Archive | December, 2012

Deal With the Devil

14 Dec

{Cleveland Plain Dealer union members ratify new agreement, by Julie Moos on Poynter.org, Dec. 11, 2012}

IN THE WAKE of owners of the Cleveland Plain Dealer announcing plans to cut 58 journalists — one-third of the newsroom — in 2013, Guild members approved a new six-year contract Dec. 11.

That contract provides for 8 percent wage increases for workers remaining after the layoffs, partially offsetting the 12 percent pay cut they agreed to in 2009.

The contract allows the company to lay off five people in 2014, but protects workers from layoffs for the rest of the contract’s term.

The Guild also agreed to let non-Guild workers be hired for the Plain Dealer’s website, cleveland.com.

In the long-run, this gives Advance greater latitude to hire less experienced journalists for less pay with different skills for its website, and then use that material in its print product. The staff cuts save money, not reduced print days, according to an analysis done by Rick Edmonds.

Harlan Spector, chairman of the Plain Dealer’s unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, said,

“A big part of that is we’ve given them some language that could, over the years, really diminish our numbers. It gives them the ability to put cheap content in the paper.”

Spector calls the new agreement “a bitter pill but it beats the alternative.” That alternative was the company’s announcement that without the new agreement, it would cut half the staff next year.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer to Slash Newsroom Staff by One-Third

5 Dec

Plain Dealer

OWNERS OF THE Cleveland Plain Dealer have announced plans to gut the newsroom staff by one-third — 58 positions from a newsroom of 168. The number of days the paper is published might be cut, too.

If that playbook sounds familiar, it should — the owner is Advance Publications, the same outfit that laid off some 600 people at the New Orleans Times Picayune and its three papers in Alabama, and ended daily publication.

[After Advance announced that plan, Digital First CEO John Paton wrote “In Defense of the Times-Picayune.”]

Staff at the Plain Dealer knew cuts were coming and started a “Save the Plain Dealer” campaign | Facebook page. There also is an online petition at change.org.

In a post on the Facebook page, organizers of the campaign say:

Friends and supporters, we wanted to let you know that The Plain Dealer has told the Guild it plans to reduce the number of Guild members in the newsroom to 110 next year. Guild members are the heart of the paper. They report, photograph, copyedit, design, draw, create graphics, archive information, edit and so much more. The reductions, which represent about 1/3 of our membership, would be devastating to the news-gathering operation.

One a Day Keeps Ignorance at Bay

Christine Haughney wrote a good piece about the Plain Dealer’s situation in the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog, including this hoppy tidbit:

Among the more lively efforts to stave off a reduction in the print schedule is a “Save The Plain Dealer” party planned for Thursday night at the Market Garden Brewery and Distillery. The brewery is releasing a new beer, 7-Day Lager, which it says is “best when enjoyed daily, because one a day keeps ignorance at bay.”