By Yolanda Spivey
Journal-isms is releasing a report that five senior black journalists at USA Today and Gannett News Service, are being let go. This move will deplete the top ranks of journalists of color at the well known newspapers.
The journalists decided to take an early retirement packaged that was offered to them.
Heidi Zimmerman, a USA Today spokeswoman told Journal-isms that early retirements were offered to USA Today employees who were at least 55 years of age and who had 15 years of service. She did not disclose how many employees collectively decided to take the buyout package.
Larry Bivins, who is one of the 5 black journalists, confirmed the news to Journal-isms. He stated, “After 36 years in the business, I’m hanging it up. At least for a while.” He felt the timing couldn’t be any better for him as he is looking to retire completely next year when he turns 65 years of age. He feels this is a good time to “clear” his head and look for freelance opportunities.
Another departing journalist, Geri Coleman Tucker who served as deputy managing editor for USA Today and also as regional managing editor for the Gannett News Service, is happy about the news. She said, she is “embarking on a great faith journey” and is looking for “exciting and new opportunities.” She has been with both newspapers for 30 years.
Robert Robinson, who served as deputy managing editor/copy editor spent a total of 39 years with USA Today. He stated to Journal-isms that the “timing felt right.” He has no immediate plans for his future but to enjoy time with his family and visit with his aging mother.
Lastly, Gary Rawlins, who been with USA Today for 28 years is preparing to teach at a local college in his area. He was a global editions editor.
All retirees will be offered two weeks pay for each year of service with a cap of one year pay.
Last year around this time, The Root.com reported that USA Today laid-off 5 black sports staffers due to “restructuring.”