Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Mong and Rodrigue said today

I have been emailed a summary of what was said at the Local News meeting:

This is a summary of the official line: Last year sucked less that the previous couple of years. Bonuses for everybody! But starting in January, the level of suckitude increased dramatically. May was especially sucky and the summer continued in that fashion. Eventually Corporate instructed the DMN to cut a certain number of dollars, including a specific amount from the newsroom.

Based on the operation experience of the Toronto Star, we decided to merge the Sports production with the News production departments. What was the smallest number we could get away with of copy editors? The rest got chopped. (Most of those copy editors we lost were from Sports.) This means most stories will get far less attention from copy editors than in the past. (Which certainly means more typos and errors in the paper. None of us are perfect.)

From Rodrigue: "The difference between a blog post and a story is going to get smaller."

Then to other parts of the newsroom. What was the smallest number of assignment editors we could get away with? And finally, how many reporters needed to get cut to hit the number? And that's how we got to the cuts.

There is no plan for a pay cut or furloughs.

Digital is back to being the flavor of the month. Breaking news desk moves under digital management and will get more bodies. The mobile app is about to get a much needed upgrade. Blogs are important again.

The Backfield desk will get more bodies and more responsibility.

Rodrigue talked about the challenge of keeping readers. If they believe they are asked to pay more to get less, they will leave angry and in droves. How we maintain the illusion (not his word, of course) that we are not doing exactly that will be the big challenge of the next several months.
Rodrigue did not dispute the body count of 38 on the blog. He was careful to add that he did not confirm it, either.

Anybody else who wants to either dispute this summary or add your own is welcome to comment.


  1. So they're renewing the emphasis on the digital breaking news desk - one day after they jettisoned the digital breaking news desk's strongest editor. Brilliant.

  2. Business news asked
    -about total newsroom headcount; the answer was 300, but seemed to include NeighborsGo, data entry and part-time workers. That number is not comparable to prior figures they have given.
    -if the savings from newsroom cuts is around $3 million a year; Mong would not discuss numbers.
    -Whether the family is shopping around the newspaper. Answer: They've never indicated that, and give us no reason to believe they want to exit.
    -For a meeting with the CEO.

  3. Also from the Local News meeting: These cuts are supposed to take us through 2012, assuming that 2012 will be bad.