Adam T. Vaccaro

Occasional musings on journalism and media

Posts Tagged ‘newspapers

Out With the New

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Having posted disappointing October revenue, the Providence Journal will cut jobs — 16 of them, to be precise.

Which jobs will go? The most recently occupied. From the link:

Layoffs will be determined by seniority within job classifications and employees will once again have the option of taking a buyout, Hill said. Executives will decide how many employees they want to cut in different positions and then eliminate the newest hires first in each position, he said. More senior employees can “bump” newer ones out of a lower-ranking job if they can demonstrate they have the skills to do that job instead, he said.

My italics.

That doesn’t say tenure will be a factor in making a decision based on who’s most valuable to the organization. It says seniority will be the deciding factor. And it’s not just that the longest-tenured get to keep their jobs within the departments the paper intends to cut from. That last sentence above says that your position might be safe, but if a more senior employee from a different “job classification” was told they would be let go from that gig they could conceivably just take yours. I’d be curious to know if any jobs are lost in that manner, and which ones.

I’m a 24-year-old reporter, so I’m obviously biased. And there’s union issues at play here, so to some extent I’m sure hands are tied. But…who does it benefit to keep the folks who have been in place while the paper has gotten into financial troubles? If the longest-tenured employees presumably got the paper into this mess, what makes them so qualified to get them out? This reads to me like a system that will incubate old thinking. I don’t see how that can be good for business.

Coming out of today’s journalism schools, we’re encouraged to think entrepreneurial, to think innovative, because the nature of the industry is changing. The news went digital a long time ago. Most newspapers famously took too long to get there, and are stuck playing catch-up.

Because we grew up online, the thinking goes, my generation of journalists is supposedly well-suited to help institute these necessary changes. But all the same, as the Journal apparently sees it, we’re the most expendable.

Written by Adam T. Vaccaro

October 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Commentary

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