Thursday, January 29, 2009

Newspaper Layoff News With Refreshing Bit of Candor

Capital-Gazette in Annapolis Doesn't Sugarcoat Its Problems

When newspapers slash away at their payroll nowadays, it's hardly news. And when it's revealed, the copy is like day-old toast, as if it was dictated by a fraidy-cat lawyer than written by a reporter.
So, it was surprising -- not to mention refreshing -- to see how the Capital-Gazette in Annapolis, Md., reported how 29 percent of its parent company's workforce will soon be no more.
This passage is most atypical of the trove of layoff dispatches:

Bob Gilbert, a 28-year employee who has been The Capital's photo editor for 15 years, said he saw it coming. He said he was told to start looking for another job months ago.
Although he said he didn't appreciate how "clumsy" the way the layoffs were announced, Mr. Gilbert feels more fortunate than some of the other employees who lost their jobs. Mr. Gilbert has some vacation saved, as well as a pension and Social Security benefits.

It's a safe bet you'll never see a passage like that in a Gannett or MediaNews paper. In fact, I haven't.
But all the candor doesn't mask the larger problems underlying the C-G and its brethren, especially a quote from publisher Tom Marquardt who said that revenues for what should be fat December newspapers were "so far off our worst expectations."
There's no way to sugar coat that, and kudos to the Capital-Gazette for not even trying.

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