Friday, February 29, 2008

Whacked by MediaNews ax

Twenty-three unionized staffers have been directly affected by the so-called "reduction in force" as Denver-based MediaNews continues its dismantling of our once-great hometown newspaper.

The company will eliminate the design department and all copy desk positions, moving the work to the non-union Torrance Daily Breeze, effective next week. Twenty-one designers and copy editors were "invited" to apply today for twelve available positions at The Breeze. Interviews will be conducted over the weekend. Nine of us will face lay off by the end of next week.

"I'll fill out the transfer request. I've got nothing to lose," said one stunned copy editor. "But at my age, I need to keep my health insurance. And I sure won't be happy about losing my union representation if they hire me, but if nothing happens and I end up being laid off, I get to remain a union member and strong supporter to the very end."

We lost a photographer yesterday and a web editor today. We will also loose two valued reporters who have recently given resignation notice and we've learned their positions will not be filled. We will miss them all and wish them well.

Only two managers will exit: publisher Dave Kuta and John Futch, managing editor.

Cuts to the unionized staff may total eleven when all the bloodletting is finally over. We were a bare-bones staff yesterday so the cuts strike deeply today. In fact, they seem life-threatening to us and to our Press-Telegram at the moment.

But when the ax stops swinging, those of us still here are committed to moving forward and doing what we do best — good journalism. We hope to work with — not just for — our employer, to preserve the Press-Telegram as a valued source of information for our city and the surrounding communities.

But tonight, we mourn for ourselves and our colleagues here and at the Daily News. This is a sad time for all of us.

(In photo from left to right: Out-going P-T publisher Dave Kuta, LANG VP Labor Relations' Jim Janiga, out-going managing editor John Futch, P-T executive editor Rich Archbold, P-T staffer and Daily Breeze editor, Phillip Sanfield.)

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

It really is a sad day at the P-T. News of the bloodletting reached several community sources by the late afternoon, and judging from what I overheard in staffers' phone conversations, there was concern from their end about the fate of this newspaper and how it's affecting the beat reporters with whom they are in contact with.

To MediaNews and Dean Singleton, these people are just numbers and dollar signs. To us who are in the newsroom they are friends and colleagues who worked their hardest. This is one hell of a way to reward employees who've stuck around despite the slow erosion of P-T - they are hard workers, passionate. To lose them is to lose the institutional history that made their voice so important in covering Long Beach and the outlying cities. That's something outsourcing and any amount of "restructuring" can't replace.

- Among the lucky ones

Anonymous said...

For all the changes the P-T has seen over the years since KR sold the paper to Lean Dean, there's been one constant -- Rich Archbold. How his this guy been able to keep his job this long is beyond me. He's more to blame for the state of the newsroom as any of the many publisher over the last decade. Any real journalist would have stepped up for his staff or quit in frustration. Losing a great journalist like Futch is a shame when a sham of a journalist like Archbold still pulls a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

How can a executive editor who is 69 years old let a 62 year old executive news editor get canned before him?

Anonymous said...

Archbold's legacy will be that he oversaw the steady demise of the P-T since it was sold to Singleton. What a sad day, but one that has been easy to forecast since 1997. I was fortunate enough to leave in 2000 after 32 1/2 years at Sixth and Pine. I hope the best for those who have lost their jobs.

Anonymous said...

That's why Arch (not so) Bold called Friday "a bittersweet day." He got to keep his job.

Long Beach and the Daily Breeze seem to have had a power struggle, and LB lost, decisively. I wonder how hard Rich Archcapitulate fought for things and people besides his own hide.

And what of the 9400guild, which showed no indication here that it saw this coming? Singleton once again has shown his skills in Union Busting 101.

A profoundly sad week for the media industry in Southern California.

Current P-T staffer said...

It is a sad day at the P-T. We are losing lots of talented people. Again. Of course Singleton doesn't care, he only cares about the money. He doesn't have to take the calls from readers frustrated that we have changed the paper *again*. That we've moved things around *again*. They want the local coverage we are not giving them because we have been stripped to the bone. I feel for them. And I feel for the staff today, too.

To the second anonymous comment, you obviously don't work closely with Rich Archbold. I agree that John Futch is a great journalist, I admire his talents. He's a quiet leader. Wonderful headline writer. He thinks about each paper as a whole. But Rich is also a great newsman. He cares about the readers and makes us ask tough questions in our stories. They are both passionate about what they do, and the coverage in the P-T. They go about it in different ways, to be sure, but both are very valuable to the paper. An outsider might not understand that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2, I am in complete agreement about Futch. As for Archbold, it'd be great if he did stick up for his people but the guy doesn't carry the necessary weight against LANG or Denver. He's middle management in the LANG heirarchy. That makes the rest of us below him "dispensable."

Like him or not, he is one the remaining editors local to Long Beach's paper.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Rich Archbold.

He has as much chance of making a sound journalistic decison, or of standing up for his people, as he does of dunking a basketball.

de-press-ted said...

I lost a lot of good friends this weekend, and every one of them gave this paper their best work.

Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous #2 here. I did work for Rich and others at the PT some years ago. I came to respect the likes for Joe Seguera, Futch, Jim Robinson and MANY others who really seemed to care what the paper was all about. I never got the feeling that Rich gave a damn. Just surviving this long means one thing: He doesn't make waves. That's great and all for keeping yourself employed, but in J-school I remember learning about something like contributing to society. I'll leave this up to you: What has Archbold contributed in the last decade?

Anonymous said...

Archbold has hardly been fair in his dealings with employees past, and I preseume present. It's easy to forget how those he deemed 'most valuable' (columnists, certain reporters and photographers) didn't absorb any pay cuts after the sale in 1997, while the rest of us were hit with 21 to 23 percent cutbacks. From a morale standpoint, he could have done a lot more. How high up the food chain you were reflected your standing with Archbold. I changed jobs when I was 58, felt fortunate to leave, yet a tremendous sadness at walking away from a building and work force that was part of my life for 30 plus years. It was a pleasure to work there. Archbold is a survivor, no more, no less. But to say he is a great newspaperman....PLEASE!!!!

Anonymous said...

As much as I'd like to feel bad about getting shafted, I just can't make myself wish I was still aboard that sinking ship.

And no, Archibold is neither a journalist or a leader. 40 years ago he might have been capable enough, but a Singleton paper demands someone willing to do more than just sit in his office and reminisce about the old days while the company comes crashing down around his ears.

Go get your fiddle Rich, Rome is still burning.

Ronald said...

I doubt many readers will miss the Press Telegram staff who are reaping the reward of their efforts.

Over the years increasingly leftist views have been woven into the stories they write. (pro tax increases, anti smoker bigotry, "diversity" apologism at the expense of public safety and order)

Perhaps when the paper is run by the Torrance staff, the paper will once again report the news, rather than furthering the political agenda of the previous Press Telegram staff.

Ronald

Oxnard St. said...

I'm so sorry to hear the awful news. I know you guys love the PT and put in long, hard years of work. My heart and condolences go out to everyone who's been affected by the terribly cuts. Good luck to those who are moving on and to those who are left to cope with MediaNews' mismanagement.

Oxnard St. said...

(oh yeah, since that doesn't post my name, that last post comes from Brent Hopkins, ex-steward and proud fellow union member)

former PT employee said...

Though it truly is a sad day at the PT, let's not fail to remember that these kinds of cuts have been going on at the PT for about a year now. This is just the latest in the gutting of a once great paper. Through the past year, they lost their entire Ad production staff, page layout, Imaging, and Credit departments. It seems that MNG aims to make the PT a satellite office much like the Whittier Daily News or Pasadena Star. Though these two papers carry on, they are not stand-alone locations. Much of their operations are done at San Gabe. The PT may survive, but it will not be what it once was to me; a building full of dedicated newspaper people. Good luck to all who remain.

Anonymous said...

Ronald,
As a current staff member on the PT Death Star, I take great offence at your crappy comment. I get paid very little for what I do, and that's cover the news and tell the stories that are out there in the most objective and professional way possible. I don't give a flaming shite if the person I am covering is liberal or conservative, I do my best to tell both sides of the story. If you want stories that exclusively give the conservative slant, go to Fox News. Bill O'Reilly is waiting. And in the meantime, you can kiss my allegedly commie ass!!

Anonymous said...

Brent:

Great to hear from you. Thank you for your words of support.

Ronald:

It's easy to subscribe to extremist stereotypes, and you've the right to think and feel whatever you may about the P-T. But do you really think that the Breeze would be able to invest the time and actual bodies to cover Long Beach (and the other cities the P-T covers) when it's also experiencing layoffs?

photero said...

It's a sad day in Southern California. I have admired your photo staff since my days as a photojournalism student at Long Beach State. Your staff inspired me and was the standard bearer for what great photojournalism was suppose to be. I see our industry becoming a business where the bottom line is profit instead of seeking the truth. I hope you continue to fight on and are able to be a voice in your community!

Anonymous said...

I worked at the P.T. on two different occasions covering nearly a 10 year time frame. Although I was not in the newsroom, I had a lot of dealings with Rich Archbold, meeting with him several times a week and I found him to be a good newspaperman and a quite competent Executive Editor. I've worked with Executive Editors at four other newspapers and Rich was the best. He cares about the newspaper and he cares about the employees but he is only one person. You need to quit blaming Rich for all the problems of the newspaper business. It isn't his fault. Of course he wants to survive, don't you? It's better to have a Rich Archbold at the helm to do what he can for his folks than a stranger whom Dean would bring in to do the hatchet work if Rich wasn't there. I'm sure it wasn't Rich's idea to reduce his staff. As the head of the department, Rich must implement the changes he is ordered to implement. I loved the newspaper business and I felt very lucky to have been able to work with the good folks at the P.T. But you must also realize that Dean Singleton is doing what he has to do to keep the place in business. I didn't like the cuts he made when I was there any more than you like the ones he had to make this time. I guess it's easy to blame one person for your problems but it's not that easy. Newspapers are folding all over the country and this trend will continue. You can't expect an owner to keep pouring money into a losing business without attempting to do something about it. You need to face the facts that the newspaper industry is no longer the great place to work it used to be and if you don't like it you should leave and find some other line of work. I reluctantly did that after many years in the newspaper business and I now have a successful career in a growing industry. You can do the same. It just takes the nerve to leave the business. There are so many talented people at the P.T. and many businesses would be damn lucky to get them. An old friend of mind used to say "Nothing to it but to do it". So go do it. There is life after newspapers and life after Dean Singleton.