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Last Call Comes

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by JACOB H. FRIES & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & or two weeks, people on the Spokesman-Review's layoff list were in limbo. Their future depended on others in a cruelly mathematical way: Some could keep their jobs if others, like those near retirement, stepped up to resign voluntarily. In the end, there was no grand outpouring of self-sacrifice to save the young and those on the list stayed on the list as last week's deadline arrived.





The cutbacks, first announced on Oct. 1, are all but finalized. They are deep and impact departments across the newsroom. Among those being laid off: Reporters Parker Howell, Erica Curless, Paula Davenport; photographers Rajah Bose and Brian Plonka; sports writers Jessica Brown and Nick Eaton; music reporter Isamu Jordan; restaurant critic Tom Bowers; online producers Brian Immel and Thuy Nguyen; radio hosts Rebecca Mack and Dick Haugen.





North Idaho reporter Taryn Hecker also made the list and resigned rather than wait until her layoff was final. She's been through the process before; last year, she was laid off and later re-hired. She worries about the future of the paper, with its declining circulation and skeleton staff.





"I started reading the Spokesman-Review when I was a kid and I knew always that was where I wanted to work," Hecker says in an e-mail. "I can't even describe how it felt to see my byline in print for the first time when I was a freshman in high school writing for Our Generation ... It's funny that now, seeing what is becoming of the newspaper, I feel like I'm one of the lucky ones for getting out -- even if it wasn't my choice."





Those left behind aren't sure how they're going to fill in the gaps. Says Richard Roesler, the paper's Olympia correspondent: "It's painful to see so many talented, friendly, tech-savvy people ushered out the door ... Like most people fortunate enough to survive this round of cuts, I'm left wondering where it will end."





Jim Kershner, arts writer and president of the union representing editorial staff, says, "We've lost some of our best and brightest ... It's going to hurt, no question about it." The union is organizing a massive farewell party at a downtown bar on Friday. "It's hard when it's 21 to 26 people all at once, [but] they deserve a goodbye as much or more than anybody else does."





jacobf@inlander.com