Sunday, December 16, 2007

Determined.

Local multimedia reporter, author, and blogger David LaFontaine says he's rooting for us. He thinks our posts "have an edge of hysteria and desperation about them." He writes: "Since most of my case studies have been about newspapers where things are going right, where they've decided to innovate and take bold action to try to reverse the course, I haven't come into contact much with the miserable side of newspapering. This blog certainly brings it all home, thought [sic]."

We are neither hysterical nor desperate. We're determined.

We are hard-working and innovative newspaper and online workers, united in our determination to achieve a fair and equitable contract. We're taking "bold action to reverse" the race to the bottom.

The "miserable side of newspapering" is working for a company that is concerned, committed and hard at work on maximizing its bottom line to increase its profits rather than investing in good journalism and service to the community. That makes us angry.

But that's not all: The fact is that we want MediaNews to come to the bargaining table with realistic proposals that will not just be good for Denver-based owner MediaNews Group, but good for us and our communities too. After all, we do the work, right? We passionately believe in what we do, but we need to earn a living.

So thanks for your support, David. And by the way, our colleagues at The New York Times (newspaper and online) are represented by The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC.

Just like us.

2 comments:

DaveLaFontaine said...

Right back atcha, folks. I wish I could give you something a bit more tangible than ethereal Southern Cal "positive vibes" - like most journalists, I have a real soft spot for the underdog.

This caught my attention:

working for a company that is concerned, committed and hard at work on maximizing its bottom line to increase its profits rather than investing in good journalism and service to the community. That makes us angry.

Well, yeah.

The problem is (and believe me, I've tried to advance this argument) that businesses care about the line at the bottom. You can try to argue that a fair & independent press is essential to the health and wellbeing of American society, and that long-term, the profits of a company in a healthy society (e.g., Switzerland, Norway) are far higher than those of a company trapped in a deteriorating society (Afghanistan, Sierra Leone). Which is true, as far as that goes, but will mean less than nothing to someone whose whole existence is predicated upon how big the number is at the bottom right corner of the Excel spreadsheet every three months.

Your job is to report the news and serve your community(ies). Their jobs is to make money. These didn't used to be so incompatible. I hope you can find some common ground.

- One S-T contributor said...

Thanks for the vibes and the comment, David!

but will mean less than nothing to someone whose whole existence is predicated upon how big the number is at the bottom right corner of the Excel spreadsheet every three months.

Agreed.

On paper, clustering is a good idea. But the extent to which MNG cuts corners actually hurts the very revenue model it upholds. Freezing, eliminating positions, slashing healthcare, all this stuff make the ledgers look good for one quarter. But in the long-term, as the "shared resources" shrink and with it the quality of basic service the newspaper(s) offers, MNG's cost-cutting solutions create bigger problems.

Someone from advertising recently shared that it's been tough selling in one city within our coverage area (that isn't Long Beach) because the paper's lost its presence there (i.e. no beat reporter has been assigned to that area in awhile) and another paper's swooped in to be that community's paper. That means there all these pockets of communities left open and with them the advertising dollars for which MNG hungers. That's the kind of vulnerability smart business-planning would not suffer to happen.

It all loops back to our efforts here not to let MNG short-change the very people who work hard for their company. Keep your fingers crossed for us.