Western Mass. Newspaper Chain Cuts Jobs, Closes Athol Office

Dec 10, 2019

The Daily News in Athol, Massachusetts, will no longer have an office in the North Quabbin town. The cost-cutting move for parent company Newspapers of New England means seven positions have been eliminated, according to the publisher.

The closure of the office was announced in an ad on page A8 of Tuesday’s edition of the Daily News. It said the paper will now be based out of the company's Greenfield office.

Publisher Michael Moses said he was not available Tuesday for an interview. In an email, he said three full-timers worked in Athol; one was offered a job in Greenfield and two others were offered freelance opportunities.

Credit Athol Daily News

Moses said four other staff at the company's other western Massachusetts papers, the Greenfield Recorder and Daily Hampshire Gazette, also lost their jobs.

"Although we've made tremendous progress over the past year, we have not been immune to the advertising revenue challenges that all newspapers have experienced," Moses said in an email to staff. "We have always valued and continue to value the contributions of all our employees. The decision to reduce our workforce was not lightly taken, especially during this holiday season."

Newspapers of New England purchased the Athol paper from its longtime owners, the Chase family, in December 2017. 

The Pioneer Valley NewsGuild said in a statement that none of the affected employees belonged to the union, but its members were "heartbroken" by the layoffs. 

"The Pioneer Valley NewsGuild remains committed to preserving strong community journalism, and we hope that our readers will continue to support us and the essential work we do," the statement read.

The union formed about 13 months ago. It represents non-management employees at the company's Northampton office.

The newsroom steward, reporter Dusty Christensen, said contract negotiations are ongoing.

"We look forward to more news on that front in the coming weeks and months," he said.