Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Council approved P-T action

The Long Beach City Council continued their unanimous support for the Press-Telegram employees, voting to approve and accept a report from City Manager Pat West detailing the financial relationship between the city and the newspaper.

The move is the latest since the council first addressed the declining circulation and local coverage of the Press-Telegram on March 4, following a proposal by Council member Tonia Reyes Uranga.

Although the support wasn't nearly as unanimous, contract negotiations between P-T employees and MediaNews came up for discussion, with members like Bonnie Lowenthal and Rae Gabelich voicing their support for the Long Beach community members who work under increasingly-difficult conditions to provide the city with the coverage it deserves.

Community members and others impacted by the decision came forward to offer their opinions. Some came out unequivocally in support of community journalism and the P-T employees. Other commenters suggested that regardless of their personal opinions on the necessity of local journalism, and no matter how important the civic responsibility of a community newspaper might be, a private business must have the right to neglect its obligations if it chooses to do so.

Speakers included Press-Telegram Executive Editor Rich Archbold, who repeated many of his earlier comments - although not as vigorously as he did March 4 - but despite his claims that fears over outsourcing are "ridiculous," he failed to note that outsourcing has continued to eat away at the newsroom, and suggestions from management hint that much more are potentially on the way if the company gets their way.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that despite Archbold's claims that the P-T "isn't going anywhere," Harry Saltzgaver, Associate Publisher of Long Beach's Gazette newspapers, recently said the opposite at a meeting of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association. According to the July 24 edition of the Signal Tribune weekly paper, Saltzgaver doesn't mince words when it comes to discussing the Press-Telegram:

“In case you didn’t know it, the PT is dead."
To be clear, this is a senior executive telling members of the Long Beach community that a fellow newspaper in the MediaNews chain, operating in the same market as his paper, doesn't have a future. His position in the MediaNews chain presumably gives Saltzgaver access to information about the company that isn't available to the public, and begs several questions: Did Saltzgaver hear something from MediaNews? If so, does Archbold have the same information? If Archbold has heard something, why hasn't he mentioned it? But if the information isn't factual, why doesn't MediaNews care that their own management team is apparently engaged in stabbing each other in the back?

Either way, Archbold says he regrets the outsourcing, and wants to increase revenues, so he "can hire more reporters." P-T reporter Joe Stevens suggested that if Archbold truly opposes outsourcing and wishes to reinvest in the newsroom, that he take that message to MediaNews.

We hope he does.


835 said...

Thank you LB City Council! At least somebody gets it.
The fact that Archbold and PT management seem so far removed from their own newsroom's frustration and concern is quite disconcerting, to say the least.
It's tough enough living paycheck-to-paycheck on subpar wages in SoCal (even after years or decades of service).
Agreeing to outsource our jobs to a "citizen journalist," blogger, intern, freelancer, etc., - with not even a hint of compensation in return - is just plain insulting!
I wonder how Rich would feel if he were in our shoes?

Anonymous said...

dear 835: thanks for your great comments. BUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTT, why are you up at 3:23 a.m.???????

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if the guild given up on us in Torrance.

835 said...

Dear anonymous: This whole scenario - not to mention the bill collectors - are giving me insomnia!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's see if there is movement in contract talks on Thursday. If not, we will witness one of two things about Rich Archbold. Either A) he is powerless within Media News to help his employees get a contract, or B) he is lying when he says he is against outsourcing. But he actually may not understand what outsourcing means.

Let's just hope Media News has some shred of a heart and that dire outsourcing language dies.

Anonymous said...

People are still undecided about Rich's place in all of this?

Let me clear this up for you: He's a lackey, plain and simple. He knows he's got little say in what happens at his paper, and all he's trying to do is save his own ass.

I don't blame him for that, but it's a shame he's got to throw us under the bus in order to do it.

If he'd shown some integrity when this all started, he could have preserved his legacy and reputation as a leading figure in Long Beach journalism. He could have gone to CSULB or LBCC in a heartbeat to teach the next generation of journalists.

Instead he told MediaNews that he would back them, no matter what happened, as long as they let him stay in his fancy office.

Once upon a time, he was a respected figure in this town. Now most the the city's political and business community thinks Rich a joke. His legacy will be riding herd while the P-T was driven into the ground.

ljphillips said...

To Anon (3:00 PM): "Just wondering if the guild given up on us in Torrance."

No, we have not given up on you — or your colleagues at other non-union LANG papers. 

We are reaching back to all who are reaching out to us but we must be patient as we wait for the rest of you to call us because well, we can't organize for you. We help you organize yourselves — just as Press-Telegram employees did more than 60 years ago and Daily News workers did almost 20 years ago.

We're prepared to do whatever it takes to help you make an informed decision and get a Guild in place at your workplace.

Next Wednesday (August 13) we'll be in Torrance to meet confidentially with people one-on-one. If you're interested, email me — ljphillips@mac.com — to arrange a time and place that will be the most convenient for you.

Anonymous said...

Rich is living in a dream world.

turk907 said...

In addition to the "declining revenues" and circulation in a freefall, now we have to deal with publishers badmouthing each other's papers? Do they want the company to fail?

MediaNews is a schizophrenic junkie determined to kill itself in a blaze of glory.

Anonymous said...

if the guild can't stop a madman in long beach, why bother here in torrance? why should we trust you with our futures in the profeswion? the teamsters know how to take the tough line without daily delays. is the guild related or linked to the no-nonsense teamsters?

Anonymous said...

if the guild can't stop a madman in long beach, why bother here in torrance? why should we trust you with our futures in the profession? the teamsters know how to take the tough line without daily delays. is the guild related or linked to the no-nonsense teamsters?

Anonymous said...

if the guild can't stop a madman in long beach, why bother here in torrance? why should we trust you with our futures in the profession? the teamsters know how to take the tough line without daily delays. is the guild related or linked to the no-nonsense teamsters?

If you think the Teamsters are a better option, then by all means give them a call. I think the Guild is a better choice, but if you support a different union then so be it. Either way, you're taking a step to protect your newsroom, and that's what matters.

Anonymous said...

here, in torrance, we're in the dark. there's been very little sign of union interest in our issues. there have been rumors that the teamsters might be interested. but is the guild ever going to do anything about p-t copy editors and designers being forced under creepy managers? just wondering, as a concerned worker.

Anonymous said...

Is there a place for us to vote to keep you and your general incompetence away from Torrence?
Unions are a shield for the weak, it puts it's backing behind those who have served the most time and not those who are the most skilled.

Anonymous said...

you don't need to put your name on your messages. the errors speak for themselves. they're your signatures. LEARN THE SPELLING OF TORRANCE!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. there's no union to shield you from a boss who isn't amused by your chronic errors.

Anonymous said...

Would signing my name get me off the email list and stop those mailers from coming to my house?
Would it keep the guild from coming here?
Would it get the other obvious writers to put out their names too?
All I know is that here, when I screw up my boss comes over and tells me what I need to fix. It isn't done in layers of paperwork, it doesn't trigger a grievance process. I simply make the fix and move on.
I like that here if I get fired or it's because of my screwups, not because some other person was here longer than me.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: If you don't want to get the emails, tell them to take your name off the list. I know it's kind of an unusual solution, but you seem like a rugged individualist who doesn't mind being a maverick.

Of course if you take yourself off the list then you won't have anything to whine about. But then again, I'll bet you keep checking out this blog no matter what happens, so I guess you'll always have something to whine about.

Fortunately that also means the rest of us will always have something to laugh about.

Welcome to the "martyrdome"!

Anonymous said...

Keep the union AWAY from the Breeze! The only ones who are interested in that nonsense are a few former P-T copy editors who are now Breeze staffers. They are outnumbered by those of us who are not interested in a weak union trying to collect money from hard-working journalists.

Anonymous said...

Look it is natural for the ones who had to re-apply for their job over at the Breeze to be angry, and the only safe choice is to blame the union for what Dean Singleton/MediaNews did to them. Dean was great to you guys and you were and ar now sill privileged to work for MediaNews, Mark ( Tony Robins ) Ficcara and Sanfield.

How long can Sanfield stick it out? and when and if he moves on, what will the Breeze do? Sandfield has his finger in the dike. But that won't last forever.

I also hear and we all know that a hand-full of the ones who left are bitter towards the union and are now and have been bad mouthing the quality of the Press-Telegram. The one they actually work for and with.
A yes few people got deserved raises, more than others, as they are being groomed for management. And we all know angry ones that love to grumble under their breath with an accent take issue with us. Not because all copy editors are all frustrated writers.

Just remember the Breeze is not the NYT.

Anonymous said...

...That made no sense at all. I'm sure your allusions refer to specific people, but knowing the players only makes that last bit all the more incomprehensible.

I'm honestly curious what you mean, so please rewrite that, or break it down for us slow types.

Craig Howie said...

Re: "Grumble under their breath with an accent".

Ah hey, Craig Howie here. I don't usually post here but I believe I was referred to in the last posting (OK I may be paranoid but nobody else has an accent...).

I'd like to ask 1) if whoever wrote this tripe actually talked to me about their accusations and 2) why they would fly out of nowhere with them on a public posting and 3) why their message makes no sense.

Thanks! Craig

Anonymous said...

Craig, I don't think they were talking about you, your always a positive force in the newsroom and wanting to make the paper better as do we all. Keep up the good fight.