Guild Statement On Newsroom Layoffs

30 Apr

WE AT THE DENVER NEWSPAPER GUILD consider ourselves partners with Denver Post management in the effort to position the newsroom and the company to thrive in the new media environment. However, we disagree in the strongest possible terms with the company’s decision to lay off two-thirds of the paper’s copy editors. We feel it is a shortsighted cost-cutting measure that will irreparably damage The Denver Post.

A news organization serves a vital public role and must be viewed through a more complex lens than one that reduces the operation to just a bottom-line figure. For generations, professional editors represented by the Guild have helped make The Denver Post a trusted news source. This decision by the company could very well erode that hard-earned trust.

The media landscape continues to shift as new technologies demand new business strategies, but one thing must remain constant during this transition period: credibility. We understand the company needs flexibility to make decisions quickly, and we have afforded the company that flexibility with a labor agreement that allows the company to change newsroom operations and reduce the workforce. However, the Guild has serious doubts that the decision by management to slash the ranks of copy editors will result in a more efficient newsgathering process. Instead, we believe it will result in a loss of credibility as more mistakes and errors appear in print and online.

The Denver Post’s reputation is at stake.

The Guild will continue to advocate on behalf of not only Denver Post staff, but Denver Post readers.

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

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16 Responses to “Guild Statement On Newsroom Layoffs”

  1. Andy Rogers May 3, 2012 at 1:14 PM #

    What a tragedy. Once again, a group of money people think they can save an industry by making it worse. True, today’s reporters are more well trained and smarter than when I began in newspapers 40-plus years ago, but, as Allison pointed out, they are being called upon to do more, often outside their areas of expertise. Everyone, no matter how smart, makes mistakes, that’s why newspapers have a last line of defense called copy editors. And a good copy editor does much more than any computer’s spell- or grammar-checking program. They find holes in stories and fix them. These layoffs are a short-sighted response to a serious problem, but you won’t solve the problem by decreasing the value of the product. Eventually readers will realize the newspaper’s credibility has slipped and will find other outlets to get their information. What a tragedy.

    • Ron May 3, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

      And what are those “outlets” going to be, Andy? I agree, it’s awful what’s happening. But unless some other place wants to fully fund hundreds of reporters and editors to build a legitimate news organization, people aren’t going to go there to “gain their information.”

  2. Vic R. May 2, 2012 at 10:13 AM #

    What a way to go: Get rid of quality control. If these decision-makers were running an airline, nobody would dare fly.

    • Ron May 3, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

      And by the way: the Denver Post still puts out a damn good product, and I get tired of always having to get dumped on, essentially, for allegedly not doing so. Why doesn’t somebody do a poll on what journalists think of the stupid-ass public who are too busy watching American Idol? If people don’t want a daily newspaper, screw ’em, they’ll get what they deserve – which is a community full of crooked politicians and big corporations ripping them off day and night, with no fourth estate to check on things. It’s not our fault what’s happened – it’s a stupid industry that gave away its product for free, and an even stupider public that doesn’t give a damn except who’s in the semis on AI.

  3. Joe Hudson May 1, 2012 at 5:49 PM #

    It is sad to see the quest for accuracy and credibility kicked to the curb like this. It’s a harrowing time in so many ways. I am hurting for my friends at the Post.

    • Tom McGhee May 2, 2012 at 10:47 AM #

      An evening call from a copy editor saved my copy from an error, or clarified something I had written, more than once. People who read the paper, or the web version, expect to find stories that have a professional sheen. I doubt they will consistantly find that when the professionals who have done so much to protect our reputation are gone. To think that they can be eliminated without hurting the Post’s brand is short sighted and unrealistic.

  4. Ray Dangel May 1, 2012 at 5:27 PM #

    The decision of Denver Post managers to butcher the traditional copy desk sickens me. For 26 years I was a copy editor and makeup editor for my beloved Post. Trust me, this move will degrade the paper’s already fading quality as far as credible news. I find words obviously left out or misspelled, including names spelled wrong — the cardinal sin of every reporter. Every writer believes his or her story is perfect; every writer is wrong in that belief. Even I must hand my wife an important piece of writing before I can trust myself to send it along to its recipient. Our brains are designed to see what they expect to see, and so it’s easy for them to transpose a misspelling or insert an omitted word. Managers are a dime a dozen. Good copy editors are the heart of any publication. Readers will notice the drop in quality that surely will occur when reporters are forced to be editors and vice versa. Did these managers who made this decision ever take even one class in journalism, or are they bean counters? My vote is for the latter. I give the Denver Post print edition two years before it slides into the black hole its managers have created. It would have been wiser, in my opinion, to have filed for bankruptcy, reorganized and emerged lighter and tighter but with a viable team of professionals ready to continue publishing one of the nation’s best newspapers. The spirits of Red Fenwick, Monk Tyson, Bob Huber, Billy Myers and other long-gone famous Posters will be rolling in their graves at the fate of the great paper they created for Miss Helen Bonfils, who called them “my boys.”

  5. Irv Moss May 1, 2012 at 3:17 PM #

    I have been a member of the sports department for a long time. During most of that time, The Post has been the No. 1 news source in the area. I’m disappointed to point out that twice in the last couple of months I’ve been told by fans that they had stopped the paper because it no longer was the quality of even a couple of years ago. During the newspaper war, the battle was to put out the best paper. When the News folded, the idea presented was that The Post would continue to strive for quality. Now we can’t deliver a paper with the Colorado Rockies game from the night before to all of our subscribers.

    We continue to hear nothing but fall back positions as the means to handle the presnet financial down turn — diminishing staff, early deadlines. I would like to see a couple of proactive measures presented that indicates an aggressive, imaginative management that knows the area and not so ready to follow bad ideas over a cliff. The staff that remains won the newspaper war before they were even here.

  6. Allison Sherry May 1, 2012 at 2:42 PM #

    The copy editors save us on a daily basis. Their late-night jobs are hard and, for the most part, thankless. With all us reporters are being asked to do — from blogging to Tweeting to reporting print stories to sizing photos for online, some of us are even doing video — we cannot possibly replace them, their eyes and their talents. This is a time when our “content farm” needs all hands on deck to make the paper, the website and the overall product shine. So change their jobs, change their hours, train them to do more acute, real-time editing for our blogs and our videos. But don’t cut them out. It’s not a time to pare out the very people who pull everything together.

    • Colleen O'Connor May 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM #

      Allison, you pretty much nailed it. Very good analysis.

  7. Colleen O'Connor May 1, 2012 at 10:33 AM #

    I echo Baca: well said all. As Booth said, Let’s not pretend those values won’t be eroded by this move. In this media environment, accuracy is all.

  8. Ann Schrader May 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM #

    The Post’s credibility is at stake with the dismissal of 2/3 of our copy editors. No matter what kind of dress executives put on this pig, at the end of the day all there is left is a pig in a dress. As for having a plan, as Mr. Moss maintained, let’s hope it isn’t like the one that has cut carrier compensation six times in three years, increased their workload with much bigger routes and then resulted in them not being paid this past weekend since the company had laid off the people who handled their pay.

  9. byclairemartin May 1, 2012 at 8:19 AM #

    Amen, Mike.
    Thank you to every copy editor who asked questions that made a story better, more insightful, more accurate, more broad-minded. We need you far more than we need another layer of white guys in bespoke suits.

  10. Michael Booth May 1, 2012 at 7:02 AM #

    We would be losing a vital layer of journalism and a dedicated and talented group of journalists. What distinguishes us is accuracy and fairness. Let’s not pretend those values won’t be eroded by this move. I hope The Post will realize how ridiculous and self-defeating it is to add so many vice presidents while subtracting so many actual journalists.

  11. Ricardo Baca April 30, 2012 at 11:22 PM #

    Well said. And thank you. — Ricardo Baca

    • Lori Smith May 1, 2012 at 10:38 AM #

      If they continue to devalue the brand, why would anybody go to Denver Post Online? Why not just go to 9News? After all, at least they have TV cameras? Thanks for fighting the good fight! We were the copy editors and reporters who made The Denver Post No. 1 again vs. the Rocky!

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