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Dept. of AAAAAAAaaaaaaaa

OH, CRAP 

Crap, crappity crap.
This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/397508.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
maruad
Feb. 4th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC)
You must have been terrible in a past life because you haven't done anything to deserve this in this life.

My condolences.
kaffyr
Feb. 4th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you. If I could figure out what the hell I did wrong in a previous incarnation, I'd definitely try to do something to recoup some good karma.
eaweek
Feb. 4th, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC)
I take it this is a Bad Thing?
kaffyr
Feb. 4th, 2016 07:09 pm (UTC)
You may not recall the 15 horrific months or so back in 2013-14 when my union was negotiating for a new contract with my then owners, Wrapports, Inc./The Chicago Sun-Times, but Michael Ferro was the chairman of Wrapports/CST and fought us tooth and nail with every dirty trick in the book. This was one of the low points. It appears I can't shake the oleaginous bastard.
eaweek
Feb. 5th, 2016 04:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, shit. Jesus. I'm sorry to hear this. : (
strannik01
Feb. 7th, 2016 02:43 am (UTC)
The actual union staffers I talked to while Pioneer Press were part of Sun-Times have always carefully not elaborated on what the negotiations were like, but I always got a sense that this was the case. It's still sad to have it confirmed
kaffyr
Feb. 7th, 2016 09:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I was on the negotiating committee and it was one of the hardest times in my union life, which goes back to 1976 in Canada, and with Pioneer stretches back to 1983.
a_phoenixdragon
Feb. 4th, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a fuckaroo wrapped in a corporate circle-jerk disaster...ugh.

*hugs you hard*
kaffyr
Feb. 4th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, indeedy, it is that and more. What I can't understand is why these people - who know how desperately poor the Sun-Times was when it sold us to the Trib in late 2014, who must have known that the poverty was directly tied to Ferro's policies - would let him seduce them into taking him on in any way. But never underestimate both the cupidity and stupidity of high-level corporate people.
wendymr
Feb. 5th, 2016 02:50 am (UTC)
Can't read - it's behind a paywall. Take it it's bad news? :(
kaffyr
Feb. 6th, 2016 12:15 am (UTC)
Oh, damn; I never know when they're going to put things behind a paywall. Here are four links to stories about what I was upset about, I don't think these are behind paywalls. The Poynter and Reader stories are particularly good.

But in short, I know you followed my 2013-2014 struggles as my union fought our then-owners, Wrapports/Chicago Sun-Times for a contract. Ferro was the majority owner of the CST at the time.

The struggle was made even more bloody by Ferro's decision to fire all the company photographers in May of 2013, in the middle of negotiations. He was actively anti-union. And the decisions he made about the Chicago Sun-Times were so bad that CST bled money even more than it normally did.

He then sold all his suburban newspapers off to arch-rival the Chicago Tribune. Wrapports/the CST had, at the time it sold us off, only $3 million in daily operating funds; that's how badly he ran that company into the ground.

One of the few slivers of hope in the sale was our happiness to be away from Ferro. But now we're saddled with him. And the more I think about it (and some of the writers at those links have hinted or outright said it), the more I think he always was planning something like this, because the Tribune was his ultimate goal.

Ferro is nosed out only by Conrad Black in terms of awfulness and disastrous consequences for journalism. And yesterday I had to listen to the horrible man claim, in an interview with Tribune CEO Jack Griffin, that he wants to protect and pay journalists because he thinks so well of them. My head almost exploded.

And today, just one day after we get the news that Ferro is with us still, comes word that layoffs may be being considered for the suburban properties. Again. In a group of daily and weekly newspapers who now have fewer than 50 (or fewer than 40, perhaps) reporters, where we once had around 200.
strannik01
Feb. 7th, 2016 02:47 am (UTC)
And today, just one day after we get the news that Ferro is with us still, comes word that layoffs may be being considered for the suburban properties. Again. In a group of daily and weekly newspapers who now have fewer than 50 (or fewer than 40, perhaps) reporters, where we once had around 200.

Мать моя! In spite of the blacklisting, I still know people at Pioneer Press who I'd rather not see unemployed (and I've rather not see you unemployed, either, but since we've never actually met in person, it's a bit different). And I have a bad feeling that they would try to cover the gaps with stringers, which is not good for stringers.


Edited at 2016-02-07 02:49 am (UTC)
kaffyr
Feb. 7th, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
In spite of the blacklisting

WTF? What on earth? Never mind; I won't ask, it's not my business, but ... augh.

And you are absolutely right about the situation not being good for stringers, either. That's something I think people outside the union don't think we worry about. But we do.
strannik01
Feb. 9th, 2016 03:22 am (UTC)
WTF? What on earth? Never mind; I won't ask, it's not my business, but ... augh.

I've made references to it before, on Liverjournal, Twitter and elsewhere, but now that I think about it, I only wrote about it in fairly broad terms, and I never put little bits of info in one place. At first, I hoped that the situation could be fixed, and when it was made clear that the situation couldn't be fixed, I decided to save it for a big "inside Tribune Publishing" post, but I never got around to writing this, between work and the fact that there were other things I would so much rather blog about.

To try to make a long story short... Well, there are a lot of things I don't know about, because, to this day, my former editors aren't allowed to share things with me, but the parts I do know is that I ran afoul of a local activist. I misquoted him, and he (apparently) thought it was deliberate attempt to make him look bad. And he at the very least threatened to sue the Trib (whether he ever actually did remains a mystery to this day). At first, I was told simply not to talk to him. Then, I made a typo when quoting a law (didn't capitalize "state" in the "State of Illinois,") which would normally be easily overlooked, but which was enough for someone higher up the editorial food chain to take me off politics entirely and have me stick to events coverage and non-controversial fluff. While at one of those events, the activist tried to talk to me, and took offense when I didn't talk back. And, when I asked whether he was suing the Trib or not, he said I was harassing him. Next thing I know, someone way high up on the food chain (don't know who, was the hints I got suggest some Trib executive) ordered my editor not to use me. And, as I later found out, that order covers pretty much everything that falls under Chicago Tribune Media Group(it maybe Tribune Publishing in general). Hence "blacklisting."

...And that wasn't very short at all, was it? I guess I needed to vent a bit.

That's something I think people outside the union don't think we worry about. But we do.

While some of the statements made by Chicago Newspaper Guild made me wonder, the reporters and editors I dealt with have actually been pretty respectful, and never treated me like I was any less of a journalist. So that's reassuring.

Edited at 2016-02-09 03:24 am (UTC)
kaffyr
Feb. 9th, 2016 06:56 pm (UTC)
This sounds like Tribune paranoia (although the ST also used to periodically do that sort of thing.) And, really, to consider not capitalizing "state" in "state of Illinois" a typo? That's ridiculous. In my day, she said, acting like the old fart she is, even a misquote merited a correction and a "hey, don't do it again," from lower management. I really hate professional paranoia.

While some of the statements made by Chicago Newspaper Guild made me wonder

As a Guild, we always have to take a strong stance against the managerial practice of trying to supplant the people they've hired on staff. But part of the frustration we have is that managements who are happy to misuse their own staff are also happy to misuse stringers: they'll cut the pay rates because they can, they'll be arbitrary in the way they respond to complaints (as you know), and they do it because they know stringers have no recourse. Many stringers work just as hard for a company as the company's own staff - but they don't have the benefit of a decent salary or, well, benefits.

strannik01
Feb. 7th, 2016 02:53 am (UTC)
Also... This is something I pieced together from second-hand accounts, so take it with a certain grain of salt. But, from what I understand, back when suburban papers' sale to Tribune was announced, the editors and reporters were pretty much sent to the Tribune Tower as fast as possible, but the page designers had to stay behind. For several months, they weren't allowed to communicate with Tribune editors, and nobody would tell them what would happen to them... until the transition was complete around February 2015 and they were all unceremoniously fired.

The fact that all of this flew under the radar makes it even worse.
kaffyr
Feb. 7th, 2016 09:31 pm (UTC)
There were in fact five page designers who were kept in limbo. At first we were told that it was just a bureaucratic mess-up - "someone forgot to put their names on the list of employees making the move" - and then ... when we realized neither company gave a crap about these five, we tried to negotiate them spaces at the Trib. No go.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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