The bodies are falling fast, as American journalism goes through another round of contractions. We’ve also got another closing of a non-profit, and allegations of censorship and of age discrimination in layoffs.
The Philadelphia toll: 37 journalists
We have two stories out of Philly, our first and last in today’s roundup.
Here’s the first bad news from the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, dated 15 February:
Newsroom combination at Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com to result in elimination of 37 positions.
Dear Guild member,
This afternoon Guild leaders met with Philadelphia Media Network officials including the editors of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com to hear the company’s plans for “One Newsroom.”
These plans include the devastating reduction in force of 37 positions.
The company identified that its combined newsroom functions could result in layoffs in the following classifications: Reporters, Writing Reporters, Rewrite, News Artists, Photographers, Photo Printers, Copy Editors/Readers, Make-Up Persons, Desk Assistants, Cartoonists, Editorial Writers, Editorial Clerks and Philly.com Multi Media Content Producers.
Before any individuals would be targeted for layoff, the company is first instituting a Voluntary Separation Program. Details of the buyout package will be distributed soon by Human Resources. The more members who step up for voluntary buyouts, the less involuntary newsroom layoffs there will be.
The buyout window is open from Feb. 16, 2012 to Feb. 29, 2012. On March 1, 2012 PMN will notify the Guild of any members who have been targeted for layoff in any category. As per our contract layoffs in any category would be handled by seniority with the least senior person being first affected. In most cases, part-time employees would be laid-off before the dismissal of full-timers in their group.
The last day of work for either volunteers or those laid off would be March 31, 2012.
The company’s decision to decimate our already-shrunken ranks is hard to comprehend given the ever-competitive 24/7 nature of today’s media landscape.
However, PMN has the contractual right to reduce the work force, and the Guild will work to make sure any job eliminations are conducted in accordance with our Collective Bargaining Agreement.
If you plan to apply for the voluntary separation program, you are to do so through Human Resources, but please first contact Guild Executive Director Bill Ross at the Guild office 215-928-0118, cell 267-240-8540 or BRoss@local-10.com.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Dan Gross, President,
Bill Ross, Executive Director,
and the Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America Local 38010
New Haven Register: 30+ press operators
From Victoria Sanchez of The New Journal, New Haven Connecticut:
1981. The New Haven Register moved from a small office on Orange and Audobon to 40 Sargent Drive, a former shirt factory. Busloads of people came to tour the new state-of-the-art Goss Metroliner printing presses. New Haven was the industry showroom. Rockwell International, the company that manufactured Goss Metroliners, featured the Register’s pressmen on the cover of its 1982 catalogue with the headline “Winning Team in New Haven.” In the picture, you can see the men’s reflections in the gleaming floors.
Today, the floors are black and slippery, covered in ink. According to the Register’s press manager, Frank Malicki, the custodians stopped cleaning the floors about three or four years ago, which is how he knew the Journal Register East Company (the Register’s corporate owner, known as the JRC) would close down the printing press. “How did I know? The same thing happened on Orange Street.” Thirty-odd jobs at the press will be outsourced to the Hartford Courant’s plant over the course of four weeks. The press’s last run will be on March 4. Malicki started working for the Register as a sixteen-year-old delivery boy in 1970. When I asked him about the future, he said, “I don’t know. I need a job.”
This closure is one more sign of the transition from print to digital media, which has thrown the traditional news industry into chaos. But the Register has been struggling for a long time. Since the Jackson brothers, Richard and Lionel, sold the newspaper in 1986, there have been three corporate takeovers, a bankruptcy filing, and dozens of layoffs. The 200,000-square-foot building at 40 Sargent Drive is now mostly empty. Last August, the trouble also affected editorial management. Longtime editor Jack Kramer, a thirty-year veteran, was replaced by Matt DeRienzo.
Read the rest.
Indianapolis Star: 6-8
This move results from one of the hottest trends in corporate journalism, consolidation of editing functions from several locations in one newsroom..
Stepping up the workload on a smaller number of editors looks good on a spreadsheet, but it transforms key decision to people with no ties to the community, adding yet more alyer of alienation between a troubled medium and its readership.
From Al Yates of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild:
The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild has won pay raises for most of its workers but was unable to stop The Indianapolis Star’s plans for outsourcing, which could ship up to eight jobs out the state.
The Guild’s contract negotiating team reached a tentative agreement Thursday with representatives of The Indianapolis Star in a deal which must still be ratified in a vote by the Guild’s membership.
The agreement was the definition of a compromise.
In an industry still cutting jobs and cutting pay, the deal would award the Guild’s workers raises of 2 to 4 percent, with the highest raises going to some of the Guild’s lowest paid workers. But it was only a small step toward restoring the 10 percent pay cuts the Guild took two years ago.
Despite making it a focal point of the Guild’s “Save the Star” campaign, the Guild’s team found that outsourcing the page design work was an area where The Star was unyielding. We made a strong case — in leafletting efforts, a street protest, a media campaign and at the bargaining table — that this could damage the local news product. But it became clear that this was an edict from Gannett, The Star’s parent company, and that the quality of the product was a secondary consideration to saving money.
The Guild knew this was an uphill battle going in. We were told this was one we couldn’t win. But we felt it was worth trying. And if Gannett attempts future outsourcing in Indianapolis, they can be assured we will wage an even more ardent campaign to resist such an effort.
At present, The Star hasn’t specified exactly what pages will be designed in Louisville or how many journalists in Indianapolis will be displaced. The last estimate we were given was six to eight.
Read the rest.
Massachusetts massacre: 64 Wooster press operators
Another economic move even practiced by family owned papers is the outsourcing of printing. And when chains owns a number of papers in relatively close proximity, printing in one locale allows individual papers to shed one of their most cost-and-equipment-intensive functions.
From the Worcester Massachusetts Telegram & Gazette:
The Telegram & Gazette has decided to shift most printing operations from its plant in Millbury to The Boston Globe’s facility in Dorchester in a cost-saving move that will cause 64 layoffs.
Though the T&G will be printed nearly 50 miles away from Central Continue reading