Sunday, April 12, 2009

Quo Vadimus?

This blog was created for a very specific purpose: To provide information about this round of layoffs. The layoffs are over. Before we move on, I think we need to note that we all committed some remarkable journalism on deadline.

With no help or hindrance from our corporate overlords we: Were able to publish the size, departments and categories of the layoffs in one day. Which if you missed it was:
11 from Local News. 10 reporters, one news clerk
1 production editor from Editorial
6 from Lifestyles: Two part-time editors, one full-time editor, two writers, one Guide listings editor/writer.
3 from business: One reporter, a wire editor and an assistant editor.
13 from the sports: 8 from desk, 4 writers, 1 phone clerk
6 from Photo (Photo details: 4 photographers, 1 color tech, 1 photo librarian)
3 from News Art: One graphic artist, two designers
6 off the news copy desk
1 off the news desk
(As I look at it, we could still use the specifics from Photo and News Art. Update: Photo and News Art info now supplied. )

Engage a community in spirited and sometimes useful discussions. Feature some astonishingly good writing -- not mine, but some of the farewell notes are amazingly good. Distributed useful information about some of the kinds of help our now-former colleagues might be able to find.

If only was as consistently successful at taking advantage of the possibilities of online journalism. Cloud-sourcing, immediacy, error correction, interactivity. Also, with very few exceptions, the tone of the comments has been civil enough. Some were pretty strong, but we were all entitled to that.

Are we done? I'm still getting a trickle of farewell notes, and I promise I will always get those posted. A few job and seminar notes are also coming in.

My question for this community: Do I need to keep DMNCuts going after this week? Is there a purpose that is not being met in other places? I'm incredibly proud of what we all did here, but like all of us, I need to spend my energy and time wisely. I'm open to staying open. I could go on hiatus and shut off the comments until the next round of cuts is announced. Or I could let the mask pass to someone else, as Mr. Sunbeam and RockOfTruth did to me.

What do you think?


  1. Please keep this a little while longer. I just got 3 emails this morning from people who read that I had been laid off through this blog. The news is spreading slower than I expected. I understand you have better things to do, but for those of out here in the wilderness, this is our lifeline. An ex-coworker wrote to say people in our department are encouraged NOT to contact those who left, through company assets.
    Whatever you decide, we are all grateful for your enormous contribution.

  2. Oh, I dunno, maybe you should talk to Allen Gwinn.

    Maybe there's already a successful established model of local online reporting that, oh, I dunno, could use some additional impetus and manpower. Maybe there are, you know, journalists interested in remaining something more than glorified Boy or Girl Fridays with "communications" or "media" in their job titles who just might want to put in some extra hours recreating their future.

    Maybe you could even replicate all that here.

    Or maybe everyone would just rather hold their beaks open to Heaven like baby birds and hope for the best. I dunno.

  3. Anon 12:43, I'm not rushing out the door. I'll stay active at least another week. The blog itself will stay up for at least a year since that's how long I own the URL, with an option to renew, so people will be able to find whatever you have posted here for at least that long. The most I'd do is shut off the comments, so I wouldn't need to monitor for nastiness and Viagra spam. I will also leave my gmail e-mail account open and will check every so often, so if people have information they'd like to have posted, I could do that. I will always, always be willing to post any additional farewells or updates from the people who have been cut sent me via e-mail.

    Anon 12:51, if you have a suggestion about how we could all make a living, I can tell you that you have an audience. I "dunno," as you put it, about baby birds. But we do all need somebody to pay our salaries and mortgages and health insurance. Some people can afford to take risks. Maybe you. Some of us have just been forced to take risks. If there's a business model out there for a local online news organization that is supporting more than a shoestring's worth of actual journalism, no offense intended to Pegasus News, I'm not aware of it.

  4. Where are we going, indeed.

    I this this blog could turn itself into a blog for how we are doing as journalists as we cope with the blog.

    It would be nice if you kept it going. But I realize that will take a lot of time. You could turn off comments on older posts but still post from time to time.

    And, we all fear but hope there won't be more cuts down the road. The problem with past DMN blogs was that they were connected to time. This one could keep going and could have meaning beyond layoffs.

  5. cope with the cuts, not cope with the blog.

  6. Thanks for taking on this remarkable responsibility. I think it would work to disable comments after a week or two and direct people to email you directly. Then new posts could be put up based on what is emailed and comments enabled then. This would allow you to only have to monitor the blog when someone emails you and something new is added. Again, thank you for doing this for us.

  7. To echo anonymous 2:04, I just want to thank you for your time, your class, your respect and your sense of fair play. You have given people a chance to vent and share their feelings without the chance of reprisal by management and HR. Sometimes it just feels better to get it out there in writing.
    Once when I woke up early and angry, I wrote a venom-filled post that I immediately regretted sending. True to your sense of decency the post was soon removed. You have been a steady rock in horrible, sad and tragic times. Thanks again and I hope like hell we won't need a blog like this again in the near future.

  8. Thank you so much for doing this - as a partner of someone let go, who is not yet ready to leave a note, this blog has offered tremendous support and crucial insight into this devastating situation. Please keep it open as long as you can.

  9. Anonymous @3:00 PM:
    Couldn't have said it better myself. Hats off to Spartacus.

  10. And from me -- a salute and a big hug. You kept me from feeling alone by connecting me to my fellows in a way that was immediate and real while my world was getting ripped in half. Thanks for helping us hold hands when we needed each other.

  11. Spartacus,

    Please keep this blog active, at least through June.

    If the rumors are correct, there will be more layoffs/demotions in the management ranks shortly.

    The need for this valuable resource will be, unfortunately in my estimation, an ongoing on.

  12. There's a blessing in having a place to vent, to keep-up, to express your deepest cares about journalism and a paper that was once a symbol of mammoth dedication to the cause.

  13. Thanks for the nice words, everyone. I was only the host, though. Unless everyone else joined in, this would have been a hollow effort. If I get the big head, I can remind myself how the movie "Spartacus" ended. Honorably but not exactly happily for the title character.

    I'll keep the blog in its present mode at least through this week and see what the traffic is. If I do go into hiatus and the next round of cuts comes as fast as June or sooner, I'll plan to go back on full activity as quickly as I hear any credible rumor. In the meantime, I'm open as usual for all farewell notes, job offers, seminars, and other relevant material.

  14. Thanks for doing this. It's been a huge help.

  15. Photo details: 4 photographers, 1 color tech, 1 photo librarian

  16. Spartacus,

    I can't tell you how helpful this blog has been everyone and invaluable to those who were let go. Thank you for your time and care of the blog. Many people would like to help their former colleagues and keeping this going for a while would be a lifeline.

  17. I think it is likely that barring some amazing turn-around of the entire industry we will see cuts and demotions at the end of each quarter this year as the DMN struggles to meet its loan covenants. There seems to be a 50/50 chance the News will cease full daily publication and at least an outside shot that it will fold.

    This is the only place I can think of that offers once and current employees, and maybe some readers, a chance to share their thoughts as a great institution in a great city fades and maybe falls. I hope you'll keep this forum alive at least through the rest of 2009.

    Best to all.

  18. What are they going to do about the reporter rotations? We're 11 people short now. Will projects people be included in the rotations--how can they not be? Many of us don't mind getting the overtime (and many of us are now the sole supporters in our homes), but I can't imagine they'll keep paying OT every weekend, holiday etc. Clerks are already short and having to rotate regularly. What's the plan here?

  19. A person I know who was laid off let me see the list of positions selected for termination. According to it, 136 people lost their jobs this go-round. We were told that all positions in our small dept. were being considered for termination. On the list, all positions in each department were listed and an "X" was placed by the position(s) selected for termination. However, the person in our dept. who lost their job's position was the only one on the list, which leads us to believe she was specifically targeted, that perhaps her name/position was submitted in advance. If all our positions in this dept. were subject to the RIF, as we'd been told, why weren't all the positions on the list?

  20. A friend showed me the list and I noticed there were no photo editors or any photo management on the list. I echo the above question, why weren't all the positions on the list?

  21. @3:53
    Good question.

    Similar examples can be found elsewhere on the list. For example, for "Editorial Page," only four positions were listed, one of which was "selected" for layoff. There are a lot more than four people in that dept.

    Also, the list of those who apparently were considered for layoff included no line editors for national, foreign, TSW, Downtown Bureau, Metro Central Zone, Metro West Zone or Metro East Zone.