New York, Dec 26 (IANS) An Indian-American Pulitzer-winning editor of a prominent US publication has announced his decision to step down next year in an attempt to save the jobs of his staff members from impending company-wide layoffs.
Peter Bhatia, 69, editor and vice president of Gannett-owned Detroit Free Press, announced his decision at a staff meeting held last week after the company reported back-to-back quarterly losses.
“We’re in a difficult period economically,” Bhatia was quoted as saying in his newspaper, which employs a total of 110 people.
“The company is going through a layoff process and I essentially made the decision to lay myself off in the interest of saving other jobs. I do have other opportunities that will probably come to work out at some point,” he added.
“But if by getting my salary out of the budget it saves some jobs of people on the staff, I think that’s the right thing for the Free Press,” Bhatia, who will step down in January, said.
Bhatia, who hails from Lucknow, joined The Free Press in September 2017, after two years as editor and vice president of The Cincinnati Enquirer and cincinnati.com.
There are no reports of Bhatia’s replacement yet but the deadline for the newspaper staffers to volunteer for layoffs is next week, Detroit Free Press reported.
The staff layoffs are tentatively set to take effect January 18, 2023, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, journalists who worked with Bhatia over the years, took to Twitter to say that he stood for “quality journalism” and his quitting is a “big loss” and a “sad day” for Detroit Free Press.
“Turns out you can be an amazing journalist, win Pulitzers and keep your principles after all. Peter is one of the absolute best,” reporter Amber Hunt wrote.
“Tragic news for the Detroit Free Press. Peter was a big reason for my decision to work here. Nobody has championed newsroom diversity and acted on it as much as he has, or made sure his colleagues were in a good place. Truly a rare kind in leadership,” reporter Dana Afana tweeted.
A seven-time Pulitzer juror, Bhatia has led newsrooms that won 10 Pulitzer Prizes, including six in Portland.
He is the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the US, running The Oregonian from 2010 to 2014.
Bhatia graduated in 1975 from Stanford University with a B.A. in history and a double major in history and communication.
In 2020, he won the Ben Bradlee editor of the year award from the National Press Foundation.
Earlier this month, Gannett named him its 2022 top employee.