Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Big Changes at the Daily News

Hey Gang,

You've probably all heard the news today, one way or another, but after weeks of speculation about layoffs and reorganization, we finally got some concrete facts. Overall, there were 21 jobs lost, though I've seen conflicting reports about whether they were LANG-wide or just at the Daily News. In the newsroom, we lost three employee positions and one manager. Executive-wise, we also lost our publisher, finance, circulation and human resources directors.

I asked both John McKeon, our new publisher, and Ron Kaye whether there would be more cuts to come. Both said that while they couldn't definitively say that there would never be additional job loss, they expected this to be the last of the cuts. Ron, in particular, seemed upset about having to let the people go, and McKeon seemed to share in his remorse. He said that a strong Daily News, as the flagship paper in the chain, was key to LANG's success and that he hoped to see it grow in the future.

Especially for the folks who lost their jobs, this has clearly been an awful day. I spoke with each of the newsroom employees and while they all handled it with grace and good attitudes, when you remember that these are real people, with real lives, it reminds you how terrible this is. They aren't numbers on a payroll sheet, they're our friends and coworkers, the ones who put in long hours with us to put out the paper under stressful conditions. They will be sorely missed.

And for anyone who didn't see the UNISYS message, I want to thank Kimberly Armendariz, who selflessly came forward and volunteered to give up her job. She stepped up and put herself on the line, which saved another position that would have probably been eliminated. I don't know where it would have come from, but by doing so, she kept one of us in a job. While I'm really sad to see her go, it made me feel good to see such a generous, thoughtful act, especially during such tough times.

With that in mind, I'm asking for all of your help-- we've all got to stick together and help our departed colleagues find new work now. Given the state of the industry at the moment, that'll be a challenge, but if anyone knows of open reporter, designer or copy editor positions, particularly in sports, anywhere, please let me know as soon as possible. The company is trying to do right by them and they're all smart, capable individuals, but any leads anyone has would be greatly appreciated. Ask your friends at other papers and elsewhere in the industry and we'll do our best to make sure they get back on their feet quickly.

Whether we shared an office, a department or just a common goal with them, these people deserve everything we can offer them. If we were in their place, they'd do the same for us, so we've got to pitch in now to help them. Now, more than ever, we've got to look out for one another.

And for those of us left, we've got to pull together, as well. As Ron said in the newsroom meeting, we have got to figure out a way to connect with readers and how to make the paper the best that we possibly can. We've got to come up with new ideas and when we see ways the place better, we've got to take him up on his request for suggestions. This is a staff of tremendously creative, intelligent people and we've got a chance here to fight our way to success.

It's tough to see an upside to a day like this, but if there's any positive news, it's the idea that we can help remake the paper into something we can all take even more pride in. Ron singled out Greg Hernandez in the meeting as an example of someone who's done something unique and powerful with his Out in Hollywood blog, and we can all learn from Greg. He created that blog on his own, he wasn't directed to do so from above, and he's done a masterful job of building it, promoting it and keeping it fresh. We can't just sit on our hands and regret that the business ain't what it used to be, nor can we curse our lack of resources or the historical dysfunction at the Daily News. We can just take Ron up on his offer and build that change on our own terms.

So that's all I've got for this evening-- thank you for listening and thanks for your help. Please keep an eye out for ways we can help the people who lost their jobs. The worst should be over now, so let's find a way to rebuild and move on so we don't end up here again.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

A storong Daily News is NOT the key to LANGS succcess - the readers in Ontario could care less about the DN and the readers in the valley don't giva a crap about Long Beach.

Looks like the entire LANG will now tkae a hit because of the problems at the DN.

The DN one of the worst papers in LANG - its bringing the whole group down.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

Thanks for your kind words of support.


6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The DN one of the worst papers in LANG - its bringing the whole group down."

I strongly disagree.

1) Your blaming of the DN does not account for the loss of circulation numbers at the LAT or the Newspaper industry in general.

2) Take a look at the circulation numbers for all LANG papers. How is that the DN's fault?

As a DN staffer I find your remarks highly offensive.

There's is, however, something that bugs me...while the higher-ups insists that profits are in the tank, Dean Singleton keeps on buying and buying papers...not only is he screwing those of us already hired by MediaNews Group, he is in fact cutting job opportunities for those who get laid off because, well, his monopoly is growing...

9:31 PM  
Blogger Muckracker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the stories that are printed in the DN it is pretty obvious that you guys assume alot of things.

The DN was the worst PERFORMING paper in LANG. Performing paper - as in money, A.K.A. profit.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment "lovely sister papers" is indicative of the way you guys think - get off your high horse.

When the DN is stacked up against the other LANG papers it looks the worst, its headlines are horrible and it content laughable

10:52 AM  
Blogger Muckracker said...

Look, clearly we're both dealing in generalities here. I apologize for the "lovely sisters" line. That was uncalled for. As for us, the paper looks much better than it used to, the "horrible" headlines are, for the most part, a thing of the past, and I'd like to think the content is slightly better than "laughable." We bust our asses every day to cover the Valley and provide our readers with an informative, fun product. We're not the LAT. We have to be different. The bottom line is all the LANG papers need to work together to make the partnership successful.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DN was clearly the best of the LANG papers, especially sports, and the cuts will severely harm the product. Singleton does seem like a spoiled child who has to possess all the toys, and when he finalizes the Daily Breeze purchase, more people will lose jobs and there will be fewer options for those who lost their jobs.

Thanks for the updates, Brent. Keep up the good work.

Good luck to S, S, G and K.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks llike many people are posting anomymously, I think the DN did the worst of LANG in the money category.

Maybe laughable was too strong, we all work hard in the LANG 'family' and the continued feeling in the IE and is that we must all bow to the DN and just because you have the largest circ doesn't mean your the best.

But we all agree, Singleton is like a kid just looking at tomorrow, is lack of vision will be the paper's downfall.

I don't see how we can consolidate anymore, we are already sharing our newsroom with another paper.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Samuel R said...

Is this the time for name-calling? Maybe it's time for a reassessment of what we all do -- provide information, be it news, ads, webcasts, podcasts, etc. -- not just what we used to call "news."

I've been in the "news" business long enough to know the customer is changing and we must change, too -- without abandoning the honorable profession of journalism but remembering there's more to a customer's life than the products into which we sink our hearts and energies.

Yep, I've had my share of job layoffs. It stinks. Yell. scream. Get it off your chest.


Move on.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

truth is everyone in lang is doing the job of 3 people and only so much quality work can result from the lack of resouces. we all work in a daily newspaper. We can't put off work for tomorrow. If there isn't someone to put time into a project or a story's development it gets printed half done.

Lets face it some of our most popular news items are thrown together in 30 minutes and there is always a common quote from every bloody story.

SO and so was unavailable for comment, blah blah blah.

whats the point if a story doesn't answer any questions. no wonder LANG has lost enough circ to put any one paper out of business. Who whats to read this our newspapers if we can't even get the story right.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the readers in Ontario could care less about the DN

I suspect you mean "couldn't"...

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question...if McKeon plans on having less staff writers cover an event, example, a Laker game, why send 8 journalists (one from each LANG property) when you can send one and share the story with the properties, will those 7 writers lose their jobs or will they utlilize those positions to help cover in areas where they could use extra support?

12:21 PM  

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