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Four Central Kentucky newspapers eliminate sports departments

Derek Brightwell said goodbye to coaches, student athletes and parents at the district...
Derek Brightwell said goodbye to coaches, student athletes and parents at the district championship games after being told he was laid off.(WKYT)
Published: Feb. 28, 2020 at 11:38 PM EST
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Sports reporters employed by four Central Kentucky newspapers were let go this week.

The sports departments at the the Advocate-Messenger, Jessamine Journal, Interior Journal and Winchester Sun were eliminated. All are owned by the same company, Boone Newspapers, Inc.

Derek Brightwell finished packing up his belongings at work and then chose to spend Friday night doing one last write up at the district championship games.

Earlier this week, he received an email about a meeting with his publisher and editor.

"I sat down, it was like, 'there's no easy way to have this conversation', I knew exactly what it was then, they let me know that they were going to eliminate across the board, told me it wasn't any reflection of my work, told me that if I needed a recommendation, they'd be happy to give me one," he said.

Brightwell and the other journalists that were let go wrote, edited, photographed and designed their content as one-man-bands.

Now, advertisements for the Advocate-Messenger call for citizen submissions, something Brightwell is familiar with.

"It's going to be a lot of bias," he said. "Parents of kids, they want to make their kid look the best."

He also said, in his experience, it will require more copy editing.

Brightwell said he and his coworkers were blind-sided by the news, and that he wasn't given a reason why.

The Winchester Sun posted a statement about the elimination of its sports reporter position saying in part,"This decision reflects the changing role of community newspapers and how people expect to get their local sports news."

Brightwell said he's most upset about not spending time with the student athletes he covered.