Thursday, January 8, 2009

Body Count* **

We're saddened to report that the company's latest round of Press-Telegram layoffs have eliminated Joe Dickson, Scott Smeltzer, and Brenda Duran.

Joe Dickson was a longtime LANG employee. As an online content producer, he worked at several different LANG papers over the years. I personally worked with Joe during my time at the P-T, and I know just how talented, dedicated, and hardworking he is. With Joe, the company had a skill set much deeper than his paycheck implied, and they won't be able to replace him at even twice the cost. Sacrificing his contribution to the newspaper was a monumentally foolish decision.

Scott Smeltzer worked for the P-T since 2007. An award winning photographer, Smeltzer is also the sole breadwinner for his wife and infant child, and although we're certain a photographer of his caliber will have no trouble meeting this challenge, the news is clearly tragic. Our hearts go out to his family.

Photographer Steve Carr shared the following:

Scott was just a great guy, and an amazing photographer. He's somebody who always upbeat. He'll be greatly missed. It seems like the photo dept is always getting hit, and this makes us feel like an even bigger target. Scott will be a great asset wherever he ends up."
Brenda Duran was a recent addition to the Press-Telegram, but made friends and earned the respect of her colleagues quickly.

Reporter Kelly Puente emailed this:
Brenda Duran was the last hire at the P-T. She worked at the P-T for about six months before she was laid off today. A USC grad, she's worked at US Weekly and the North County Times. She was the night reporter and assigned the cities of Norwalk and Downey. She was doing a kickass job and we'll miss her.
Duran's layoff shows just how tightly-knit the Press-Telegram is. No matter who they are or how long they've been with the company, every loss is felt. There are no expendable employees. Especially today. We wish Brenda nothing but the best.

A staff meeting has been announced for the remaining P-T employees today at 3:30, presumably to explain the company's action.

As reported earlier by Gary Scott, Guild-covered colleagues at the Daily News were also laid off today.

Tyrone Harris, editorial assistant
Gregg Miller, graphics
Patrick O'Connor, editorial cartoonist
Steve Dilbeck, sports columnist
Jammie Salugabang, features copy editor/online
Stewart Slavin, copy/slot editor
Simone Trimm, editorial assistant in features

Additionally, Roger Vargo, non-union photo/pre-press staffer was let go.

Today marks the latest tragic round of temporary cost-cutting, and saddest of all, few (if any) believe that decimating the newsroom will have any lasting benefit for the company. Indeed, many fear that further attacking the content will only drive more readers away, and precipitate further layoffs.

* Our colleagues in Torrance report that Miguel Lopez is among the laid off employees at the Breeze. A former P-T staffer and constant friend to many, we know the staff at both the Breeze and in Long Beach will miss him. Other known Torrance layoffs are photographer Bruce Hazelton, Andrea Hayashi, admin asst. for the feature dept., and Linda Mancini from advertising.

** Here's some info from today's staff meeting:

12 total were cut from the Press-Telegram, and approximately 15 from the Daily Breeze. In addition, the pending San Gabe consolidation is expected to cull another 12 from the Breeze and Daily News.

As a result of the layoffs, staff in Long Beach is small enough that the operations will be consolidated onto the 14th floor (the company used three floors as little as two years ago).

In the meeting, a staffer asked Rich Archbold if the company has a plan for the future, and where the company is headed. We're told he had no answer to either question.

Morale is understandably low.

A redesign for all of LANG is in the works, and plans are to unveil the new look in a few weeks.

A farewell gathering for our colleagues has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at the Daily Grill across the street. Stop by and buy the guys a drink, or just wish them well. We hope to see you there.


Anonymous said...

Any names from the Breeze yet?

Len Cutler said...

Not yet, but we're looking. If anyone has details, please pass them along.

Anonymous said...

So far I had heard of one of the ad people, Linda Mancini.
I also heard a photog was let go, but I do not know who.

Anonymous said...

In Editorial: Bruze Hazelton, photographer and Andrea Hayashi admin. asst. in Features dept.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's BRUCE Hazelton. I think he's been at the Breeze for about 30 years. Andrea, at least 15 years.

Len Cutler said...

Thanks for the information

Bill Orton said...

This is all just utterly heartbreaking. I am so sorry to hear. -- As a side note, the CWA "Democracy Depends on Journalism" sticker I have on my vehicle marks the only time I have EVER put a bumper sticker on my car. As a result of it, three journalists (LA Times, NBC and a local paper) have walked up to me and we've had long conversations about the brutal state of journalism today.

Len Cutler said...

This is all just utterly heartbreaking. I am so sorry to hear. -- As a side note, the CWA "Democracy Depends on Journalism" sticker I have on my vehicle marks the only time I have EVER put a bumper sticker on my car. As a result of it, three journalists (LA Times, NBC and a local paper) have walked up to me and we've had long conversations about the brutal state of journalism today.

Thanks for the comment Bill, and you're absolutely right. The true fallout from this dismantling of American journalism has yet to be felt by the general population, but the results are going to be truly ugly.

Kris Hanson said...

Bill, how ya doing? Regarding PT layoffs, we were told today that staffing decisions are being made on a month-to-month and even week-by-week basis, and more cuts are anticipated across LANG in the near future. Which depts will be affected are uncertain, but it will almost surely involve some editorial (not including the Breeze's 12 planned copy editing layoffs) and management (that, I'm told, is VERY likely). It was a heartbreaking afternoon, and there's more pain coming. I'd advise those of us left in LANG to start seriously socking away cash. Rainy days are just around the bend.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the time for the group gathering at the Daily Grill? I'd like to be there if I can.

Len Cutler said...

I've been hearing three or four o'clock. If I get a definite time I'll post it.

Kris H said...

A note of clarification: the 12 layoffs planned on the copy-editing/design desk are supposed to come from both the Breeze and Daily News. How big a hit each desk takes is unclear.

Anonymous said...

Do we know who else was axed at the Breeze?

Anonymous said...

Besides Bruce Hazelton and Andrea Hayashi, 2 guys from sports, John Klima and Miguel Lopez.

Joseph Dickson said...

Hey bill i just remembered I have that same bumper sticker on my car.

I'm really sorry to hear about Brenda and Scott. I didn't know who else left until i started looking at the various blogs.

I'll catch whomever is around when i stop by the grill tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for being the best group of coworkers i've worked with. I'm not just saying that.

Stephen Carr said...

Brenda Eakins Thank-you for you enthusiasm and passion for Journalism. And your appreciation for the LBPD PIO's work ethic.

Joe,- Thank-you for you positive outlook and passion for the internets. With a smile, you made chicken soup out of chicken shit.

Scott- Thank-you for your caring devotion to your craft and co-workers.

The photographers at the paper are like the red shirt guys on Star Trek that accompany Captain Kirk when he investigate new planets.

Good luck to all.

Anonymous said...

The Daily News' Jammie Salagubang was a former Press-Telegram copy editor who worked in Long Beach in 2005 and 2006.

Len Cutler said...

The Daily News' Jammie Salagubang was a former Press-Telegram copy editor who worked in Long Beach in 2005 and 2006.

Thanks for pointing that out. I know she still has friends in the office, and those of us that worked with her at the PT have fond memories of the good old days.

Anonymous said...

jammie salagubang is a class act. major loss for the DN. another example of just a stupid decision made.

Kevin Butler said...

These are big losses for us. Joe, Brenda and Scott: You will be badly missed. True professionals, great people.

Anonymous said...

Even little Nero is having trouble glossing this one over. It took a MediaNews bitchslap to get Futch off their coattails, maybe this is what it will take to get Rich to finally face facts and acknowledge what he's allowed to happen.

As a newspaperman, he should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Re: Kris' post about the 12 layoffs planned on the copy-editing/design desk coming from both the Breeze and Daily News:
Actually, what we PT/Breeze deskers were told was possibly 10 layoffs coming from the full consolidation of the copy desks - meaning 10 layoffs from about 88 deskers from all 9 LANG papers combined. Of course that doesn't take into account that some people may quit rather than drive all the way to the Trib.

Anonymous said...

The word on inland blogs is they were told by management there's a 20% reduction target in copy/design staff in the Trib. transition. It'll probably be higher if they think they can manage with less staff.

Nicole said...

As a former P-T intern who worked with Joe, it's disheartening to hear this. He's probably the most knowledgeable person I've ever worked with; this is a huge loss for the paper. :(

Anonymous said...

Doug Krikorian, who never comes in the building, was twice in Rich's office twice this week.

Anonymous said...

Doug will never be be let go of. He has more seniority than any one over there except Segura.

Anonymous said...

Grobaty has more PT seniority than Doug.

Anonymous said...

You can add theater critic Jim Farber to the long list of those booted out of the daily breeze. it happened monday, jan. 12. brings DB editorial total to 5 since thursday, about 15 total if you factor in classified, business and preproduction from throughout the building.

Anonymous said...

at one time, i was very fired up and excited to be a part of this union. But now i have lost the energy. i'm disappointed. i have seen all of these talented people shown the door and nothing being done about it. i am now convinced the union is unable to really do anything. not a strong union. that makes me sad.

it's just a bloodbath.

charlesdowney said...

A Reduction in Force (RIF) may occur when there are budget constraints, a shortage of work, changing priorities, or a need to abolish SPA positions. A RIF can also occur when a position changes so significantly that an employee is no longer able to perform the required duties. A RIF decision requires an evaluation of the need for specific SPA positions as they contribute to the department’s mission, goals, and provision of services.
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