I picked up my News & Record on Wednesday expecting to read about the layoffs at the News & Record that occurred Tuesday, Feb. 20, but there was no mention of it.

I do know that columnist Susan Ladd and editorial writer Doug Clark were laid off from the news side of the paper, and as far as I know those were the only two; but reportedly there were four other people laid off on the business side.

Lest you think otherwise, there is no celebration in the newspaper world when people get laid off, even if it is at the competition.

The newspaper industry keeps shrinking. The publisher of The New York Times says that he believes the print version of that paper will be gone in 10 years.

It’s a sad state of affairs. In my opinion the most important function of a free press is to inform people about what the government is doing, particularly those things that the government doesn’t want people to know. How can anyone cast an informed vote if they don’t know what their elected officials have been doing in office? I’m extremely biased, but I don’t know of a better way of finding out what is really going on in government than reading a good newspaper.

I think in the current political climate we need to hear each others views. One of the reasons the world seems so much more partisan is that people are more inclined to read opinions they agree with. And with the internet, whatever far out beliefs people have, they can spend the day reading only articles and columns by people who agree with those beliefs.

Back when daily newspapers were the main source of news for most people, they read columns, editorials and articles that they disagreed with because they needed something to read with their morning coffee. People no longer have to do that, and many don’t.

I find it incredible is that the News & Record on Wednesday, Feb. 21, reported that Novant Health was going to lay off 23 employees, but it didn’t report that BH Media, its parent company, laid off 148, including a total of six at the News & Record, and announced that five open positions at the N&R won’t being filled.

I don’t know what this will do to other BH Media newspapers, but for the N&R it is another move toward combining the N&R with the Winston-Salem Journal. You can expect to see more news from Winston-Salem in the N&R, and with Allen Johnson left as the lone editorial writer at the N&R, you can also expect editorials about Winston-Salem in the N&R.

A couple more years and the two papers will be completely managed out of Winston-Salem with only a satellite office in Greensboro. It is possible that they will keep producing a paper with the News & Record on the front page, and one with Winston-Salem Journal on the front page, but otherwise the two papers will likely be identical, except for high school sports. And who knows, they may have identical sports pages as well.

Greensboro is slowly but surely losing its daily newspaper and this is simply another step down that path.

I can’t close without saying a few words about Ladd.

Like most other conservatives, I found Ladd’s columns infuriating. Only on rare occasions would I find one that I agreed with and enjoyed reading. I’m quite sure that Ladd has been infuriated by much of what I write every week.

I’ll have to admit that I was less than thrilled the first time Ladd sat down beside me at a City Council meeting. You might describe the situation as tense, but over time, as Southerners do, we found a lot to talk and laugh about – not politics but about families, pets, sports, schools, weather and the meeting we were attending. We even got comfortable enough with each other to occasionally get our toes wet in the sea of politics.

I honestly can’t say that I will miss Ladd’s columns, but I will miss getting to talk to her before, after and during meetings. And I regret that the N&R won’t have a local columnist.