Saturday, July 26, 2008

Naming Names

In its very belated 'fessing up news relelase, the Orlando Sentinel stated it would not release the names of editorial staffers affected by the cuts out of a long-standing policy of "respect for privacy."

Fair enough. But let me elaborate why names matter.

Many newspapers and newspaper editors would like nothing more than for The Departed to slink into the night, never to be heard or seen from again.

They do not want to aknowledge how you may have written great stories under trying circumstances, including absurd requests, insane editors, inane edits, looming deadlines and other mayhem. Still, you delivered. And, let's say up front, for the grouches among us, that not every story was a gem. The demands of a daily newspaper guarantee that we each have written our fair share of stinkers and forgettable stories.

They do not want to concede that you produced something of value.

They do not want to say that you may be an expert in a given subject and therefore are a fountain of knowledge and resources about the Orlando community.

They do not want to name names because they do not want to put a face on the cost of this enormous transformation in the newspaper business.

They would rather deal with abstract numbers because they are embarrassed about presiding over this mess.

But do not go gently into the good night. You have earned proper aknowledgment for all the years of hard work that helped keep this community informed through declining newspaper circulation, declining revenue and a revolving door of editors.

You are not a number. Come Tuesday, when the ax falls again, help me name names. Let's put it on the record the decades of seasoned talent who are marching from the paper.


Anonymous said...

I just read Scott Joseph's farewell to readers in today's (7/27) Sentinel. Not a word mentioning that his departure is the result of downsizing, which strongly implies he was told to avoid stating what is already common knowledge.

As already mentioned in this blog, the Sentinel no longer has the right to demand accountability from the public figures, business people, etc., that it "covers," since it now also shrouds its activities in secrecy.

Anonymous said...

When things look bad, sometimes it's surprisingly easy to find something worse. Someone at CBS News apparently thinks the viewers of "Sunday Morning" have faulty memories. For several months now, with no apparent posted disclaimer, the news program has run previously aired feature stories as though they are new. (This morning, one of the reruns was a February piece about how Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are financing a revival in the popularity of bridge.)
Talk about cheap and sleazy.
I know. If Zell reads this, he'll order recycled stories. Then we'll have puzzles other than the Jumble each day: trying to figure out what's new and what was resurrected from the morgue.
But the profit-fixated Sam would have thought of it eventually anyway. In addition to diminished content, we also soon could have recycled copy.
He'll probably try to pass it off as green.

Anonymous said...

I heard there were more cuts Friday. Any names?

rknil said...

Nutcake Lee Abrams' latest memo says moronic fluffball Bonita Burton is working on new names for the wire.

I offered her some suggestions; the most fitting for her would be Less Karzai, More Britney!

Seriously, how can this airhead still have a job when real journalists are getting cut? You guys should be out marching in the streets about this stuff.

Anonymous said...

You have to understand the culture at the Orlando Sentinel. Management there has been so unenlightened -- it's like the Tribune Nimrod training ground -- and so many people have had to kiss ass for so long just to keep their jobs, it's second nature. You have never had to be talented to succeed at the Sentinel -- in fact, that gets in the way and breeds jealousy. Longtimers have spent their whole careers just keeping their heads low and noses brown. Don't expect any leadership from them on behalf of the entire paper, even now.

Anonymous said...

Now tell me again, what is it that Dana Eagles does?

Anonymous said...

re: naming names, that's all well and good if you want to be named. Some people want their name out there, so people can find them and know what happened to them, offer sympathy, maybe even offer a new job.

To others, this is a horrible experience that they'd like to keep as private as possible. Therefore, you shouldn't name any names unless people tell you specifically that they were laid off and want to be listed. (Then, of course, you know it's confirmed and not just a rumor.)

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Questions I haven't seen addressed yet in these blogs: How many of the unfamiliar bylines I keep seeing in the paper are editorial interns? Also, what role did keeping a legally acceptable ethnic balance play in the layoffs?

Anonymous said...

Ok, there are all kinds of problems at 633 N. Orange. It's not a secret and there have been problems for years. Maria, as you and many people scream about the changes - let's remember what got us in the problems we're in. It didn't start with Zell. In fact, I think Fitzsimmons and crew sold his people a bill of goods. Sam bought it, so it's his mess now. Maybe it was the Times-Mirror deal, everybody thought it was great - until we figured out people at Newsday (and to a lesser extent, LA Times) couldn't count.
Maybe it's the fact that for years and years, there was no accountability and no one ever got canned. Well, there still might not be any accountability but some of those people who should have been gone are now being let go. I'm not singling anyone out and believe me after nearly 25 years in media, I don't like to see people lose their job. I've been the one who get's the pink slip on a couple of occasions. But guess what - in other media, Tv & radio, people get canned everyday. If this were a radio station or TV station and ratings were down like circulation was down - folks would be out on the street. Not just the Marketing people or the Circulation people, but the talent who creates the content that people are not reading/viewing/listening too and the people who manage them. Do you think because you are a newspaper, you should be exempt?
If you think so, go get a job at PBS where ratings don't matter or write that great American novel you've been kvetching about for decades. Media has been and will continue to change, media organizations need to change with them and if you are not willing to change, then go find something else to do. There has been a lot of chatter about "journalistic arrogance" - here's my example. Sitting in meeting with someone from editorial going over results of a research report. The report talked about several things that readers did not like. The representative from editorial kept saying the same thing, "they're wrong". Guess what - preception truely is reality

Anonymous said...

Regarding the above post, you make some good, practical points. However, I don't think the purpose of Maria's blog is to create a center for whining and martyrdom. It's to provide a forum for discussion about a severe erosion in the quality of a major local institution. Call it journalistic arrogance if you like, but a newspaper is a unique asset in a community and it performs a function that cannot be matched by a single TV or radio station. It's more comparable to, say, a sports franchise such as the Magic or a symphony orchestra. And when the quality of institutions such as those erodes, it's news. Big news. Not just whining.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that local sports teams and orchestras have learned that they need the community as much, if not more, than they need the community - the newspaper still acts as if the the community needs thems more they need the community. The Orlando Sentinel is not the Bailey Building & Loan. In fact, it acts more like old Mr. Potter at times. There is an attitude of giving people what they want instead of what the ask for. I'm not talking about puppies or not reporting the news - but what about reporting the news and serving the community instead of everyone being a columnist and serving thier egos. There was a time when your opinion, as a columnist meant something - maybe not becuase you were nessesarily right - but becuase you had the largest outlet. Now everyone can broadcast their opinion and yours doesn't hold as much weight.
One other thing - you said that this isn't about whining and martyrdom. There is a definite whiny feel here as far as editorial being effected by the cuts I notice that that this blog started in early July - right about the time that rumblings about staff cuts in editorial started to bubble, but the staffing cuts started first of the year. In fact, some were made prior to the holidays. It only seemed to be a problem when the layoffs started to effect editorial. When folks in production were effected (you know the guys in blue uni's you avoid in the caf because the might have some ink on them)not a word was said. When sales people started getting cut - you know the people that you ignore when they say hello in the halls because they are in "advertising" - no hub-bub. When technology got outsourced to India - the only complaints were that you couldn't run down the hall when Outlook crashed - you had to call first, no the fact that Sentinel people were losing job. I don't like that people are getting fired, but atleast when they got let go - they got packages. What did the line cooks and bartenders at Benigans get?
Businesses change, newspapers change - it's evolution

Anonymous said...

Losing Scott Joseph is just a damn shame - a wonderful writer, he was fair and reasonable in his critique.
Heather's picture is in the paper every week - and Heather compared to Scott is like Taco Bell to K's.

Maria Padilla said...

In response to why this blog didn't start earlier, it's not because the earlier cuts were non editorial types. I thought about it for a year or so before launching. Then I decided to 'just do it' because of the sheer scale of what is happening to the news business that I spent many years in. You are right, however, about news people not caring (or not caring enough) about the advertising and production staff, among others. It's part of the disease called arrogance. Editorial people believe no one is more important than news staff. Sad but true.