Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oplinger, Hoffman retiring; BJ offers buyouts

My sources tell me that BJ Managing Editor Doug Oplinger and editorial writer Steve Hoffman are retiring.

And the BJ is offering buyouts again to forestall layoffs.

Doug Oplinger
The word I get is that 3 reporters, 1 copy editor, 1 page designer and 1 photographer will take the buyouts.

But I also got word from a reliable source that we won’t know the total till management sees how many commit to the buyouts.

I remember when Doug first showed up at the Beacon Journal, baby-faced under his John Deere cap and still in high school when Bill Hershey recruited him at a Springfield School Board meeting, and into the world of Pat Englehart, the Tasmanian devil whirlwind of an editor, and Harry Liggett, a guy with a gruff exterior who set traps for any reporter who tried to bullshit her way in defense of an article that H.L. was editing.

Pat and Harry taught me, who came to Ol’ Blue Walls at the age of 38, way more about being an editor than I had learned before I came to 44 East Exchange Street.

And taught Doug, too. Lessons I’m sure that helped him as managing editor in a stressful and difficult time for newspapers.

At its peak there were about 250 in the BJ newsroom. Today, according to the staff list, there are 63 if you include vice president/editor Bruce Winges, Doug and everyone with a title and the reporters.

And that number will get perilously close to 50 by the time the buyouts are finalized.
Those remaining will not have an easy task on a newspaper that earned four Pulitzer Prizes.

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