Layoffs began Tuesday, in advance of New Media Group’s takeover at the Providence Journal. Columnist Bob Kerr received the grim news after 43 years at Projo along with several other staff writers.
My thoughts are with the Projo today and in the coming weeks as the transition takes place.
As the staff cuts come as no surprise, announced weeks ago, I’ve decided to address this first round on a personal level, as we are all colleagues and even in our darkest hour of competition on the beat, most of us still give nod to the ProJo and its staffers who show up to put out the oldest daily on our streets.
Having worked as a carrier for the state’s daily behemoth, throwing papers into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for held editions, broken presses, late runs, I got a real sense of the importance of the Providence Journal to the residents of Rhode Island.
Greeting people at the door at 3:00 am, knowing whose light would be on, who would be calling if the paper wasn’t on the doorstep, who favored columns, sports or the Sunday ads was more an overnight survival mechanism than anything else – until I started writing.
Rhode Islanders love – and love to hate- names like Kerr, Patinkin, Reynolds, Gillooly. The banter on the stoop ran from bad to good, because Projo subscribers could say what they wanted. Projo was their newspaper, the writers their voice and daily looking glass into Rhode Island’s meanderings.
It brings me great pain to hear the news today – to see the Providence Journal end the reign of Bob Kerr in their newsroom. Even at my ancient age, I’ve always looked up to Bob who as a columnist integrated investigative skill with compassion and understanding of his subject.
Bob brought both the joys and tragedies of the day to light, portraying the realities of life through people and topic. I am grateful to have known him and call him colleague. May those who come after Mr. Kerr know the importance and legacy of his work.
So long, Bob. I’m looking forward to reading a book real soon.