Friday, October 06, 2006

The Rumors and the Truth

Hey Guys,

So much for starting the weekend off with an easy Friday, huh? By now, you've probably either heard the rumors, seen LAObserved.com or read Ron's afternoon message, so let me bring you up to speed on what all we've heard on the union side of things. We've been down this road before and I'm sure we'll do it again, but this is serious business.

When the first post went up on LAO today, we heard LANG was seeking deep cuts, between 10 and 20 jobs spread throughout Editorial. I spoke with Ron and shared with him our concern that this would have a crippling effect on the newsroom's ability to put out the newspaper as well as a significant blow to morale. While sympathetic, he had little he could share and asked me to refer questions to Jim Janiga, who handles MediaNews' labor relations. The union began that dialogue this afternoon, though there's no news to share as of yet. Our relationship with Janiga has evolved from adversarial to fairly collegial in recent years, so we hope to continue that throughout this process.

By the afternoon, however, the mood appeared to have shifted. Ron made his case to the LANG execs and came back seeming much more relieved. He said that there could still be some trouble ahead as the company looks for ways to cut expenses, but that the meeting had gone well and would hopefully produce more collaboration throughout the chain. While it was reported earlier that he was considering leaving over the issue, he told me that he felt that we could work through the rocky patch and still put out a product that we can be proud of.

So as it stands now, the LANG folks are going to start crunching numbers and see the best way to continue. There could still be cuts ahead, but rather than just taking them all out of the Daily News, they're going to finally address ways to work better together. We're going to be working with management as closely as possible to preserve as many jobs as we can and demonstrate that any cuts will hurt the paper's longterm health.

On the union front, we're engaged on every front. Kerry and I are talking with Ron and Melissa, union vice president Vicki DiPaolo is speaking with Janiga and we've been in contact with our counterparts at other papers. We will ensure the contract is enforced and that everyone's treated fairly.

And as for what you can do: what you guys do every day. Our best defense is the excellent product we produce. As the number-crunchers look over the Daily News, we've got to show them that they're more than getting their money's worth. Whether it's prep sports, film reviews, biz coverage or local news, we've got so many ways that we excel, we need to remind the people in faraway offices that we do a great job with the limited resources thrown our way. If there's ever been a time to shine and remind them what we're all about, it's now.

Hang in there together and whenever you can see ways to do things better or more intelligently, speak up about it. There may be things we can suggest that will help ease the financial burden without hurting the staff or the paper, so keep an eye out.

So that's all I know at the moment. While this is definitely a serious issue, everyone should stay calm. We've been in plenty of dark spots in the past and we've always found a way to fight our way out. We'll do everything we can to make sure we do this time, too.

Thanks for your time and your help,
Brent

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Ron say anything about coming in Tuesday?

3:47 PM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

Yeah, and that he'd be back on Wednesday, too. I spoke with him briefly today and he said he was pleased with the direction of the conversation with McKeon. I guess we'll see where things go-- I'll keep y'all posted.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what's the word on Tracy? Ron seems to be keeping pretty mum on her..

10:40 PM  
Anonymous LONG BEACH said...

Long Beach is here for you guys.

With the OC Register, Times and the Breeze situations we have got to have eachother's back.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

Last I heard, Tracy was still hanging in there and spent Friday night working out a budget sent back to Denver for approval. I guess we'll know more within a week or so to see how the corporate folks react.

And thanks, LB, we greatly appreciate it. We're all going to have to stick up for one another if we're going to hope to have a future in this business.
-Brent

8:00 AM  
Blogger Ed Padgett said...

I like what Long Beach said, but don't forget us tradesmen that produce each newspaper.

It's nice to see Jeff Johnson and Dean Baquet standup to Tribune and say enough.

And for twenty civic leaders to write a letter to Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons.

But why hasn't anyone spoken up for the men and women that produce the newspapers?

Edward

7:37 PM  
Blogger mmarkup said...

LANG brothers and sisters at the SGV Tribune checking in. Thanks for the info. We're here for you, too.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

Ed-

Thanks for checking us out. While our unit doesn't represent the pressmen (they've got their own union), you make an excellent point and we certainly support them. As we all wander into this new media world, we're all going to have to look out for each other and recognize how many people rely on newspapers to make a living.

-Brent

12:31 AM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

San Gabe-

Thanks for the vote of confidence-- that's exactly the spirit we're all going to have to take to get through this. If you guys ever have any questions about all this, feel free to e-mail me directly at afropic@hotmail.com

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been quiet for the past two days. Good sign? Or bad?

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's coming. It's just a matter of when and how bad. Too bad we'll all be competing with the fired LA Times staff for jobs in this market.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

For the first anonymous comment, I'd say until we hear otherwise, we should assume that things are continuing as mentioned in the original post. As soon as I hear something that I know is true, I'll pass the word.

For the second, you're not really adding much to the discussion here. As it said in the post, there's probably going to be some sort of layoffs, but no one knows the extent. Hopefully, we'll have some word later this week. The only thing I have to go on is that they should be less drastic than initially feared.

10:29 PM  

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