Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Deader than dead

The cuts across Gannett are hideously deep today, including about a dozen from the Enquirer newsroom -- many solid, experienced people who truly loved the business. I don't care whether you're publishing a newspaper or making donuts, if you don't employ people who care about the product, it won't be worth anyone's time and effort to consume. I'll read, sometimes, what the Enquirer gives me for free, but I'll be damned if Gannett ever gets another nickel out of me.

The Enquirer loses relevance with each staff reduction. Newspapers are in a self-inflicted death spiral. To the people who have been cut, all I can say is God bless, be calm, breathe deeply and you'll find a way to make a living that has meaning for your lives. To the people left behind, for chrissakes, find another job. To the corporate pigs and dim yes-men who try to tell the communities they serve that their newspapers will get better and more focused when the newsrooms are less polluted by experienced and passionate newspeople, I want you to look your children in the eye and explain to them what you did today. It's a terrible thing. I hope you fucking choke on your bonuses and President's Rings.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


There are gut-wrenching changes at the Enquirer today. I have briefly come out of retirement to post this, if only to make a thread available for people to discuss the workers who've lost their jobs. This is also this thread at Gannettoid.com. Best wishes to all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So long

Farewell to these good people on their last day at the Enquirer:

Betty Barnett
Jim Borgman
Marty Eggerding

Ann Haas Ann Hicks
Allen Howard

Jim Knippenberg
Joy Kraft
Tony Lang

Margaret A. McGurk

Sara Pearce

Jennifer Schwertman
Alan Vonderhaar
William A. Weathers

John Wolfe

With this post I'm leaving the blogging business. And let me be clear: No one is silencing me. I'm just tired of it. The Enquirer is hopeless. Thank you for reading and commenting and supporting me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Beginning Tuesday, newsroom -- excuse me -- information center employers were being informed on the acceptance of buyouts. There were 60 buyouts, more than the 50 asked for, and 15 in the newsroom. Jim Borgman is among those leaving. He was a giant in the newsroom, the best journalist in the Enquirer's employ, and it's telling that in the story the Enquirer published, his is the only name they felt was worth mentioning among those leaving.

There are other good people leaving. There are some unexpected decisions, and some who've been refused will not be happy. And, it's going to be shocking and upsetting just how badly this will affect the breadth and quality of the Enquirer's coverage.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eeny meeny miny moe

The buyout applications are in, and now the process of selecting those who will allowed to leave begins. The publisher wrote the troops Monday:
From: XXXX On Behalf Of Buchanan, Margaret
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 1:26 PM
To: Cincinnati-All1
Subject: Voluntary Severance Program update

To: All non-represented employees

From: Margaret Buchanan

The deadline for applications for voluntary severance packages has passed and we are beginning the process of determining those we will accept to meet The Enquirer's goals as part of a Gannett-wide staff reduction announced in recent weeks.

I realize it will be a tense two weeks until those involved are informed about the status of their applications. I understand how difficult this will be and I know that many may be disappointed if their applications are denied. But we need to get this done and move on.

The Operating Committee has been working with its managers and supervisors to help determine what positions we should keep and which we can afford not to replace. As stated before, we will do this based on position, job function and years of service. Our goal is to notify employees individually by September 5 as to whether they've been accepted or not.

It's been a trying time for all of us. But I appreciate your hard work throughout, and again encourage you to ask questions – of me, your manager and/or Human Resources.


And Tom's addition:
From: Callinan, Tom
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 3:24 PM
To: CIN-News Users
Subject: FW: Voluntary Severance Program update

In addition to the publisher's note below, here is how the voluntary severance program will be handled in News and related content departments:

My job will be to focus on the positions we can re-assign or restructure around, not the individuals.

I will work with the publisher on which positions in which departments we may consider. Then, where there are multiple volunteers in a certain job category, Human Resources will determine the individuals who will qualify based on years of experience, nothing else.

Here are general guidelines I have established:

-- Our top priority will be respecting our First Amendment responsibility -- public interest reporting and civic engagement.

-- We must protect our local news gathering capabilities.

-- We must protect strategic initiatives, such as NKY and the Edge.

-- We must ensure that basic operations -- the ability to produce a timely and lively web site and well-edited newspaper -- are protected.

-- And we need to keep in mind the demands of an increasingly digital future.

Decisions will be made in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, I don't think it benefits anyone to speculate on what that means for the individuals involved and/or the departments they come from.


Telling reporters and editors not to speculate is like telling birds not to fly. The Enquirer asked for 50 buyout candidates and the word is that many more than that applied. For the newsroom, it means that some people who would very much like to leave will not be allowed to take the buyout. Chances are they'll have to stick around for the Enquirer's bright future.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

If you don't take the buyout, you'll have to attend more meetings with Tom

The Enquirer tried to calm the newsroom by holding a series of meetings, to talk about what happens after the buyouts. Instead, boss Tom Callinan, in his inimitable way, screwed up the message and had to issue a clarification.

From: Callinan, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:40 PM
To: CIN-News Users
Subject: Training and new skills

In our conversations about life after the buyouts we have been talking a lot about the future need for diversifying our staff's skills for flexibility and collaboration in a tighter world.….some have misinterpreted that as a call for everyone to learn html, Excel and high-end Avid video … like by Friday or else.

I do not mean to send that message.

What I am trying to say that it will be helpful for our excellent copy editors to know a bit about basic design…our best designers to be able to pitch in on basic copy editing ….bureau reporters able to take a point and shoot to a remote assignment for a head shot … experienced reporters able to fill in for desk editors in emergencies (with differential of course) all to get more involved in basic understanding of linking and imbedding online and in blogs. That type of thing.

We will be assessing our current training and surveying the staff on what you all want and need. And I am hearing that we need to provide an array of training environments for a wide variety of learning styles -- from wikipedias and digital tutorials to group sessions and intense, personal hands-on experiences.

Meanwhile, here's something that Chris has been doing in an informal manner….and to be frank the attendance has been disappointing.

Please consider stopping by.


Every Tuesday 10:30-11 a.m. and Thursday 4:30-5 p.m.

Not sure how to create a message thread on the new Cincinnati.Com? Do you have no clue what RSS is, or why you need it? A new weekly, informal, quick Q-and-A chat session may be just the help you need. Starting next Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon – and running for as long as we want – we'll be gathering in the 19th floor conference room at Elm to go over stuff like this. No pressure, no requirement to attend, no sign-up sheets, probably no food – just the opportunity to whittle away at the nagging stuff that might be keeping us from doing our best.****

And thanks to all for patience, understanding and participation in the discussions we've been having in small group sessions on Elm, Kentucky, Blue Ash, and Butler-Warren … day and night-side.

You are being listened to. I want all to help guide me in making the difficult decisions about how The Enquirer will manage any re-assigning and restructuring that may be needed in the coming months.

How ridiculous. Callinan has pulled this stunt before, calling meetings and pretending that he values your input. The only thing this latest episode did was drive people to take the buyout.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buyouts and Metromix

There are many names floating around the newsroom, people who are known to be taking the buyout. I won't make those names public, because some of those people are on the fence. One or two have turned in the paperwork for the buyout and then changed their minds. It looks as though the copydesk and Life will be hit hard.

And the reality of what the newsroom will be like after the buyouts is starting to sink in. Rumors are swirling about where Hollis Towns is going, and Tom Callinan is holding meetings this week with newsroom employees about what happens next. He wrote to the staff: "Editors and I have talked about possible scenarios, but we really won't know what the future will hold until we see who is on the final list on Friday. Obviously we may not be able to accept all requests for the buyouts. But we know we will have to do some re-assigning and restructuring in the aftermath. ... I don't have a crystal ball and I can't predict or promise anything about the future in these changing and challenging times. But I will give you straight answers as best I can."

Meanwhile, Gannett is pushing a project called Metromix (press release here), a large web-based entertainment database. Each Gannett paper is expected to contribute hundreds of items to the database. The deadline is next week, but the Enquirer is well below its quota. So this week, Enquirer reporters are having to waste their time researching and filing items for Metromix. Gannett often says it doesn't interfere in local news coverage, but here's an example where they dictate to the local papers, who have to drop whatever they're doing and respond.