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A year ago today

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 69Z, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. 69Z

    69Z New Member

    Hello all,

    First post. I did a search for Philly, and found the posts on the layoffs at the Inquirer, which happened one year ago today. It was refreshing to read some of the comments and to know there is some solidarity.

    I would like to add something, if you will permit me, that hasn't received much ink in the last year. The entire suburban staff, 13 writers and photographers, were also laid off, myself included. All but one of us had 18-22 years seniority. We earned half the pay of the downtown staff and used our own vehicles for assignments. The guild and the company cut a deal so that the layoffs were not based on true seniority. In other words, there are writers and photographers with less than seven years seniority that still have their jobs. Just wanted to clear that up. Also, to point out, that when the new owners were crying poor, that the layoffs were necessary, they turned around and hired several new columnists, including, recently, a former congressman who was voted out of office. Six months after the layoffs, the new owner says he wants to put in a bid on the Wall Street Journal. How is it, suddenly, there is money for all of that?

    Just before the layoffs, we voted on a new contract. With 900-plus members, the vote was 498-69 in favor of the contract that the company wanted. Out of the 900-plus, only 567 members voted. And out of 567, only 69 members had a pulse. Once a newspaper fears its owner, it's game over, man.

    A once great paper, that I used to deliver as a kid, actually did me a favor when they laid me off, for I had nothing but contempt for the place and was waiting for the next buyout. In August 2005, I picked up the Sunday bulldog at the local 7-Eleven and stared in disbelief at the front page. Above the fold was a six-column photo of the Desperate Housewives and below, was our coverage of Katrina.

    Best of luck to all, especially in newspapers, in 2008. You're going to need it
  2. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Good point. Maybe we should have a poll, or just a showing of hands right now:

    Is 2008 in newspapers going to be better, or worse, than 2007?

    One year from today, will we have more currently employed journalists on the bricks, or more currently unemployed journalists contributing happily and professionally in newsrooms?

    Will the average salary go up, thanks to all the (blue font optional) raises, bonuses and newfound respect for newsies from their papers' owners? Or will the average salary go down, thanks to all the old farts shed and the new lower-tier wages offered to more recent graduates?

    Will newsroom budgets grow, as editors try to enhance their publications to capture or re-capture a shifting audience? Or will they further shrink to maintain an unrealistic profit margin, while lessening the product and its appeal to buyers already abandoning it?

    Gee, which direction do you think we're headed?
  3. holiday

    holiday New Member

    "With 900-plus members, the vote was 498-69 in favor of the contract that the company wanted. Out of the 900-plus, only 567 members voted. And out of 567, only 69 members had a pulse. Once a newspaper fears its owner, it's game over, man."

    This sums it all up. The American labor movement was finished when Reagan, the great communicator, communicated to the American people that they were much less important than his business cronies. That has remained the case for the last twenty years, especially in the last seven. The Philadelphia Inquirer lost its integrity and its journalistic credibility when it created and fostered a two-tiered wage system. Let’s call it a caste system, because that is what it was. Photographers who worked in the suburbs—and who, working alongside dedicated suburban staff writers, fueled the Inquirer’s success in the suburbs—routinely produced exceptional work. And, despite the Inquirer’s institutionalized condescension toward anyone who worked in the ‘burbs,' real news with real regional and national import happened in those suburbs. The writers and photographers who covered it worked in those trenches with passion and journalistic integrity. And they also traveled--when it suited the newspaper--to New York and D.C. on 9/11, to Harrisburg for state elections, and to many places in between. Their work appeared in the pages of the Inquirer Sunday Magazine, before it was sacrificed to the bottom line. Other newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun and The Los Angeles Times, trashed their unfair and unpopular two-tiered urban/suburban wage system. Not the Inquirer. It defended and even expanded its system of inequality. And then it trashed those pesky suburban staffers. It is a sad day when a supposed defender of human rights and justice becomes the perpetrator of discrimination and injustice. It is a sad day when journalists are cowed into silence and submission (as in their silence during the run-up to this war). Their silence diminished this profession even as it destroyed the integrity of the Inquirer.
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