The Baltimore Sun Dawns. Or Sets.
The Retch got this sneak peek at the newly redesigned Baltimore Sun. The "reinvention" debuts on Aug. 24. The new Sun will have only three sections: News, Sports and Features. The features sections will be themed with daily "adjacencies" like Health, Digital and Food. So new. So cutting edge. Sam, are you sure you're paying Lee Abrams enough?
The Orlando Sentinel is tarted up like a Cirque De Soleil acrobat. Now the Sun. Chicago is soon to follow. How soon til the Los Angeles Times goes under the knife?
Full details follow
The Baltimore Sun reinvention - Upload a Document to Scribd
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 3:33 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
Even God Rests on Sundays
But not Sam Zell and his firing machine. The Zellions called Morning Call editorial staff at home on Sunday to tell them that they were being laid off. One Zellion told the fired worker to be happy: they'd still get paid for Monday. Hooray!
The Retch has gotten a couple of unofficial and obviously in motion lists on staffers who have volunteered to be fired, or been fired the usual way. A compiled list of 24 staffers is after the jump. All normal caveats apply.
There's apparently still confusion about who has left, who is staying and who just got moved around like a carwash rag. Here's a brief description from one Morning Call worker on how it all went down.
Most were told Sunday. For most of the newsroom, it was a long waiting game. At some point Sunday night, they decided if they hadn't heard anything, their jobs were safe.
One reporter apparently got a message on her cell only saying she has a new beat. No details where or what. Another photog from one of the closed bureaus didn't get a call, leaving her to assume she has a job, but not knowing where she was supposed to check in today.
The names below will take you to a Google news archives search. As in past cases, don't expect much. It works great for some reporters, bad for others, and not at all for photogs and copy editors. Still, it's better than nothing. If you want you name off or on the list, just email me at inkstainedretch at gmail.com.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 2:59 PM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL, LAYOFFS, SAM ZELL, THE LIST
SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2008
Editor Russ Stanton's Big Note to readers was a gentle way of introducing the new reality. The paper does great things! But we're going to be cutting back sections and features everywhere. Hope you don't notice.
The Big Burn series is a great story. It's the kind of sprawling, powerful reporting project that built the Los Angeles Times into one of the greatest papers in the country. It took a team of dedicated reporters and a photographer a year of work, travel and reporting to produce. That's the kind of hard-hitting, in-depth journalism that smaller papers, nor individual bloggers, will ever be able to duplicate.
The question is, how much longer does the paper show that kind of ambition? How much longer will it be able to send a team of reporters and photographer all across the West and to Australia? How much longer will it be able to invest in longer term stories that are important to Southern California?
Big Burn is the kind of story at threat by Sam's Zell's cut backs. This type of journalism, and our newspaper, is what's going up in smoke. You cannot fire 200 or 300 reporters in the space of a year, and expect to continue reporting major investigative or analytical stories.
Russ' note is an effort to boost morale and show readers what the paper can deliver. But to me, it's just a reminder of how fragile our paper is right now.
Here's the note after the jump in case you somehow missed it. Also available in full here.
The future of the Los Angeles2 Times, in print and online, rests in our ability to meet the needs of our readers and deliver news and information that is unique, far-reaching and indispensable. In-depth journalism remains our hallmark and we are committed to that mission in the face of economic challenges to our industry and our nation as a whole.
For proof, look no further than today’s front-page story on California’s war on wildfires, the first of a five-part series. It is news of vital importance to Southern Californians and it took a team of talented reporters, photographers and graphic journalists working on two continents to produce. Latimes.com, which is increasingly becoming the destination of choice that busy readers turn to for breaking news coverage, also brings the series to multimedia life.
Our website just recorded its biggest month ever in June with 115 million page views, a 50% increase over last year. Readers flocked to our online coverage of the overturning of the ban on gay marriage and the Lakers playoff run, and to a new database honoring California residents who lost their lives in the line of duty during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also embraced our new Olympics, Technology, Countdown to Crawford, and The Big Picture blogs.
On the print side, we’ll be focusing on perspective and analysis while still serving as a comprehensive daily news report. And we’re undertaking changes, some of which have already begun. Dan Neil’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rumble Seat” car column, for example, has moved to a new home in Friday’s Business section. Next week, the Home section will move to Saturdays and will combine with Real Estate, bringing “Hot Property” and “Man of the House” together. And the paper’s Sunday Calendar line-up will now include a new Arts & Books section, combining the best of Arts & Music with Book Review (turn the page for a complete guide to the upcoming changes).
In the coming weeks, you can continue to look forward to more world-class coverage. At the Beijing Olympics, we'll have a team of more than a dozen reporters, editors, photographers, videographers and mobile bloggers detailing developments in the competition and in China itself. And our political team will be in Denver to cover the Democratic convention and in the Twin Cities to cover the Republicans as the major political parties take the next step in campaign 2008.
We are dedicated to covering these and other stories of importance to Southern Californians with the kind of journalism that The Times -- the largest news gathering organization west of the Mississippi River -- is uniquely able to deliver.
-- Russ Stanton, Editor
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:06 AM 9 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, RUSS STANTON
FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008
FlotSam and JetSam
The Teamster have filed a report on their informational meeting last night with staffers. Again, it was not overflowing with people, but it was a start. There'll be more meetings in the future, I'm told.+++The Amazing Shrinking Sentinel blog has a great video where the resident blogger went out and interviewed people about the recent Lee Abrams-inspired redesign at the Orlando Sentinel. My favorite comment: "Today's issue shows Batman arrested. Who cares if Batman got arrested?"+++Finally, Romenesko blew off the Retch and didn't post anything directly about the banner drop. There's only a link to the Recovering Journalist where blog author Mark Potts whines about journalists whining. He says Sam Zell is "almost as much a victim as his employees." Except that he flies to Dubai on his private jet to race motorcycles with the sheiks. And we go home without jobs. Little different.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 3:59 PM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: ORLANDO SENTINEL, REDESIGN, SAM ZELL, TEAMSTERS, UNIONIZE
DISPATCH FROM THE TRENCHES
Why would someone get up before the crack of dawn, risk arrest and unfurl an enormous cloth banner down the side of the LA Times parking garage? Read on. Post below from the folks who brought you the Zell Hell banner this morning:
“But what if I get caught?” “You’re already caught. Better ask yourself--what if you get free?”
This little tidbit, found on the margins of a book about resistance, fits like a glove, doesn’t it? We’re all already caught. If we still have our jobs, we’ve lost the joy and the pride we used to have in our workplace. We hear our co-workers, our friends, lament, say goodbye. We see them with sleep-deprived eyes, cleaning their desks “just in case” or clearing their desks because they are going. We spend more time reading blogs and departure emails than researching, writing and editing news stories. The building is sick. From the security desk to the publisher’s office, we see nothing but malaise, dread, fear.
We’re already caught.
So we figured we had nothing to lose. Our jobs? Those might not be here tomorrow, anyway. Our reputation? Please. Our freedom? Let’s not go that far. We gambled that if we were seen, our bosses would rather hush us out of the building than create even more attention.
We’re already caught.
Do we think this will make a difference? Most certainly not. Except to tell others that we’re resisting. Like you, we didn’t expect that a paper could be dismantled so quickly. If Zell has his way, by the end the year, the LA Times will be nothing but fluff. By the end of the year, fresh out of jobs, we don’t want to be thinking “I should have done something”.
So we did something. A little something. It was really fun, actually. Resistance almost always is. We learned new skills, like sewing, and used some rusty old ones. We did our best not to get caught, and we were happy that someone took pictures before some smiling security guard found the wire cutters.
They were smiling, by the way. They too see people walk out with boxes, people they’ve known for years. They too fear for their jobs, and they too wish for the old days, when the paper was owned by someone who cared about journalism.
If someone comes tapping on our shoulders this afternoon, it will have been worth it. We were already caught, so better ask ourselves—what if we get free?
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:53 AM 28 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BANNER DROP
From Jim Newton, Editorial Page Editor
Goodbye, dear friends.
After today, I’m at xxx (NB: email deleted).
Please stay in touch,
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:50 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: JIM NEWTON
Zell to Chicago Nabes: You're Not Worth It.
Items from a fellow Retch at the Chicago Tribune. First, the Tribune will fire even more people, this time from outside the newsroom. No word on the numbers. Tribune honcho Bob Gremillion said:
We've already announced newsroom staff reductions, but our dire economic situation requires us to implement further cuts elsewhere in the company. We've not yet determined the total scope of the reductions, but they will be involuntary.
Full memo follows after the jump below.
Also, Chicago Retch reports that Sam's Zellots think it costs too much to zone the metro section of the Tribune. Instead, the plan is to distribute a pre-printed section three times a week. You can count on that having interesting, up-to-the-minute news. Total savings? $1 million.
Fellow Retcher's guest post below:
Several committees spent about seven weeks coming up with various redesign plans for the Chicago Tribune. Ways to produce a daily newspaper with 15 percent fewer pages, smaller paper size and a 50-50 newshole, yes, but also trying oh-so-pathetically to be a "fun" and "reader-friendly" paper after Lee Abrams' own "what means 'dateline'?" heart.
Well, when the results were presented to Abrams and Randy Michaels earlier this week, all that fell by the wayside, like a wrecked Ducati. So now the new editor will appoint a mystery eight-person NEW committee to come up with a re-redesign. And the deadline has, of course, shrunk to five weeks. Nothing good will come of this.
In other bad news, the metro section is at risk of being eviscerated. Here's why: Advertisers and readers love zoning. But zoning is expensive to execute on deadline. So some corporate genius has decided that the daily metro report should be tucked inside the A section and not zoned. How much metro? About enough for four stories, some briefs and a columnist. Or maybe just one giant charticle.
But what about the zoning? you ask. Well. The aforementioned savant suggests that a zoned metro section be produced several times a week… a day in advance of the pub date. Oh, and it will be a tabloid. That way the Tribune can still charge advertisers for zoned ads and—here's the great part—idle one press and lay off one press crew.
It will allegedly save $1 million a year, or roughly one Gerry Spector car collection. Never mind that it would ruin the local coverage readers allegedly love.
It's not set in stone yet and the AME for metro is busting his ass trying to prove to the Tribune's corporate masters that this is a terrible idea. But should he have to? It seems obvious.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:36 AM 9 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
Do you guys remember the lovely child's drawing posted earlier from Sun Sentinel Copy Editor Gail Gedan Spencer, the one by her son on why he wanted to be a "newspaper editer"?
Well, the layoffs went down at the Sun Sentinel today. Gail was among the victims. Journalist to the end, she asked me to post this postscript:
It's 2:15. I'm home.
I pour the bottle of water I got from HR into the dog's dish and change into slob attire (really not much different than my work attire).
I feel dazed and woozy (wait, that's because I had a gin and tonic at lunch).
Because I can. Because I've been fired. Oh sorry, involuntarily separated.
And because it's Coldplay theme week among the separated I'll leave you with another of their songs, See You Soon (because I do have to pack up my desk and turn in my separation papers sometime soon).
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:02 AM 11 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: LAYOFFS, SUN SENTINEL, THE LIST
RAISE ZELL, THE MOVIE
Here's a lovely zoom shot of the banner, which sadly was removed rather quickly. The security guards were smiling, though.
Also, I want to nip this union rumor in the bud. I know it's hard to believe anything an anonymous blogger says. But I'm a Los Angeles Times journalist. I have been for some time. I have nothing to do with unions--never been in one, don't know much about them. I want one thing, and one thing only: for our newspaper to be a great newspaper.
Sam Zell has shown no interest in that goal. So we have to figure out how to do it ourselves. I want to hear out the unions to see what they have to say. In the end, they may not work. Fine. But the more we do for ourselves, the better. Paper Cuts. Big things and small.
Oh, and here's the final moments of the banner drop.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 8:40 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BANNER DROP, LAYOFFS, SAM ZELL
Before the Man comes to take it down, hopefully some of you will have had the chance to see the three-story high headline on the side of the LA Times building this morning. A devoted fellow Retcher dropped a ginormous banner. It reads: Zell Hell: Take Back the Los Angeles Times.
Is that cool, or what? It's big. It's bold. It's a first step toward prying the LA Times out of the tight, greedy fingers of billionaire Sam Zell.
Here's the story for first time visitors. Real estate mogul Sam Zell took over the paper in January. After promising that the path to growth was not through cuts, he immediately began cutting. So far, Zell has ousted over 200 reporters, photographers, copy editors and editors from the Los Angeles Times. Hundreds of other editorial workers have been fired from other papers in the Tribune chain. This is not business acumen. This is not saving money. This is suicide.
Here's what the Retch is proposing. We fight back with Paper Cuts. We protest, in ways big and small, in different places and different forums. We join unions. We post bumper stickers. We bake cakes. We file lawsuits. Everything we can, in as many ways as we can. Together.
Our aim is to convince Zell that he has taken the wrong path to bettering our paper—both journalistically and financially. But if we cannot do that, then our aim is to convince Zell to sell the paper to an owner who actually cares about Los Angeles, about great journalism, about kicking ass and taking names and speaking truth to power.
There is no one thing that will suddenly result in Sam Zell ceasing his rampage. But if we work together, me and you, we can do it. We were the owners of the Los Angeles Times long before Sam Zell came along. And we will be its owners long after he has gone.
Take Back The Times.
First look, via celphone, minutes after the banner drop was complete.
For those who want a vertical.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 5:34 AM 11 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BANNER DROP, BUY OUTS, DUNG THROWING MONKEYS, LAYOFFS, SAM ZELL
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2008
More Tiny Stuff
The Retch had a request for more bumper stickers. The Retch is broke on this front. So if you want more stickers, you can buy them yourself at Cafepress, along with other stuff. (The teddy bear is the best).
Cafepress is an online store that charges outrageously high prices. I promise I don't make a penny. And somebody in Malaysia is almost certainly going to make less than that when they process your order. As the man said about water: There it is. Take it.
Also, the Newspaper Guild has posted an admirable list of questions and answers that came out of their informational meetings at the Redwood earlier this week. Take a look. And remember the Teamster meeting tonight.
900th time note: Retch doesn't support any union. Just the idea of working together. Together, we take back the times.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 3:09 PM 11 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BUMPER STICKERS, TEAMSTERS, UNIONIZE
You know what I'm talking about. The Teamsters are holding their informational meeting tonight. You know you should go. You want to. But the kids are home from school. You've got to watch that last "So You Think You Can Dance" episode. What's the point anyway?
Well, there's all kinds of excuses. Or you can take a refreshing one block walk in the waning California sunshine and listen to somebody talk about giving you a voice at the table. Bring a friend.
Where: Kyoto Grand Hotel, 120 S. Los Angeles St., Breakout Room One
When: Thursday, July 24. 5-8 p.m. Drop by whenever.
What: Yet another meeting to make Sam Zell wonder about how easy it is to manage property, instead of people
And speaking of managing people, the Retch is glad to see that the TellZell bumper stickers are filtering through Times land. Here's one actually in use.
Send in your own photos! Let's see how many places we can stick these things. We can do a feature, kind of like those shots of garden gnomes that get dragged around the globe. Except we'll leave our gnome at home.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 1:17 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BUMPER STICKERS, TEAMSTERS, UNIONIZE
Bob Carey analyzes the decline of the LA Times at Columbia Journalism Review as part of a feature they are doing called "Parting Thoughts." There are apparently enough journalists being laid off in this country to support a weekly column. How sad is that?
Also, Kevin notes that Mother Jones has posted a commemorative illustration of Tom Trapnell, the LAT art director leaving in the recent purge.
Update2: A farewell email from Tom Bronzini, design editor:
Here's one for Sam's Idea Bank: Next time you make a big purchase, buy something you can afford. Your deal is looking as hapless as some of those adjusted rate mortgages that people signed up for without reading the fine print.
Colleagues, I count myself privileged to have worked with you. My 37 years here have been an always interesting journey: from the Metro Copy Desk to the News Desk, P.M. Final, Saudi Fax Edition, Nuestro Tiempo, Sunday Calendar, the launch of Calendar Weekend, the launch of CCI and the launch of the Guide. Being with you and many others now departed from the paper has meant a lot to me.
I have worked with you in the midst of earthquakes, riots in L.A., the O.J. case, Hollywood awards nights, late ads and the always looming deadlines to get our job done and get it right. What has remained constant is the high quality of people I could count as my colleagues and friends. I will miss you. It's the hardest part of leaving.
Update with two small bits of gossip: Over at the Chicago Tribune, the rumors are that 40 or so people have volunteered to be laid off. That means about 20 more will have to be fired.
And in the LA Times editorial department, Editor Russ Stanton has decreed that eight people must go as part of the 150-person round of layoffs and buyouts. No rhyme or reason. It's just the number that Zell's minions came up with.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 1:08 PM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: FAREWELLS, LAYOFFS
I Do Not Like You, Sam I Am
More on the protest front. I'm told that Jack McGrath, a loyal Los Angeles Times reader and Studio City publicist, is paying for a full page ad to run this Friday in the Studio City Sun, hand delivered to 25,000 folks in the Valley.
The ad is an open letter to Sam Zell, urging him to sell the paper to somebody that actually cares about Los Angeles. Here's my favorite section:
I have been a loyal and satisfied Times subscriber for over 40 years. I like the book section, the Sunday opinion pages, the Highway section, the columnists, and the look of the paper. I do not support what you are doing to the LA Times.
He closes with this simple exhortation: "Give us back our newspaper!"
I like the sound of that. Take Back the Times.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:35 AM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: OPEN LETTER, PETITION, PROTEST, STUDIO CITY SUN
Zell Takes the Cake
Protests, small and large, are popping out everywhere! The folks at Hartford, who have watched a quarter of their newsroom disappear this year, decided to make Sam a cake. One staffer, I'm told, poked his eyes out. Take that, partner.
Stay tuned for more.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 11:21 AM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: BUY OUTS, HARTFORD COURANT, LAYOFFS, SAM ZELL
Hartford Courant's List
A tipster has forwarded a list of 68 Hartford Courant staffers taking the buyout or being "involuntarily separated." That's 10 more than originally advertised. Zell can probably buy himself a new Ducati with that.
Update: Several fellow Retchers have told me that the list includes ALL Hartford Courant staff who left the paper in 2008--both this round and the spring buyout. So maybe Zell can only put a down payment on that Ducati.
The list is totally unofficial; all normal caveats attach. If you want your name off, email me at inkstainedretch at gmail.com. If you want to add your name, do the same.
You can click on the name to bring up an automatic search of Google's news archives. This method is not the best. Some reporters' work will come up, others not. And if you're a photographer or a copy editor or non-editorial employee, it's useless.
The idea, though, is to show the loss. If Connecticut readers want to see what's being lost when reporters walk out the door, this will give some sense. But I apologize in advance for the imperfections.
POSTED BY INKSTAINEDRETCH AT 4:27 AM 10 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: HARTFORD COURANT, SAM ZELL, THE LIST
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2008
The Newspaper Guild has posted about last night's meeting at the Redwood. The Retch's take is that the meeting was a start. It wasn't exactly jammed full of people. Whether that's an indication of fear or disinterest, time will tell.
There's another shot tomorrow night. The Teamsters are meeting on Thursday at the Kyoto Grand, the old New Otani hotel, beginning after 5 p.m. Again, it's close. It's easy. And here, the sushi is outstanding.
The Retch has been asked whether he or anyone at the blog is affiliated with any kind of labor movement. The answer is no. I just think that we need to do everything possible, in every kind of way, to counteract Sam Zell's destruction of our house. Unions are one of the tools at our disposal.
Do they stop layoffs? No--Zell just fired the Teamster-backed Ryder Logistics delivery guys. Do they give some of us the willies? Yes. Do they clog up the system? Possibly.
But can they also be fun? And cool? And make killer videos with serious bass?
Check out the YouTube video below, a Baltimore Sun Guild Workers production. And think about us doing the same.
+ + +