Archive | January, 2012

Hedger Pausing On Print

30 Jan

From the New York Post, Jan. 30, 2012:

Reclusive Randy Smith’s Alden Global has been building a national newspaper empire, but after suffering some losses he may be looking to recycle that idea.

Smith last fall bought a roughly 30 percent share of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News and the expectation was he would build on that stake.

But the owners of the Philadelphia Media Network are now in the middle of an auction to sell it for roughly $100 million, and Smith so far is on the sellers’ side of the table, showing no indication he or Alden will be a buyer, a source close to the situation said.

>snip<

Smith is also the largest shareholder in Gannett and controls MediaNews, owner of the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News.

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I Tweet Therefore I Am, But Am I Getting Paid For It?

24 Jan

DENVER POST REPORTER Michael Booth wrote a comment on a recent post asking about the need and/or expectations for staffers to use social media for work when they’re off the clock. It’s an important issue, and I would like to use his comment as a jumping-off point for a discussion:

As employees both desire and feel pressure to expand their digital work and presence, through Facebook, Twitter, DPO, etc., we are fast becoming not just a 24-hour operation, but 24-hour employees. Am I working overtime when I Tweet my stories from home to make sure they get seen? Do supervisors expect us to be at our desk filing breaking news 9 hours a day, and then available to do the same for 12 more hours at home?

And as we expand sources of revenue, what are the rights and responsibilities associated with things like e-books and other projets? Will employees share in the new revenue? Are they expected to work on those projects on their own time, or on company time? Do employees have the right to use material generated during work hours to seek personal opportunities in e-books or other formats, if the company is not interested in producing those themselves?

This is something the Guild is planning to address during bargaining.

In the meantime, let’s get a discussion going. Do you “work Tweet” when you’re off the clock? Do you feel pressure to do so? Or is social media so integrated into your life that there’s no real distinction between your work and personal use of Twitter and Facebook, and that’s fine by you?

Sound off below by leaving a comment.

Here’s a quick collection on the topic, none of which truly address the work-life social media time continuum, but that are interesting nonetheless:

Non-newsroom Bargaining: Session Two

20 Jan

DENVER NEWSPAPER GUILD and Denver Post representatives met again Jan. 20 and continued contract talks. Management presented a list of issues similar to the list presented to the Guild in the first meeting.

The Post again wants to discuss circulation call center costs and the possibility of outsourcing that work. That issue will be taken up during the next bargaining session Feb. 8.

MediaNews Group is in the process of consolidating most finance functions from each paper in the chain to their finance center in Colorado Springs. The Post proposes to move a substantial amount of its finance work to the consolidated group. A date to discuss this issue has not been scheduled yet.

Management’s list and stated positions addressed several items that are on the Guild’s list, but pursue opposite outcomes, including:

  • Union security
  • 401(k)
  • Seniority’s roll in layoffs
  • The 40-hour work week
  • Sick days
  • Family emergency days

Please continue to make your views known by commenting below.

Kathy Rudolph
Sam Johnson
Maureen Shively
Michelle Miller
Tom Peterson
Laurie Faliano
Paulette Shrefler
Tony Mulligan

Newsroom Bargaining: Session Two

20 Jan

NEWSROOM GUILD AND management representatives reconvened collective bargaining this morning. We spent the session exploring ideas/potential solutions in two key areas (one from management and one from the Guild) mentioned in yesterday’s memo:

  • Flexibility in newsroom operations, including potential consolidation of print production being considered by Digital First Media
  • YourHub mentoring/training opportunities and compensation

As mentioned yesterday, because it is early in the process it’s not feasible to give complete details of the discussions. However, we are in the process of scheduling additional bargaining dates for February, and we will keep you informed to the best of our ability as talks progress.

Meanwhile, please continue to make your views known by commenting below.

Thomas McKay
Sara Burnett
Jim Ludvik
Kyle Wagner
Kieran Nicholson
Kevin Hamm
Tony Mulligan

Non-newsroom Bargaining: Session One

20 Jan

DENVER POST MANAGEMENT and representatives of the Guild non-newsroom unit met Thursday afternoon in the opening session of collective bargaining. In this first session, each side presented a big-picture explanation of the areas of the contract they want to address.

The company identified three key issues:

  • The roll of seniority in the layoff process
  • The ability to consolidate work within MediaNews, or to subcontract work
  • The 401(k) match

The union presented a list of issues and explained that a majority of the contract changes sought are restoration of items given up in the current contract including:

  • Additional sick days
  • A 40 hour workweek for all full-time employees
  • Holiday pay for part-time employees

Both sides indicated there are additional issues they would like to discuss.

We are scheduled to meet again Friday, Jan. 20.

Kathy Rudolph
Sam Johnson
Maureen Shively
Michelle Miller
Tom Peterson
Laurie Faliano
Paulette Shrefler
Tony Mulligan

Jeff Leib: A Note About Bill Briggs And His Family

19 Jan

FRIENDS OF FORMER Denver Post writer and Guild member Bill Briggs may want to visit the website andreaswayback.com to learn of the heroic effort Bill’s daughter, Andrea, is making recovering from a very serious auto accident in Denver last July.

The 20-year-old was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle. Andrea suffered multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury. Her courageous battle to recover is beautifully chronicled on the website by Bill — who always was one of The Post’s best writers — and by Andrea’s mom and Bill’s ex-wife, Lorrie, and Bill’s current wife, Nancy.

The three are Andrea’s primary caregivers today and their posts are very moving.  Team Andrea, as they’re known, also offers a way for friends, family and former colleagues to contribute to Andrea’s Way Back by funding a portion of her much-needed therapy.

If you have a chance, check out andreaswayback.com.

Thanks,
Jeff Leib

Newsroom Bargaining: Session One

19 Jan

MANAGEMENT AND NEWSROOM Guild representatives met Thursday morning in the opening session of collective bargaining. It will not be feasible to give complete details of everything we discuss during bargaining, but here is an overview of what we talked about today.

Both sides agreed to use a collaborative bargaining process. This would be similar to what we used for our current contract. It allows us to concentrate on solutions rather than intractable positions.

The company opened by identifying three key areas they would like to explore including:

  • Flexibility allowing the company to adjust newsroom operations during the contract period
  • The local pension plan and 401(k)
  • The role of seniority in the layoff process

The union presented a list of issues, including:

  • YourHub wage scales and opportunities
  • Fully unionizing the newsroom
  • Evolution of our jobs including assignments, tools, training and time

Both sides indicated there are additional issues they would like to discuss.

We are scheduled to meet again Friday morning.

Become part of the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Thomas McKay
Sara Burnett
Jim Ludvik
Kyle Wagner
Kieran Nicholson
Kevin Hamm
Tony Mulligan

Restoration Of Concessions: The Details

17 Jan

MANAGEMENT AND UNION representatives have hammered out a plan to apply the funds made available for the restoration of concessions. While the profit enjoyed by The Denver Post over the four-quarter period ending June 2011 was not enough to restore all items on the restoration lists, it does give us back most things.

The decision on which items to restore was, for the most part, made for us by the rules of restoration and by the numbers. While some employees indicated they would like to have the 401(k) match restored, all of our union contracts provide that the match is available only if all bargaining units select it. Because some units had a very low participation rate in the 401(k) match prior to concessions, it was not the first choice for most members.

That said, here is what will be done with the restoration funds:

Wages and merit pay

NEWSROOM: Wages and merit pay will be restored to pre-concession levels including the 1 percent raise not paid on March 15, 2009. Increases are effective as of Jan. 1, 2012 and will show up on paychecks Jan. 20.

NON-NEWSROOM: Wages will be restored to pre-concession levels for those in job titles eligible for restoration. Increases are effective as of Jan. 1, 2012 and will show up on paychecks Jan. 20. A few job titles are excluded from wage restoration, including Paperhandlers, Circulation Customer Service Representatives and Associates, Account Executives hired after Nov. 22, 2009, and positions created since Nov. 22, 2009.

Dental premium

In February, the share of the dental premium paid by The Post will increase from 50 percent to 64 percent.

Mileage reimbursement

NEWSROOM: Mileage reimbursement will be restored to IRS rate (55.5 cents per mile) for photographers and bureau reporters, and to 5 cents below IRS rate (50.5 cents per mile) for all others. The increase is effective January 15, 2012. The increase will show up on paychecks Feb. 3.

NON-NEWSROOM: Mileage reimbursement will be restored to IRS rate (55.5 cents per mile) for DMs and ADMs, and to 5 cents below IRS rate (50.5 cents per mile) for all others. The increase is effective Jan. 15. The increase will show up on paychecks Feb. 3.

Night differential

NEWSROOM: Night differential will increase from $2.25 to $4.00 per shift effective as of Jan. 15. The increase will show up on paychecks Feb. 3. All newsroom employees working night shifts starting this week need to be aware of this change and input the correct information in their timecards. For example, prior to this week if you worked past 7 p.m. for five days, you entered a total of $11.25 for the week. Starting this week you will enter a total of $20 for five days of night differential.

All members should be aware that bargaining for our next contracts has begun. The Teamsters started talks last week. The Guild units, both newsroom and non-newsroom, will begin this week. The Mailers will begin talks in February.

To keep up with what’s going on during bargaining, sign up to receive email updates (“Follow Us Via Email” on the sidebar).

Page: Digital First? Not So Fast

14 Jan

From News & Tech, Jan. 9, 2012:

Shakespeare suggested we kill the lawyers and let’s hope the same fate awaits the newspaper cognoscenti who see a terminal disease in every printed newspaper.

While their collective “wisdom” on print lacks any foresight, what’s more disturbing is that newspaper execs, given their reluctance to explore new distribution models, are escorting their printed editions to the graveyard – and helping to bury their businesses, too.

>snip<

People like Jeff Jarvis and John Paton – and many others pushing the digital-only future – grew up in the newsroom and if there’s one thing that’s true about a newsroom it’s this: Relying on the myopic viewpoint spawned by folks from the newsroom – from people who never sold an ad, delivered the paper in the morning’s wee hours or webbed up a press – will sooner kill a newspaper than save it.

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News Exec John Paton Is Out To Stop The Presses

14 Jan

From The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 15, 2012:

After he became chief executive of the Journal Register Co. in early 2010, John Paton made the rounds to its many newspapers in the Midwest and Northeast. The new boss told employees they would go “digital first” with a vengeance — tweeting, Facebooking, blogging and video-posting news before contributing a single keystroke toward the next day’s paper.

Hearing this pronouncement, one veteran columnist at a Michigan daily confronted Paton, telling him at a get-to-know-you dinner that his emphasis on the fast and furious online world was “ruining journalism.” Paton fired back: “I read your column. You are ruining journalism.

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