One veteran journalist says in an email that this “incredible two-year non-compete contract that Halifax Media Holdings is forcing on the employees of what had been the New York Times’ Regional Newspapers …. clearly [is] a strategy to allow Halifax to fire a bunch of people who don’t sign ‘for cause’ so Halifax won’t have to pay severance.”
I hear that at least one-well known journalist is refusing to sign the agreement and expects to be fired by the end of the day. I’ve emailed this person for comment. I’ve also left a message for Halifax Media corporate communications director Lori Catron.
It was shameful enough that the New York Times Company dumped thousands of employees when it sold the 16 newspapers in its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings with no provisions about job security.
Now comes word that Regional Media Holdings is requiring those employees whom it deems highly enough to retain to sign “non-competition agreements” that provide (1) that “the Company is free to terminate the Employee’s employment with the Company at any time for any reason” (so-called “at-will employment”) and (2) that bans terminated employees for two years from working for any media outlet that sells advertising — whether print, television, radio or Internet — in any city or county in which Halifax does business. In other words, it bans journalists from working as journalists where they live.
Employees have until tomorrow — Tuesday, January 10 — to sign away their rights or be fired. Oh, and forget about applying for a job at the New York Times. The deal bans The Times from hiring any of its marooned former employees for at least two years. Journalism in the age of leveraged-buyout artists.