Lawyer Who Sued ‘News & Observer’ Over Staff Cuts Drops Suit

By: E&P Staff

Looks like Keith Hempstead has made his point.

Hempstead, the Durham, N.C., lawyer and subscriber who sued The News & Observer in Raleigh in June after it announced it was cutting dozens of newsroom staffers, has dropped his lawsuit against the newspaper.

In an interview with the N&O?s Leah Friedman Monday, Hempstead told her, “By getting rid of staff, you’re producing an inferior product that is dooming the newspaper industry into obsolescence. Attempts to fill the news hole with syndicated columnists, wire stories and cheap filler instead of writing from local staff makes the paper like any other news source. It doesn’t have a distinctive voice, and readers can go anywhere else to get their news fix.”

Hempstead, a former reporter, filed the suit last month in Wake Superior Court, claiming that the paper is now not worth what he signed up for after its announced newsroom cuts and reduced newshole — and therefore the News & Observer had breached its contract with him. His story got picked up by many national news outlets, and he was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Harper’s Magazine, National Public Radio and The New Yorker.

He had asked for unspecified damages, but told the N&O today he wasn’t in it for the money: “If I didn’t bring this up, those people arguing about [the cuts] may not have been given a voice. They may not have heard that most of the news generated is from newspapers, even though they go to the Web for it.”

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