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Afternoon roundup

Friday, Mar 10, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* After the Gannett/Gatehouse merger, the company got rid of 59 percent of its employees, according to Nieman Lab

At the end of 2018 — the last full pre-merger year — the two companies had a total of 27,600 employees, according to a Gannett spokesperson. The merger closed in mid-November 2019, by which time it had about 25,000 and was diving headlong into a hunt for “inefficiencies.”

By December 31, 2019, the combined company was down to 21,255. By the end of 2020, that had dropped to 18,141. A year later: 13,800. And its most recent SEC filing reports that, as of the end of 2022, Gannett had just 11,200 employees remaining.

In other words, Gannett has eliminated 59% of its jobs in four years. It’s as if, instead of merging America’s two largest newspaper chains, one of them was simply wiped off the face of the earth.

The chain owns 16 newspapers in Illinois and prints Dan Proft’s “papers” as well as the bizarre Epoch Times.

* Whoever is running this Twitter account has better political investigatory skills than most if not all political reporters in Chicago. Their oppo is almost always the goods…

More here.

* Jim Dey

The diversity/equity/inclusion mandate remains in place at the University of Illinois. But it’s been repealed at the University of North Carolina system.

This week, the UNC system board removed the compelled speech requirement because it was advised that requiring salutes to the DEI ideology as a condition of hiring and admissions is at odds with free speech. […]

Colleges and universities across the country, including the UI, have embraced the DEI loyalty tests as a means of ensuring either complete political conformity or silence on controversial issues inside and outside the university.

I reached out to UIUC and heard back today from Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Sean Garrick…

Dear Rich,

I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what the “diversity/equity/inclusion mandate” to which Mr. Dey refers to in his column. At the University of Illinois we have no “loyalty tests” of any nature. As a university, we encourage open, robust and wide-ranging debate, discussion and exploration of ideas and concepts – some of which are certainly considered controversial.

The idea that our university encourages conformity whether through formal policies or through informal avenues is absolutely false. Academic freedom is fundamentally about guaranteeing faculty members the freedom to explore “dangerous” ideas and ask difficult questions – the exact opposite of conformity. Mr. Tripp’s statements speak to the actions by the University of North Carolina and it is not appropriate for me/us to comment on governance decisions of another university.



IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra warned that cases of group A strep throat leading to severe complications are on the rise in Illinois, with more cases reported in 2023 than in any of the past five years.

“As COVID-19 cases and community levels remain stable, I want to share my concern about the growing number of strep throat cases in Illinois that are leading to severe complications,” Director Vohra said. “These cases, known as invasive Group A strep, are the result of disease spreading from the throat to blood, muscle and lungs. I urge parents to contact their health providers when their children start showing early symptoms. These symptoms include sudden onset of sore throat, pain when swallowing and fever. Early detection is critical as strep can be diagnosed with a simple test and treated with antibiotics. If able, please make sure everyone in the house is up to date with flu and chickenpox vaccines. Having either the flu or chickenpox can increase your risk of contracting invasive Group A strep.”

Parents and others can get more information about Group A strep at this CDC resource page.

* Press release…

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement regarding the decision by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to temporarily convert United States Penitentiary (USP) Thomson into a low-security prison and enhance training for the hundreds of Thomson staff who will all remain employed at the institution:

“Today’s announcement is good news for the Thomson facility—it remains part of the Federal prison system, with no elimination of staffing positions, and it will help relieve some of the current overpopulation pressures BOP is experiencing at low-security facilities nationwide.

“When Thomson was purchased by the Federal government more than ten years ago, one of our goals was to help address the urgent overcrowding problem at our nation’s Federal prisons, as well as make it the safest prison in the nation—for both incarcerated people and staff. As part of these reforms and improvements, Thomson staff will have the opportunity to participate in intensive training to promote a more positive culture and ensure that Thomson is a safe and secure facility with a focus on rehabilitation and reentry. I look forward to seeing Thomson reach its full potential with this temporary conversion.”

BOP moved all remaining individuals in the Special Management Unit (SMU) and Reintegration Unit (RU) from Thomson in February 2023. Thomson will now house approximately 1,178 low-security adults, which will relieve some of the current overpopulation pressures BOP is experiencing at low-security facilities nationwide. Thomson plans to begin receiving inmates the week of April 10, starting with one unit a month. The adjacent Minimum Security Satellite Camp will be unaffected throughout the transition of the institution.

Beginning in 2009, Durbin was instrumental in the acquisition and activation of Thomson Prison—converting it from a state correctional facility to a Federal prison.

…Adding… US Sen. Tammy Duckworth was interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter. Lots of talk about pop culture and then

There’s been so much debate about identity politics and its role in defining our political discourse. What’s your take?

I wasn’t a mom when I was first elected to Congress, but I thought I was pretty progressive. Then I became a mom and I was traveling back and forth from Chicago to D.C. twice a week trying to express breastmilk to feed my baby and I was told, “Oh you want to pump breast milk, go do it in the handicap stall of the bathroom,” or worse, “Go plug your breast pump in at that outlet where everyone else is charging their cell phone.” So I passed legislation called the FAM Act (Friendly Airports for Mothers) which now means every airport in America has to have a lactation room. And I’m really proud that I wrote that law which I would never have had if I had not been a mom. I also wrote legislation to force airlines to report how many times they break medical-assisted devices because about every third time I get on an airplane some part of my wheelchair gets broken. Before I used a wheelchair it never occurred to me. So yeah, identity is important. Identity does matter. Lived experience matters. You have to look at it not as something that puts us in categories but that makes life better for all of us. So it’s important to have greater diversity and sometimes you’ve got to be conscious of that diversity which is why I fought so hard to have an Asian American nominated as a cabinet secretary. It’s important for the rest of the world to look and see and go, “Oh wow, that’s a really diverse cabinet. That’s America.”

* Isabel’s roundup…


  1. - Arsenal - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 2:35 pm:

    Dey’s column is an example of something plaguing all Republicans right now: they are just way too online. I’m pretty online and I still needed a decoder ring to figure out what he was talking about. A more normal voter would be totally lost…but only for a moment. Then they’d just tune out entirely.

  2. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 2:35 pm:

    “… prints Dan Proft’s “papers” as well as the bizarre Epoch Times.”

    And, unless there are 2 newspaper printers in Peoria, they also print the Champaign News-Gazette.

  3. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 2:36 pm:

    well Rich, you called Vallas an OR Goldmine. and it keeps giving. This find is ironic, and that quote can be so wonderfully used.

  4. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 2:39 pm:

    As a U of I grad, it certainly looked to me like Steven Salaita was subjected to a kind of loyalty test.

  5. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 2:58 pm:

    Hat Tip Rich Miller on The People’s Fabric. Go read their Twitter feed. there’s more…way more…on what Vallas did and did not do in Philly. He should be no where near another public sector job. He’s just not good at it.

  6. - Bigtwich - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 3:02 pm:

    Gannett may own 16 Illinois newspapers but a number all appear on line as

  7. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 3:04 pm:

    @peoplesfabric is one I’ve recently found and now a Twitter I check out on the regular

    Good shop to the OR

  8. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 3:10 pm:

    59% of employees gone after the merger?
    It shows.
    The Peoria and Springfield newspapers have about the same percentage drop in content in the printed editions too.

  9. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 3:48 pm:

    what will the answers be from Vallas and/or his staffers & surrogates on the newspaper coverage from Philly seen in The People’s Fabric Twitter feed? Is that fake too?

  10. - Jibba - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 3:48 pm:

    Jim Dey blew something up to be more than what is was? Shocked, I’m shocked to find gambling going on here.

  11. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Mar 10, 23 @ 4:16 pm:

    Kudos to Sen. Duckworth for clearly explaining the value of DEI. The benefits of including diverse lived experiences are very clearly laid out. We don’t know what we don’t know, but there is an excellent chance someone else knows what we don’t. The problem some folks have is that they don’t want to know; ignorance is bliss (and allows folks to keep doing what they are doing).

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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