Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Daily News update

Hey guys,

For those of you who didn't hear the budget news, Ron laid it out for us today: on August 12, the Daily News is eliminating zone coverage in Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley. We'll lose the SAC and AV wraps and the staffing will be greatly reduced.

Out of three reporter positions and one photographer in AV, three reporters, a clerk, a photographer and the bureau chief in SAC, we'll have one reporter in each office and one editor for both. Coverage will be dramatically curtailed, with those bureau staffers contributing to the main sheet. I believe some pressmen lost their jobs, as well, but that's out of my area of expertise, so I can't talk specifics.

The company's offering buyouts equal to one week's pay for each year of service, up to six years and three months paid COBRA health care. For those reporters and photographers who don't want to take the buyouts, they'll be offered jobs in Woodland Hills, which would lead to a few more layoffs elsewhere.

While I appreciate Ron's attempts to minimize job loss and that he personally informed the staff involved, rather than sending an e-mail or someone else to do his dirty work, today is a terrible day. Once again, MediaNews' corporate moneyhounds have put profit ahead of people and good journalism, and that's horrible for everyone involved. While the overall job loss should be relatively minor, that doesn't matter much when it's your job that's eliminated. My heart goes out to the people who've worked so hard up there and we'll all need to keep our eyes out for other employment possibilities for them.

We'll know in a few days how this all works out, who chooses to stay and who chooses to move on. Whatever decision they make, we're here to ensure things go smoothly and fairly. And we will support every one of them all the way, no matter when they stop at the Daily News. To the budget watchers in Denver, these are just numbers on a page, but to us, these our our friends and colleagues. We'll look out for them to the last.

I know this is not an easy time for anyone, but I hope that for those who choose to stick around, you'll continue to believe in the paper and each other. Throughout all this craziness, you've done fantastic work and should be really proud of everything you've accomplished. Thank you for all your dedication and skill-- while the corporate budgeteers may not appreciate it, the people of this community do. Hang in there and I'll share more news for you as soon as I have it.

-Brent

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent, it's just factually wrong to blame MediaNews. This kind of cutting has been going on all across the newspaper industry, and it's due to economics, not greedy owners. If anything, MediaNews has avoided the kinds of drastic cuts imposed by other owners such as Hearst (San Francisco Chronicle) and Copley (San Diego Union-Tribune).

These wrap-around zoned inserts weren't up to the Daily News' journalistic standards, anyway. They were staffed mostly by "not ready for prime time" journalists who wouldn't make it in Woodland Hills. This could be good for the Daily News journalistically - focusing on bigger stories from the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys and putting them in the main paper.

The only thing it's not good for is union membership. Sorry, Brent.

10:06 AM  
Blogger LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Brent et al,

Please accept my best wishes for the week ahead, and know that the caliber of your work, both individually and collectively can never be disputed.

Tough Times Never Last. Tough People Do!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

10:36 AM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

Brian- Thank you for your kind words. Your relentless optimism and professionalism always make you a pleasure to work with. We definitely appreciate your support.

Anonymous- If you had the guts to put your name to this like a real journalist or the sense to know what you're talking about, I'd respond to what you have to say. Seeing as how you have neither, I'll just say this: good people who put their lives into this paper have just lost their jobs and all you can do is insult them? That's despicable. I realize there are great economic forces at work here, but it's the least you could do to show some sensitivity and humanity to the people whose lives are affected.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Oxnard St. said...

(and yes, the Oxnard St. identity is mine. I'm not going to hide behind an assumed name.)

-Brent

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent, do you read the news? Reuters reported today that there were 42,897 announced layoffs nationally in July. I'm not going to mourn a half-dozen, at most, Daily News employees who are not being laid off, by the way, but given generous buyout offers or other positions in the company.

I'm not unsympathetic but I'm sure they'll be able to find better jobs out of journalism, as your former colleagues Evan Pondel, Lisa Sodders, Phil Browne and others have been able to do.

In all of this, Brent, you've been unwilling to acknowledge that MediaNews and LANG are handling these moves sensitively and quite generously toward the departing ... which is more than I can say for many newspaper owners, including the publishers of the Santa Clarita Signal and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Let's give credit - not blame - where it's due.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent - I'm a different anonymous. Please don't let the fact that some of us choose NOT to post our real names diminish the spirit behind the postings.

The truth is, you don't want to get funny looks - or worse - in the office because of the way one feels regarding this tragedy (and it is a tragedy for those who lost their jobs...)

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These wrap-around zoned inserts weren't up to the Daily News' journalistic standards, anyway. They were staffed mostly by "not ready for prime time" journalists who wouldn't make it in Woodland Hills.

I have nothing to say about the AV edition, but the Santa Clarita edition was always well written and edited. Its reporters got information from all parties involved and broke several stories over the last few years.

They were much better written than our alternative here in town!

This could be good for the Daily News journalistically - focusing on bigger stories from the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys and putting them in the main paper.

Yeah sure- you must not be familiar with Santa Clarita. Thanks to these changes we'll have less than 5 reporters between the two newspapers covering the SCV, a booming city with 250,000 people.

Occasionally the Times will throw a bone our way and write some story- their lack of familiarity with this area shows. They might as well be writing about Mongolia.

I don't know how the occasional feature story is better than 3-4 well-written stories per day, but I guess in your book we're not worthy of such resources anyway. We should just be thankful that LANG is abandoning us.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disgusted! That's all I can say to the anonymous jerk who denegrates the hard work of young, and may I add grossly underpaid, journalists. But that has always been the attitude of the uppers there, and I suspect anonymous is one of them. Sorry, I don't recall any of the majors pulling any of your sorry asses out of the grand palace of Woodland Hills. Guess your journalistic standards just weren't up to par - which I guess is why you've all been in place while the paper continue to deteriorate. How arrogant of you - and to say such a thing as people are about to lose their jobs. Karma, pal, Karma.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Brent, it's just factually wrong to blame MediaNews. This kind of cutting has been going on all across the newspaper industry, and it's due to economics, not greedy owners. If anything, MediaNews has avoided the kinds of drastic cuts imposed by other owners such as Hearst (San Francisco Chronicle) and Copley (San Diego Union-Tribune).
Ok you obviously drank the Singleton cool-aid. But are right about it being about economics.....THE CUTTING IS FOR RISING PROFIT MARGINS!!!!

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Vodoo Daddy said...

I have to disagree about the layoffs/cutbacks/restructuring at the LANG sites not being caused by "greedy owners."

Indeed, this is a calculated, well-thought out maneuver perpetrated by Dean Singleton and the suits at MediaNews Group.

In fact, the man has a reputation for this kind of thing. Don't take my word for it, look around.

If the business is so bad, why keep buying - and buying - newspapers?

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local, local, local. That's the main advantage the Daily News has in staying competitive in this extremely affluent and booming SCV market. The Daily News' SCV coverage is one of the main reasons that paper is purchased in SCV. The other "local" newspaper is pathetic at best and the LAT rarely covers this market. This 'local' coverage allows the Daily News to continue to outsell the LAT in SCV. This will no longer be the case. There will be little advantage of taking the Daily News over the L.A. Times and even less reason to purchase both. Losing the "local" edge and going more regional will surely lose subscribers and readers. What does that do to the bottomline?

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, its hyper local time in print and on the web. The question remains: Will LANG newspapers and web sites that occupy this space take advantage of the opportunity its being handed?

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm only a reader of newspapers, not a reporter or editor, and my viewpoint is as a consumer rather than a provider of news -- so take this with a grain of salt.

I agree that local news is the key differentiator for a hometown paper like the Daily News.

But the rub is in how you define local news. From reading the paper, your definition tends to be pretty narrow. You seem to spend most of your time hanging around the hoop looking for the easy story -- government meetings, the police blotter, the courthouse, the prep sports game.

The paper is chockablock with coverage of every dog-shit planning board, zoning commission and city council meeting; a rundown on who got arrested today; and the criminal trial du jour. Some of that is relevant, and on occasion even interesting. But my community -- and my interests -- are so much broader than that.

If you want to be a local resource, you really need to cover local interests and the local community. Just because it happened in my zip code doesn't make it interesting or relevant to me, my family, my neighbors, and the community around me.

The reason so many of us have stopped reading the paper is because it contains too much of what ISN'T interesting or relevant to us, and not enough of what IS.

It's easy to go to City Hall and write up the agenda, or to the police station and write up the arrest log, or to the courthouse and write up the day's testimony.

It's much harder to really cover the community. To tap the nerve of what we're interested in and talking about, and to recognize at the same time that the parameters of our interest are influenced by our zip code -- but not defined by it.

I'll take a good story from anywhere over a crappy story about some arcane issue that came up at last night's city council meeting.

Just my two cents...

10:52 AM  

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