The union representing journalists at MPR News has voiced objection to American Public Media's decision to cancel the nationally-acclaimed "In the Dark" podcast and lay-off its remaining staff members.
In a statement, the SAG-AFTRA union representing MPR News and APM Reports journalists said the decision was "shortsighted and flies in the face of the company's stated goals of creating hard-hitting and impactful journalism."
Season one of the Peabody Award-winning "In the Dark" examined how law enforcement responded to the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.
The second season centered around the case of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man tried six times for murder who ultimately had his conviction overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court after the podcast aired.
The elimination of APM Reports in late May, and the cancellation of the "In the Dark" announced Wednesday, brought the elimination of ten staff positions.
In a statement, the MPR | APM Union pointed to the podcast's impact in uncovering evidence that ultimately that led to Flowers being freed from death row after 23 years of wrongful incarceration.
"They also exposed failures of law enforcement in the most notorious crime in Minnesota history," the union stated, of the Wetterling podcast. "These layoffs have also affected good journalists covering issues as important to our communities as mental health and the environment."
In an email to staff obtained by the Minnesota Reformer, APM CEO Jean Taylor said the decision was “guided by the understanding that we have finite resources and talent which should be focused where we can have the greatest impact.”
The union says it plans to fight for the best possible outcome for its affected members.
"We need this reporting," the union stated.
There has been enhanced scrutiny of APM/MPR in recent months not least because of the departure of popular Current host Mary Lucia, who said she was leaving following attempts to effect change at the organization.
The upheaval and cuts at the station prompted Racket to write a detailed investigation last month entitled: "What the Hell Has Been Going On at MPR?"