News & Politics

“An Unspeakable Loss for Our Newsroom”: The Capital Gazette Loses Two More Journalists to Buyouts

Pat Furgurson and Joshua McKerrow covered the 2018 shooting in their newsroom from the back of a truck.

Joshua McKerrow, center, works with colleagues Chase Cook and Pat Furgurson in a parking garage of a mall in Annapolis during coverage of the fatal shootings that happened in their paper's newsroom earlier in the day. (Thalia Juarez/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Capital Gazette journalists Pat Furgurson and Joshua McKerrow were out of their office on June 28, 2018, when a gunman broke into their newsroom and opened fire on their colleagues, killing five. Along with reporter Chase Cook, Furguson and McKerrow covered the tragedy from Furguson’s truck in the parking lot of a mall. The Pulitzer Board later saluted the staff’s “unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.”

Furgurson and McKerrow will leave the papers after a round of cost-cutting buyouts from the paper’s owner, Tribune Publishing, following high school sports editor Bob Hough, who left at the end of January. “We’re quite devastated,” says Danielle Ohl, a reporter at The Capital and the chair of the Chesapeake News Guild. “They’re the reason we won the Pulitzer citation. It’s just an unspeakable loss for our newsroom.”

The newsroom will go from 18 to 15 journalists, Ohl says. One of the 15 is an intern who’s with the paper for a year.

The venture capital firm Alden Global Capital purchased a 32 percent stake in Tribune last November. Vanity Fair refers to Alden as “the grim reaper of American newspapers“; it’s known for extracting value from distressed properties by exacting severe cost cuts and executing sales of assets like real estate. In recent days, the buyouts have landed on Tribune papers like the Chicago Tribune and the Morning Call, as well as the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press in Newport News. Tribune’s CEO, Timothy P. Knight, has stepped down, and several executives have left. One executive recently expressed the opinion that employees should be “singing ‘Glory Hallelujah’ ” about the buyout offers. Employees found out which

McKerrow told Poynter reporter Kristen Hare that he took the buyout because “I have to do what’s best for my family.” On Twitter, he noted that he “almost, almost, made 20 years” at the paper.

Correction: This post originally misspelled Pat Furgurson’s last name. 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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