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Publisher Closing 5 Newsrooms Including Capital Gazette

The news comes just over two years after a gunman with a history of harassing Capital Gazette journalists stormed into their Annapolis newsroom and killed five people

Capital Gazette employees
Ivan Couronne/AFP via Getty Images

The publisher of The Capital Gazette will permanently close the newsroom of the paper and four other papers across the United States, the company announced Wednesday. 

Tribune Publishing Company said the papers will continue to be published with employees working from home as they have during the coronavirus pandemic.

The news comes just over two years after a gunman with a history of harassing Capital Gazette journalists stormed into their Annapolis newsroom and killed five employees. The paper won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for their coverage of the shooting. Reporters have worked in two other newsrooms since the attack. 

The other newsrooms to be closed are those of New York's Daily News; the Orlando Sentinel in Florida; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and the Carroll County Times in Maryland.

Employees were told they would be working at home until at least January 2021.

“As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices,” a spokesman for the Chicago-based company, Max Reinsdorf, said via email. “We will keep employees informed of decisions as they are made.”

The Capital Gazette moved to its current newsroom about a year after the mass shooting. Before that, for nearly a year, the paper’s staff worked in a temporary newsroom at the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service bureau in Annapolis.

Employees said they mourned the loss of their newsroom but would keep putting out a paper, just as they did the day after their coworkers were killed.

The Daily News, once the newspaper with the largest circulation in the country, has been in financial trouble for years and was sold to The Tribune Publishing Company for $1 in 2017 by New York real estate developer and media mogul Mortimer B. Zuckerman. The new owner cut the newsroom staff in half.

Its offices at 4 New York Plaza in Manhattan were formally closed as of Wednesday and staff will be given until Oct. 30 to retrieve personal items, a human resources executive at The Daily News said in a letter to employees obtained by The Associated Press.

“With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office,” said Reinsdorf, referring to The Daily News in a statement about the newsroom closures.

In a June 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tribune Publishing said it had withheld three months of rent payments for “a majority of its facilities and requested rent relief from the lessors in various forms,” including lease terminations, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday.

The Tribune Publishing Company also publishes the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia's Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot, and the Hartford Courant.

Jarrod Ramos pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible due to mental illness in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history. In the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, he killed Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. A jury is set to determine in December if Ramos is criminally responsible. He could be committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital instead of prison.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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