Thirteen years ago today — December 18, 2000 — I received this email from reader Mike Woods:
Can we do a little poll on holiday bonuses? Do any newspapers slip employees, especially the rank and file ink stained cads, a little something extra during the holiday season? I work at a big New York paper, and don’t even get so much as a lump of coal.
I received dozens of responses from readers. Here are some of their holiday bonus tales, originally posted on my site (at that other place I worked) in 2000:
From CRAIG LANCASTER: In 1992, I worked for the Texarkana Gazette. Our Christmas bonus was $15, minus taxes. Several months before Christmas, when the Lakers’ Magic Johnson announced the first of his many comebacks, I ran a centerpiece about his impending return. In my mailbox the day was a note from the newspaper’s vice president: “Magic Johnson is nothing but an immoral HIV carrier, and our readers don’t care about him.” As you can imagine, I took my $12.63 or whatever the hell it was and bought beer, which I drank to ease the pain.
From RICHARD A. MARINI: Back in the late ’80s I worked at US Weekly. Come Christmas that year, I received a $500 bonus check handed out by editor Carole Wallace, who’d taken over the position only a couple of months earlier. The first workday after New Year’s I was asked to vacate the premises (a.k.a. fired). I’ve never been able to figure out that particular disconnect, but the check cleared and, to this day, it’s the first and only cash Christmas bonus I’ve ever received.
From DAVID K. WRIGHT: I’m a former city editor for the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth, a daily of about 30,000 circulation in northern Indiana. Modest Christmas bonuses were passed out by owner John Dille, who also saw to it that all employees and spouses were given a holiday party. At the party, held early in December one year, a drunken employee lurched up to Dille and demanded to know when the bonuses were to be distributed. That marked the end of the bonus scheme at the Truth, though the annual Christmas party continued.
From LARKIN WARREN: Back when Chris Whittle and Phillip Moffitt owned Esquire (pre-Hearst), there were a few years when the mag was “closed” between mid-day Christmas Eve and the day after New Year’s; it was paid time, and didn’t count against vacation allotments the rest of the year. Of course, editing and production schedules got completely squooshed on either side of the break — and it was probably informed more by pragmatism than generosity (the theory being that nobody was going to get much done anyway), but who cares about the motivation — time plus money = a very nice gift./CONTINUES Read More