Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The situation in Cincinnati New Jersey

Newsroom employees at the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., are so upset with working conditions that they wrote a letter to the publisher, copied the letter to their corporate fathers, and sent to a blogger. Both the Courier-Post and the Enquirer are owned by Gannett, so the situations will have similarities.

A sample:
The staff has shrunk significantly since November – at least eight newsroom employees have left – leaving fewer people to handle a workload that continues to increase with the addition of new publications. This comes on top of dealing with the daily newspaper, zoned Communities pages, special sections and online coverage beyond what goes in the newspaper. The executive editor and the managing editor seem oblivious to the impact of this workload on the remaining employees.

The result is a staff that is overworked to the point where it often is physically impossible to complete the required work within the scheduled work week. As a consequence, many non-exempt employees work beyond their allotted hours without being paid overtime. The issue often is addressed by telling the employee to take time off as compensation, but that seldom occurs because the workload does not make it practical.
There's more, some of it disgusting. Thanks to GannettBlog for this. Read everything GannettBlog has written on the situation in Cherry Hill; it's quite revealing.

The point is that the chiefs at Gannett headquarters give directives to the local newspapers about targets for revenue and costs and profits, and they don't care about how those targets are achieved. The targets are short term, but the effects of reaching them are long term.

Read Cliff Radel's near-blow job today about Joe Trauth, a lawyer who specializes in representing big corporations in real estate and zoning fights. He's represented home builders, shopping center developers, Wal-Mart and Rumpke. Radel did manage to quote one attorney who's faced Trauth in some of these cases, but this story is a largely uncritical, unskeptical look at a corporate hired gun. No attempt is made to look at the outcomes of the cases Trauth has won. Have they been good for the community? Trauth is never asked if he feels like a corporate bully, overwhelming lesser-funded groups of homeowners who oppose many of these projects. That would be disrespectful. Radel didn't say what Trauth's hourly rate is, or how Trauth has spent the money he's made representing big companies. (Radel does write that Trauth represents small clients, but names only one and doesn't talk to any. I'll guess that Trauth has many more large clients than small ones.)

Radel is capable of this kind of reporting, but was he given the time and the direction to pursue something other than what was published? Doubtful. The Enquirer doesn't have the resources or the will to hold someone like Trauth accountable, because that type of journalism takes time and costs money, and Radel probably has other work that needs to be done. Overall, I'm not sure why this story was assigned, why it was published, or why it was on the front page. But this is the kind of uncritical journalism produced by stingy, dying newspapers.


Anonymous mr. whig said...

man, Ron Wild sure used to get pissed off about people not flushing the toilet. Wonder if he's still around pinching pennies.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The situation in Cincy is exactly as Cherry Hill. As soon as an hourly person takes a call that could make for overtime, an exempt employee must take it. By dictate of upper management, do more with less, and strictly NO overtime, salaried people have to take over, OR quit for barbaric 20-30-40-50-60-70-80 hour days.

Thank gawd I found a better way to support my family!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are my hero. I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the slant on the article. I read that article and wrote to Cliff asking how much Keating paid for the article. However, I received no reply.

4:23 PM  

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