Layoffs at the Houston Chronicle
"The Former Chron Employees' List, So Far (Updated 5 pm Wednesday)," By Richard Connelly, Hair Balls blog, March 24 and 25, got more than 100 comments. Here's a sampling.
Human face: Your coverage of the Chron layoffs has been admirable. It's natural that you would be so effective in putting a human face on what's happening to your fellow journalists.
Everyone should remember that similar stories are unfolding in thousands of workplaces around the country.
Thanks: Many of us at the Chron appreciate your reporting. The way it should be.
Cut the fat cats: They have a vice president for everything. If they'd get rid of about 50 percent of those, look at how much they'd save. Advertising is being laid off tomorrow? Things must really be bad if they are laying off the people who bring in the money. But what the hell, they've already laid off the people who write the articles, so the few subscribers they have left won't even want to pick up the paper. I love how the fat-cat white men are always left at the top.
Cut the cronies: As usual, they keep the wrong people. Get rid of Sweeney and Cohen and his cronies. That alone would save enough money to keep a lot of reporters on the payroll, and I doubt that crew would be missed. It isn't as if they have some mystical editorial insight.
Out with upper: That all those people in upper management can't find a way for the paper to turn its online edition into a moneymaking venture is reason alone to show them the door.
Bottom line: The Chron is a sinking ship. Print journalism is a sinking ship. And you don't stay on a sinking ship. Yes, the purge has been extremely sad and ridiculous. But maybe, down the road, when these people look back, they might consider it the best thing that could have happened. Onward and upward, friends, and the best of luck to you.
Classy Chron: The Chron's editorial yesterday praised the president for creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. Then they fired all the women on the editorial board. Classy!
Nice e-mail: I think it's real touching how Cohen communicated with his dwindling staff via e-mail. I mean, who needs him to show up and deliver the news personally in this fantastic technological age we're living in? Way to go, Jeffy! Woot!
Sighhhhhhh: So there I am in that list above...Wow. I'm not sure how to respond now that I see so many of us listed. I, for one, am very glad to be out of there. On the other hand, being without a job in this economy is a bit concerning. I know I have skills outside of the print-design arena, but I worry for those who do not, and I know my friends still there are very upset. I was talking to one earlier, and I know she was in tears over it all.
I'm not sure if any of you were following my Twitter postings yesterday, but I was basically running the entire day's layout all day. I knew I was probably a goner since I was a contract employee, so I figured, why not? People had a right to know what was happening. Then Jeff Cohen himself called me and, in not so many words, asked me to stop, to be professional about it all. I was, by the way, being professional. Of course, I am by nature a smart-ass at times, but I was only conveying the truth of the day's events.
After the call, I logged off for a while, but then received another call...You know what that one was. I quickly fired up Twitter again to post one last time within the building. Again, nothing negative or untruthful, only the honest truth that I'd been let go.
Jeff...You've said since day one in Houston that the Chronicle would be the watchdog of the community. You have a poster in your office that reads, "Remember why we are here." Be truthful to that and the readers of the paper, and tell the public what just happened, what will happen and why, and what we can all expect from the Houston Chronicle in years to come. And do it as a newspaper man, not a guy with a corner office.
The best parts: My favorite part of the whole experience was being greeted with an offhand joke about copy editors by the bigwig who told me my copy-editing job was being eliminated.
Or maybe it was being shuffled off to an office with an "outplacement specialist" who peppered me with questions about what other jobs I might want right after being given the news.
Or maybe it was being interrupted after I was "given a moment" for bursting into tears in front of said specialist, only to be walked in on by the next fired person (I guess it's hard to keep track of everyone with so much traffic through human resources).
No, no...my favorite part was definitely listening to two human resources ladies cattily discussing how "awkward" laying people off was, not two feet away from me, while I waited by the elevators to be escorted out like a criminal.
Thanks for giving us information on who was eliminated. I too am shocked by some of the names here, having worked with them closely, and knowing who is still there.
One thing in common: The thing many of us have in common is that we were chosen not for our skills/talent nor our salary. There are older folks and young folks. There is no rhyme or reason to who they picked. One thing we do have in common is that we do not make six figures. We are the 30Ks and 40Ks a year. Did we really save them that much? I have no income, no insurance for my family, no way to pay mortgage/bills. Oh, but I did walk away with a friendly handshake and kind words from my boss. If only I could cash that in.
The correct list: I know people are bitter, but does anyone really believe that Jeff Cohen or anyone else in management came to the Chronicle to lay people off? Hearst wanted 90 bodies. Sure, all of us might make a few substitutions, but what I've heard in the newsroom is an understanding that if you had to fire 90 people, this was pretty much the correct list. Anyone want to offer up his own list of 90 that's substantially different?
It's the Internet: I've seen it alluded to, but doesn't it seem that this is in a major way related to the fact that almost no one subscribes and most just check chron.com? See you on the golf course, Jeff!
To iwonder: Nope, bullshit, you either drank the Kool-Aid or you're an old white guy who has an office and a fat Hearst salary. There are numerous other people who could have easily gone and not been missed whatsoever instead of many of these hardworking, experienced people who spent years and nights and weekends of their lives and who dropped everything when there was an accident or space shuttle crash or 9/11 or another sickening corporate crime that needed reporting and editing.
Newspapers everywhere: It's a very sad day for print journalism in Houston. For me personally, this week's events have more to do with the death of newspapers across the nation than with problems specific to the Chronicle or Houston. Matter of fact, I remember reading in Advertising Age not too long ago that the Houston Chronicle's Web site (www.chron.com) was the most successful of any daily paper in the nation in regards to revenue generated online in comparison to in print. So in some ways the Chron was cutting-edge. But obviously that was not enough.
As a former Cox Newspapers reporter who married another newspaper reporter, I find it sad that one day I will have to explain to my daughter, due in August, what a newspaper was. God bless all of you fellow print journalists out of work.
Ink By The Barrell
Where news comes from: While print journalism may be suffering, journalism itself is not. People still want their news, yet the people who provide it are out of work. The Internet is a great place to get news, but where do you think it comes from? These journalists still need jobs in order to give you the news you want. Period.
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