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BIG CHANGES- Small, local paper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Zads07, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Zads07

    Zads07 Member

    Hey everyone,
    First time posting in the message board, but I was curious as to everyone's take on this particular situation. I'm going to keep it as anonymous as possible, but I will say I'm not technically "employed" by this company, just a stringer.

    It's a small local paper, biweekly, circulation size is about 40,000~ in a community in a big metropolitan area. Now, out of all of the weeklies (9) and biweeklies (2 including this one), it was the only paper in the bunch to actually make money last year.

    A new management person was hired recently, and decided to change nearly everything that's been done the way it has for the past 30 or so years. This person is changing not only sports, but news as well. This person shipped out some paginator folks (6, including the Sports Editor, which effectively ended his/her 30+ year run as SE at the paper) to another office about an hour away, just to do pagination. The SE also lost his/her SE duties because he/she wasn't keeping up with the 21st century (no twitter or facebook).

    Now, onto the sports section itself. This person will be changing complete coverage of all the sports. No longer does this person want game coverage (or game recaps/stories), this person wants features, lots of photos (more clicks), less video, more tweets, etc. This person wants to phase out the newspaper in just 2 years, and be completely online. The game recaps, if any, wants to be less than 300 words, and features less than 600. Game recaps would not go in the paper, only features (to fill 4 pages, 1 would be a full page ad, in the perfect world).

    This person now in charge, with getting rid of the SE, left the senior ranking sports writer (a year and a half experience) in charge, with the other sports writer (half year experience) second in command.

    This person in charge has been constantly changing things, with no answers, and hasn't even met with the sports department, nor does this person plan to do so.

    This person also hasn't consulted anyone that has been with the paper, this person has come in and changed everything because they believe it to be the right thing to do. Finally, anyone's job is in jeopardy here, and can be fired if they are not keeping up with the constant changes, and will be replaced with people that this person has previously worked with.

    So, after all of this, I believe that's all I can say without going into specifics or details. I'd like to remain anonymous for fear of possibly being found out and losing any connection/job I may have with them.

    Overall thoughts? Am I overreacting to this situation, or should I accept is as this is the way of new journalism, or is this person just being terrible and doing whatever he/she wants because they are in charge.

    Thanks for allowing me to post.
  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    A good editor communicates with their staff. Nothing wrong with change, and "because we've always done it this way" is a lousy reason to keep doing something - but you would think the person would have the management skill to communicate that vision. Change is hard, but look at it like starting a new job.
    Of course, the new person might just want more people to leave so they can get their own people who are loyal to them on board.
  3. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Certainly not the first shop to go that route. Yes, it makes it very uncomfortable for the old timers (self included).

    My suggestion would be to meet with the new administrator and express whatever concerns you have. (It's really not clear from your post what you like and dislike.) Ultimately, if the new person has his/her mind made up and doesn't want to absorb your ideas, you may to make a decision about your own involvement. You won't be the first.
  4. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    I agree that just because something has always been done one way is not a reason to keep doing it. That said, I'm never comfortable with someone new coming in and turning the world upside down, especially if the company isn't in bad shape.

    I imagine, though, that these changes are not the idea of the person hired but of the folks who hired said person and were likely a contingent of the hire. I was laid off a few years back and once the dust cleared it became apparent that a publisher who had been fired a few years before that had (to a point, anyway) resisted mass layoffs and someone who was more than eager to be a hatchet man was brought it. The new guy blatantly lied to our faces (as opposed to misleading us) and was beyond cold when laying us off (to the point of having armed security escort us to and from the room when we learned our fate and not even a "kiss my ass" when we were fired)
  5. Zads07

    Zads07 Member

    Well, my concerns are the changes very quickly, without the person wanting to be involved in the staffers at all. This person has decided to micro-manage everything. Instead of going to each staffer and asking if they have any questions, to see if he can answer them, he creates more questions rather than answers by constantly changing things every couple of days or so.
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Get your coworkers together, see if they're willing to back you up, then email the new boss with everyone's signatures, asking for a meeting in order to clarify what the fuck he wants. If he refuses, he's a total idiot.

    As Dan said, a good boss keeps his workers abreast of new developments.
  7. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    I just left this shop - I started my new job, and new career, yesterday. Anyone who approaches the new boss in this way will be fired. And, the SE, who was a mentor and former boss, did an amazing job and is an incredible person. At least he/she was allowed to cover the hockey team that won its 14th all-time state title Saturday. I'm surprised, but glad, they were given that dignity.

    The new boss is going to drive my old shop right into the ground. And, he is a complete jackass - he's the smartest person in the room and will tell you so. He's bringing in his people - including my rumored replacement - so he can install his Patch-like vision onto the shop. It sickens me, and I am counting my blessings that I was able to get out. Several co-workers asked if I could take them with me, and to let them know if when there are any openings in my new place of employment.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Then forward all the complaint calls to this douche. Tell him that since it's his ideas, he can handle the complaints.
  9. Here me roar

    Here me roar Guest

    Zads, fly low, keep accepting assignments but start searching for other opportunities.
  10. Zads07

    Zads07 Member

    That's exactly the plan.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Walk. Supplement your primary income some other way. The manager's an idiot. He'll be gone in 3 years. Don't spend it with him.
  12. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The guy is making changes, but not explaining what the hell he wants. He's causing more problems than he's solving. A simple email of "Hey, we know you plan on making a lot of changes, can you meet with us to explain what you're looking for so we can do what you want us to do," can go a long way.

    There are bosses out there who hold meetings just so they can say they hold a meeting. This guy sounds like he doesn't want to talk to anybody, and just expects everyone to read his mind.
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