Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dave Butler's Departure

Hey Gang,

I'm guessing most of you have heard the news already, but for those of you out of the office, I wanted to pass along what's going on and how it'll affect us. In a surprise announcement, Dave Butler will be leaving the Daily News immediately to become editor and publisher of the recently acquired Detroit News. He's already there, with a brief return on Monday to gather his things and to say goodbye.

During the afternoon meeting, Ron Kaye announced that there'd be a nationwide search for a replacement using headhunters, as well as the chance for promotion internally within MediaNews. Until one is found-- and he said he didn't know how long it'll take-- he'll serve as interim editor-in-chief of the Daily News.

This is clearly going to make for some big changes here at the paper, though how dramatic and widespread they'll be remains to be seen. Dave's been at the helm for more than eight years, making him one of the few top editors that most of us have dealt with. He's overseen some big structural changes at the paper, as well as ushered in the current labor-management relationship.

In his absence, the company has said that it plans to continue contract negotiations. We're scheduled to bargain again on Friday and I'm trying to arrange a meeting with Jim Janiga to see how this will affect talks and other matters. I'll update you all on that info as soon as I have it.

Personally, I've usually enjoyed a very constructive working relationship with Dave. While we had our disagreements and frustrations-- I'm sure he was rarely thrilled when I was occupying the chair across from him-- on the whole, he was very good about making sure the company lived up to its end of the bargain in how it treated its employees. He kept a copy of the contract in his top drawer and while we sometimes had different interpretations of how it should be applied, I always appreciated his willingness to listen to our concerns. For that, we should all wish him well and hope that his successor will carry on that tradition.

Until that person arrives, Ron said that he wants the paper to be a more fun place to work, something we definitely need. He spoke today of the need for change and his interest in improving morale and effectiveness, so when he hands it over to the new editor it'll be a better place. That's a goal we can all agree with and I think we should all take him up on that offer-- don't be afraid to speak up and to let him know what you think. I've spoken to him in the past about some of the morale issues we face and he says he's interested in addressing what he can, so I think it'll be to all of our benefit to work with him to work on what we can.

In the transition period, there's bound to be some confusion about how things are going to work out. If you've got issues, bring them up with your manager and with us-- just because there's a new person in the editor's chair doesn't change their responsibilities to the paper and its employees.

Ultimately, we can hope to work with whoever ends up leading the Daily News to build on what we've already done. There's plenty of work left to do, but this should be an opportunity to work for something even better for everyone. We'll look forward to working with the new leader to make this paper a better place to work for everyone.

That's it for now, I'll keep ya posted with whatever I hear as soon as I can. In the meantime, wish us luck on Friday-- we hope to have a deal soon. If there's anything else you need, please let us know and we'll see what we can do.



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