CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Cville Weekly laid off a third of its already small staff Tuesday, coming as a surprise to the newspaper and the community.

This included its Editor-in-Chief Laura Longhine, a culture reporter, the art director, and a publisher. 

The staff that was laid-off announced the news on social media and said they had no prior warning.

Longhine said they got the notice Tuesday that it would be effective immediately. They also only received one week of severance pay.

She said she thinks this is a bad sign for the publication.

"Obviously, everyone right now is having a hard time and especially in journalism,” said Longhine. “We're an ad-based business and events are not happening, so I know our ad revenues are way down and I think everyone understands that. I knew that there were going to be some changes to the paper but what we didn't expect was to have it happen so abruptly without any notice to anyone."

She said she does not know the real reason why she and the others were laid-off, but she suspects it has something to do with Cville Weekly’s Paycheck Protection Program loan running out. One of the requirements of the loan is to not lay anyone off.

Longhine said they did not know Tuesday would be the last paper they would complete together.

“I feel especially that I’m not even able to say goodbye,” said Longhine. “I write a letter to the community every week. I would have liked to have said goodbye to the readers.”

The staff at Cville Weekly is now down to two reporters, a part-time editor, and an hourly copy editor. Longhine said the publication losing the reporters it did and the possibility of the publication folding as a whole is a danger to local journalism.

“I think that we played an important role in the community of providing an alternative voice,” she said. “Doing longer and other kinds of stories that the daily papers weren’t doing, being able to give more time and space to more cultural stories, I paid a lot of attention to what was happening in our community and we really tried to reflect that in our coverage.”

CBS19 reached out to the owners of Cville Weekly for more information. Earlier on Tuesday, Bill Chapman said he would send a written statement. As of the 11 p.m. newscast, CBS19 has not heard from Chapman again about his statement. Longhine said she has not heard from the owners yet either.


On Wednesday, Cville Weekly tweeted this statement: