GateHouse-owned Lakeland Ledger lays off entertainment reporter

Paul Catala had been at the paper since 2016.

click to enlarge JON S VIA FLICKR / ATTRIBUTION 2.0 GENERIC (CC BY 2.0)
Jon S via Flickr / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A layoff has claimed the Lakeland Ledger’s entertainment reporter.

Paul Catala, who had worked for the 95-year-old paper since 2016, shared the news of his layoff on social media, and a reporter inside the newsroom confirmed that the layoff only affected one editorial position.

“It may be just one position, but we hurt today,” the reporter told CL on the condition of anonymity. The reporter also said that they heard that several papers owned by GateHouse media, which took over the paper in 2015, were told to cut budgets.

According to its website, GateHouse operates in 555 markets across 37 states. It owns nine daily newspapers in Florida, plus three free-weeklies, eight paid weeklies and Daytona Beach’s Pennysavers shopper.

The layoff at the Ledger comes to a paper that voted to unionize in 2016 (another GateHouse property, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune also unionized that year, and Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union voted to do so in 2018). In the statement issued at the time, employees at the Ledger said the unionization drive was a response to layoffs at the newspaper, which claimed 21 jobs since GateHouse took over. Poynter also pointed out that at that point, the Ledger staff had also gone more than eight years without pay raises.

The subsequent negotiation around the Ledger unionization did bring modest pay increases and benefits, according to the unnamed reporter.

CL has left a message for Ledger publisher, Brian Burns (formerly of the Tampa Tribune), and a representative from human resources department told CL they could not comment on the news.