The Louisville Courier-Journal: Then and Now

| August 26, 2013 | Reply

I just stumbled across an interesting column by long-time Courier-Journal columnist Byron Crawford which appeared in the once-venerable Kentucky newspaper’s April 5, 2006 edition.

Reminiscing about Louisville’s Bingham family’s former ownership of the newspaper, Crawford wrote, in part:

Although the Binghams were separated from most of us by vast differences in wealth and power, I somehow had the feeling that hard work by any of their employees rarely went unrewarded.

At a library fund raiser in Paris, Ky., years ago, a woman pulled me aside and told me a story about the Binghams’ kindness to her family.

She explained that her father had worked faithfully as a circulation manager for The Courier-Journal in Bourbon County but had died unexpectedly, leaving her mother with young children.

When Barry Bingham Sr. visited the funeral home to pay his respects, the woman said, he placed in her mother’s hand a folded check for $6,000 as he whispered condolences.

For years afterward, until she and her siblings were grown, her father’s paycheck from The Courier-Journal arrived in the mail, she said, as though her father still worked for the newspaper.

It is one of perhaps many such stories that have passed on with Barry Bingham Sr. and Barry Jr.

Gannett recently laid off nine more Courier-Journal employees and permanently eliminated three other jobs that were currently vacant.

Something tells me a faithful circulation manager dying today would be lucky if their family even got their last paycheck, much less a $6,000 bonus and continuation of their salary as a death benefit.

Am I being too harsh on Gannett? You tell me.

Although I only got to work with her a few times before Gannett foisted a work-for-hire photography contract on Kentucky freelance photographers — a contract I refused to sign — Cindy Stucky at The Courier-Journal was one of my all-time favorite photo assignment editors.

She began working in the CJ’s darkroom when she was 16 years old and died May 2, 2009 at age 54. Stucky was still working at the newspaper up until about five months prior to her death, at which point I’ve been told she was let go.

If you’d like to view the guestbook on Stucky’s obituary published by the newspaper to which she devoted nearly 40 years of her life, however, that’ll be $29.99 for one year or $79.99 for permanent access. Too bad Gannett newspaper division chief Bob Dickey can’t pony up $80 out of his nearly $3.8 million executive compensation package.

Stay classy, Gannett.

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Category: Reality Bytes

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I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (eNinja). Circle me on Google Plus at Plus.BillySuratt.com, follow me on Twitter at @surattb or Instagram at @BillySuratt, and connect with me on Facebook at FB.com/BillySuratt. You can follow my microblog at bits.billysuratt.com, check out my photography website at photography.billysuratt.com and I'm even listed in the Internet Movie Database. Available for assignments nationwide (assignment photography information available here).