Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fill in the blank: What a(n) ______ week for the P-T

If your answer is 'busy,' 'unsettling, 'annoying,' or 'depressing,' read on:

- After suffering a mini-stroke two weeks ago and announcing his semi-retirement, P-T columnist Tom Hennessy got his send-off, an event attended by current and past staffers, upper management types, and Mayor Bob Foster - who ribbed a reporter for not using his quotes in Sunday's Hennessy farewell centerpiece (although his quote ran on A3), and for the 'Mr. Long Beach' title bequeathed to the celebrant.

Some people stayed for the memories, others dallied long enough to nosh on catering provided by Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse. According to staffers who stuck around to the end, Hennessy reportedly said, "I don't know how you do what you do, given what you have to work with."

The reference to the P-T's contentious negotiations - and fall-out should MNG interests prevail - cropped up again when...

- Much to the chagrin of upper management types, The District ran a not-so-misty piece on what Hennessy's departure means to a local daily losing its local readers.

Hennessy's near-nonexistent solidarity with staffers is skewered in Dave Wielenga's own recollections. Alhough it's debatable whether it's hitting below the belt to knock a guy who just had a stroke, Wielenga drives home what many of us already know, namely that it's not only Hennessy's loss that readers ought to be saddened by, but also what his absence signals. Playing out in the backdrop of his departure are Denver-appointed leadership changes and contract negotiations that more or less punish local employees. Slashed healthcare, a "generous" offering of zero-percent raises, the ability to freeze and fire employees, and job outsourcing.

We get the message, all right (that we can't afford to get sick, let alone barely stay healthy, and a willingness to work under these conditions isn't enough). But it sends a message to readers and advertisers, too: that this paper may not their wisest investment.

- Thursday's big surprise wasn't the cost-cutting move of nixing this year's company Christmas party (though the company did put in for coffee and salad at an employee-organized potluck), but word of the abrupt resignation of P-T advertising director Francesca Lewis.

Lewis was formerly Modesto Bee's vice president of advertising, considered such a coup that P-T upper management felt her arrival warranted an article its Business Section. Her resignation after less than three months at the P-T was widely talked about by Friday, and with it the obligatory speculation that accompanies such office news.

A staffer from the advertising department summed it up with, "Means more work for someone. Merry Christmas!"

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