Monday, February 25, 2008

Local bosses powerless against cost-cutting corporate agenda

2/22/08 By Josh Richman, Media Workers Guild 
The end is nigh, the sky is falling ... Um, no. Certainly this week’s news of buyout offers and impending layoffs has put us all in a grim state of mind, and rightly so: We’re journalism professionals who take our work and our careers very seriously, and the thought of giving it away for up to half a year’s pay (or having it taken away for half that) doesn’t sit well with anyone.

But we have to see the bigger picture here.

Times are tough all around, but that argument pales when delivered by a company with such a long history of cutting, rather than investing and improving, to fix its bottom line. Consider this: Hearst Corp. let the Chronicle lose money for years as it tried to find a new, vibrant multimedia voice (though admittedly, it's in dire straits now, too). The BANG-EB properties have always been profitable but for one month, and now MediaNews corporate management is demanding a blood sacrifice.

It's a difference in philosophy — MediaNews’ top priority always has been and always will be about dollars and cents.

And if this week's events make anything clear, it's that local management – namely John Armstrong and Kevin Keane – cannot protect us from MediaNews’ demands. We have no doubt they're not happy about this, and we respect that, but their unhappiness doesn't save our jobs.

Having a voice, a seat at the table, as this company and our industry decide what they will be for the years and decades to come can save jobs and preserve the journalistic quality for which we all strive. Now more than ever, we should be trying to insinuate ourselves into the dialogue rather than just sitting here with no choice but to take it as the company dishes it out. The company would have you believe your individual voices are stronger, but why not retain your own voice while adding yours to a unified, union voice the company is legally required to hear?

No comments: