In an off-the-record meeting Friday, employees learned that the newspaper that was once the cash cow of the Scripps chain is now the peer of the Knoxville New-Sentinel, which has a smaller staff and serves a market with a smaller population.
But employees were relieved to learn that there are no plans, for now at least, for The Commercial Appeal to follow the lead of the New Orleans Time Picayune, Ann Arbor News, Mobile Press-Register and other papers that have stopped printing a daily paper although they still publish three days a week.
Editor Chris Peck sent the staff an email Thursday that announced that there would be a series of meetings the following day with employees and Tim Stautberg, senior vice-president of newspapers for Scripps in the home office in Cincinnati. The words "contingency plans" made some employees fearful that bad news was imminent. Earlier last week, hundreds of employees were fired at papers in Alabama and New Orleans.
But when the for-the-record announcement Friday morning only mentioned that Pepe and Wurzbach had "left the company", employees were relieved.