Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Other journalistic craziness

Publisher and destroyer of good journalism Wendy McCaw is back in the news, taking the stand in the trial over the allegedly illegal firing of reporters for union activities. Her vision of good journalism is so skewed I won't even begin to get into it, so I'll let you guys read on and make your own conclusions. Whether it's recklessly dictating news content or screwing over her employees, McCaw provides a sadly perfect example of why it's nice to have a union around to protect you.

(Thanks to LA Observed for the original link to the Independent's post)

A parallel universe that's even weirder

Ok, so readers of this blog (all six of you) know that MediaNews can occasionally hand down some strange edicts-- the argument over how many personal items can be kept on desks at a sister paper comes to mind-- but I'm glad we've never had to put up with crap like this: Prove your kids are yours.

Kevin Roderick of LA Observed shares an emailed back-and-forth between Tribune and an unnamed Times employee regarding the company's new policy regarding dependents. From Kevin's post:

The Tribune Company has come up with a new tactic to cut costs and annoy the hell out of its employees — again. It seems that everyone on the staff at the L.A. Times (and so I assume KTLA) has to prove that their spouses and children really are theirs, and thus eligible for medical benefits. Though wasteful and mildly insulting it sounds easy enough, but apparently it's not. They call it a "Mercer Audit" and its demands have some staffers in an uproar.

Now there's a great way to keep your workers motivated...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So Much to Discuss

Hey guys,

Sorry for the lapse in communications, but things have been flying around so quickly as of late, I haven't had much time to sit down and catch my breath to write. But, now that it's late and my neighbor is still plunking away on his guitar, might as well unload with a multitude of news. So, in no particular order, here goes-- remind me if I forgot anyone.

First off, check your paychecks-- everyone should have received the union raise for the most recent pay period. The company doesn't like giving out those raises. It likes to make everything merit-based and has resisted increased annual raises in the past, but I look at it this way: everyone here works hard and does it well each day. You've all earned those dollars, so this is a merit raise. It's not enough, nor will it ever be-- your work is so valuable there's no way it could ever be farely compensated. But it's definitely richly deserved, so thank you to everyone who cranks, day in and day out to put this paper out. You guys truly are the best.

Secondly, I wanted to let you know that we're working much more closely with the Guild's national folks to build strength here in Southern California. It's early yet, but we're going to see a lot more collaboration with our fellow union members at the Press-Telegram and there will be a lot of good union activity in months to come. I'm pleased to say that I think that most of this will be progressive stuff, too-- finding ways to reinforce our role as an advocate of good journalism, to encourage people to support their local newspaper and to find ways to invigorate the product, rather than in opposition to the company. I don't have specifics yet, but based on the early discussions, I think we're definitely on the right path.

Speaking of that, I've noticed a lot of changes at work in the last few months. Some of it comes from new leadership, as mentioned in the previous post, along with new management in Sports and Online, but most significantly, it comes from the staff. Whether it's new beat coverage and a return to project work in Metro, comprehensive multimedia coverage in Sports, a constantly improving Web site or the big switch to, the paper feels much more alive now. While I'm glad to see that the company has chosen innovative editors, the biggest driver of that change is y'all. You've stepped up and taken ownership of the product and it really shows.

And please join me in wishing Jason and Kerry Kandel a pleasant and exciting trip to Colombia. After Jason headed to Albania on a State Department trip to discuss journalism last year, he was recalled once again to speak to a group of reporters in Bogota. Based on his expertise covering cops and organized crime, he'll be teaching them this week about the American justice system and its relationship with the media. Throughout his many roles here at the paper, Jason's always been a hell of a hard worker and a committed reporter (just check out his piece on the untimely death of ex-boxer Charlie Brown today ( I'm sure his audience will be well-served with his long experience and colorful flair for description. Godspeed and good luck, my friends, have a safe and productive voyage.

OK, that'll do it for me for one evening. Thanks for listening, as always.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New city editor

Hey y'all,

This is just a cut-and-paste from Ron's message, but I wanted to pass along the good news that ACE Judi Erickson has been promoted to City Editor. I've enjoyed working with her to reshape news coverage in the last few months and I can tell you she's sharp, hard-working and an excellent boss. We'll be in good hands with her at the helm.


Ron's text follows:


I'm very pleased to announce that Judi Erickson has been named City Editor.

She succeeds Barbara Jones who is coordinating content with our sister MediaNews papers and will play a key content role in the efforts to develop and put together the common pages we'll soon be producing with the Breeze and Long Beach.

Judi has done a terrific job coming up fresh ideas and working with the staff to help us move forward as we try to reinvent journalism that works for our existing readers and attracts new ones to the Daily News.

I don't need to tell any of you what a challenging time this is for everyone in newspapers. But it's also a creative opportunity to try out new ideas and to do things differently. I think we've made a lot of progress but clearly have a long way to go. I think we've got a great staff and management team that can work together to tap into our talent and to channel it to create a newspaper that's more interesting, entertaining and informative to more people.

Join me in congratulating Judi on her well-deserved promotion.