Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sentinel management comes clean?

There's nothing like being called out by a leading trade magazine's website, or at least apparently there's nothing quite like that to the Orlando Sentinel management. Just one article in Editor & Publisher (that heavyily cited blogs "leaking" what shouldn't have needed to be leaked) and they seem to have change their tune.

In less than 24 hours the revised statements below were issued to Editor & Publisher :
an update from Editor and Publisher:'

Orlando Sentinel' Publisher Acknowledges Newsroom Cuts
By Joe Strupp
Published: July 18, 2008 1:00 PM ET

NEW YORK Orlando Sentinel Publisher Howard Greenberg acknowledged that the newspaper is cutting 20% of the newsroom, contradicting a newspaper spokesperson's earlier comment that no cuts were planned.

"We have announced a reduction in force to our newsroom staff in Orlando," Greenberg told E&P Friday. Employees, he added, "have been told about the reduction in force."

Greenberg's comments followed E&P's report Thursday that 20% of the 250-plus newsroom would lose jobs by the end of July, with about 20 being informed this week of the cuts. The reduction includes both layoffs and voluntary departures and a severance package of two weeks' pay for each year of service.

On Thursday, Editor Charlotte Hall declined to comment about the cuts, refering calls to Lisa Jacobsen, a human resources and marketing spokesperson. She told E&P that no cuts were planned "at this time."

Greenberg said that there was a miscommunication and that E&P should have been told that no cuts beyond the 20% in the newsroom were planned. He said the staff had been told about the cutbacks, but not each individual.

"We are in the middle of the process," said Greenberg, who is also publisher of the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He added that not all employees who are being terminated have been notified. "What Lisa should have said is that we have no further reductions planned beyond that."

Numerous staffers had objected to the paper's lack of public disclosure about the cuts.

Asked why the Sentinel, a Tribune Co. paper, had not publicly revealed the job cut plans to readers prior to making them, as most papers do, Greenberg said: "We chose to do it the way we did. Unfortunately, there was a mistake."

The publisher said that the paper would publicly report the cutbacks at the end of July when they are completed. He also said that cuts in other departments would occur, but had no specifics.

Also, included in the new Editor & Publisher article was part of the memo below:
From: Hall, Charlotte H
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 12:17 PM
To: OSC DL Editorial
Subject: Update

To All:
This has been a tough week for all of us. We have lost valued colleagues and talented journalists. We want to update you on the terminations.

As we told you two weeks ago, about 20 percent of positions in the newsroom would be eliminated. Seven of those positions are currently vacant. The open positions and people who asked for the severance package will make up about 70 percent of the job eliminations. Sixteen staff members were terminated this week, with 10 of them seeking the package.

As you know, we have another round of cuts coming at the end of the month, and numbers can change up to the last minute. At that time, we will do a news story when the process is complete.

We do not release the names of those leaving the Sentinel. That has been our longstanding company policy and is grounded in respect for the privacy of those terminated employees.

Unfortunately, Lisa Jacobsen's comments to E&P were taken out of context and, therefore, did not reflect the situation accurately.

Thanks for your commitment to producing compelling journalism. If you have any questions, please ask one of us.

Charlotte and Russ

Isn't that heartwarming?

Now, about three weeks after news of buyouts/layoffs broke, Sentinel management has finally decided to acknowledge the changes. They've finally decided to air out their own laundry, even though we (you, me and everyone we know) have already taken long whiffs of their stench. The memo to the staff even had the nerve to claim to "want to update you on the terminations". Who was updated by that? Who thinks they even cared that anyone was updated?

But efficiently updating staff isn't what's important, right?

What's important is that the Sentinel management claims they'll publicly disclose "the cutbacks". What they won't disclose are any future "cutbacks" (that seem like they are on the horizon). They'll probably skip the parts about penny pinching on employee expenses. The fact some positions were completely eliminated will probably be glossed over. And they'll probably in no way address any of the sentiments about the redesign, which is doing nearly as much damage to the paper as the layoffs. But, I'm sure the "next" report in about 2011 will include all that too.


Anonymous said...

Asked why the Sentinel, a Tribune Co. paper, had not publicly revealed the job cut plans to readers prior to making them, as most papers do, Greenberg said: "We chose to do it the way we did. Unfortunately, there was a mistake."

What's with this Hank Greenberg? Notice he didn't say 'That was a mistake,' he said 'There was a mistake.'

Yeh, like Nixon thought' there was a mistake in Watergate,' not 'That was a mistake.'

And to blame a poor HR underling. Suck it up, Howard and Charlotte, and take responsibility for your own stupid plan.

Since we aren't likely to read about this in the Sentinel anytime soon, I would urge everyone to send the 2 E&P articles to family and friends -- especially if you live in Central FLorida -- so readers will at least have a chance to know what is going on with their so-called hometown paper.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog, but please lose the white type on black background layout. it is absolute murder on my eyes!

Anonymous said...

I think the white on black is fine, but if the font were larger it would help. You can do that in settings, I think.