After four decades of writing, Jim Bradshaw, an award-winning journalist for The Daily Advertiser, is forced into retirement in a blood bath at Gannett Co. It wasn’t revealed in the respectful way most retirements of longtime newspapermen go. There was no farewell story on the paper’s part, no farewell column from the writer. In the typical way of Gannett-owned The Daily Advertiser of late, he just disappeared. It’s been rumored for several weeks, but now it’s confirmed: Jim Bradshaw is no more. The respected newspaperman was forced into retirement as part of parent company Gannett’s massive layoffs across the country.

Bradshaw could not be reached for comment, and Advertiser Publisher Leslie Hurst did not return The Independent Weekly’s phone call. We’d still be in the dark about exactly what happened if not for a letter to the editor in the Dec. 29 edition of the The Daily Advertiser (and we have to assume even the Advertiser would not run a letter with inaccurate info on one of its own). One of Bradshaw’s many loyal followers, Annette L. Gossen of Rayne wrote the letter to state her case for bringing back Bradshaw’s popular “C’est Vrai” column.

“For several days, I noticed that Jim Bradshaw’s ‘C’est Vrai’ column was absent from his usual Page 3 spot in The Daily Advertiser. I looked through the whole paper searching for it, thinking it was moved to another page. Then, I thought maybe he was on vacation, was possibly ill, or that the column was discontinued. The latter was verified when I e-mailed Mr. Bradshaw for the column, and he responded that he was asked to retire because of budget cuts by Gannett. I think I speak for many when I say we are disappointed! I just can’t believe that in a daily newspaper there is no room for his column at least three or four times a week, if not daily.

“His column is a breath of fresh air, a nice brief escape from today’s negative news into the world of yesterday’s Acadiana. His column is a daily history lesson for the people of our area, keeping alive in people’s memories many of the little, nostalgic things that took place and that made a difference in shaping our lives as they are today.

“I am asking you to reinstate Bradshaw’s column. I and countless other readers would appreciate it.”

The Advertiser did not even offer the courtesy of attaching an editor’s note to Gossen’s letter about its longtime employee, who won journalism awards for spot news reporting, feature writing, and investigative reporting in his four decades in the news business. His columns garnered national and regional awards, including the prestigious Hal Boyle Award. He also is an award-winning local historian.

The Daily Advertiser has not been forthcoming to readers about the changes taking place over the past several months, while other publications in the chain have disclosed the changes. For more on what’s driving the cuts, visit a former Gannett editor’s blog at gannettblog.blogspot.com.

While the job losses in the newsrooms and across every department of Gannett’s local operations (it also owns The Daily World in Opelousas, where there is now a single reporter, William Johnson, in the newsroom, and Quik Quarter) have been painful, the McLean, Va.-based company (publisher of USA Today) is not alone in its troubles. Newspaper industry trade journal Editor & Publisher reported that 2008 has been a record for job cuts: “Three years ago, this was the top industry story of the year when some 2,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2005. This year, Gannett cut that many in December alone, after slashing 1,000 others in August. Then there is McClatchy with two rounds of cuts, totaling 2,500 jobs; Tribune slashing more than 1,000; and various other small dailies and chains dropping staff here and there. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. saw more than 300 buyouts, while more than 100 jobs were lost each at The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newsday and others.

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