By Nancy West
Photojournalist/reporter Don Himsel was laid off at the end of his shift on Friday in the latest shakeup at The Telegraph of Nashua.
Himsel, who has worked at The Telegraph for 28 years, questioned the timing because he recently sent three emails to management asking about the status of an investigation by the state Department of Labor.
Himsel said he was seeking clarification because people had been asking him about news reports in which New Hampshire Labor Commissioner Ken Merrifield confirmed on Tuesday that The Telegraph was being investigated.
Merrifield told InDepthNH.org that The Telegraph was under investigation because of a worker’s complaint about being unfairly docked pay because of a time clock issue.
“I find the timing curious,” Himsel said, adding he asked Publisher Heather Goodwin Henline if he was being fired when they met at her request just before the end of his shift.
Henline told him she had reviewed staffing needs and he was being laid off, Himsel said. Reached on her cell phone, Henline wouldn’t discuss the events of the past few weeks at The Telegraph or Himsel’s lay off.
“I’m going to decline to comment, but thanks for the call,” Henline said.
The Telegraph, which was purchased by West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers in 2013, fired executive managing editor Sandy Bucknam a little over two weeks ago. Bucknam had worked there for more than 39 years.
Also on Friday, Telegraph reporter Derek Edry left his job to work for Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess’ office. It was also the end of the two-weeks notice given by City editor Chris Garofolo who hasn’t said publicly why he left.
The new editor at The Telegraph is Matthew Burdette, who is coming from The Inter-Mountain in Elkins, W. Va., which is also owned by Ogden.
Sandy Bucknam previously told InDepthNH.org that he was fired for refusing to force salaried employees to work more hours to avoid paying overtime and for opposing more staff cuts.
Bucknam said salaried people were already working more than 60 hours a week. Bucknam’s firing came less than a year after The Telegraph’s former executive managing editor Roger Carroll resigned.
At the time, Carroll said he was given orders that he viewed as censorship. His boss told him to remove facts from a story about The Telegraph’s return to downtown Nashua after 30 years in Hudson, Carroll said at the time.
Don Himsel is also known as a videographer and still works part-time on the assignment desk and writing on the web for NH1, a web-based multimedia organization with significant radio holdings in the region. Himsel also teaches new media best practices through regional media organizations.
“I’ll be fine,” Himsel said. “My concern is for the people of Nashua who are getting the short end of the stick despite the best efforts of the people who work at The Telegraph. The people are not getting what they deserve,” Himsel said.
For more information about InDepthNH.org, which is published online by the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, contact Nancy West at email@example.com or call 603-738-5635