Updated: News Journal staff cuts continue with police and Phillies reporters getting walking papers

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The News Journal has laid off reporters and left other positions unfilled as it wrestles with cost and turnover issues in a brutal  environment for newspapers.

Laid off were the night police reporter and  Phillies beat writer Megan Montemurro and breaking news reporter Alonzo Small. Montemurro and Small both confirmed their departures in Twitter posts. 

News Journal Executive Editor and Vice President David Ledford did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. 

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Reports indicate Gannett has instituted a one percent cut in staff nationwide, which typically amounts to one or two staffers per paper. Ledford’s Gannett colleague in El Paso, TX chose to resign in order to preserve more positions, the Associated Press reported. 

Click here for earlier stories on the News Journal 

Also departing is corporate business reporter  Jeff Mordock, who will join the Washington Times. 

The key position of business editor was eliminated a few years ago in a moved imposed by parent Gannett Co.

The newspaper has also seen turnover in recent months, a reflection of the lower pay and younger staffs that is part of the newspaper scene these days.

The reporting vacancies left by the passing of Sussex County environmental reporter Molly Murray and the departure of courts reporter  Jessica Reyes, have reportedly not been filled. 

Long gone are most of the household names who  took buyouts.  Long-time feature writers  Patricia Talorico and Ryan Cormier have stayed put.

In a related development, those turning to the daily USA Today section in the Gannett  papers in Delmarva may have noticed that the number of pages has thinned. The non-sports USA Today pages total a paltry four except on Sunday.

It could be a seasonal matter or evidence that the strategy of luring national advertisers has faltered.

The USA Today mini-section is part of an overhaul of Gannett papers in an attempt to brand the flagship with local papers.

The newspaper industry has continued to see a double-digit decline in print advertising revenue with slow growth in less lucrative digital revenue.

The cuts continue to raise concerns about the ability of newspapers to serve in their traditional watchdog role.

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