Popular columnists laid off in new cutbacks at the IndyStar

Tim Swarens with FOX59's Dan Spehler

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — At least four journalists, including three well-respected columnists, have been laid off by the Indianapolis Star in another round of cost cuts made across the country Wednesday by newspaper owner Gannett Co.

News columnist and opinion editor Tim Swarens, writer and editor Amanda Kingsbury, financial columnist Peter “Pete the Planner” Dunn and business columnist Michael Hicks (who also teaches economics at Ball State University) all confirmed their departures from the Star on Twitter.

Star Executive Editor Ronnie Ramos declined to comment on the layoffs, telling the Indianapolis Business Journal he doesn’t discuss “personnel matters.”

Gannett officials also did not comment – but the The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a non-profit journalism think-tank, indicated that Gannett had slashed jobs and made budget cuts at its properties nationwide Wednesday in advance of what’s expected to be a sale of the newspaper group to a hedge fund.

Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for Poynter, said the cutbacks were “hardly surprising” given Gannett’s troubled financial condition and would have likely occurred even without a potential sale looming.

After learning that he was among those being cut by the IndyStar, Swarens tweeted: “I’m in shock. Not how I wanted 35-year journalism career to end.” Kingsbury tweeted to Swarens that “obviously I am feeling your pain as well.”

Meantime, Dunn offered a message to longtime readers by tweeting: “Budget cuts and whatnot. Six years, 315 columns, and lots of reader emails. Thanks for reading.” And in his tweet, Hicks thanked the Star for publishing his column “for many years.”

Poynter noted that these latest IndyStar cuts came just a few weeks after six longtime Star employees took early-retirement buyouts offered by Gannett.

The IndyStar is a newsgathering partner of FOX59, which is separately owned by Tribune Media.

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