Monday, June 16, 2008

Santeria Replica Rooster Backlash At The Miami Herald

Take a look at this VIDEO of a Santeria replica rooster at the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald employees turned to a replica rooster sanctioned by a Santeria priest in the hope that they would be spared large job cutbacks. You can read details about this over at NEWSBUSTERS. Bottom line is that the replica rooster did not work as you can see from this Miami Herald ARTICLE titled, "Miami Herald to reduce its staff by 250," that was posted earlier today by John Dorschner.

See, here's the deal. If you are going to invoke Santeria, you're just going to have to go all the way and use real rooster sacrifice. This probably wouldn't please PETA but at least it wouldn't displease the gods of Santeria. However, I know of a way that might please the gods of Santeria without the use of rooster blood---Sacrifice the Herald online editor. I'm not kidding. SACRIFICE HIM because he is one of the big reasons that a lot of Herald employees are now losing their jobs. Okay, I am not saying kill him. Just sacrifice his employment at the Herald. This should not only placate the Santeria gods but also bring satisfaction to the Herald employees whose jobs were endangered by this idiot. Let me explain:

A little over two years ago, I sent an e-mail to the Herald's then executive editor, Tom Fiedler, outlining an idea I had on how to generate a lot more traffic to the Herald's online edition. Yeah, yeah, I know. Why should an evil vicious rightwinger such as myself help out the very liberal Miami Herald. Well, oddly enough, call it childhood nostalgia. I really enjoyed reading the Herald when I was a kid. It had a very unique look (until the had some moron made the inside pages look as dull as any other newspaper) and I really liked a lot of the features such as color photography which was way ahead of its time for a newspaper. Anyway, much to my pleasant surprise, Fiedler contacted me very quickly and was enthusiastic about my idea which (without going into a lot of detail here) involved a creative use of the newspaper's vast photo archives among other things. Fiedler then turned the project idea over to the Herald's online managing editor, Rick, and from there the project died from bureaucratic inertia.

I called Rick several times. He like the idea but, as he repeated over and over again, he didn't have the "resources" to undertake the proposed project. SHEESH! He made it sound like I was asking him to do the Manhattan Project when in reality almost any college intern with good computer skills could have set it up on an experimental basis in just a matter of days. However, there was no getting around the bureaucratic inertia of Rick. Eventually I gave up calling him because I was getting sick of his "not enough resources" lame excuse. And now we see the end result of folks like Rick. Big layoffs at the Herald. Therefore I propose that Rick, failing to do his job, offer to sacrifice his own job to the Santeria gods. That would please them much more than mere rooster blood.

Okay, enough with the venting. Let us now DUFU the Herald article announcing the big layoffs along with Herald readers comments in rooster blood red, while the commentary of your humble correspondent, maintaining that my idea might not have worked as expected but at least it was worth a try since almost NO resources were involved, is in the [brackets]:

Miami Herald to reduce its staff by 250

[Please, Santeria gods, make one of those staff reductions be the do-nothing online editor, Rick.]

Hammered by the same financial problems facing newspapers across the country, The Miami Herald announced plans to reduce its workforce by 250 full-time employees -- 17 percent of its staff.

[While the rest of the McClatchy papers had reductions of only about 10% due to the fact that the Santeria gods were displeased with a mere replica rooster...and a do-nothing online editor.]

Publisher David Landsberg said a dramatic reduction in revenue is causing the newspaper to shrink its full-time staff of 1,440 by either getting voluntary buyoffs or laying off 190 full-time and part-time employees, plus eliminating some open positions.

[Revenue lost in part because the Herald did not know how to adjust to the web.]

''This is a painful but necessary step,'' Landsberg wrote in an e-mail to employees. ``We're operating in a time of great change and challenge for our operations.''

[Too bad the online editor couldn't have taken the step of letting an upaid intern spend a few days setting up an experimental program to increase web traffic.]

The Miami Herald is owned by McClatchy, the third-largest newspaper company in the country. The layoffs announced Monday were part of a McClatchy reorganization that will eliminate 1,400 full-time employees -- 10 percent of the company's workforce.

[While the Herald took a 17% hit.]

McClatchy Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said The Miami Herald was being shrunk more than most of the group's other newspapers, because ``The Miami Herald's performance has been worse than most, if not all, of the newspapers, and secondly there were some opportunities for greater efficiencies.''

[Nice "endorsement" there from the McClatchy CEO.]

While having editions in English and Spanish made The Miami Herald hard to compare with the group's other newspapers, Pruitt said it was generally true that staffing at The Herald, formerly a Knight Ridder newspaper, was more than that of the historic McClatchy newspapers.

[And yet an unpaid college intern couldn't be spared to set up a program which might have reversed their steep decline or at least slowed it down.]

Pruitt said he was committed to continuing to offer readers a quality product. When asked if he viewed the reduction as cutting fat or muscle, he said, ``There's no doubt that we will have somewhat fewer resources, but we will remain the largest news operation in each of our markets, and we will be able to produce quality news reports.''

[Gary, could you at least please the Santeria gods by making a ritual sacrifice of Rick's, the do-nothing online editor, job?]

The Herald newsroom is expected to lose about 60 positions, including some now vacant. About 40 newsroom personnel are slated to take voluntary buyouts or be laid off.

[Rick should have been put out to pasture years ago.]

Those include 12 newsroom supervisors, five in the International Edition, two copy editors, three reporters, four designers and layout specialists, two on the state desk, two critics, two photographers and six in archiving and calendar.

[So where is the mention of a certain do-nothing online editor?]

Archiving, calendar and the International Edition will be outsourced to workers in India. The company is also exploring transferring its radio operations to a third-party company, but the services to public radio station WLRN will remain the same.

[You really need to outsource the online editor job to Apu the Indian and make Rick a manager of Kwik-E-Mart.]

Landsberg said the process will start by some employees being offered severance packages. ''If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced according to least tenure,'' he wrote.

[Advise to all newspaper employees: Take the severance package if it is offered because you are probably going to be fired very soon anyway.]

In any case, all those who lose their jobs will get severance packages.

[I would make the severance package for Rick a bag of stale potato chips.]

''As a news company, we have often reported on such transitions in other industries. Now we face the painful reality of severing employment ties with valued friends and colleagues, many of whom have served the company well for many years. We are sorry to do so, and will do everything possible to make their transition as smooth as possible,'' Landsberg wrote in an e-mail to employees.

[Smooth as a kick in the behind.]

''As a news company, we have often reported on such transitions in other industries. Now we face the painful reality of severing employment ties with valued friends and colleagues, many of whom have served the company well for many years. We are sorry to do so, and will do everything possible to make their transition as smooth as possible,'' Landsberg wrote in an e-mail to employees.

[And if they fire twice as many people, they will save twice as much. Watch out for next year's cuts.]

McClatchy has historically avoided broad layoffs and resorted to reductions through attrition and outsourcing. With these strategies, the company-wide workforce shrank 13 percent between the end of 2006 and April 2008. But executives said these moves were not enough after the company reported a loss for the first quarter of 2008.

[Which means McClatchy gave the boot to about a quarter of its employees in a little over a year.]

While the online audience for McClatchy websites grew 25 percent in 2007 and 41 percent in the first quarter of 2008, ad revenue has not kept pace. McClatchy reported a 15 percent drop in ad revenue for the first quarter, which resulted in a loss of $849,000. In May, ad revenue fell 16.6 percent compared with the same month last year.

[The Craigslist Effect.]

At The Miami Herald, Landsberg said the company will reduce the number of smaller, niche publications it produces, merge some departments and outsource some functions.

[Outsourcing to India. It's going to be strange to be interviewed by a reporter on the phone who sounds just like Apu.]

''In planning for all this, our leadership team has made every effort to minimize the impact on our advertisers and readers,'' Landsberg said in the e-mail.

[Okay, this article goes on a lot longer but I am already bored by Landsberg's lame excuses. So let us now Hark the Herald Angels Sing (reader comments)...]

The first person you should fire is Leonard Pitts.

[Wrong! Rick MUST be first!]

It's cheaper to outsource to another country

[Apu for online editor!!!]

It would be funny if the guy who wrote this is one of the ones being laid off.

[I once read about a slave labor project in the Gulag where everybody ended up being executed. And the last guy executed was the one in charge of the executions.]

maybe that's because this newspaper has become a joke. There's nothing substantial here, half the columnists don't know how to write, and the online version of the newspaper is scattered and random. get your act together!!

[After Wilma I had to turn to the blogs to get in-depth information about that hurricane. The local newspapers only had minimal info.]

Oppenheimer should be given a severance package and be replaced by two college interns.

[One of whom would have good computer skills to set up my proposed project in a number of days. Of course, Rick couldn't spare the "resources."]

Bring back the Miami News. The News was twice the paper the Herald was and that was when the Herald actually had writers who spoke English and editors who knew how to edit. That would make the old Miami News ten times the paper the Herald is today. If you want to revive the Herald start actually reporting the news and stop taking wire copy or fluff from governmental PIOs. Make the paper worth reading and maybe, just MAYBE the readers will come back.

[Good idea. I used to stop by the Herald building in the middle of the night to shoot the breeze with columnist John Keasler of the Miami News. First time I ever arrived there he was gone. The guard told me I would still be able to find Keasler's desk to leave a note for him. When I asked him which desk, he told me not to worry I would find it because it would look unlike any other desk in the newsroom. He was right. Keasler's desk looked like an atomic bomb hit it. A complete mess compared to the other desks in there. Anyway, I eventually did catch Keasler on many visits. Much of the voice you hear in the DUFUs belongs originally to John Keasler of the Miami News. < /nostalgia>]

The Herald letting go 250 people can be summed up with 2 words: "Thank God".

[Also "Thank Rick."]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord, this is depressing. How many companies are we going to run into the ground in this manner?

I work for a very large multinational corporation recently acquired by private equity. For the past decade (or more), the firm's senior management became obsessed with managing the numbers (financials) to each quarter's targets while embracing a risk averse approach to new products, ideas, initiatives, reforms, etc. The result was an environment where cost cutting was the only way to keep the numbers looking alright. They ended up neglecting servers, applications, data centers worldwide and running increasingly risky, decade-old systems.

At the same time, middle level management became complacent and also highly risk averse. Instead of focusing on company objectives, they manifested on paycheck increases necessary for kids college, boat purchases and other individual needs. They became a bloated mess and obstructed upward progression of younger (e.g. generation X) achievers by structurally blocking new ideas that threatened to expose their personal finance-driven incompetence, inattention and overall disregard for company evolution.

In a sense, the above probably describes half or more of corporate America. In our case, a private equity purchase has ended up tossing out a good chunk of both obstructing upper and middle managers. However, the drive still isn't on transformation. Instead, it's now about shedding all the costs (and internal competencies) and throwing it all offshore. Preserve the few senior and middle managers necessary to manage the remote contracts and pray to god you're in that group of fewer and fewer individuals. It's a high compensation cake walk.

Meanwhile, we're transferring our know-how and worldwide leadership overseas for a few more quarters of undeserved wealth for the undeserving elites. We're transferring 150 years of American ambition for a few baby boomers to have a few extra vacation homes. Top this with all the debt the same boomers have loaded up at the Federal level (so they can have perks like a prescription drug benefit) and you have a single me-generation destroying what the previous half dozen generations built.

The externalities are different, but the collapse, the diseased core and pawning of institutional knowledge via offshore firms is common throughout.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"[You really need to outsource the online editor job to Apu the Indian and make Rick a manager of Kwik-E-Mart.]"

They're called Kwik-E-Mart there? They're called Kum-N-Go here! LOL!

1:17 PM  

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