Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flint Journal to cut publication days, staff, benefits

Of all the journalism related posts I have put up, this is the one I least wanted to do. But the information is solid and it doesn't seem right to have the information and not pass it along to the folks most impacted by it.

Reportedly, some time next week, publishers at the Flint Journal, Bay City Times and Saginaw News are expected to call together their staffs to announce the following:

1.) The three papers will reduce publication to three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The date of the change I don't know. (No one mentioned my terrible verb tense, I've fixed it today)

2.) The reduction in publication days will void the long held "lifetime" employment pledge of Newhouse and Booth.

3.) An unspecified number of employees will be laid off and will receive some type of severance, which they must "voluntarily" accept. The company will recommend the State give the severed employees unemployment compensation.

4.) Those employees who stay will face reduced pay and benefits, which will be adjusted to conform to the pay and benefits currently paid at weekly newspapers.

5.) The printing of the Flint Journal will cease at the Flint PDC and will be transferred to the printing plant that is currently printing the Bay City Times and the Saginaw News.

6.) There will be a central copy desk for the three newspapers, but newspapers will retain separate newsrooms.

7.) Some sections of the three-times a week paper will be identical among the three papers.

All this is a result of the continuing economic collapse of Michigan and Flint, Bay City and Saginaw specifically. Ad revenues and newspaper losses have not been covered by the already draconian cuts suffered by the papers.

It will be interesting to see if the salaries of the editors and upper management will also be cut to match those of folks in similar positions at weekly newspapers. I heard at least one publisher may get a $430,000 severance.

No one will be happier than I if this information turns out to be some kind of plant in an effort to trip me up. But my reading of the information that I have shows otherwise. I held off nearly 24 hours to give the company a chance to announce these things before I did. Hopefully, because I'm posting this for a 1 p.m. release, maybe they have already released this information.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This information is too detailed to be completely wrong. You have done a great service preparing us. Any word from your sources about the other booth properties? I see Jackson is hiring a copy editor, posted March 4 on journalismjobs.com.

Anonymous said...

The Flint Journal is reminding me more and more of a man has early-stage lung cancer, is told to quit smoking and undergo removal surgery and chemo, does none of the three and then whines "Why me?" from his death bed.

Anonymous said...

Jim, do you know if the pay and benefits comparable to weekly papers means the ones owned by The Flint Journal? Speaking of which, how, if at all, are those weeklies affected in all of this?

One more thought: I was told that all of the Saginaw copy editors signed the buyout papers, and I know for a fact that most of the Flint copy editors did. Who exactly will be left to man this central desk? Will they take away the buyout option for these people (which the company warned this time that it had the right to do)?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Jim.
I hope you're wrong, though.
Good luck to all who face this -- whatever the future might hold.

Anonymous said...

Well, that sucks.

Anonymous said...

The writing was on the wall with the last MLive redesign - similar sections, creation of Mid-Michigan business, etc.

Sad day. And why those days?

Anonymous said...

Rumor is Detroit News will adopt similar salary structure once 3-day publication begins.

Anonymous said...

That’s what happens when the lunatics take over the asylum - Management’s main objective was not to better the organization, but to protect their own gravy train.

Anonymous said...

Think of the carriers and temp workers in the PDC… this is awful news. Again, the least who can afford it will suffer the most.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous publisher's severance package you mentioned is enough to employ a worker at their current salary for 8-10 years. Or 8-10 people for for a year.

That is truly irresponsible and shameful.

Anonymous said...

To do something this extreme without doing everything in their power to save money at the Flint Journal is criminal.

I heard a DM at the PDC today talking about a route that is something like 120 miles long for 118 papers.. Why are they even delivering routes like this still?

If printing papers up in the same place as the Saginaw and Bay City papers is going to save them money why aren't they doing this already?

Why raise the home delivery rates one quarter and than hit the customers that stuck with us once again with this BS?

Why have Sunday paper? Why not a Friday morning weekend edition with everything that would be in the Fri/Sat/Sun papers all in one?

inky said...

So Jim, would the papers just simply not publish the other four days at all, or would single copies be available at newsstands seven days?

At this point, what's worse: This death by 1,000 cuts strategy or just a quick sale/closure of the papers? It seems that is the inevitable conclusion anyway. It will be challenging enough to pull off a three-day home delivery publishing schedule in Detroit, where prize-winning journalism is being practiced and household incomes/education are higher. And the Detroit papers are investing a lot of money/time in training older readers how to access the online product -- does anybody think that will happen at Booth?

I realize nobody has figured out a winning business model for papers, but Newhouse's stumblings in recent years have been very shocking. Did Newhouse not see the writing on the wall when The Journal built its huge printing plant? Was no ROI study done at all?

Furthermore, why even publish separate Saginaw and Bay City papers when some borders are barely 10 miles apart? Merge 'em and give them some new name like the Valley Times or the Sugar Beet/Navy Bean Weekly. Make strategic decisions on which townships to cover based on population/circ. and business penetration. Better to run one newsroom serving two communities than to fire more people, which affects quality, which chases away more readers and advertisers ... and so on.

I hope I am wrong but I don't see Saginaw and Bay City residents embracing a paper that publishes only three days a week. But maybe Newhouse did an exhaustive business analysis and we're all wet.

I think that when confronted with a disruption in the publishing schedule, people will decide they can do without ... and they will.

As for the famous "job pledge," Newhouse made that irrelevant some time ago.

Anonymous said...

You know what's really sad?

If this tragic move actually resulted in a leaner, smarter, more forward looking workforce, I'd say this might make long term sense.
Knowing how they operate, however, they'll leave the hogs at the trough, and get rid of the guys who clean the pen.

We'll all be wallowing in their shit.

Anonymous said...

but what about the editors? so many editors. i know you said you don't know the details. thanks for posting this, jim.

Anonymous said...

a sad day for many good friends and what was once a proud paper.

America will miss her newspapers when they are gone, despite their many warts and failings.

Anonymous said...

"Did Newhouse not see the writing on the wall when The Journal built its huge printing plant? Was no ROI study done at all?"

I remember talking about this when the building was going up. I figured if they're building all this now we got at least 20 more years of newspapers being around. Yeah surre.. What a waste of money.

Clark Kent said...

Too bad some kind of win/win deal between the newspaper industry and Kindle couldn't be swung. e.g. fulfill a one year subscription and get some kind of Kindle/newspaper credit to pay for the hardware.

That could potentially save on ink and newsprint. The pressmen may not groove on the concept but it's coming down to a matter of survival.

geewhy said...

Every time I read more depressing news about the demise of papers, I have to ask what publishers were thinking we they started giving away their content for free on the web with no business model to sustain it? I know it's easy to use hindsight, but what business makes a move like that with no inkling if it will work?

And, as usual, it's the reporters and other lower-level workers who will suffer the most for this mistake.

Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info. I don't know if it had anything to do with it, but i had email news 5 your site with this info early today. I just saw a report about this and they are reporting the changes. I am assuming they confirmed with someone of these changes.

MichiganMediaPerson said...

Saginaw News bought a new press about five years ago and never used it.... it's still sitting in a warehouse, depreciating... no joke.

Here one blogger with a few novel ideas about how to save Booth newspapers

http://thedailyderelict.blogspot.com/2009/03/more-bad-news-for-michigan-newspapers.html

Anonymous said...

Jim this is terrible news. I still have so many friends on staff there and in Oakland as well. A lot of talented and committed people are going to lose their jobs and this makes my stomach hurt. /sa

Jim of L-Town said...

The multi-million dollar purchase of new presses for all the Booth papers was welcome at the time, but the suits in charge still thought it was a good idea to give away the paper on the Internet at the same time they were making a lethal investment in the print product.

Stunning in its stupidity and short sightedness. But yet, those with the short sight are the ones who remain still deciding how to "save" the newspapers.

It's enough to make one sick.

Anonymous said...

back in that day, we asked why they didn't just build one big press at the bottom of I-675, with a couple of T-1 lines feeding it, and good truck access ...

we got poo-pooed on our silly idea, as I recall ... and we underbuilt the Flint press to save money ... argument was it would run faster ... and pick up side jobs.

we bought three of the world's largest inkjet printers, that could only handle two sizes of paper.

and, as another poster said, one of them is in storage ...

Anonymous said...

The presses purchased for Saginaw and Bay City that were left in the warehouse to depreciate were Goss presses and the company went bankrupt and couldn't install them, not really the Newhouse's fault there.

One of the scenarios explored with the new presses was printing Bay City, Saginaw and Flint in Birch Run but the idea was unfortunately dropped.

Interesting that one of the key players in Flint for the changes right now is Matt Sharp, son of Dave and publisher of the Business Review products.

Anonymous said...

A market like this, even in 2009 needs a daily newspaper- I hop those on this board and community ululate and raise their collective angry fists at the Publishers and Ad Directors who ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen. Alas, they won’t lose any sleep as they sink their thick heads onto golden pillowcases formed from the retirement parachutes provided by Newhouse while the rest dive for table scraps.

Anonymous said...

Jim- could you correct the spelling on the last post- the word "hope" in place of "hop"?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I think Booth built all the printing plants to take advantage of the Bush stimulus package, which allowed businesses to write off capital equipment purchases at a fast rate (a year or two, I think). So those presses all have been fully amortized.

Clark Kent said...

Regarding to comment.."The presses purchased for Saginaw and Bay City that were left in the warehouse to depreciate were Goss presses and the company went bankrupt and couldn't install them, not really the Newhouse's fault there."

I was told at the time that the Goss presses were purchased for Saginaw alone. It was an afterthought to combine Saginaw and Bay City as a PDC. That, according to Renee Hampton, then publisher of The Saginaw News...so yeah..my information could very well be erroneous.

The Sanity Project said...

Jim, establish your own paper or magazine, and employ these people. And treat them fairly.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog and the statements made here are irresponsible and selfish. To post UNCONFIRMED changes that will ALLEGEDLY be made is bordering on criminal. You have caused unnecessary upset and chaos in the lives of many. I question the validity of your "reporting" - past, present and future, if you cannot wait to present CONFIRMED information. Your "early release" of this information, which again, is UNCONFIRMED appears to be for selfish gain only and is not for teh benefit of anyone but yourself. It's sad that someone who claims to be a "reporter" would stoop to this level.

Jim of L-Town said...

Unfortunately, I cannot correct posts. I can either publish or reject them. I have no ability to edit them.

But I will post your corrections as I did for the word "hop."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Flint Journal and Booth management for your blog on what is unconfirmed. Sounds like you're having a bad day, what with that nasty freedom of the press and speech in this blog you so abhor and repress in your publications and organization.

inky said...

Re: Anonymous 11:10, that Jim's posting of this information and subsequent blog activity "appears to be for selfish gain only and is not for teh [sic] benefit of anyone but yourself. It's sad that someone who claims to be a "reporter" would stoop to this level."

How, exactly, does anyone commenting on this forum benefit if three newspapers collapse partly because of a lack of managerial foresight and outright mismanagement? If you want to have a conversation on what is "bordering on criminal" activity, I suggest you take a look at the people who fiddled while Rome burned. They stil have jobs, while reporters, copy editors, pressmen, photographers, ad reps and others have been bought out or laid off.

Jim prefaced the releae of this information by saying that he hopes he is wrong. I think everyone who cares about jorunalism in general and these papers in particular share his sentiment. Looks like we'll all find out soon.

Anonymous said...

"Bordering on criminal?" You obviously are not a journalist. Sitting on information that affects hundreds of lives just because an "official" would not confirm a story is unethical, not the other way around. "Selfish gain?" How? I see no ads here. You must be a Booth ad manager because they're the only ones that are dumb enough to claim a page with no ads on it must be making money -- somehow. BTW, Jim was a great reporter. I'm sure your cronies and their lawyers are squirming just as much as, if not more than, the families that you claim to care about.

Anonymous said...

boy, imagine how much thinner the Journal would be if everything had to be confirmed, unselfish, non-upsetting and unchaotic.

sorry, newspapers do this routinely to private and public entities.

they call it a "public service" while they make money on it.

welcome to the flip side.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that one day I will come home, open up the Flint Journal and it will be in Chinese

Anonymous said...

I'd love to jump in the fray over a lot of things posted here, but one thing bugs me in particular: The assertion that editors are all idiots who are going to keep their cushy jobs while all the hard workers suffer.

I'm an editor. I work hard. And I'm out of a job, too. Quit playing the us vs. them game and understand the changes that are killing the newspaper business are hurting everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, James. You are a helluva reporter!!!!!

Clark Kent said...

Re: "I suspect that one day I will come home, open up the Flint Journal and it will be in Chinese"

Yup...and your carrier will American with a Ph.D. in journalism.

inky said...

To Anonymous 14:05, please list the initials of the Booth publishers and editors-in-chief who have lost their jobs as these newspapers collapse. Reassignments, such as the recent one in Flint, don't count.

Anonymous said...

Knight Foundation has a grant for Community Foundations to create ways to ensure a town has news coverage. Is the publisher still on that board?

A new organization needs the support of businesses. Is the publisher still on the Chamber's board?

How many alternative news sources has The Journal already crushed?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 11:10/Booth fate-decider: The Booth employees who have all been patiently waiting for some word of what is next since the buyout deadline have heard absolutely nothing, and we're all living with ulcers and anxiety. I for one am grateful to be getting information from someone, unconfirmed or not and Jim's info has all been dead-on so far. We deserve some answers about our future. I heard in Ann Arbor the top editor came out and yelled at a reporter for asking about whether there would be an announcement the next day - dropped the f-bomb on him and all saying he would not address rumors. Now THAT is leadership.
And to the editor who posted - I'm betting you were a rank and file editor, not a department head, top editor or publisher. Booth publishers and department heads will all be there on doomsday, driving their newest company cars that they get every couple years and supervising the remaining reporter/photographer/videographer/ad salesman/ janitor until s/he drops dead of stress. That's how they roll.
All that said, it's industry issues as much as anything but it has been staggering to watch the company stumble over and over and over. It's obvious whatever leadership there is just wants to let the papers commit suicide and ride it out as long as they can, hell with the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

On the front of the Flint Journal building there is Fallout Shelter sign. I wonder if there is enough room there for the survivors after management chooses the nuclear option?

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between the Flint Journal and The Titanic? The Titanic had a dance band.

The Titanic hit an iceberg and sunk while the Flint Journal allowed upper management’s blatant incompetence to sink it. Makes one think- what is shrinking faster- the polar ice caps or the Flint Journal’s page count?

Anonymous said...

I work for The Flint Journal and I know that most of decision makers have their heads up their butts. They come up with some advertising options that don't have a snowballs chance in hell of meeting the clients needs and wonder why we can't sell more ads.
Thanks for the heads up Jim. A lot of us could see this coming.

Mary said...

I'm a subscriber to the Flint Journal, and I've been watching my daily paper shrink. I thought at first that I was missing sections from the Sunday paper this week. No, they were all there. The reason I've maintained my subscription is that I've wanted my carrier to continue to have a job. This is distressing news, and I know the affected employees are/will be hurting.

I feel that we're living at the end of an era. First letterpress gave way to offset printing. Then offset became passe in favor of inkjet presses. Now we read our news on hand-held devices and online. Sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

I work for Valley Publishing (Bay City Times & Saginaw News PDC) and I noticed today that none of the upper management people would address this issue today. I don't think you got the story wrong....just early.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the paper Mary.

The journal was getting phone calls from customers today.

I had customers coming out to me today asking about all this. I told them to call and voice their opinion.

ABC12 is in:

http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/story?section=news/local&id=6704434

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting Journal info. My heart go out for the employees still working.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know which publishers, and ad directors will lose their jobs, initials are fine or first name? I just cant see it happening

Anonymous said...

How will people know who died?

Anonymous said...

Here's a memo that went out today to GR Press staffers:

Trash Removal Instructions
At the end of your shift, please remove the plastic can liner in your trash can. There will be a roll of bags in the bottom of each trash can to replace the ones taken out. Sometimes it helps to tie a small knot on the corner of the bag to ensure a tight fit around the top of the trash can. Take the trash bags to a Waste/Recycling collection area.
The cleaning staff will periodically check to see that there are spare bags still in the trash can, however if you do run out simply call Maint. @ 25671 or email Steve Wells or Sandra Williams to request more bags.

Waste/Recycling Collection areas
There are two locations.
The First location is on the Ground floor level located on the shipping dock.
The Second location is on the Second floor just outside the freight elevator in the hallway between Advertising and Editorial.
At each location you will find the following containers w/ signage above them for the appropriate items;

NEWSPAPER ONLY – Place in Large Cardboard Box
OFFICE PAPER ONLY – Place in Large Cardboard Box
TRASH ONLY – Place in Black carts on Wheels

On the Ground floor location there is an additional cardboard box for broken down cardboard.

General Guidelines

* Please do not throw any liquids into the trash containers. Please empty all cups in a sink before disposing.

*Please empty your trash can each night if you have food/ lunch items in it. This will help to prevent rodents and insects.

*Please do not throw loose food items into the trash carts. They need to be in plastic bags and placed in the grey trash carts.

*When recycling office papers…It is acceptable if the papers have staples.

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke?

What next, they'll leave the plunger in the bathroom for you? Cleaning supplies are in the closet?

Something tells me the publisher won't be taking out his own trash.

Anonymous said...

People should understand with whom they are dealing.

Some people own newspapers because they like holding the public trust -- they like the principle of it. Some people like the prestige, or the challenge. For the Newhouses, this has always been about money.

They don't care about the markets in which they operate, and they've made BILLIONS of dollars from their newspapers (and magazines) around the country for decades.

Newhouse survived the depression. He vowed he would never see any of him or his "go without". Hence, these papers have always also been a revenue stream for not just the heads of the operation but for all their friends and relatives. So yes, they want to make money, but not at the expense of those they really care about -- those they've carefully placed in the upper echelons. Witness the slow dilapidation of The Journal, its absolutely hideous accomodations on the 2nd and 3rd floor, while glimpsing the new beautifully-sunlit, walnut-bedizened corner office outfitted for Matt Sharp. Look at the private residence on the mezzanine.

Donald Newhouse is currently worth, get this, $8.5 BILLION. "Junior" is worth a paltry $7.5 BILLION (that's S.I. Newhouse, Jr.).

Why in GOD'S NAME does someone like this cut heads in Flint, Michigan? Have you no conscience, "gentlemen" and your weak-minded minions? (Both of them flunked out of college... lucky they had an empire to pillage).

Newhouse never led the papers in any direction; some people say it was because he wanted a local flavor. No. He simply didn't care.

So for you poor people who work there, remember it's closer to being a cult than "the press". The goal is not to produce a quality product. It is not to serve the people of Flint or Genesee County. It's not there to give you the news. It's simply another product that is sold to make sure a rich billionaire stays that way, regardless of the impact on others' lives.

A sad realization for me today.

Oh, and one more thing -- the Newhouses and their cronies have always been legal eagles, and they've always crushed dissent, and they are highly secretive. (Senior passed the NJ bar exam, lost his first case, and went back to newspapers.) Notice how other media outlets have quickly dropped their stories on this, no doubt by threat of a cease and desist letter.

Other writers who have crossed them have been "banished to Siberia". (These are people who endow universities, you know.)

Ah, the beauty of the internet... I'm not sure they can silence Google. If only they had seen it coming and embraced the internet.

Anonymous said...

I work for one of the booth papers, and let me tell you the "management" has yet to address this. It would be nice if they just came out and told us what the deal is. But for now I will tell you what the deal is, the deal is this: incompetence is to blame!

From my experience, the property has been going down ever since a new publisher came in and new ad director. The ad director never even had experience as an ad director and has proven to be immature, prone to gossip, and so insecure that this person has promoted incompetent people -- in an effort, I suppose, to disguise this person's own inexperience.

You know how strong managers are supposed to promote the very best and talented? And the weak ones generally promote the mediocre ones to make themselves look better? That has been the case at this one property for the past couple of years. They have ignored the very best sitting right under their noses, and have promoted the ones that kiss butt, but that are clearly weak, and too inexperienced to know what to do except agree and be yes men and women!

It is a mess, and disturbing to watch the ones that would be fired anywhere else rise to the top!


If the Newhouse boys had any sense at all they would come in and get to know some of us and see who are the ones that actually know how to get things done! They would get rid of these silly middle managers, and replace the ad director, and look around and say, Who is a true asset? Who are the hard workers? Who has the experience to turn this ship around? But that would make too much sense! And obviously the powers that be have no sense at all-- which is why we are in this predicament!

Anonymous said...

If they're having problems selling ads what is the Flint Journal doing about that? Are they trying anything new/different?

Oh yeah.. Going to three days a week so they don't have to sell as many.

I knew a lady that worked at a real estate place here in Flint and she used to complain that the Journal would get their ads wrong almost every week.

Are there any former or current Flint Journal sales people out there that can comment on this?

Andrea said...

Hmm, I didn't get my Flint Journal yesterday and they were all sold out at the local Rite Aid AND gas station...is it beginning already?

I admit, I didn't call to ask why I didn't receive the newspaper in my slot in the mailbox.

Guess, I won't worry, news won't happen on the off days of the delivery will it? (insert sarcasm here)

Anonymous said...

Andrea,
I would imagine the wind had something to do with you not getting a paper yesterday. I know they were blowing out of the front of those rubbermaid style plastic mailboxes everyone seems to love so much.

Anonymous said...

Certainly- as an ostracized salesperson I can testify to numerous weekly errors in ad copy and billing for Real Estate agents. This is due to a flawed system and unreasonable deadlines set up by management. This results in multitudes of write offs and a general distrust by local agents in the Journal, their publications and their personnel. It is, however, regarded as a necessary evil by The Flint Area Association of Realtors (FARR).

Management also has selective memory on who is punished within the ad department when errors occur. If one is a pet, or butt kisser, they are given a free pass. If one challenges supervisors and try to implement change in the interest of efficiency, they are labeled as troublemakers and reprimanded for insubordination.

Even during good times the Classified department had the largest turnover in the company- if was, after all, and still is overseen by a former secretary with a high school diploma who, along with her immediate supervisor, has to always be right- even if is to the determent of the companies bottom line.

To further demonstrate why the Journal is going down the tubes one only has to look at the financial futility of the every other week publication Realtor Review, published by the Journal for FARR- available at local kwik-e-marts and gas stations. This product at best grosses 175-190K per year while monopolizing the time of human capital worth over 300K annually. (We’re not even talking about paying for distribution, printing and newsprint) This includes two managers spending four hours a month proofing the damn thing.

Finally, while the Journal crumbles, management condones silly, sophomoric sales meetings that require hours of preperation by salespeople for a 5 minute presentation that could be better used to bring in ad dollars. When salespeople object to the obvious misuse of time, citing proven business practices like opportunity cost, the fragile overpaid incompetent egos of upper echelon exploit it as another opportunity to beat them into submission. Or show them the door. What a tragedy. Thousands of readers, hundreds of advertisers, and loyal employees will suffer. Management will receive golden parachutes.

Anonymous said...

On Wed. management at The Flint Journal were running around like chickens with their heads off in and out of meetings but they are still telling the working folk that they just don't know what's going on yet. I have a bridge in Brooklyn...

Anonymous said...

Newhouse also owns Mlive.com, the website for all the Booth newspapers. As far as I can tell there aren't enough ads on the site to pay for itself either.

Anonymous said...

"Editor and Publisher" get a quote:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003950914

Anonymous said...

As an astute collaborator pointed out after reading the post on the Journal’s inept classified department and their reign of error and terror, the acronym for The Flint Area Association of Realtors is FAAR, not FARR- as the kids say- my bad.

Too bad it isn’t that easy for the Journal to undo their mistakes. A final note on Realtor Review- for years the Flint Journal published a “Homes for Sale” magazine to entice local realtors to spend their money. Little technology was invested in it, cobbled together with stone knives and bearskins. Meanwhile, FAAR had their own magazine/newspaper called “This Week In Real Estate” – and employees who depended on its survival to get a paycheck. In late 2007 “This Week” and “Homes for Sale” ceased to be, The Journal started the money losing Realtor Review, and two or more people who worked for FAAR on “This week” were out of a job. Not only does the Journal eat their young, but also they raid other companies and put people out on the street in a bad economy.
Shame, shame.

Anonymous said...

Holy Jesus, i cant believe the parallel in comments between all these people at the papers. I thought only our paper had ass kissers and suck ups in the classified.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Couldn't of seen this coming. You can thank the higher ups for this one. They sure don't know when they have a good employee from a bad. To them, you have to kiss majior butt to make them happy so you can stay and we won't speak of some of the managers that run the Bay City/Saginaw News Departments. Sneaky and liars yes they are and if you keep their little secrets you know you will go far or at least not get let go or threatened or fired. DId you know a certain mamager there in the Saginaw News went around and basically told people if they don't take they buy out that if they don't pull certain numbers in the next month that he will just fire them the following. Wow what a great guy and imagine how we felt when we heard that our department boss said she felt bad and had no choice and if it were up to her none of this would be happening. Well I guess you know what a liar and a hypocrite she is for saying this to us while she knew all along what they were both up to. And can you imagine if one of us pulls some of the paperwork we kept for proof about the way they are and who are their favorites and if they don't like you what can happen to you. Boy OH Boy. Wonder who has stuff to bring a couple of them self centered higher than thou down. Can you?

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI to let all you know that as an employee of the 3 Newspapers we have all been blocked from this site as of today. Yesterday was Flint, Bay City and Saginaw Today. Don't they think we can go home and still find out what is going on without them even telling us?

Anonymous said...

You know it's a scary thing. They always think we are stupid, and treat us like children. AND they lie, lie, lie to make it look okay in their eyes. Just like when the classified department merged and they told us that the extra desks they were installing was just because the were out in garage and they didn't want them getting ruined. Yeah right, and 4 months later we were answering the phone for Flint and 4-5 new people were hired. They treat us like we are children and act like we don't have a mind to think. BUT in return thats what they want to make sure we keep our mouths shut and not make anything out of all the lies.

Anonymous said...

Hey lets play a game! Anyone can play from any paper, ok you have to guess the author of the quote.

"If you repeat anything said in this office to anyone....
we'll know"

Anonymous said...

I wonder where they are setting up new desks for the Flint Journal customer service department. They will probably be the next department to leave Flint. When they linked up their computer system to all 8 Michigan papers like they did with Flint Journal classifieds the writing was on the wall. Hey Saginaw, any desks being hauled in out of the garage lately?

Anonymous said...

They had to hire Matt Sharp (a young guy) down in Flint cause all the old managers pulled out their collective backs goose stepping around the office. Funny a newspaper would block information (like this blog) from their employees- what a bunch of bovine buddies and censorship cows

Anonymous said...

Nothing like nepotism to save the day. Anyone in management ever have an original idea not stolen from an underling?

Anonymous said...

I just have to say when I worked for the paper there was so many ass kissers and liars. Certain managers from Saginaw/Bay City area would say that Flint really don't have a clue on what a how to do certain things like they did. SO they would say how stupid they are and I have a feeling a couple from the classified department in Flint are still around that don't know anything (so she says).

I do however have to tell you that none of the girls from Saginaw/ Bay City classifed department was happy when they had to start doing Flint. AND I do want to say they all felt bad for the other girls who were put in different departments and or fired/bought out from the classified department in FLint. I also know that none of the girls got more money for more work accept getting belittled and feeling like they, well let me requote that, some were treated very unfairly for doing hard work and picked on by management and the "classified bully". Can anyone guess who that is? Not that she is friends with the manager, hung out with her when they were younger and can do anything to anyone an is allowed to get away with it while others are threatened for the exact same stuff she does.

I think the Newhouse family doesn't care because with all the complaints or did they not know. They need to know that 99% of the management are nothing but lying, backstabbibg, hypocrite's. And they will railroad anyone and I mean anyone to get to where they need to be.

Anonymous said...

Detroit News getting "weekly" salaries? I doubt they'll stand for that.

Anonymous said...

The Journal started screwing iteself in the days of Paul Keep. Get more wire service, less local reporting on everything from book and movie reviews to sports to state news. Maybe if you charge people for more things they can get free, they will like the paper better??? Then they held staff meetings to talk about "branding" and came up with their "In depth, In touch Informed" or whatever the heck it was slogan like that was going to save them. They left out "insane."

Anonymous said...

How about this slogan for management? "Inbred, inane, incompetent." Remember the banners on the wall? Wonder what we paid that marketing company, and if they learned their trade in Moscow or Beijing?

Anonymous said...

Meeting slated for March 23 in Ann Arbor to announce the same fate. That comes from highly reliable sources. Head editor there, normally upfront and honest, refused to answer employee questions about the rumors this past week.

Anonymous said...

Put a big old X on the calender for March 23. All the papers always make these kinds of announcements at the same time. It's too much to hope for that they will get rid of some of the managers that are in charge of making decisions that created this mess. It is not just the economy. Management refused to listen to the rank and file because they wanted everything their way. Look where we are now.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3/14 @ 15:02
Highly unlikely that AA will go the way of Flint, in fact I have very intimate knowledge that they will continue to print. Others on the west side of the state will not be so fortunate.

Anonymous said...

we'll see come March 23. Ann Arbor News people are as worried as the tri-city workers right now.

Anonymous said...

At The Journal, I parked next to the former editor's slick silver sports coupe before his convenient departure. It's insulting.

Anonymous said...

That thing was a piece of crap anyway. Who cares?

Anonymous said...

I was a visiting reporter in Flint several years ago and was in and out of the Journal newsroom regularly. I made a load of friends, most of whom are no longer there. I always was struck by the devotion of the people there to a city that always has taken shots from the national media. All the best to those who remain.

Anonymous said...

The Flint Journal used to be a great place to work. Great people all throughout the building. There are still great people there just a lot less of them now.

Anonymous said...

I work for the Grand Rapids Press. Do you think our paper is also headed for 3 days a week anytime soon?

Anonymous said...

Grand Rapids Press isn't far behind. I keep hearing Ann Arbor is way worse off than workers at the Ann Arbor News continue to misguidedly believe.

Anonymous said...

I am in management at a booth paper. It is really sad to see what is going on. Every day I try and get my people to sell but there is so much demanded of them by my bosses! They know what to do, namely go out and see customers and get them to advertise. Many are afraid for their jobs so they just do what they are told. I wish I could tell them more about the future but I have been told to not say anything. We are all human beings and my bosses expect to be treated with respect but they won’t give the sales department the same! I am stuck in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Cry me a river, tool.

What will you be sacrificing to stay? Will you be taking a paycut as well?

I don't blame booth management for not telling us the plan. I do blame booth management for not telling us when they'll reveal it. People can't conduct business this way. Many are visibly shaken, or maybe I should say shaking.

Will you be taking the 10 day furlough too? Oh wait, I bet you are just too important to the operation to do that. Or maybe it's just that you're so busy because you waste time on all the wrong things.

A decent manager is easy to find. Usually it requires only staying off people's backs 24/7 and throwing them a bone of encouragement now and then. Not you. You'd rather "put them in their place."

The fact is, you're easier to replace than the people you'll be laying off on Monday. Nearly any of them could do your job and would for a lot less. Your days are numbered too, precious.

Anonymous said...

So, "THE" Flint Journal has proven, as only it could, that the sword is mightier than the pen afterall? Add another IN to the slogan ... INCOMPETENT. So glad that the management fools there who interviewed me three times last year picked someone else to carry the coffin; and that the new editor saw my samples as not "enterprising" enough for his liking. Keep recycling those same old editorial themes you pass of as news and trying to convince people in this market to buy at $40bucks and inch. RIP Flint Journal, and your "Community" weeklies. Perhaps the day is not far off that we may have a new daily, maybe even a county-wide weekly in town.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that- Time for the Journal to get their comeuppance. They are cutting loose a large enough talent base that a competitive product will be launched in this market to fill the void created by their collective incompetence.

Once readers and advertisers realize what poor stewards the Journal has been with their mission and money they’ll welcome a choice.

Anonymous said...

Your source is probably "PwNd" by now because they did something stupid, immature and elementary.

Anonymous said...

Prices from the Board to Journal:

Pay the driver/agent .55 for Sunday, .45 for Thur & Fri. & pay .30 for EMC.
Let's see what the Journal tries to low-ball the driver/agent with.

Anonymous said...

Could you start a new area of conversation, starting with the proposed wages from the Board of Directors to the Journal?

Anonymous said...

Sighed contract today with the Flint Journal, I am driving 15 to 20 miles more than my regular route and I got cut about a hundred papers. I'm getting .28 cents for Thur,Fri and Sun. .08 for EMC. This is enough to pay my mortage and consumers. At the beginning of June, I'm going to apply for food stamps. THANK YOU FLINT JOURNAL FOR THE SLOW DEATH OF MY FAMILY!!!

Anonymous said...

To: the Board of Directors
From: The Gods on Mt. Olympus aka the Jerks at the Journal who "really" run the operation!

Well, today we offered a whopping pittance of .27 per paper to the driver/agent. and, yes, that is for Sunday papers as well! In addition, we offered .08 per EMC/Ad pack.

So, Don't assume that, just because you pay our outrageous salaries, that YOU actual can dictate to us what the peons, aka driver/agent is worth to the corporation!!

Anonymous said...

For all you driver/agents that were forced to swallow such pittance to line the "gods" pockets. Here's a suggestion:

Work for the first week, then, about 4:45 p.m. the following wed., call your DM & tell them you cannot justify doing the job & having it cost you more to run the route than they are will to pay.

Just imagine the confusion that will cause. Maybe then, the Board of Directors will back you up & "clean house" on Olympus!?!

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you "GODS on Mt Olympus". This, mine is bigger than yours, is idiocy. You are destroying families! If the board appoved the price of .45 per paper, why would you stand in the way of us taking care of our families. It was no money out of your pocket. You know that at one time YOU also were a driver. Do you think we have forgotten that you were also a PEON. What are you doing working for the Journal when all your doing is destroying it. We the Peon's love our jobs and our customers. How can you charge us drivers $1.00 for redelivering missed papers that you are paying us .27 for. Our only hope is that the board does step up and get rid of all of you FALSE GODS.

Anonymous said...

If the Flint Journal paid 45, 45, and 55 cents per paper per day I'd make more delivering the 3 day paper than I was working seven days. Does this really make any sense to anyone out there?

Why don't you sent Jim this Board of Directors memo so he can check into it better?

Anonymous said...

Yes, this does make sense. We are driving farther and the GOD's have cut our routes down to nothing. I already had one of the smallest routes to start with. We HAD a gas allowance and a good service bonus. Now, we have to do night runs and probaliy sit somewhere in the dark trying to guess where the truck is going to show up.
What doesn't make sense is cutting the crap out of our routes, sending us out to drive farther and keeping carriers that the Journal knows the other carriers are complaining about that are stealing our paper, not showing up for pick-ups and don't ever get a good service bonus.
Again, yes, this does make sense.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the Board of Directors meeting minutes to verify ANY recommendations for driver/agent rates. I DO however, have some of the driver/agents informing me that they have been offered different prices per unit.
Why did the person/persons responsible for restructuring the routes, go thru all the effort to try to even-up the routes, and pay?!? Every route has been altered and, no one is being offered a reasonable amount per unit to make a living. Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates and The Journal reduces the pay the drivers get, while raising the cost of the paper to consumers. Thier profits go up while driver pay drops as much as 75%?!? Somehow, management thinks that firing 400 plus drivers and slicing the remaining drivers route size & pay, is helping stimulate the economy. Where are the "other" jobs that ALL drivers that stay will need to pay thier bills?!?

Anonymous said...

"I don't have the Board of Directors meeting minutes to verify ANY recommendations for driver/agent rates. I DO however, have some of the driver/agents informing me that they have been offered different prices per unit.
Why did the person/persons responsible for restructuring the routes, go thru all the effort to try to even-up the routes, and pay?!? Every route has been altered and, no one is being offered a reasonable amount per unit to make a living. Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates and The Journal reduces the pay the drivers get, while raising the cost of the paper to consumers. Thier profits go up while driver pay drops as much as 75%?!? Somehow, management thinks that firing 400 plus drivers and slicing the remaining drivers route size & pay, is helping stimulate the economy. Where are the "other" jobs that ALL drivers that stay will need to pay thier bills?!?"

If you're the same person that posted those Board numbers earlier you've done nothing but get a few carriers hopes up, and your information stinks. We're not being offered anywhere near what you posted and those numbers were way off base anyways. The FJ was never going to pay us more money per week to work less.

Other than the union drivers I haven't heard of any Flint Journal motor route drivers being let go, so where is this 400 plus drivers thing coming from? More wrong info.

When are the outraged board members coming save us?

You have to face the fact that you aren't going to live a very good life working three days a week anywhere, let along the Flint Journal.

Anonymous said...

Correction:
Not 400 drivers, but 40 route owners. Motor & walking routes.
Sorry!!

Anonymous said...

A few of these post don't sound like a carrier to me. I am at the FJ everyday and thats not what is being said by one carrier. We could of at least been able to pay our bills if the FJ would of given us 400 papers instead of cutting our small route to start with. I can understand cutting carriers that had over 400.

Maybe the Journal hasn't come right out and told some carriers that they are canned, but its pretty clear that some carriers havent had their DM contact them about a new contract.

Give us back our little routes, It's the least you can do so that the carriers don't feel that you are heartless.

Anonymous said...

"I can understand cutting carriers that had over 400."

The carriers that have more than 400 customers have probably been there for twenty years or more and have proven over those years to be the most dependable drivers the Flint Journal has.

Jim of L-Town said...

This post was edited to remove the last name of a current employee.

From Anonymous:

Hello, I dont know if anyone is still reading this site but us carriers were again forced into contracts that are right down low.
They have fired the carriers that did store deliveries, which they was getting .35 to .50 a paper. We are now doing the store deliveries for .08 a paper along with picking up old papers and bringing it back to the Journal. When I say forced I mean just that. We either do it or find another job.

Well just to let you know that the God's on Mount Olympic was fired for there dirty deeds. Now we have Brian thinking he is just going to do his darn best to break the backs of carriers. Well if you think that you are even bigger and bader then the God's then I hope you get the axe like them. When the board gives you directions, then do it.

We are all held accountable for our actions. When you are told to offer a person a fare wage and then you steal more than half for your own personal gain, that makes you a evil human being.