Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Training Day

Hey Guys,

I've talked to some of you about this, but wanted to pass the word once again. In a rare instance of extra dough at the DN, there's some funds available in the training budget and Melissa asked me to get ideas from people on how to spend it.

They're looking for training programs mainly for reporters, since the design folks are going to be getting a bunch of Unisys training in coming months, but if people in any department have ideas, go for it. They'd like something that a bunch of us can go to, like a guest speaker or a writing coach, but they're also open to something where one person goes, then comes back and shares the info with others.

So have at it-- pass the word along to Melissa what you're looking for. Even if it doesn't fit in whatever they've got budgeted right now, it'll get them thinking about what to plan for in the future.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another Early Morning Missive

Greetings, Everyone,

I've been lax in my regular messages lately, an unfortunate byproduct of working incredibly screwy hours around the holiday. And, due to those screwy hours, I'm now up at 2:30 a.m., finally getting around to my union update-- my apologies for the spotty correspondence.

First off, we made a bit of a splash last week when a post regarding the existence of our blog got picked up by LA Observed. That's going to be double-edged, because while it's good to have more exposure for what we're doing, we're also going to have to pick up the pace on the blog to have more relevant content for folks to read. I'll be in touch soon with ideas on what we can contribute, but in the meantime, if you have suggestions, I'm all ears.

Secondly, I know I'd mentioned my planned meeting with CWA 9400 President Micheal Hartigan to discuss organizing, dues, strategy, etc. We'd intended to meet last week, but a scheduling conflict arose. So while I don't have any updates from him, this gives us additional time to formulate questions and stuff to bring to his attention-- if you've got anything you'd like me to discuss with him, please pass it along, as I hope to reschedule soon.

Third, if you're looking for an entertaining, if bizarre read, Ben Jauron has launched his online comic series, www.sgtwest.com. I wouldn't recommend it for the kids or at work consumption, but it looks cool and has a pretty unique way of telling the story. Check it out-- and he also needs volunteers for future episodes, if there's any aspiring models out there.

Also, in this holiday-crunched month, I let the dues collection lag a bit-- if you could make out your checks to CWA 9400, I'll come around this week and pick them up for you. For those of you out of office folks, I'll get you envelopes soon. Thanks for your help on that, as always, and for those of you who've already paid, thanks even more.

And speaking of holidays, there's always confusion when Christmas falls on a weekend, but let me remind you of how it'll work out. Since Christmas is on Sunday, the company holiday is Monday, Dec. 26. That creates a hardship for the people who normally work Sunday, but have Monday off, because you get no bonus for missing the time with your family. So there's two ways you can make it up: if you want to make more money, volunteer to work Monday, when you'll receive 2.5x your normal pay (holiday pay plus 8 hours of work). If you want more time at home, request an unpaid day from your manager any other day in the pay period (which they've been instructed to give you). With the 8 hours you're getting for the 26th, you'll still come out even.

I know that's never easy to explain, so if you've got questions, come to me or, better yet, Theresa Saplad, who knows every different way to slice it to get things most equitably resolved.

And finally, this being Thanksgiving weekend, let me close with a note of thanks to all of you. As both a member of the Daily News and the union steward, you guys make my job and my life much better. As colleagues, I can't think of a better crew-- you make coming to work each day a pleasure and take the strain out of an otherwise taxing job. And as fellow union members, you're inspiring to work with. You stand up and speak out when you see something wrong, you give up your time to make this place better without complaint and you always handle yourselves professionally and intelligently. This makes our efforts with the union and our desire for better journalism markedly easier and much more rewarding.

So to each one of you, thank you. I know I say it a lot, but I can never stress enough that you are really the best. It's a pleasure to work with you all and I wish you all the best as we wrap up another eventful and lively year.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The State of Our Business

Hey Folks,

Man, this is getting to be a tough business we're in. This week, elsewhere in the industry, we can read about the likely sale of Knight Ridder, buyouts at the Chicago Tribune, layoffs at the LA Times and the continuing decline in circulation for just about everyone. Whether you're a page designer or a publisher, there is no easy road in sight for the journalism business.

And there's not exactly a flood of people banging on the door to steer us onto that road anytime soon, either. I went to a forum at CSUN last week where aspiring journalists could seek out people in the industry to learn the trade and get advice. At the newspaper table, just one solitary student showed up for the entire evening. The public relations and magazine tables were full the whole night long, but there wasn't much interest in the venerable paper.

So where does that leave us? Why do we show up at work every day? Why are we pressing on in this business that so many others have written off and forgotten?

I can't speak for the rest of you, I can only offer my own thoughts. I'm sticking around because for the first time in quite awhile, it feels like we're doing something new. The Daily News has busted out of its dysfunctional old mentality and begun the much-needed process of reinventing itself. Our stories are getting richer, our design more interesting, our photos better played-- we're finally taking the rich talents of our staff and putting them to work, instead of muzzling them up behind archaic rules and musty traditions.

It's still a work in process and we've certainly got a long, long way to go, but at least we're not stuck in that awful rut that plagued this place for years. We've got a tremendously talented staff-- each one of you plays a role in this every day-- and at last, it's being used to produce entertaining journalism that challenges the traditional mold. It's actually exciting to pick up the paper or check out the Web site most days, rather than the old exercise in frustration.

And as this change has begun playing out, the union's been right there to ensure that we're a part of the process, rather than an unwitting participant. I've had a number of productive conversations with editors from Ron on down to address everything from new technology to training to even the kind of sports agate we run and each conversation has ended with a positive resolution. Though it takes awhile at times, the managers have begun tackling some of the problems that have simmered slow-cooked malaise for years.

This change has manifested itself in the most minute ways -- the repair of the bureaus' voicemail system after who knows how many years of dysfunction-- to major structural change in the way the newsroom's run. When managers have overstepped their bounds, I've been proud to see you guys speak up and stand your ground, and even more pleased that it's finally made a difference. The message we can all take away from this is that we don't have to put up with broken gear and a broken workplace anymore. If voiced reasonably and realistically, we can work to make the place better for all of us, rather than running it down until we quit.

No problem is too small, no question should go unasked. If you see something wrong at work or know of a better way to handle it, let your voice be heard. That's what we've got this union for-- to serve as the advocate for change. We've got a strong presence, a better contract and a solid relationship with mangement, so let's put them to use.

I've had a bunch of conversations with people all over the room in the last few weeks and the consensus seems to be this: we're at a crucial crossroads. With new management in many departments and in the top two positions, we've been promised reform and improvement. So we can either reach for that and make the best with what we've got here, or we can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves.

This isn't an easy job; we all knew that when we got into it. We work crazy hours, give up time with our families, slave away at sometimes frustrating tasks, but at least we can finally put out something that we can be proud of each day. So instead of lamenting that it's not the same business we got into and complaining about what we haven't got, let's keep grabbing hold of what we do and reaching for more in the years to come.

Whether we like it or not, this industry and this newspaper are in for a lot of change. If we hang in there together, like we've done so many times in the past, we can shape that change into something that works for us. That's why I come to work each day, why I still love my job-- because I feel like we're going to be part of something exciting and new, rather than riding the daily dinosaur to the boneyard.

So that's all I've got to say tonight, aside from a big thank you to everyone who's been a part of making this place better. Every one of you, whether you're out agitating for change or quietly supporting the cause, is doing their part to resurrect this beautiful profession we joined together. Thank you for your hard work-- we'll all enjoy the fruits together down the road.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005



For once, I'm passing along something not union related that may be of interest. An ex-Daily Newser's trying to assemble a team of runners to participate in the Baker to Vegas relay race and needs our help. Anyone who's interested, read the message below and give her a shout...


----Original Message Follows----
From: davidkronke@aol.com
To: afropic@hotmail.com
Subject: Fwd: Media v. Cops
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 20:02:35 -0500


This comes from a former DN-er now at Entertainment Weekly. Do you know anyone on the staff that would want to do this? Pass it along if so.

-----Original Message-----
From: lynette_rice@ew.com
To: davidkronke@aol.com
Sent: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 18:01:36 -0500
Subject: hey david

I'm trying to get the word out that we're fielding another team for the annual Baker to Vegas relay and was hoping you could forward this message to the newsroom. I first started running this damn thing when I worked at the Daily News. Would you mind doing so? Do you have to get permission from Ron Kaye? Can you do it anyway? ;-)

Attention all runners! Every year the media is allowed to field a 20-member team to participate in the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay, a 120-relay sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club that's a huge goodwill race for law enforcement (hundreds of teams from all over country participate). This year it is scheduled March 31-April 2. Race begins in Baker, Ca. at noon on a Saturday and ends in Las Vegas the next morning. If you've always wanted to see whether you can sprint faster than a cop - or you've always wanted to know what it's like to run five miles in the middle of the desert at 3 a.m. - THIS is the relay for you. Legs range from 4 to 7 miles. Media team's name is The Write Stuff. Come on, it's fun! If you are interested, please contact former Daily News writer Lynette Rice at Lynette_Rice@ew.com.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Odds 'N Ends

Hey Everyone,

Just a quick few things here to keep you in the loop with what all's going on. We had a rip-roaring time at the White Harte on Wednesday, so thanks to all who made it out... Hope to see even more next time around so we can talk about my terminally breaking car, politics and this fine career that we've all picked for ourselves. Good times, in other words.

Starting things off, you may have heard that we're having this little thing called a statewide election tomorrow. Since as journalists, we don't publicly endorse things one way or another, I'll refer you to http://www.calaborfed.org/pdfs/Political/Slate.pdf, which has the union perspective. Even though it looks like most of the issues aren't very popular, it's still important to get out and vote. It's also worth considering that while some of the biggest fights are over public employee unions, the precedents set for them could one day affect us as union members, as well.

Secondly, to update you guys on the phone situation, Ron tells me that the tech services guys are trying to fix the phones up in SAC and are working with the phone company to set up better voice mail for the other bureaus. It may take awhile, but it looks like the problem is being properly addressed and everyone oughtta be in good working order soon.

Third, I've got draft copies of the new contract available for anyone who'd like to see exactly what will govern this place for the next 3.5 years. They're not official yet, because they haven't been signed and fully reviewed by the folks in HR, but as soon as they're finalized, we'll get you nicer copies. For those of you out of the office who need them, let me know and I'll email them-- they're pretty hefty so to save on postage, electronic's the way to go for now.

Lastly, I've either collected checks or mailed or handed out stamped envelopes to everyone to pay the last of the October dues. Thanks to everyone who's paid up so far and if you for some reason didn't get one, let me know. I really appreciate your help on this-- we expect to have some sort of an automatic payment option set up soon. And thanks again for supporting the union with those dues-- I know it's not easy for all of us to pay, but we're supporting something important that'll benefit us all both now and in the future.

That's it for major issues at the moment, though I'll be checking back in on a few other things soon. If you need anything, please let me know.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

This Is Too Good!

Hey Guys,

Just in case you didn't see it on LAObserved today, it was noted that the fancy-dancy new Lakers Blog on the LA Times site relies heavily on well-written articles in other publications. A visit to http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2005/11/extra_extra_112.html reveals... links to articles by none other than our very own Ross Siler and Steve Dilbeck.

I guess that shouldn't be a surprise that when someone wants good sports news, they turn to the Daily News, but that was still the best laugh I had all day. Well done, gentlemen-- no one captures this crazy team quite like you do.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More Additions

Hi Everyone,

As usual, I forgot to note a couple things in my last email, so I'm playing a little catch-up here. Forgive my scatterbrainedness...

I had a brief chat with Mike Lazarus in New Media last week after a non-member complained about the way the Web site works. He was enthusiastic about hearing our concerns and suggestions, so if you've got any ideas on how to fix up the new site, drop an email to feedback@dailynews.com. That'll go to Mike, Armando, Jay, Cynthia and just about anyone else who'd need to see it. Just like we need suggestions on the print side of things, they want to hear about what works and what doesn't, so please take advantage of the chance to chat 'em up.

If you didn't catch LAObserved today, Steve Rosenberg's 2000 Days in the Valley Blog (http://valleydays.blogspot.com//) got a nod for his thoughts on the Orange Line opening. Wow, so now that's our blog commenting on another blog's comment on Steve's blog commenting on our newspaper... anyhow, if you get the chance, both 2000 Days and Steve's other blog on jazz guitar are quite interesting reads.

And speaking of interesting reads... while I don't want this to turn into the Brent's picks of the week, 'cause I probably miss loads of good stories and photos and can rarely credit the hardworking people in design and copy, I can't help but give credit to both Alex Dobuzskinis and Jason Kandel out in Glendale and Burbank. Alex had a great read on an Armenian Genocide story on Monday (http://www.dailynews.com/search/ci_3167148) and Jason served up some great color on Sunday about aerial firefighters (http://www.dailynews.com/search/ci_3164890). It's a tough job out there, where you've gotta crank out endless daily stories and weekenders, but they both manage to find good pieces and tell them well-- nicely done, gents.

Alright, time for bed... see you guys tomorrow at The White Harte around 6 or so-- 22456 Ventura Blvd. Thanks again for your time, as always.