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Friday, April 12, 2024

Controversial clause removed from Gainesville Sun contracts

Gainesville Sun employees no longer have to worry about a controversial clause in their new employment contracts.

The contracts included a non-compete clause that banned employees from working for competing news outlets in cities where Halifax Media Group has a news organization.

Halifax Media Group bought the New York Times Co.'s Regional Media Group on Friday, which includes The Gainesville Sun.

The clause was removed Tuesday night.

The ban would have lasted for two years after an employee's termination.

Had the clause not been removed, Gainesville Sun employees who were fired or who quit would not be able to take a media job in Gainesville or any other city where Halifax has a market.

Steve Russell, sports director for WRUF-AM 850 and WRUF-FM 103.7, said these requirements are common in the news industry because a news outlet doesn't want sources and readers to switch to a competitor, which could happen if an employee goes to work for another news outlet.

David Carlson, executive director for the Center for Media Innovation and Research at UF, said part of the trouble with non-compete clauses is the definition of competition.

Twenty years ago, a newspaper's main competition was other newspapers and television stations, he saidNow, newspapers have to compete with online media, too.

Clay Calvert, Brechner eminent scholar in mass communication at UF, said the requirement‘s length could make it difficult for former employees to find another job.

"In the journalism field, things do move fast," he said, "and two years does sound too long to me."

Jim Doughton, publisher of The Gainesville Sun, declined to comment.

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A Halifax Media Group spokeswoman did not return phone calls requesting comment.

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