Ex-Journal Register staffer: Chapter 11/sale news isn’t a surprise

Letter to Romenesko

From RACHEL JACKSON, former Journal Register employee: The [Journal Register] Chapter 11/sale announcement does not surprise me in the least – and the employee you quoted as calling this “horseshit” is exactly right.

John Paton and his cronies ran the papers into the ground in their effort to “modernize” the company. They were killing off print and and they openly admitted it. They cut jobs with abandon, set unrealistic individual production goals and local benchmarks, attempted to clone community engagement efforts everywhere without regard to local demographics or values, and – as the other employee stated – constantly spewed the company line about how great Digital First is and how we all need to get on board. (Aside: I’m 30, very active on social media, and grasp the concept of live online updates, but clearly Digital First did not provide the solution to the company’s problems.)

Then, this week, Paton blamed the continuing budget problems on pensions – on the very employees doing the work in the field every day – the very employees who hear complaints in the community about how “this used to be such a great newspaper – it’s so thin now, there’s nothing worth reading in it – the online version is so buried under popups and other glitzy ads that you can’t even find the news anymore and it’s just not worth bothering.” This, we heard in the community.

In the office, our technology was so slow and awful we couldn’t perform basic functions – including loading those very same clunky news pages so we could update the copy with breaking news and information. We watched as the company poured what could have been salary money into remodeling or relocating offices. One property that had been moved out of downtown was relocated back into the downtown. Another property, which was too far for anyone to walk to, was remodeled to make room for community media labs and community engagement efforts.

He lays the blame on pensions? Give me a break. Without employees, you have no product – but, oh, wait: Perhaps that’s why we all were forced to help our local JRC property recruit 500 free community bloggers last year. So Paton wouldn’t have to pay anymore employees. Way to value the people, Paton. Way to reward them for trying so hard to support your goals.

* How JRC bankruptcy might affect the New Haven Register revival (niemanlab.org)

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