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Bob Kerr among those laid off at Providence Journal

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Bob Kerr, the longtime and much-admired columnist for The Providence Journal, got his walking papers Tuesday as part of New Media Investment Group’s purchase of the Rhode Island newspaper. Talking to Rhode Island Public Radio, Kerr, 69, said his dismissal was short and none too sweet. Summoned to a meeting in the ProJo’s human resources department, Kerr knew what was happening. “It wasn’t warm and fuzzy. It was pretty cold and abrupt,” he told the public radio station. “It was just explaining the severance package and no explanation as to why, of course. . . . After 43 years-plus, I was out of there in about 10 minutes.” (Kerr was among 22 members of the Providence Newspaper Guild laid off Tuesday.) New York Times columnist Dan Barry, a former ProJo staffer, said Kerr will be sorely missed by readers and colleagues alike. “When I joined the paper in 1987, all the young writers looked up to him, both because of his ability to tell a story and his just general graciousness,” Barry told the station. “He didn’t want to just sit in his office and talk to some official in City Hall and then spin out a cheap 600-word column from that. He was often out on the street, talking to people who normally hadn’t spoken to any reporter in their lifetimes, and he would tell their stories. He did it with compassion and with heart, and never tripped into sentimentality, really.” New Media Investment Group bought the ProJo from A.H. Belo in July for $46 million.

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