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Star Tribune takes a bite out of its copy desk. Spellcheck, anyone?

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They weren't the only people to get kicked to the curb yesterday when the Star Tribune carved another chunk out of its newsroom, but the newspaper's copy desk took the biggest hit by far. Of the 27 people let go through layoffs or buyouts, 18 were copy editors, according to Braublog.

The move was no secret. Editor Nancy Barnes told her newsroom in early January that they were coming:

We worked for many weeks on the plans to reorganize the newsroom, taking into account the advice of many Guild members including senior copy editors, line editors, photo editors and designers. Our cuts are occurring two months later than the rest of the company, in part, because we knew this work required extra care. This is very painful for all of us. However, the plan that we came up with, we believe, is in the best long-term interests of the newsroom and the company. For that reason, we are going to decline the request to extend the buyout to other skill sets.

Barnes drew barbs from the Columbia Journalism Review, an industry watchdog, for suggesting reporters could make up some of the losses by using spellcheck. And the union representing newsroom employees engineered a byline strike last week to honor their their soon-to-depart colleagues, and draw attention to the weakening of the newsroom.

The fact that the layoffs were anticipated doesn't make the final blow any easier for those losing their jobs. We wish them well.