We’re pleased to have this guest column, which provides additional insight into what’s taking place with legacy media in the county. We fully agree with the writer’s statment that it is sad to see what has happened to a broadsheet that was such a central part of our county. While the executives and publishers couldn’t control the severe recession that the nation is in, they could’ve looked after what was once a proud product, making sure that it had valued content so that when tough times came along the paper was in a better condition to compete. They certainly had some editors and writers that knew how to dig up the stories, if the management would provide the resources and get out of the way of valued content.
The Next Round at the Cecil Whig
After a significant purge of employees three weeks ago at Chesapeake Publishing’s Elkton Office comes the next step in what some believe is the slow, laborious death of a newspaper that has been part of this community for 168 years. The Cecil Whig, once a strong, proud pillar of Cecil County, is suffering from a steady wasting away, possibly brought about by their corporate ownership’s money woes. Now, it seems, the printing plant at the N. Bridge Street office is the next to get a visit from the corporate hatchetman.
Word is that at least half of the printing plant employees will be laid off in the next two weeks. Further, all outside commercial printing work currently being done at the plant will be transferred to the Easton, MD branch in short order. Not only that, but a significant portion of the actual printing press equipment will be relocating to Easton, as well. Apparently, in a rare and impressive show of integrity, the current General Manager of Printing at the Elkton office has tendered her resignation in response to the supposed cost-saving cuts.
After the heavy round of layoffs a few weeks ago that netted two of the top Whig editors and several other long-time employees, came the bad financial news that the parent company of Chesapeake Publishing, Macquarie Southern Cross Media of Australia, is seeing a steady decline in its reputation and value due to carrying a large amount of debt, somewhere approaching $1 billion. Their recent purchase of American Consolidated Media (ACM) of Dallas, TX in particular, is weighing them down to the tune of over a $130 million debtload. ACM is Chesapeake’s immediate over-seer. Now, with this virtual gutting of the commercial printing plant in Elkton, taking even more work out of an already severely depressed job market in this county, it may be time to start questioning whether or not the Cecil Whig will live to see the Grand Old Age of 170. Or rather, will there be anything left of her if she does?
For now, it seems as though the cutbacks will continue. There is some suggestion that the Whig will soon convert to a slightly smaller size to save on paper costs, and some close to the situation believe that the retraction of the Whig from a daily, Monday through Friday paper, to a bi-weekly, Wednesday and Saturday paper may be imminent. While the decline and fall of the newspaper industry isn’t exactly a unique story anywhere in this country, it is truly sad to see an institution that has lasted the better part of two centuries become an insignificant fiscal pawn in an enormous game of corporate monopoly. Eventually, as many of us are only now learning, it’s a game where we all lose.