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Fri Sep 21, 2018, 11:13 PM

Wyoming's largest newspaper comes to a crossroads

Casper Star-Tribune union leaders say they’re skeptical of Lee Enterprise’s commitment to journalism. As such, the journalists see forthcoming negotiations with Lee Enterprises, the publicly-traded corporation that owns the state’s largest newspaper, as an exchange that pits reporting in Wyoming public’s interest against out-of-state profit motives. And they’re taking their case directly to the community.

Speaking ahead of a new round of contract negotiations beginning Sept. 17, Casper News Guild leaders Heather Richards and Seth Klamann said they believe the company is negotiating in good faith but that questions of salary and health insurance have yet to be resolved and could be difficult to answer. Guild members seek more financial security so that they can commit to journalism in the state and treat writing for Wyoming’s paper of record as more than just a stepping stone or economic sacrifice, they said.

But they worry that Lee Enterprises, which owns papers in 20 states and carries hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, doesn’t share their dedication to journalism or to Wyoming. Corporate executives and stockholders are lucratively rewarded, even as communities lose reporters to layoffs.

“The union is coming to the table in good faith and asking for things that will make living in Casper and Wyoming doable” for reporters, said Elise Schmelzer, a former features editor and star Wyoming journalist who was laid off from her job at the newspaper in April. “But I have my doubts that Lee cares about that. I don’t think [executives] care about the quality of the newspaper.”

Read more: https://www.wyofile.com/wyomings-largest-newspaper-comes-to-a-crossroads/

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