The six journalists, including Bureau Chief Marsha Mercer, have been offered severance. The 30-year-old bureau that supplied coverage to all of the company’s newspapers, television stations and Web sites will be shut down on March 27.
Media General announced today that its Media General News Service Bureau in Washington and the associated Web site, mgwashington.com, will close on March 27. The bureau employs six journalists, all of whom have been offered severance packages.
Former Washington Bureau Chief John Hall, who retired in 2006, created the bureau in 1979 and expanded its staff and coverage. Marsha Mercer has served as bureau chief since 2003.
“We very much regret having to take this step,” said Graham Woodlief, president of the Publishing Division. “However, as the economy continues to contract, and businesses and consumers continue to reduce spending, our advertising revenues have been adversely affected at unprecedented levels. While the Publishing Division reduced expenses in 2008 by 8 percent, excluding severance, we must continue to find ways to align our costs with the available revenue.”
The Washington bureau has provided news and feature stories to all of Media General’s newspapers, television stations and Web sites for 30 years. In 2008, the bureau was reorganized into a multimedia team to take a “Web-first” approach to reporting and launched a Web site featuring sections dedicated to each of the10 states in which Media General operates.
“Even with the strong efforts of our bureau staff to adapt to the challenging economic times, it was not enough. I thank Marsha Mercer and her team for their fine work and dedication, and I salute all the excellent journalists who have worked in the bureau over the years. The decision to close our bureau is very difficult, and parting with these valued journalists is even more painful in light of the strong contributions they have made to our communities,” Woodlief said.