Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

September 1, 2009


David Carr, NY Times - On Aug. 12, the employees of The Journal News, a Westchester daily owned by Gannett, were told that there would be further staff reductions at the daily paper, which covers Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties in New York. No surprise there.

But the suburban newspaper is at the vanguard of the industry: reporters at The Journal News don't work in a newsroom, they are part of an "Information Center"; they don't cover beats, they cover "topics"; and in a new wrinkle to an old story, the staff was not being laid off, but becoming part of a "comprehensive restructuring plan."

Specifically, the 288 news and advertising employees at The Journal News were told that jobs were being redefined and that they all would need to reapply for the new positions and that by the time the re-org music stopped, 70 of them would be without jobs.

For the last three weeks, employees at The Journal News have lived in a netherworld in which they were asked to justify their existence in a changing, shrinking world. After filling out an application on Sharepoint, a corporate Web site, that asked them about their new-media skills, among other things, and then being interviewed by corporate human resources executives pulled in by Gannett, they were called up to the third floor of the offices in Westchester and given an offer letter in a thin white envelope - "Thank you for your participation in the restructuring of the Information Center department at The Journal News. I am pleased to extend you an offer. ..." - or a much thicker manila envelope explaining their departure and severance. . .

One longtime worker who received a manila envelope, but still asked to remain anonymous - "This is not a great time for me to make waves" - was bitter about the process.

"How is the fact that I don't have a Twitter or Facebook account relevant to what I do?" he said. "


Anonymous robbie said...

The very word evokes a sense of meaningless chat. Of COURSE this is how the media is supposed to operate!

September 1, 2009 7:24 PM  
Blogger deborah said...

report the facts, only the facts you follow up on. Stop the spin you win. We already know what the corporations wants us to know. But is everybody on board with what it takes to be a leader? It's easy to take the path...but to Blaze a Trail of facts, the people are already living in the real world so write about it, at least you get respect and let the chips fall where they may.

September 2, 2009 12:36 AM  

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