Paxton Media Group to buy The Southern Illinoisan, but not retain Guild-represented journalists

The United Media Guild was notified on Friday, Oct. 27 that Lee Enterprises has sold The Southern Illinoisan to Paxton Media Group.The announcement was made via a press release which employees of The Southern saw publicly posted on social media prior to being informed internally.Lee Enterprises management has advised the Guild that all Guild newsroom employees will be laid off effective Nov. 24 and will not be retained by Paxton. At this time, Paxton has not spoken with any Guild employees or their representatives despite being in The Southern’s Carbondale office.The Guild has learned that non-union employees of The Southern have already been offered positions with Paxton.In June, The Southern’s newsroom staff received the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence, the highest honor in their division from the Illinois Press Association, for its work in 2022. The Southern’s newsroom staff currently has over 80 years of combined service to the publication. It is a slap in the face of local journalism for none of that award-winning institutional knowledge to be retained.The Southern’s newsroom staff is the face of The Southern. For there to be a daily publication it requires a talented, knowledgeable and experienced staff that knows the communities we serve, not scabs who are hired in an attempt to bust a union.We urge all our loyal readers, advertisers, fellow Southern Illinoisans as well as our fellow Union brothers and sisters to help us in this cause by expressing their concerns regarding this matter. Please let Paxton know this decision is unacceptable.