Media Musings: NC’s McClatchy newspapers shedding personnel (again). It stinks, but here’s the latest….


By R.L. Bynum

Sports editor, longtime photographer at The N&O take early-retirement offer

More newsroom personnel at The N&O, The Herald-Sun and The Charlotte Observer accepted The McClatchy Company’s early-retirement offer than expected, and sports is affected at all three newspapers.

In the consolidated N&O/Herald-Sun newsroom, Sports Editor Steve Ruinsky and longtime photographer Chuck Liddy took buyouts. The last day for both, as well as every employee who took the offer, is Feb. 28.

At The Charlotte Observer, both Sports Editor Mike Persinger and Deputy Sports Editor Harry Pickett opted to take the buyout.

McClatchy employees who are at least 55 years old and have been with the company for 10 years, about 450 chainwide, were eligible. Tuesday was the deadline for eligible employees to accept the offer.

Robyn Tomlin, the executive editor of The N&O and The Herald-Sun, said via email that she could not share the number of employees who accepted the offer until everything is finalized. According to a source, the number was more than expected.

In a memo early Wednesday evening, McClatchy CEO Craig Forman said a bit fewer than half of the 450 employees nationwide in the chain accepted the early retirement offer.

Carolina Hurricanes beat writer Chip Alexander, who also covers the ACC and golf, was eligible for the offer but decided to stay with The N&O and Herald-Sun.

Ruinsky, who came to The N&O in 2005 from Newsday and became The N&O’s sports editor in November 2011, began to oversee Herald-Sun sports coverage as well when the two departments consolidated.

Tomlin said that she didn’t yet know the succession plan for sports leadership at The N&O/H-S.

“I haven’t had time to figure it all out yet,” Tomlin said. “Hope to have at least temporary plans in place by next week, and then we’ll start looking at the best long-term solutions.”

Assistant Sports Editor Jessaca Giglio has been on leave while undergoing breast cancer treatment. She has been very public on Twitter about her cancer fight, and N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts had encouraging words for her in an early-season press conference. Her husband is N.C. State beat writer Joe Giglio. Other staffers have filled in for him to cover some road Wolfpack games.

Liddy, who also is battling cancer, is capping a 46-year career this month and will shoot his last of many Duke-UNC games for the newspaper tonight.

While at The Herald-Sun in the days before Paxton Media Group ownership of the paper, Liddy took an iconic photo of Christian Laettner’s shot that sent Duke to a win over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Eastern Regional finals.

He left for The N&O in February 1993 and, for years, one of his main duties was taking photos at Duke football and men’s basketball games. He’s also shot plenty of news events, including dozens of hurricanes and the Michael Peterson trial.

Before The Herald-Sun, he worked for the Morganton News-Herald. His photos have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek and People, among others.

In a Facebook post, he said that the decision to take the buyout had nothing to do with his cancer fight.

Among the news-side employees taking the offer are music critic and arts writer David Menconihealth and environmental reporter John Murawski and regional audience growth editor Eric Frederick. Frederick was The N&O‘s sports editor from 1991 to 1995. 

Some employees taking the buyout who have accrued vacation time can still change their minds through March 15.

All of this buyout news comes as McClatchy is reportedly eyeing a deal with Tribune Publishing Company, a merger that would likely lead to job cuts. The closest Tribune newspapers are in Virginia: The Daily Press in Newport News and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

At about the time McClatchy offered the buyouts, it was reported that Forman’s new contract with the chain includes base pay of $1 million, a $1 million bonus and an additional monthly stipend of $35,000.

Word came this week that the Myrtle Beach Sun News will stop publishing a Saturday print edition April 6. 

You can’t call what you can’t see

Being at courtside normally gives a broadcast crew an excellent view of the action … unless a coach tends to walk or stand right in front of them a lot.

Jones Angell of the Tar Heel Sports Network doesn’t usually have an issue with his normal position calling home UNC games from the table to the right of the scorer’s table (looking from the court) and to the left of the visitor’s bench. That was different in the Virginia Tech game because Angell frequently had his view blocked by Coach Buzz Williams.

Wolfpack Sports Network play-by-play man Gary Hahn can typically be spotted once or twice a game standing up to see over and around an official who is obstructing his sight.

At least those are occasional occurrences. When it’s seemingly all game, every game? That’s a different story.

That’s why Stan Cotten, on the Wake Forest Learfield IMG Network, now calls home Demon Deacons games from a table behind the baseline closest to the Wake Forest bench … a rare spot for a home radio team.

Before this season, Cotten’s crew was at a spot similar to Angell’s —  but at Wake Forest, that spot was to the left of the Deacons’ bench. Wake Forest coach Danny Manning, a towering figure, stood in front of that position so much last season, that Cotten and his crew moved to the baseline this season.

Tar Heel Blog starts new podcasts

SB Nation site Tar Heel Blog, which covers UNC athletics, added two podcasts that debuted last week: “Between the Banners,” which focuses on basketball, and “Don’t Punt to Gio,” which is football-focused

The podcast is now part of SB Nation Podcast Network.

That means more shows, better quality, and more frequent uploads,” Tanya Bondurant, managing editor for of the site, said via email.

She will be one of the rotating co-hosts for the shows, including THB writers Chad Floyd, Brandon Anderson, Jake Lawrence, Al Hood, Akil Guruparan and Joe Carpenter.

“We do hope to have guests on when we can get them,” Bondurant said. “That will probably be more of an occasional feature with the main format being writers discussing the topics.”

Those two podcasts replace “The Weekly Tar Heel.”

North Carolina-related sports stories of note

In Durham-based Baseball America, Ron Morris wrote about the trend of Major League Baseball teams keeping fewer scouts and shifting to more of an analytical approach, following the lead of the Houston Astros.

When is the time for a basketball coach to retire? In The Athletic, David Glenn explored that question and found that there never has been a game with a 75-year-old head coach at the Division I or NBA level. That could happen soon with Jim Boeheim, but Glenn focuses on Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. At age 72, he says he hasn’t thought about retirement.

What does it feel like for an NHL player when he blocks a shot that could go 80 to 90 mph? In The N&O and Herald-Sun, Chip Alexander found out and wrote about that. Spoiler: It hurts … a lot.

What is it like to play for one school and have your son play for that school’s rival? C.L. Brown of The Athletic talked to two dads who played football at UNC and have sons who are now playing basketball at N.C. State — Torin Dorn Sr. and Bernardo Harris. It’s worse for Harris since he also grew up in Chapel Hill listening to Woody Durham and is a Chapel Hill High School alum.

In The N&O and H-S, correspondent Ken Tysiac, a former sports writer for The Charlotte Observer who currently is a senior editor at the Journal of Accountancy, wrote about Kiara Leslie’s path to being the star of N.C. State’s highly ranked women’s team. It started with driveway battles with her older brother, former Wolfpack star C.J. Leslie.

In The N&O and H-S, Luke DeCock wrote about the rise of former N.C. State baseball player David Guthrie through the officiating ranks to become an NBA official in 2005. He worked an NBA Finals game last season and officiated Sunday’s All-Star Game in Charlotte.

In the Staunton News Leader, Patrick Hite wrote about Dan Bonner, the former Virginia basketball player who has been a longtime analyst on Raycom ACC broadcasts. The story looks at Bonner’s style and takes you through what gameday is like for a TV analyst.

Longtime Durham Bulls fans are well aware of Charlie Montoyo, one of their former managers, and Rocco Baldelli, one of their former players. Both are major-league managers for the first time (Montoyo with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baldelli with the Minnesota Twins). In The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal wrote about the lasting bond the two have with each other.

In The N&O and H-S, Andrew Carter wrote about how the heart from a man who died after being punched by a Wake Forest assistant basketball coach continues to beat and has brought families and strangers together.