Newspaper Editor's Wife Laid Off [UPDATED, CORRECTION]

Peter BhatiaLast week the editor and publisher of The Oregonian announced brutal cuts: Almost 100 of the Portland daily newspaper's 650 employees would be laid off. The newsroom, in particular, was decimated; nearly 1 in 4 editorial staffers would be jobless by Sept. 27.

But that may not have been the most surprising part. It was that Oregonian Editor Peter Bhatia's wife Liz Dahl, was laid off, too. "That's got to make for some awkward dinner conversations," The New York Observer noted.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION, June 29: Bhatia sent an email late Friday to AOL, stressing that he didn't make the decision to lay off his wife, as this story originally reported, citing The New York Observer. Bhatia wrote:

"I did not lay off my wife. I run the news staff and handled those layoffs. My wife works at the paper but is on the editorial staff and does not work for me."

In any case, many were stunned by the ruthlessness of the layoffs. Bhatia laid off a husband and wife, editors Randy Cox and Joany Carlin, even though Cox is fighting kidney cancer, reports The Willamette Week. "Our newsroom is a family of outstanding journalists and people," Bhatia reportedly said. "I agonized over every decision."

According to The Willamette Week, Bhatia told staff that he alone decided who would stay on the news staff and who would go, and that "employees had been judged using a metric that graded each person on whether they fit into the paper's new digital strategy.

For decades, Advance Publications, the owner of The Oregonian, was famous for its no-layoff pledge. But in recent years, it has moved aggressively to a "digital first" strategy with its newspapers -- slashing staff, reducing newspaper delivery and shifting focus to the Web. The approach has not always been successful, either, as Advance was sharply criticized for how it handled layoffs at the well-regarded Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

One decision, though, was already reversed; the new online Portland paper will not be called "MyDigitalO," a name that "quickly generated laughter about the unintended sexual connotation," said The Willamette Week.

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You cannot fault the man for having to make the tough decisions. Printed media is a dying business. It was dying 7 years ago when I left my job as a print press operator, and it's only getting worse now. Everyone from the journalists to the printers to the mailroom staff is feeling the death of print media. It's sad, but it's inevitable..

At least the man took sole responsibility for the lay offs. I guarantee it wasn't an easy task.

August 14 2013 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amber Dawn

There's a reason that the Oregonian is called "The nDead Fish Wrapper" by locals. That's all it's good for. I cancelled my subscription over twenty years ago and haven't missed a thing worth reading.

June 29 2013 at 4:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At least he's gotten a mistress still working with him? And wants his wife at home then?

June 29 2013 at 3:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's genius! Fire your wife along with everyone else and they don't have much leverage...

June 29 2013 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, dude--you laid her off--now she's laying off you.

Wouldn't count on seeing any sunshine in your house for a while, dude.

June 28 2013 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ms. Blackwell

I'm sure that decision wasn't easy, but I admire him for making the decision and taking sole responsibility for it. How many of us would love to have a boss like that.

June 28 2013 at 9:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You all should report on The Oregonian's help wanted ads placed a few days later to REPLACE those that they laid off. Check out Willamette Week's coverage on that and shake your sorry head. They are looking for less experienced part-time "journalists" (Credentials? What are those? Who cares, you're cheaper! No benefits!). New hires will also have to wield a smart phone to take video and still pics deleting the paper's need for those pesky professionals with expensive cameras (also known as "photo journalists"). More birds with more stones. I could care less that he laid off his own wife. I'm considering canceling my subscription just based on the whole rehire debacle.

June 28 2013 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sptdogcrt's comment

So are you saying that they are looking for "reporters" along the lines of the so-called "journalists" on many of the on-line news sites?

June 28 2013 at 11:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

got to give the man props..he didn't show favortism

June 28 2013 at 9:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

If the Oregonian does the same as the Times Picayune, kiss it good bye. The TP was worth reading at one time, now it doesn't make good paper for a bird cage.

June 28 2013 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 28 2013 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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