Press Club decries News 12 staffing cuts

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The Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists, opposes any planned newsroom staffing cuts at News 12 Networks.

The Dolan family, which founded News 12 Networks, is suing Altice USA, the American division of the Netherlands-based media conglomerate Altice NV that now owns the networks. Altice USA purchased News 12 from Cablevision Systems Inc. of Bethpage in 2016 for $17.7 billion.

The Dolans are seeking an injunction against Altice, asking the courts to stop the corporation from making continued cuts to its news staff. The Dolans contend that Altice USA agreed to maintain its 2016 staffing level of 462 employees through 2020 so that quality of coverage would not be compromised.

The sale agreement was supposed “to maintain the quality of the local news content produced by News 12, and [was] designed to protect News 12 employees and their salaries for an extended and fixed period of time,” the Dolans said in the suit.

The cuts are being made despite News 12’s continued profitability, according to Patrick Dolan, News 12’s former president and News 12 Long Island’s former news director, who is now president and owner of Newsday.

The Press Club believes firmly that News 12’s staffing levels must be maintained. The networks, headquartered in Woodbury, report from Connecticut, Westchester, New York City and New Jersey, in addition to Long Island. They are critical hyper-local information sources serving the tri-state area.

Winner of numerous Emmy and PCLI awards, News 12 Long Island has served its tens of thousands of viewers admirably since it began reporting in 1986, covering the major stories that have affected our island, from plane crashes to hurricanes to 9/11, while never forgetting that coverage of house fires and school picnics is also vitally important to viewers.

The news industry has been battered in recent years by profit-seeking corporations that swoop in, reduce news staffs to shells of their former selves and then sell. That business model might be good for corporate tally sheets, but it is terrible for readers and viewers.

We respect the Dolan family’s commitment to quality news coverage. The Dolans understand that top-notch reporters, editors and broadcasters are needed to produce the news. We believe the Dolans when they say they forged an agreement with Altice to ensure that staffing levels are maintained. Altice should honor that agreement.

 

 

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