Coloradoan lays off 3; Windsor editor accepts buyout

FORT COLLINS – The Coloradoan is laying off three copy editors and offering early retirement to Windsor Beacon editor and publisher David Persons.

The early retirement package that Persons accepted was one of more than 660 recently offered to employees of Gannett’s U.S. publishing division. The publicly traded company owns more than 80 U.S. daily newspapers.

The Coloradoan will not rehire Persons’ position; instead, Coloradoan editors will manage the Beacon, said Coloradoan president and publisher Judi Terzotis.

Persons, a news veteran who once worked for the Coloradoan and who has served as editor and publisher of the Beacon the past nine years, has helped the Beacon win dozens of awards during his tenure.

“You make a lot of good friends in the community,” he said. “In a small community, you really get to know people really closely. It’s going to be tough when I walk away.”

Persons, 61, said he was not ready to retire and that he hopes to find another journalism job in Northern Colorado. His last day is next Friday.

He decided to accept the package because he was not sure whether another opportunity would arise, he said. The package that will pay out over the next year will help him put his son and daughter through college.

Terzotis was sorry to lose Persons because he has been “the face of the Windsor Beacon,” she said. The two reporters and one clerk at the paper will continue to work at the Beacon.

The Coloradoan layoffs, meanwhile, are the latest at a paper that has seen its workforce severely reduced by job cuts in recent years. The Coloradoan said in 2009 that it employed 115 people, about half the workforce it had at the beginning of 2007.

Gannett is transferring some of the Coloradoan’s copy editing operations to the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, as it has done with other papers, Terzotis said The Coloradoan is one of the last papers in the company to make the move, which is aimed at improving efficiency.

The laid-off copy editors have known for about two years that they would lose their jobs and so had time to make other plans, she said. Four other copy editors will keep their jobs at the Coloradoan.

The changes in staffing come ahead of the paper’s move to a subscription-based model for its website and mobile applications. As part of a reorganization of the Gannett paper’s operations, the Coloradoan also will hire two additional newsroom employees.

“We’ve got a lot of pretty exciting things going on,” Terzotis said. “I’m really pleased we’re moving the Coloradoan forward.”

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