Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting caught up on the new round of Booth layoffs

Just back from our trip and catching up on all things newspaper related. I have obtained the following information from a variety of sources and while it is still not complete, we're getting closer.

Grand Rapids – Eight editorial layoffs, including an IT guy laid off a couple weeks before the latest round.

Layoffs were on the copy desk, sports, photo, graphics, metro, entertainment.

Additional layoffs may be coming as the west Booth newspapers reorganize – Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids plan to consolidate sports, entertainment and web content under one umbrella apparently similar to what happened in Flint, Bay City and Saginaw.

Still no coverage of the layoffs and a story about the GR publisher talking to a local organization had a graph or two about the layoffs edited out of the published story. Nice.

Total layoffs at Grand Rapids was about 20 employees.

Unlike previous layoffs, the editor didn’t deliver the bad news personally, but through the department heads. Looks like the “open door” policies the company always prided itself on have slammed shut.

Muskegon lost two editorial employees, I don’t have numbers on the rest at Muskegon. Also I’m not aware of the severance packages offered at any of the three papers.

Lower revenues are being predicted for 2011 for Grand Rapids anway.

Still interesting is that in Kalamazoo, the purported reasons for the layoffs had to do with creating a stronger online presence and yet two of the employees and the managing editor who had the strongest online responsibilities were let go. Apparently there is a push now for editorial employees to post their own work, which would explain the sometimes crude condition of online copy.

One of the reporters laid off at Kalamazoo was the City Hall reporter which at least one source said will likely kill any chance of any responsible reporting on the city’s attempts to recover money lost when it gave tax breaks to the Gazette in exchange for creating more jobs.

Also gone from the Gazette are the religion writer/editor and two hometown editors, including one who had been on medical leave. The circulation manager was also sent packing.

I've also received a report that what remained of the Flint Journal accounting department has also been terminated. No further information was offered.

One of the most troubling parts of all these layoffs and decisions is the lack of transparency and coverage on the pages of the newspapers. Newspapers should set the standard for other companies in being open and honest about what is happening. If not, they should quit calling other businesses for the same information.

All is not well.


Anonymous said...

Sad times indeed. And what reporters are left, in this case as the FJ, are as troubling as the downsizing. Did anybody else but me see the FJ's part-time police reporter (I believe he also covers some burbs) at a Democratic 250 Club (or something like that) meeting on local access TV in Flint a few weeks ago? He definitely works for the FJ, whomever he is, because the camera showed him, during a Q&A, complimenting the county clerk and mumbling something about putting on his community journalism badge. Not only did he brazenly attend a partisan, Democratic function but he complimented the clerk on something. Am I the only one who thinks this is just wrong? How does he get away with something like this? Expecially as a fairly new staffer? Maybe he just didn't tell anyone and no one, but me, watches Flint's local cable access? LOL

Anonymous said...

I hear ya, anon. 15:31. And, it even goes beyond the $12-an-hour-era at the Booth papers. Did you hear the one about the newsroom full of "unbiased journalists" who jumped up and down and started high-fiving each other when CNN declared Obama the winner in '08? In fact, the "management" of this very newsroom sprung for soft drinks and pizza on Inauguration Day the following January, something it never considered doing in 2000 or '04. Democrat, Republican, Socialist, whatever ... at the very least, ACT as if you're doing your job properly.

Really, the ongoing death cycle of some of these papers and their corresponding online versions is a mercy killing.

Anything new on the West Side layoffs, Jim? I've read nothing but what I see here. All I hear from a few East Side hangers-on is, "They keep telling us it's getting better, but my compensation package keeps getting worse."

Anonymous said...

Not sure you saw this while you were away:

Jim of L-Town said...

The link didn't work, but I searched on Crain's and believe I found what you were referring to. Thanks for the assist.

David Forsmark said...

Just saw "Valley Publishing" in Auburn the other night. Disturbingly similar building to a certain empty one in downtown Flint. Pretty sure there were similar tax abatements there, too.

Anonymous said...

how about those union mailing and printing companies who launch startups in India? who's still doing business with them...? believe me this is very pertinent to the above comment.

David Forsmark said...


Somebody outsource your reasoning capacity?

And reply under your own name, bub.

Anonymous said...

Haha "bub." I think u got my point

David Forsmark said...

Okay, Jason... didn't want to use your name because you know it's not true?