Threat by Newark Star-Ledger publisher to close paper defused by contract settlements

The Star-Ledger, Advance Publication’s largest newspaper, reached a deal with its unions Wednesday night ahead of last Friday’s contract deadline. (Image via

Richard Vezza, publisher of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, Advance Publications’ largest newspaper, last summer threatened to close the newspaper if the company did not receive major concessions from the paper’s four unions. The unions and the newspaper last week reached contract agreements that keep the newspaper publishing, which union president Ed Shown acknowledged involved “a lot of painful and hard decisions.”

I had interviewed Shown in late June for my book, who was confident then that the paper would not close and that a contract agreement would be reached by the end of September. He made his deadline.

Read about the details – and the rather telling deletion of a quote from the newspaper’s publisher that mysteriously disappeared from the’s online reports – in my book, in bookstores the week of Oct. 13.


“Digital First” has been very good to Advance Publications’ Donald Newhouse

Donald Newhouse in 2005 in the newsroom of the Newark Star-Ledger, Advance Publications’ largest newspaper. (Image via

As I note in the Epilogue of Hell and High Water, information surfaced shortly after I began writing the book that Advance Publications’ “digital first” initiative appears to have  beenvery good to Advance exec Donald Newhouse. Between September 2012—when the carnage began at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and three Newhouse-owned newspapers in Alabama—and March 2013, the value of Donald Newhouse’s and his brother’s fortunes grew an estimated $1.4 billion, to $15.4 billion, Forbes magazine reported. The Newhouse fortune has continued to climb, according to Forbes‘ latest list of the 400 Richest Americans: it now stands at an estimated $17.1 billion, $8.9 billion belonging to Si Newhouse, and $8.2 billion credited to Donald. (’s Andrew Beaujon reported the new rankings.)

Although I calculated that digital first has been responsible for the loss at least 1,600 full-time jobs to-date at Newhouse newspapers nationwide (and countless part-time, freelance and contractor positions), the initiative has been very good to the Brothers Newhouse.

WYES-TV’s “Informed Sources” Calls Out Hell and High Water

Thanks so much to Errol Laborde, producer of New Orleans PBS affiliate WYES-TV’s WYES_InformedSources“Informed Sources,” for his complimentary call-out Friday of Hell and High Water and noting it will be available near the first anniversary of the changes at The Times-Picayune, Oct. 1, 2013. (Errol’s kind words begin at 26:10 in the show’s replay available at this link.)

Pre-Order Hell and High Water Now through New Orleans’ Octavia Books

Octavia Books, one of theOctaviaBooksLogo country’s great independent bookstores, will host the first signing of Hell and High Water, on Oct. 17, in New Orleans, from 6 PM-?. If you can come out for the event, I hope you will, but if not, please support Octavia by buying your copy of the book from them. You can do so at this link.