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Herald to cut about 175 positions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Andy _ Kent, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. AD

    AD Active Member

    Here's the heartbreaker in all this: In the late '80s, the Miami Herald was thisclose to being right up there with the nation's premiere papers. It had a unique place in international news, because in that city "international" was never an abstraction; so much of what happened in Cuba, Haiti, the Caribbean, South America came crashing daily onto its shores and decrepit highways. It had balls like no other paper in covering politics, its writers -- God, what a lineup, writing from Berlin, Rio, Beijing -- had an oddball take on the world that made the paper like no other read and somehow reflected the corrupt, sexy, manic soul of South Florida. And it called bullshit on a town that needed serious calling out, when no one else in town had the resources or integrity to do so. I know that whole Knight-Ridder creative tension management crap drove the staff crazy, but even the dead weight made the workload bearable, fun. Every day was some type of lunacy, and the staffs were ridden with the usual complement of gossip, backbiting, and climbing that you'd expect hundreds of neurotic talents crammed into one massive stew of a room. But even on its thinnest days, the paper was just superb. And the city, more than almost any city I've seen, still NEEDS something like the Herald, something big, to keep all the mealy developers, grafting politicians, drugged-up partyers and on-the-make clowns in line. Instead? It's going to be an open city, Berlin 1920. Raise a beer at that shag-rugged joint across the street -- the 1600 club, or is it 1800? I only went there at 2 a.m...-- and kiss it goodbye boys, one of journalism's last stabs at greatness. Okay, Chico, take the rest of the night off....
  2. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    AD, that pretty much sums it up.
  3. AD

    AD Active Member

    And Mike Phillips, by the way? One of the all-time great guys, an unstoppable workhorse and preps legend in that town, had it wired like no one before or since. Excellent writer. Generous to everyone, regardless of so-called "stature" in the business, heartfelt graciousness to families and sources, face of the paper for an entire generation of athletes now in the pros, with their phone numbers still in his rolodex -- an asset to any staff. I'm still confused as to whether he's gone or not, so this is in no way a confirmation. But if he is, it's just a massive mistake.
  4. Andy _ Kent

    Andy _ Kent Member

    You're not the only one still confused, as we have discussed this hair-brained method higher up on this page.
  5. Blair Waldorf

    Blair Waldorf Member

    I went through the same emotions when debating whether to take the buyout at another McC paper. Ultimately, I ended up doing it because I wanted out and I couldn't let a friend get laid off and let my friends lose another co-worker if I was just going to give my two weeks notice a few weeks later.

    It was the best thing I did, because I'm getting ready to accept another job in a new field, my friend stays employed and I get a nice check. I had many friends at the paper who dealt with the same thing -- and many felt this was the "golden carrot" ... next time they come around to cut people, there may not be money attached to it. You can either use your tenure to keep your job or depart with 6+ months worth of pay and save the job of someone who won't get as much money.
  6. the bullet

    the bullet New Member

    Sorry, but that is not the image I have of him any longer. I did -- once. But that was before my lay off.

    Mike, it seems, thought that an extra few months salary would allow him to sell his house, move and start a new job. Problem is, the buyout wouldn't cover the extra few months salary that Mike was looking for.

    He approached me, the "dead man walking" on the staff, and made a gracious (and I fully intend all sarcasm with that word) offer of ALLOWING me to keep my job if I would give him the extra few months salary he needed out of my own pocket.

    Think about it. As if it is not bad enough to be told you're the one on the chopping block and your job will be saved if -- and only if -- someone else volunteers to take a buy out, imagine the extra grief, worry, concern, outrage, etc. that comes with an attempt to extort you if you wanted to keep the job. I declined, of course, knowing that the next buyout will likely target me again.

    Mike dragged it out to the final day and even made a rare office visit to discuss his situation in the final hour. Friends on the staff were calling me with the hope my job would be saved because Mike was there to supposedly take the buyout. The deadline came and went. Rather than call and tell me he declined, I had to wait an additional 24 hours before I got the call from management to dismiss me.

    Oh, I did hear from Mike the next week. He said he was sorry and asked for all my contacts, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. so he could do my old job. What a crock.

    So while I join the others on here who mourn the loss of jobs for people like Jeff and Sarah, I celebrate Mike's dismissal. As I learned from Carson Daly (through My Name is Earl), karma is a bitch.
  7. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

  8. AD

    AD Active Member

    that's an extraordinary story -- and if true, i feel for you, and consider such behavior appalling. but i'm standing by the only thing i can: my perception and experience with mike over years of contact. with me, he'd always been a mensch. the people he wrote about spoke of him highly long after he'd left their orbit. i've never heard of behavior anything remotely like what you describe -- but, then again, we weren't swimming in the sharktank we are now. crisis, pressure, anxiety almost always reveals character.
    it's weird -- and sorry for this tangent -- but that's isn't that what sports is? what we like about it? a showcase where we put talented people under relentless public pressure and record how they behave. now, for the first time really, we're in the same situation, performing in an arena that's just a bit less public. under these extreme -- and far less orchestrated -- conditions, pushed by the fear of providing for their families and selves, journalists -- lots of them now -- will be showing who they truly are.
  9. HorseWhipped

    HorseWhipped Guest

    Awful story.

    And yet that's Miami in a nutshell.
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    If true, this is as bad as anything I've heard about or witnessed in terms of any newspaper manager's behavior. Holy crap.
  11. the bullet

    the bullet New Member

    I always thought very highly of Mike prior to this incident. When I was assigned to work with him on other beats, he was always helpful and entertaining. I could not say a single bad thing about him before the final few weeks of my employment.

    I think the current sad state of the industry we all loved is going to make more tales like this bubble to the surface. Naturally, when it happened, I was pissed. I told a few colleagues about it. But, I did not make a major issue about it and tell the world. I figured I would lose some of the anger I felt with time. When reading over this thread the past few days, it kind of bubbled up again. Reading about how this helpful saint is losing his job and how everyone felt bad for him brought it back to the surface. Finally, I said screw it and shared my experience.

    Like AD said, we all covered situations in the sports world where people screwed someone else over money. When faced with a crisis, our true character comes out. How many times have you heard someone say "If I have cancer, I'm skipping chemo and dying in peace." Those same people, when faced with the actual decision, choose to do whatever they can to extend their lives.

    Believe it or not, I feel better after getting that out in the open. It has been eating at me for six months.
  12. the bullet

    the bullet New Member

    Unfortunately, it is true.

    But, to be fair, Mike is not a manager and this was a situation between a fellow reporter and I. Management was not aware of it until after the fact.
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