Monthly Archives: July 2013

Grumpy Abe’s Plain Dealer “hit list” may need some editing. It says that “among the victims was Harlan Spector, the guild president,” while an Associated Press story on today’s Plain Dealer layoffs says Spector volunteered to leave the paper. (Please email me with corrections or post them in comments.)

From Will Bunch’s excellent “The de-newspaperization of America”:

smokeIt’s a very very sad day — not just for the journalists involved but for all of us. For more than 40 years, we’ve seen America’s once-great cities dying from neglect, from bad policies and worse politicians, and from the greed that moved people’s jobs out of town and then across the sea — but things might have been even worse if some great journalists hadn’t been there to occasionally yell, “Timber!”

Now even that legacy of the Industrial Revolution is coming to an end. Now we can only wonder: If a smokestack falls in the city and no one is there to record it, does it make a sound?

* The Plain Dealer hit list (
* Plain Dealer executes newsroom layoffs (
* The de-newspaperization of America (

UPDATE: From the Plain Dealer’s John Kroll:

Corrections I know of: These were volunteers — Margaret Bernstein, Tom Breckenridge, Dave Davis, Stan Donaldson, Pat Galbincea, Mark Gillispie, John Horton, Felesia Jackson, Doug Kramer, John Mangels, Racquel Robinson, Michael Scott, Scott Shaw, Harlan Spector. Not sure, but Deborah Miller and Bill Piotrowski may have been volunteers too. I think there were several others.

Also, this does not count two non-Guild managers — me, the Online Editor, a volunteer, and Randy Roguski, Business Editor./CONTINUES Read More

Former newspaper mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted of fraud in 2007 and did prison time, chatted with Bloomberg TV hosts today about Warren Buffett’s newspaper purchases, the future of print, newspaper advertising and other media topics.

Some quotes from a Bloomberg-provided transcript:

Conrad Black

Conrad Black

* “We have to make the Internet transition and have a printed product for those who want it. But the burden of printing is going to have to be carried in the homes of the subscribers if they want it printed, it will be printed in a home printer rather than a big printer on a colossal press.”

* “A great, respected newspaper name, even if the medium itself is becoming obsolete, it’s a powerful draw and worth a lot.”

* “Editors are more important than ever and to digest of these things important [sic]. I think there’s a place for raising the cover price for producing a better product and even a designer product for certain types of subscribers.”

* Conrad Black on newspapers and other matters (

The transcript is after the jump. Read More

What’s going on here?
Nearly a year ago, Michelle Leder bought her Footnoted website back from Morningstar.

“One of the things I had to do post-divorce from Morningstar was set up a way to accept credit cards,” Leder (at left) tells Romenesko readers.michelle “Chase is both my personal and biz bank, so I reached out to them. The process took forever, which was OK because so few people want to pay by credit card. But then two weeks ago, a government agency asked to buy a single piece of my research and wanted to pay for it on a government card.

“Chase was dragging its feet approving the application so I reached out to my banker and said he was keeping the government waiting, which probably wasn’t a good thing. It was approved, but on the contingency that they had to pay a visit to the house and take a picture of my computer screen.

“Just seems like a giant waste of time to me!”

UPDATE: “One of my [Twitter] followers Photoshopped this New Yorker cartoon,” Leder writes in a follow-up email.


Bakersfield Californian digital content editor Louis Amestoy confirms this report from a Romenesko reader:

The Bakersfield Californian [on Tuesday] laid off both of its photo editors: images-1 Director of Photography Alex Horvath, who has been with the newspaper since 2000, and Assistant Photo Editor Michael Fagans. The paper is left with three staff photographers, but no photo editors.

Horvath tells me he was surprised by the layoff. “I did not see it coming,” he writes in an email. “I thought ownership and top management appreciated my efforts … I truly loved working the Bakersfield Californian and I hope some day they will see value in hiring picture editors. Editor John Arthur and Sports Editor Tony Lacava and Web Editor Christine Peterson are extremely supportive and gracious to me.”

The staff photographers now report to the digital content editor.

“This chick is so batshit – excuse me, bat, you know what — excuse me!” (

Wall Street Journal day editor Bill Power and digital news deputy editor Jennifer Hicks have been put in charge of the Style & Substance blog, “a beacon for the proper use of English in our journalistic pursuits.”ss

Journal editor Gerard Baker writes in a memo: “I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Paul Martin for his exemplary stewardship of Style & Substance and for his many other contributions to the Journal and Dow Jones. Paul joined the Journal in 1960 and held a multitude of important positions in the newsroom.”

Martin wrote his farewell column on July 1, after a 27-year run.

Baker’s memo is after the jump. Read More

From the Save the Plain Dealer page on Facebook:

* Union: “We have not completed a tally” of those laid off (
* The Plain Dealer has 9 recent job postings (
* Earlier: Plain Dealer staffers will get the layoff news by phone (

A fist? A can of Crisco? We don’t get it!
* Fox 2 Detroit: “Can anyone explain what this means???” (

* The Politico story that claimed Jill Abramson “is very, very unpopular” inside the newsroom made the Times executive editor cry. (
* ABC’s “World News With Diane Sawyer” had more 25-to-54 viewers than “NBC Nightly News” last week. (
* Sales of “adult sophisticate titles” at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores have dropped 86% since 1998. (Now the magazine shelves are being cleared.) ( | DoD: Penthouse and Playboy are not indecent. (
* Keith J. Kelly: “Speculation is building that Barry Diller is growing more disenchanted with the Daily Beast.” (
chat* President Obama visits Chattanooga and gets the finger from its daily newspaper’s editorial page. ( | The paper had a “rude headline.” ( | Update — A reader points out: “The Times Free Press has two op-ed pages. They kept separate liberal and conservative pages after the merger because the Times was liberal and the Free Press was conservative. The Times editorial was pro-Obama.”
* Facebook attracts more 18- to 24-year-old people during prime-time than any of major TV networks. (
* Good riddance, ATT! Google’s bringing faster Wi-Fi to Starbucks. (
* Bowlers Journal turns 100. “Fortunately our audience still likes print,” says a co-owner. (
* Sinclair Broadcast Group plans a “hybrid” local/national cable news network.(
* Brian Reich and former MarketWatch media columnist Jon Friedman launch ChalkTalk. (globenewswire)
* Atlantic Media’s Quartz open-sources the code behind Chartbuilder. (

“Well, that’s it,” a Plain Dealer staffer writes on Facebook. “The ax will fall on editorial at the Plain Dealer between 8 and 10 a.m. tomorrow. We’ve been told to stay home and await a phone call about our fate. Please pray for me as I am praying for my Guild brothers and sisters.”

UPDATE: Here’s the company memo:

July 30, 2013

In September of 2012 we announced that we would begin the process of designing the best business model that would safeguard the future of this enterprise, ensure our leadership in the market, uphold our journalistic standards and continue our mission to serve the Northeastern Ohio community for years to come.

As we announced in our prior communications on April 4, 2013, to ensure that we are positioned to remain Northeast Ohio’s number one source for news and information in the ever-changing media environment, the Northeast Ohio Media Group will be launched later this summer and the Plain Dealer Publishing Company will adopt a new home delivery schedule for the newspaper.

These changes require a redesign of our operations that will result in a realignment of the workforce. These are difficult decisions, but are necessary.

In our June 19, 2013 e-mail to employees informing them of separation notifications that were to take place later that day in various divisions, we indicated that we would go through a similar process with employees in the remaining divisions at a later date.

From approximately 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 31st, employees in the Editorial Department will receive a phone call notifying them that they are either being separated from employment on that date, or that they are not being separated from employment. Employees who are notified that they are not being separated should report for work at their next regularly scheduled time.

Employees who are notified that they are being separated will be provided a time to meet Thursday, August 1st with a Human Resources representative at the Tiedeman Production and Distribution Center. At that time, each impacted employee will receive a copy of his/her severance information and will also be given transitional details, including meeting with a representative Right Management, a company that specializes in transitional programs.

We sincerely regret having to go through this process and we thank all who are impacted for their years of service and wish them all the best for their future.