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Two-time Pulitzer winner Richard Read wrote this farewell note to Oregonian colleagues after taking the paper’s buyout and leaving the paper on Dec. 31. “Hopefully other reporters can get a little bit of his wisdom,” writes the Oregonian staffer who forwarded Read’s email.

From: Richard Read
Subject: Bye for now

Dear friends-

It’s time to say goodbye. I’ll miss each one of you. I can’t resist dispensing some advice, worth what you pay for it, to reporters especially.

Richard Read

Richard Read

Manage your editors with patience. Some of them labor under the misimpression that you work for them, not vice versa. Learn from each one. Learn from your fellow reporters. Always have 10 story ideas; editors fill a vacuum. Marvel each day that you get paid to receive an education. Treat your sources with respect. Every so often, try doing something instead of just writing about doing something.

Fight for the little person, the voiceless, the abused and seldom seen. Expose corruption, injustice and ignorance.

Stay safe. Some of us, including Helen Jung, who still works with you, have risked our lives in war zones for The Oregonian. Do not try this at home. Remember, when covering a volcano, not to interview the eruption. I knew two photographers and a volcanologist who died that way in Japan, along with their driver and a cop who tried to save them. Another time, Oregonian reporter Joan Laatz Jewett, speeding with a photographer at the wheel to cover a Clackistan shooting, noticed the end of a gun barrel and a puff of smoke. The bullet hit the news car’s windshield frame to the right of Joan’s head./CONTINUES Read More

Seattle Times editor Kathy Best writes in her buyouts memo: “I don’t want to lose any of you and I know that doing so carries a price for our newsroom and for our readers. But we don’t have a choice if we want The Seattle Times to continue.”

Best sent this to her staff earlier this week:

As you know, 2016 is a tough budget year for The Seattle Times.

Thanks to your creativity, we were able to find tens of thousands of dollars in savings from expenses. But even after pulling all the change from all the seat cushions, we still need significant reductions in the newsroom budget.

That’s why we’re offering an opportunity for those of you already thinking of leaving the Times to do so with some extra cash in your pocket./CONTINUES Read More

A Romenesko reader writes: “In what has become a common occurrence for The Arizona Republic, another year has gone by and the company has shed another round of talented journalists. This time we lost them to Gannett’s early retirement buyouts. I just wanted to share this FANTASTIC letter written by an old editor of mine commemorating his 32 years in journalism.” (Martin Dolan took the buyout and cleaned out his desk on Friday.)

From: Dolan, Martin
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 2:40 PM
To: [Arizona Republic staff]
Subject: What’s a pica pole?

I write this fully aware that three-quarters of you have no idea who I am. Such is life, even when you’ve been around a place for nearly 32 years (trust me, that was never my goal; I just kept finding more things to keep me interested).

I started here as a copy editor — for the unaware, those are the folks who used to be a writer’s best friend, because they’re the heart and soul of a news organization — in 1984, in that low-slung slab across the street. I later was night editor (NOT coach; no whistles or polyester Sansabelt shorts were involved), assistant city editor, weekend editor, rewrite (look it up), copy editor again, “print finisher” and, finally, online producer./CONTINUES Read More

A Romenesko reader writes: “I am not eligible for the early retirement buyout, but several of my colleagues are. They feel like they are now being pressured to take it, even though it’s supposed to be completely voluntary.

“They also see this line as a veiled threat: ‘If we don’t achieve our goals, we will need to re-evaluate where we stand and we can’t rule out implementing other actions in the future.’

From: Harmon, David
Sent: Friday, October 02, 2015 11:11 AM
Subject: Voluntary early retirement program follow up

Good afternoon –

About a month ago, you were presented with the opportunity to take advantage of a voluntary early retirement program.

I wanted to remind you that the deadline to accept this offering is by 11:30 PM (EST), Monday, October 12, 2015. We thank those of you who have considered this offering and turned in your acceptance early.

We hope that those of you who have not accepted are giving careful consideration to this offering.

In addition to being a benefit for those who want to retire, our early retirement program will help us reduce costs in the long term and provide savings. If we don’t achieve our goals, we will need to re-evaluate where we stand and we can’t rule out implementing other actions in the future.

As mentioned earlier – the program is completely voluntary. We will finalize acceptances after the 45-day consideration period has closed, which is Oct. 12, 2015.

Best regards,
Dave Harmon
Chief People Officer

Earlier on JimRomenesko.com:
* Gannett offers earlier retirement packages to staffers 55 and over
* David Harmon is named Gannett Chief People Officer

New:
* Read comments about the memo from my Facebook friends and followers

Gannett CEO Bob Dickey sent this letter to employees Thursday morning:

Good Morning,

I wanted to let you know that today we are offering eligible, long-term Gannett employees within certain business segments and departments of our company the opportunity to take advantage of an early retirement program.

The employees who are receiving the offer all satisfy the criteria of being 55 years of age or older with at least 15 years of service as of October 12, 2015. This program provides an incentive for employees who voluntarily want to take advantage of retiring at this point in their career. This offer is completely voluntary and it is solely up to those eligible employees as to whether they wish to accept it. As with any retirement decision, we are encouraging eligible employees to speak with family and trusted advisers before accepting to assess their financial and lifestyle needs. We will finalize acceptances after the 45-day consideration period has closed, which ends Oct. 12, 2015./CONTINUES Read More

The Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are offering more buyouts. “I think the following line is on the save/get key of every editor in America: This may be the last buyout we offer,” writes Globe editor Brian McGrory. “At some point, good or bad, that statement will be true.”

The upbeat part of his memo: “The company has no debt. We have no pension obligations, which were left with the New York Times. We don’t have an owner looking to ratchet up margins. We have an innovative spirit. We have a deep, deep reservoir of talent and ambition. We’re simply looking to turn a modest profit, which the ownership will then invest in the enterprise.”

The Post-Gazette union’s memo follows McGrory’s.

From: “McGrory, Brian”
Date: July 29, 2015 at 1:39:06 PM EDT
To: [Boston Globe staff]
Subject: Buyouts

Dear colleagues,

In the worst kept secrets category, the Globe is launching another buyout program next week, this one specific to the newsroom. Similar to last year’s, we’ll use it as an opportunity to direct more resources to digital, a vital undertaking. Different than last year, it will also help us cut costs as we continue our transformation into a predominantly digital, subscriber-based news operation that will thrive for many years to come. If we fail in our savings goal through buyouts, we’ll be faced with the difficult prospect of layoffs in September.

Everyone in the newsroom will receive a buyout letter as early as next week. There’ll be nothing terribly fancy about the math. It’s two weeks for every year of service – the same as severance. I think the following line is on the save/get key of every editor in America: This may be the last buyout we offer. At some point, good or bad, that statement will be true./CONTINUES Read More


University of Montana j-school dean and former NPR reporter Larry Abramson was one of the first to tweet the news Thursday about Lee Enterprises closing its Montana state bureau, which serves newspapers in Billings, Missoula, Helena, Butte and Hamilton. I’m told the Billings Gazette newsroom learned of the bureau closing through Abramson and that staffers were called into an all-hands meeting five minutes after his tweet was posted.

The announcement is so big in the state that it’s on the front page of today’s Gannett-owned Great Falls Tribune. Its editor, Jim Strauss, says “the loss of the Lee Bureau is a hit to the watchdog role of Montana media.”

My sources say veteran Lee political reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison were told by Billings Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick that they had a choice of a 40% pay cut or a buyout. The men chose the latter. (I’ve asked Ehrlick to comment.)

Ehrlick told a Montana Television Network reporter that Lee is changing the way it does state coverage, and that instead of focusing on state government and politicians, it will look at news on an “issue and regional level.”

A Montana journalist writes me in an email: “Utterly pissed about this and concerned about what this means for political coverage in a state where they [Johnson and Dennison] were essentially the only ones reporting.”

My regular readers know about Lee CEO Mary Junck and her executive team taking big bonuses after cutting newsroom staffs. On May 10, the University of North Carolina gave Junck an honorary degree.

* Lee closes its Montana state bureau (greatfallstribune.com) | (lastbestnews.com)

New: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s new owner offers buyouts (bizjournals.com)

A Romenesko tipster and Gannett employee writes:

One of the remarkable aspects to [last week’s USA Today] buyouts is the number of top execs leaving. Along with Money editor Anne Willette and deputy editor of personal finance Rodney Brooks [mentioned in this post], they include:

* David Colton, Executive Editor
* Susan Weiss, Executive Editor
* Brian Gallagher, Editor, Editorial Page.
* Dennis Moore, Managing Editor, News
* Fred Anklam, Senior Night Editor
* Bonnie Tkach, Director of Edit Operations
and a bunch of other editors, reporters, photographers and graphic artists.

There are still big outstanding questions, including:
* Will the new Gannett bosses insist on further layoffs before July 1?
* Will [editor-in-chief David] Callaway and [publisher] Larry Kramer stay?
* Will there be any hiring after July 1, the target date for the spin-off of the publishing company?

Will the top bosses be pushed, or depart voluntarily?

I don’t think Kramer and Callaway are going to be replaced so much as they may want to leave on their own, especially Kramer. I don’t think either is clear on what their roles will be in the new company. That said, it would surprise me if they don’t stay through the year.

Laura Petrecca is USA Today’s new Money editor. The memo is after the jump. Read More

Five months ago today Stuart Elliott retired as New York Times advertising columnist after 23 years at the paper. So, how is it going?

“What’s surprised me about life after the Times is that, indeed, there’s life after the Times!” he tells Romenesko readers. “I’ve started some freelance writing, first off with a weekly column for Media Village, a new venture by Jack Myers of MyersBizNet. I am also moderating panels and speaking to ad agencies and college classes.

“I didn’t expect to retire completely when I took the Times buyout in December, but I didn’t plan for another career per se; my post-Times life is sort of a work in progress that I’m making up as I go along and I wouldn’t be surprised if five months from now it looks different from today.”

What’s your typical day like?
There’s really no ‘typical’ day now, which is a big, nice change from my days at the Times. The biggest change is that I’m finally able to meet folks for lunches; when I worked at the Times I would eat lunch at my desk almost every day because of my deadlines. … I’m certainly nowhere near as busy as I was at the Times, where I was cranking out the weekday ad column for print, writing the weekly email newsletter for nytimes.com, reporting online articles for the website and so forth. That was a lot of work!

Have source relationships changed because you’re no longer with the newspaper?
I’ve been removed from a lot of mailing lists, email lists and such, which I expected when I left the Times since I was giving up the full-time duties of the ad column, newsletter, etc. I don’t believe I have been getting the brush from folks I email or call because I’m no longer at the Times. …Because of my writing, panelizing, speaking, etc., I feel I still ought to keep up with the ad world” and stay in touch with old sources.

Your review of the “Mad Men” finale?
The more I think about the ending for the final episode of “Mad Men,” the more I like it. It’s far less ambiguous than the final seconds of “The Sopranos” but left enough room for debate (did Don return to McCann-Erickson the following year to create the Coke “Hilltop” commercial? did Peggy write it? did they collaborate on it? Or did Don stay in California and start a chain of Esalen-style retreats? Or return to New York eventually and join Joan at Holloway Harris?)

* Stuart Elliott on Twitter




John Waggoner, who wrote the crack above two weeks ago, is one of 50 or so USA Today employees who accepted the paper’s buyout and were toasted by colleagues yesterday. He tells readers today:

This is my last column for USA TODAY. My company has offered a generous buyout package for those of us who started writing when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and I’ve taken it. But I haven’t retired, and will be writing elsewhere.

Where will you be writing, John? I asked.

“Right now, I’m going to be decompressing and taking lots of walks with my dog,” he writes in an email. “After that, I’m going to try my hand at freelancing and see how that works out.”

* John Waggoner writes his final USA Today investment column (usatoday.com)
* Claudia Puig writes her final USA Today film review (adweek.com)
* Earlier: Good advice from USA Today’s money guy (jimromenesko.com)

New: USA Today Money desk is hit hard by buyouts (talkingbiznews.com)