper to block people from online news not paid for. Yes, of course, you must make some money to survive, but capture your audience first, or at least partially, then go after click-throughs and advertising revenue. You shut the door in people’s faces from the beginning and now wonder why you have no visitors.

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Silence_Dogood
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Silence_Dogood

Agreed. I’m not going to pay for a monthly subscription because a headline might have caught my interest. Chances are, if the story is big enough, I can always read about it either on here (because they likely are just parroting JP), or I can read it via KDKA, WTAE, WPXI, or the Trib. Either way, I will eventually find out and don’t have to waste my money on the BCT just to read one article.

Hillary's Revenge
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Hillary's Revenge

Agreed. It makes it look more like timesoffline.com to me. Subscriptions never paid for the paper; ad revenue paid for it. The subscription fee was just to cover the costs of delivery and distribution. Charging for the online form of the ‘paper’ is ridiculous; the distribution cost is minimal (web hosting) and distribution cost is $0.00 since your customers pay for 100% of it through their choice of ISP; or cell phone provider.

Anyway, now ad revenue continues to shrink because the age 55 and over demographic that grew up with newspapers continues to die off, and putting up a subscription wall stops new eyeballs from coming to the site, the count of which is the only way to set online advertising rates. The pay wall fees are more than offset by the diminished online ad revenue.

Stupidity in Action.

Hillary's Revenge
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Hillary's Revenge

Line 5 should read “…delivery cost is $0.00…”

John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

Now is the perfect time for JP to go after classified, obituaries and auto dealers for advertising. That would be the final stake through the heart and kill it once and for all.

Raven
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Raven

I’m not sure that the humdrum workaday world of local news stuff would appeal to JP. Like running kerosene in a race car engine. There are some other local literary types who could step in, if they like the shtick and need the money. Writers like Val Brkich and others. The ad revenue would help though. He has a winning formula now, and only needs to add to it. The “break-in” period seems to be over. The “real time” far-reaching computerized data collection and dissemination and access to the public, as in the Aliquippa prototype, will be a huge addition, and the growth will likely be phenomenal when people realize the potential of it. I would not be surprised to see the site partially self-evolve, as readers have increasing access, and maybe input, to the features. Who knows? The guy is amazing.

Ms. Ophelia
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Ms. Ophelia

…lordy lordy, John Q. Why you always so angry?

HOTSHOT
Member
HOTSHOT

They should just shut that liberal bullshit reporting 3 day late dead cat rapper so called news paper down a long time ago !