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Daily Archives: June 6, 2012

A bankruptcy judge on Thursday will consider a restructuring plan by Tribune and its creditors — one that apparently is palatable to all parties and the judge is expected to approve. The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Oneal reports:

Given the complexity and contentiousness of the case, legal experts said the judge will likely take several weeks to write a formal opinion. But approval would pave the way for Tribune to exit bankruptcy protection as early as the fourth quarter of this year, assuming the company and its lawyers can overcome several key obstacles still in its path.

Tribune filed for bankruptcy in late 2008 and has spent more than $400 million in legal/professional fees.

* Tribune, creditors to present plan to leave bankruptcy (Chicago Tribune)

Kade Seibold, who was fired from the Rayne (La.) Independent last month for letting the “coach’s bullshit and laziness” remark you see below get into the paper, called this afternoon to let Romenesko readers know that he’s found a new job.

“I started working for the City of Rayne last Wednesday as a water treatment plant operator.”

Seibold, 32, says he’s making more money than he did as a newspaper reporter – “but not much more” – and “if the Rayne Independent called and offered me my job back, I wouldn’t take it.”

* “I’m not good enough to work for the paper, but good enough for the mayor” (@KadeSeibold)
* Earlier: Reporter explains how “coach’s bullshit and laziness” line got into the paper (JimRomenesko.com)

It was announced yesterday that sports columnists Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich left Gannett’s Louisville Courier-Journal to join WDRB television station.

Crawford, who joined the newspaper in 1992 as a sports clerk and whose father was a longtime Courier-Journal news columnist, explains in his debut WDRB.com column why he changed jobs:

I loved being in the newspaper. I did not love the newspaper business. Sportswriters get front-row seats. But the shrinking of a newspaper I grew up with and loved was not something I cared to watch from the inside any longer.

Eric Crawford

There were too many meetings run by executives in Arlington, Va., too many “news” initiatives dictated from afar that detracted from news needs on the ground here. And in the end, there were too few of my colleagues left in the building, too many gifted people with productive years left being spun back into the community instead of staying where they belonged, inside that building to cover it.

It wasn’t the fault of local editors and publishers. They could no more stop the slide than they could stop severe storms. If left to call the shots on their own, I have no doubt that a different course would have been set for the newspaper long ago, and its status today would have been far different. But no one in Louisville, ultimately, is calling the shots for Louisville’s paper.

* Eric Crawford: Why I walked away from the only job I ever wanted (WDRB.com)
* Rick Bozich, Eric Crawford leave the Courier-Journal (Courier-Journal)

The CEO of a Christian book and music publishing company in Oklahoma prayed with his employees before a recent all-hands meeting, then went ballistic over an anonymous email he received and fired 25 people. (The email is posted below, along with a recording of the meeting.)

“It’s not fair, it’s not right, but that’s the reality of the situation,” said Tate Publishing CEO Ryan Tate.

Ryan Tate

He continued:

This email [about jobs being outsourced to the Philippines] was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Things are going to be different, and the reality of it is people in this room are responsible for it. Cowards in this room were a part of it. Don’t kid yourself, the people next to you are responsible for this and I’m going to find you. I’m very good at it.

Tate, who was unaware that his talk was being recorded, told his employees that “I’ve probably failed you in that I’ve been a little too lenient and a little too on the side of mercy and grace and not enough justice.”

I’ve turned my head, I’ve looked the other way, I’ve let it go. I’ve tried to be nice. I’ve trusted you. Good God. Want to watch Netflix? Let them watch Netflix. Let them throw it up on a projector if they want. They want to be on Facebook all day long? Be on Facebook all day long.

He said that if the person who sent the email about the company outsourcing jobs “comes forward now, you will not save these 25 people” because “what’s done is done.” He added: “It’s over. You’ve missed your chances and I gave you multiple.”

He told the fired employees: “If I was you, I’d get on a mission to find who cost you your job. …There’s going to be a lot of innocent, good hard-working people pay a big price for this. I hate that. It tears me up, and I’ve shed a lot of tears over this. But I will not stand for it.”

The 25 were dismissed, he said, for breaching confidentiality agreements in their employment contracts when they allegedly leaked rumors about the outsourcing.

* CEO prays with, then fires 25 employees (The Journal Record)
* Tate: “If you’re a pain in the ass to me, I’m going to fire you too” (NewsOK.com)
* About that crazy staff meeting at Tate Publishing (Lost Ogle)
* 10 things I’ve learned about Tate Publishing CEO Ryan Tate (Lost Ogle)

THE ANONYMOUS EMAIL THAT WAS SENT TO TATE AND HIS EMPLOYEES:

Ryan Tate,

In 2009, Tate Publishing LLC was named one of the best places to work in the state of Oklahoma. In a post published on your blog in April 2, 2009, you say ”most publishers outsource and farm out their work because it is cheaper” and went on to say “we handle every element of production in house” and also “if you want to lead an industry and succeed you need to make the extra investment in the staff”. Three short years later, you have opened an office in the Philippines to do just that – outsource and farm out the work that has been done by loyal, hard-working Oklahoma employees. What has changed in that time that has caused you to come to the conclusion that “a staff that never quits” as you referred to them, are no longer worth the investment?

LISTEN TO THE SECRETLY RECORDED MEETING:

One press critic’s theory: People in Birmingham don’t love their newspaper the way that New Orleans residents love the Times-Picayune, so there aren’t any Save-the-News rallies.

“The News spent decades building a bad reputation for itself,” writes Kyle Whitmire. “It defended segregation and was not willing to hold up a mirror to the city it covered. Slowly it moved to the right side of history, but when it did, it did so with reporting that was stripped of any voice or editorial latitude.”

Birmingham News columnist John Archibald says he’s been hearing the why-no-protests? question too.

I hear that it is because we are too far right, or that we are too far left. I’ve heard that we are only interested in black people, and that we hate black people. I have heard we have outlived our usefulness, and that we don’t dig hard enough.

To those people I say … what have you been aggregating?

If you want to look at why New Orleans residents protest newspaper cuts and the people of Birmingham don’t, look at the nature of the cities, says Archibald.

New Orleans has identity and pride. Birmingham has division and hostility.

We can’t get together to “save” anything, because we can’t agree that anything is worth saving.

* New Orleans rallies around Times-Picayune; where’s the outrage in Birmingham? (Weldbham.com)
* Archibald: Why there aren’t newspaper protests in Birmingham (Al.com)

The Washington Post intern’s sins? “Rosie just introduced the CEO of the Washington Post to the staff of the Washington Post” in her newsroom-distributed bio, writes Betsy Rothstein. “She also spelled [Katharine] Graham’s name wrong.”

Rosie Powers

* Washington Post’s Rosie the Intern deserves a prize (Fishbowl DC)

The Post’s Gene Weingarten writes on Twitter: “They are piling on a kid for something she didn’t write for publication. …That’s low.”

Washington photographer Melissa Golden tells Weingarten: “But I bet she’s never going to misspell a name ever again. One can only hope this may transform her into an uber-journo.”

* Earlier: NYT “astonishingly and repeatedly” misspells Sulzberger, notes ombud

From my Facebook wall:

(Chandrasekaran is a Washington Post senior correspondent and associate editor. Leonhardt is a Pulitzer-winning New York Times journalist.)

* Politico goes for “fair and balanced” – and succeeds, in the Fox News sense. (CJR.org)
* Story-pitching clinic for female journalists draws a crowd. (New York Observer)
* CNN taps Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker’s Washington reporter, as a correspondent. (Politico)
* Wendy Ruderman replaces Al Baker as NYT police bureau chief. (New York Observer)
* Catholic League (that would be Bill Donohue) accuses NPR of taking “bigoted swipe” against priests. (NPR.org)
* Roseanne Barr says she’s in talks to host a Fox News show. (Politicker.com)

Warren Buffett hoped Berkshire Hathaway could keep quiet about its investment in struggling Lee Enterprises, but the SEC wouldn’t allow it. On Tuesday, the billionaire investor disclosed that Berkshire purchased 1.66 million shares of Lee, or about 3.2% of the newspaper chain, earlier this year. (Lee publishes 48 dailies, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

Berkshire Hathaway now owns or has stakes in the Washington Post, Omaha World-Herald, Buffalo News, Media General newspapers and Lee papers.

Seeking Alpha contributor Sammy Pollack writes:

It is likely that Buffett wanted to keep the position from being disclosed because he intends on buying more shares. Also, it is unlikely that Buffett would have started accumulating the stock if he was only interested in 1.66 million shares. Perhaps Buffett will slow his buying now that shares have moved significantly, but on a pull back I believe Buffet will continue to buy LEE. Ultimately, Buffett could be interested in buying the whole company.

Erik Holm of the Wall Street Journal reports: “The last time Berkshire was permitted to keep a new investment hidden for a time, Buffett was building a new position in IBM last year. The stake now amounts to about 5.6% of IBM’s outstanding shares.”

In Wednesday pre-market trading, Lee shares were up more than 20% — from $1.15 to $1.40.

* Berkshire Hathaway reveals 3.2% stake in Lee (St.Louis Business Journal)
* Buffett buys Lee Enterprises, should you? (Seeking Alpha)
* Earlier: Layoffs at Lee papers as CEO gets $500,000 bonus (JimRomenesko.com)
* Earlier: Lee declares bankruptcy, but execs get 30%-plus bonuses (JimRomenesko.com)