Friday, December 26, 2008

With a week to go, the newsroom is halved again

Several editors, including the features editor who has already taken the buyout and left, will be leaving the Flint Journal, some at the end of April with the rest sticking around until August when the central copy desk puts Flint into the Grand Rapids mix.

A veteran features reporter is expected to leave by the end of April. She has done some of the best and most noticed work at the Journal as far as features. Two newsroom full-time reporters, including my desk mate for six years are also taking the buyout. One is leaving by the end of January, my desk mate's date is undetermined at this point.

Two copy desk folks are for sure leaving, including a young man (a former State News alum like me) who toyed with last year's buyout so he could go back to school then. Maybe he will continue those plans now. The other copy desk person I'm not as familiar with, but both have undetermined dates of departure.

It appears my favorite editor, the one who unquestionably has the best touch with reporters and knows how to actually edit a story to improve and better organize it, as well as the only one who has had the strength to stand up to the incompetents who run the place, is also apparently departing. Good for her, she never had a chance with the women haters who run the place. I understand she may be gone by April. Her loss will undoubtedly show up in the reduced editing quality of the newspaper.

The sports editor is also on his way out, he's new enough that I don't remember him. His date is, as yet, undetermined.

Three imaging folks with a long history with the Journal are also taking the buyout (read pushed out) at an undetermined date. The TV Guide paginator is leaving along with the entire advertising production staff.

A number of the departing reporters, imaging and pagination folks are African-Americans. At one time the Journal made a good and conscious effort to increase the representation of blacks in the newsroom to reflect the community of Flint. Looks like that effort is pretty much over now. Sad, very sad.

Two copy desk folks, including a former reporter and veteran Journal employee and a newer female desk employee are seeking a spot in Grand Rapids. Two sports copy desk folks are seeking similar spots in Grand Rapids.

The former photo editor, who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident months ago, looks to be reassigned to Saginaw or Bay City when he is able to return to work.

Safe and staying in Flint as reporters are five reporters with more than five (and in some cases much more time) years experience, while four reporters with less than five years news experience are also staying. That's a pretty thin number of reporters to, in the words of the current, but soon to be gone editor, "continue to do everything we've done before."

Two features columnists with wide name recognition were not offered buyouts so presumably they are safe as well.

The Metro editor and his faithful sidekick, a design editor, were not offered buyouts and for reasons known only to those in charge are going to continue on with their work that has brought the Journal to this point.

With the emphasis on Internet media, none of the current Internet team were offered buyouts and two full-time photographers were also left out of the buyout offer and are presumably safe in Flint. At least three longtime sports reporters are also safe as well as the editorial assistant.

There's a long list of those who have an uncertain future: The current business editor, a woman copy desk employee, two designers, both who were hired after the last round of buyouts. One left a job at the Oakland Press to take the job at the Journal last year. Talk about jumping from the fire into the frying pan.

At least one part-time features writer will leave at the end of the year, but there are a list of part-time copy desk, page designers and copy desk folks and regular and sports part-timers who have an uncertain future. Some of them have been long time part-time employees. Supposedly they will receive some type of severance, but nothing close to the buyout offers, I am told.

There are three employees who are on 10-hour a week contracts (former retirees) whose status is unknown, but likely safe because of the small amount of money they cost the company.

So for the second straight year, the Journal will reduce by about half its content producers. Presumably this is being done to help the bottom line. In the end it will simply accelerate the slide into oblivion for the newspaper, but it will save, for a year or two the comfy positions of a few at the top who should have been the first ones shown the door.

With the new year, I will reduce my blogging about Booth. I mean really, what more can be said. The lame management that has brought the company to the brink, remains. While there are many good folks remaining to produce the copy, there are not enough of them to really make a difference and it appears the die is cast.

So, as I learn of new things, I will post them, but maybe one of the new buyout recipients will continue the coverage through their sources on a more consistent basis. Free From Editors will continue on, but just won't be as focused on the Flint Journal and Booth.


Anonymous said...

Have they ever talked about hiring more people that have taken the buy outs at those 10 hour per week jobs?

Anonymous said...

Bye, bye Miss American Pie.


Adman said...

and that is only the editorial and ad production people and does not take into account other support people taking the buyout such as accounting. What a mess!

Anonymous said...

no your blogspot is not accessible from the FJ server, it seems it has been blocked...