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Globe-Democrat.com lays off reporters, shifts emphasis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 13, 2010 - The St. Louis Globe-Democrat website has laid off three news reporters and plans to refocus its efforts on sports and political news, its owner said Thursday.

Dan Rositano, who resurrected the Globe-Democrat name and began publishing the news website on Dec. 8, said news reporters Brian Flinchpaugh, Steve Birmingham and Lisa Watson lost their jobs on Monday.

"These are extremely talented, wonderful people," Rositano said. "I feel personally very blessed to know them. This is just a philosophical change in the way we run our media.

"What we're doing is taking a look at some of the strengths we have, some of the weaknesses and we're reorganizing to move toward what the strengths will be."

In addition to focusing on sports and political news, Rositano said the Globe-Democrat.com would be looking at its design and possibly changing the syndicated material it carries as well.

Asked how the site is doing overall, he said:

"Great. It's been great. Traffic numbers have been great. The response has been great. Everything has been great about it. We're just focusing on our strengths.

"The way the media industry is, and the climate is today, we have to play to our strengths. We're not like big companies where we can throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. We pick our battles, see what's working and focus our efforts there."

He said with the change in emphasis, there will be people in the office who can make telephone calls to cover stories if necessary, but news reporters will not be in the field.

"It will be an item by item deal," Rositano said. "We have people here. If there's a situation that warrants us covering something, we have the ability to call people up and get information."

He declined to get into specific numbers in terms of remaining staff or budget.

"I don't have the final numbers yet," he said. "We're still in the process of modifying a few things. I'm a numbers guy. We'll take a look at the numbers, and if we see any fluctuation, we'll adjust things. There's a lot of flexibility."

He emphasized that the changes are a shift in focus, not a sign that the Globe-Democrat.com is doing poorly.

"I don't want this to be interpreted as a negative thing," Rositano said. "It's a positive. We're making business decisions that work. It's the way the digital medium and the media world work in this day and age. We evaluate every day. We look at everything, as time progresses, to make determinations as to what will be successful." 

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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