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.

Margaret


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.

TC


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.

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

still hear they're interviewing for new hires ... maybe swapping out higher salaries for lower is the goal here along with reducing bodies.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... they'll have to stick around ..."

What?? Who says anyone is being forced to stay? Anyone, anywhere, can leave any job at any time (short of being an actual slave). It's not always easy, but anyone can always leave. No one is entitled to be bought out, even if the offer is a crappy one.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, at 3:19:

You have no clue. Sit down and shut up.

Until you experience the enormity of crap, you have no idea.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A buyout is an option; a layoff is death. Suggest 3:19 follow the advice of 5:24.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Copy editors are worried Callinan plans to let copy editors go, but no reporters, and go to a universal copy desk for news/sports/features. That means rotating nights and weekends for people now working day shifts -- not good news for a lot of people.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@3:19,
You're screwed. You have the WORST of the Stepford publishers calling the shots. It's surprising to see how many people opted for the buyout. In Gannett terms..it means cut the number of buyouts in half. We already know who who wants to leave. Give them layoffs.

Oh and the MEs and EE or any other department head will always retain those who they felt betrayed them..yes, some of them will feel offended, but payback is a bitch for you who wanted to get out.

Slave? So some have read the writing on the wall. Do you live under a rock? How 'bout this: when 5 people call in sick and you are asked to do the impossible, and you do, then 2 weeks later you're told, "we appreciate everything you've done. But times are hard. I'm sure you understand. Since you've worked here for 2 years, we're giving you 2 weeks pay. Good luck, and I mean it."

Hey! It's just business.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom is sold on the idea there are too many layers between writer and final product. You can read that metro editors and you can read it copy editors. Don't need to hear the argument about copy editors saving butts 18 gazillion times .... you have an ally here.

This is all about money, pure and simple. Reporters on high-end of the salary scale, therefore, would be as interesting as senior copy editors in the buyout department. And, coincidentally, they all fall roughly in the same age bracket.

I suspect the company may have a problem there over time.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only shred of hope for the lemme-go crowd is if Gannett steps in and tells Buchanan she has to take all or most buyout requests.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous mr. whig said...

what the fuck is the Edge?

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Edge is the upper loop of I-275 - think West Chester & Blue Ash.

(The Edge is also U2's guitarist, but that doesn't apply here)

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as Gannett would love it so, this whole sordid affair will not hinge on which folks take/get the buyouts. It's clearly time to go for all but the most foolish masochists, and regardless of how the buyouts work out, many, many people WILL LEAVE ANYWAY, even if they have to take worse jobs elsewhere.

Reminds me of a superb Utne Reader response to a whiner some years ago who said s/he was "stuck" in some bad job or another: No one is ever stuck in any job. You. Can. Always. Leave.

In fact, that's the ultimate (and only real) stick-it-to-'em option so many employees have ... deprive Gannett/the Inkwirer of their talents.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gannett is not interested in talent. Trust me on that.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

No comment needed on Gannett's -- and the entire news industry's -- attitude these days.

Former Postie

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We need to get this done and move on." Nice. People deserve to be treated far better than this, yet Buchanan still doesn't get, nor understand that at all. And, unfortunately, Bulling continues to let her get away with it.

The only solace in all of this is that MB now resides in a much smaller house – a pre-emptive move by her because she almost got it herself not too long ago. Though, frankly, if she were to fill the new one with people who actually respected her, it’d still be cavernous.

Gannett will not improve until people like her are out.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bulling is like every other HR director in Gannett: He's there to protect the company and make sure its demands are obediently met. He is NOT there to protect employees in any way.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At any other company falling on its face, it's the managers who are dumped, not the skilled workers. How can a company keep someone like Buchanan, an ad saleswoman who hasn't a clue what sells newspapers, and Callinan, an undistinguished editor if there ever was one, who admires Andy Grove's belief that fear is a useful management tool.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in: Jay Mariotti just quit in Chicago. Said newspapers are dying. Emailed a one sentence resignation: I quit.

Love him or hate him, we are talking stout brass ones.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Edge was coined by Hollis, who still can't be bothered to learn the names of local communities, neighborhoods and counties, to say nothing of Enquirer staffers.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No fan of HT, but the Edge was not coined by him. It came out of a subgroup during a large strategic retreat convened by Buchanan four or so years ago.

They wanted a new name for the northern 'burbs initiative after calling it just about everything under the sun. Ask Rick Green (now top ed in Palm Springs after being pushed out the door at 312 Elm). As Metro Ed. he produced enough prototypes, plans, etc. to insulate an Edge McMansion.

Yet, the Enquirer still hasn't made significant inroads. The name spells out why: the view of it from downtown is of a distant and marginal place.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should change the title NEWSACHE to "BELLYACHIN'"

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Michael Roberts in the current Cleveland Magazine about the failing Cleveland Plain Dealer. Many things you'll recognize.
Roberts is an old-line reporter, back from when men were men and women were women; when you got scoops from a drunk union official in a downtown bar.
His lament is heart-wrenching...

8:05 AM  
Blogger 5chw4r7z said...

Its sad, sounds like Gannett thinks like GM, they can cut their way to profitability. Cuts only take you so far, it always was and always will be about the product.
They have to produce something people want to buy and this has to come from the very top. If those guys are clueless which it sounds like....
I feel bad for you guys.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It always was and always will be about the product. They have to produce something people want to buy and this has to come from the very top."

You got that right, 5chw4r7z. This paper is clueless about what the readers want. Among the many jobs they've botched is audience research. They have always relied on lame surveys and focus groups, instead of more useful (but expensive) tactics -- studying how the paper (or Web site) is actually used.

The audience you've got turns away when you don't give them what they want for their money. And you can't grow new audiences if you can't get their attention -- and that means sharp, focused marketing, and that takes sophisticated research, and that takes money.

For decades the Enquirer (like most Gannett papers) has been a cash cow, throwing off 40 percent profit margins. Now, they're in a panic, slashing and burning, because nationwide the margin is down to a mere 20% (it may be higher in Cinti, I don't know). And their response is: Give the customers less. Yeah, that'll work.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will any of the critic beats - music, TV, etc - survive?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:39: Sure they will. That is, classical music - there is no pop music critic - TV and theater.

For now.

None of those reporters volunteered for the buy-out. But who knows about the future with the looming threat of lay-offs even after the buy-out. And with a MetroMix focus on pop culture.

One thing's certain, their jobs are about to change in ways they could never imagine. And it's about time. They are wed to the same-old same-old preview-review cycle. Boring as hell.

And while we are at it, did you notice Kiesewetter's Sunday TV stories? Hardly local-local and kind of odd considering that local-local is what Callinan says needs to be "preserved." Old habits die hard. And Kiesewetter is a creature of habit. Hard working but he still can't get over not being to play with the national gang.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How will these jobs change?

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borgman's cartoons will be missed.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dance, classical music and theater writers have ridiculously small beats and readership. An employee tasked with writing about just the CSO -- which is attended by 2500 people? Completely expendable. The editorial cartoonist -- not so much.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: CSO coverage by the Enquirer- I always found it astonishing, given budget restrictions for all other departments, that a reporter was authorized to travel with the symphony. Is there an explanation?
Did the paper pay all her expenses for recent trips to Europe and China?

8:35 AM  

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