Saturday, November 14, 2009
Insanity in the newsroom
This week was really quite the week at my place of employ. On Monday morning, we walked in to find that 3 top people in charge of the company - including the president - were fired over the weekend. Extra guards were in the lobby and the third floor - where the administration was - got put on lockdown. Immediately every media outlet in town, smelling blood, was filing reports about our alleged soon-to-be demise. We had a large staff meeting where the new president of the company essentially read out loud a press release that we'd already seen - then refused to take questions. Bad sign. A number of us then surrounded the two managing editors and demanded to know more. We got a few details - ie that there would not be layoffs - but not much.
More news trickled out and more outside reporters were calling us staff writers on the sly and then a bigger bomb dropped on Thursday when, on deadline, they announced that our top editor had resigned. He had been missing all week, so this was not a great shock but it was still very weird and left a lot of unanswered questions.
It seems that a lot of the mess stems from debates high up in the ranks of our owners involving our finances. We have always operated at a huge deficit and the question is how long they want this state of affairs to continue. Although there are some things that I cannot say in this public space, I can say I am concerned. I've already had one friend email me a job possibility and it's no secret that much of my newsroom is panicked. Although we just hired a photo editor and started a new radio talk show last Monday, we lost two of our White House reporters in last two months, so things are not trending up. And on Friday, we got the inevitable memo from Human Resources saying the company, as of immediately, was cutting its matching contributions to our 401Ks. Other newspapers did the same thing ages ago so we were lucky to have kept ours this long. Still, employee morale has tanked.
On the plus side, Veeka - shown here in her new pink loafers and Russian-style white hair bow - was the model child Friday morning when CBN arrived at my home to shoot a segment on single adoptive moms. As a camera man followed us about, we made my bed, picked produce in our garden, I combed her hair and brushed her teeth and we posed next to the harp.