As Seen On TV with HBO's The Wire, Tribune Co. drops 120 staff members from NY Newsday.

Critical journalism heading towards extinction
with all due respect to Not for Nothing at The Pheonix.com for the "Life Imitates Art" headline
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Scene from HBO's The Wire click the pic to get more info from IMDb

I have pointed working people towards NY Newsday in the past, as it seems to be the only paper to write about local labor issues. It would seem that the owner, Tribune Co., who 2 weeks ago reduced it's staff by 300 workers at its other publications, have decided to cut the NY Newsday staff by 5%, thats 120 staff members.

Examples of local labor stories in which only NY Newsday wrote about, and which myself and Richard from UnionReview.com have covered are as follows:
HIP replaces 186 Downtown, NY jobs, breaking a massive promise
NY: Waldbaum's and A&P screwing 400 local employees and moving to nonunion facilities

The first of the two stories was rejected by the other 3 big papers in NY, according to my source The NY Times stated that it wasn't worldly enough. The second just wasn't news I guess. Funny, I would think that 400 long term, persons who held the jobs getting screwed, would be noteworthy to the larger publications, but those giants focus on such things as India making manhole covers (NY Times-ex. NY Times blows the lid off of Made In India manhole covers in New York) and the outright bashing of union workers (Rupert Murdoch's NY Post- ex. NY Post spin-doctoring and the IATSE Stagehands). There are so many other issues that Newsday has revealed about labor, but that gets me too far from the point.

Tribune Co., the corporate owner of NY Newsday, has recently been at a war of words with the HBO show The Wire, which this season has highlighted one of its publications, The Baltimore Sun, in taking a long hard look at the troubles and tribulations behind the scenes when the local papers have to answer to the corporate ownership and the price the employees and the readers pay in answering those demands. The Baltimore Sun has downplayed the popularity of the series to the point of taking shots at the show in it's critics corner. The Baltimore Sun's critic sites the low ratings of the show and blames it on the newspaper storyline, but even as the writer points out, the On Demand viewership, which gets a person the ability to watch the show a week earlier, cannot be counted. I myself am one of those viewers and so are many of my co-worker's.

This isn't the kind of 'kid with a dunce cap in the corner journalism' I want to read, but if you must, and I made a comment which I hope will appear there, you can check it out at Ratings for HBO's "The Wire" -- more bad news

A bit of history, the writer of The Wire, David Simon, is a former reporter who worked at The Baltimore Sun. From Newsday (1-06-08):
To Simon, finishing "The Wire" with a riff on journalism was obligatory. "Newspapers, which for the duration of the American experiment have been the primary means of monitoring government and other imposed authority, are being eviscerated," he said. "The people who once held us all to some basic account are being laid off, bought out and 'attrited' from newsrooms. Newspaper managers ... tell us they're going to do more with less. You do less with less. That's why they call it less."

Simon nonetheless persuaded the Baltimore Sun's top editor-managers to let him use the paper's actual name - rather than an alias - as well as the name of its parent, the Tribune Company (which also owns Newsday). He agreed to their condition that he not use the names of actual reporters and editors, but he did cast several former Sun reporters and editors in minor roles.

What "Wire" watchers get as a result is Clark Johnson (of Simon's earlier Baltimore-based police series, the celebrated "Homicide: Life on the Street"), as city editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes, Simon's surrogate voice.

Like Simon, Haynes believes newspaper executives are hastening their papers' demise when they retire seasoned veterans in favor of younger, cheaper personnel - if they replace them at all - and emphasize "user-friendly" topics over serious reporting and risky cage-rattling. Simon's Sun includes an executive editor who favors feel-good fluff over depressing dispatches from Baltimore's underbelly and a young reporter so determined to make a marketable name for himself that he doesn't hesitate to invent quotes or, for that matter, sources.
Life imitates art
From ThePheonix.com (1-21-08):
The Los Angeles Times Editor James O'Shea was fired by publisher David D. Hiller for refusing to impose four million U.S. dollars in budget cuts ordered by the publisher, the newspaper confirmed Sunday.

It's the second time in 15 months that a Times editor has been fired for refusing to make budget cuts ordered by the publisher, and comes a month after the closing of an 8.2-billion-dollar buyout of Tribune Co., The Times' parent company, by an employee stock plan and Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell.

O'Shea came from the Chicago Tribune in November 2006, a week after Hiller fired Editor Dean Baquet in another dispute over budget cuts, The Times reported.

Hiller, who had been the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, took over as Times publisher in October 2006, succeeding Jeffrey M. Johnson, who had also been fired by executives at Tribune's Chicago headquarters over the same issue of budget cuts, The Times reported.
Life imitates art Redux
A little over a month afterwards, life has imitated art once again, our reporters and staff here in New York, at the paper I read most often, the loudest if not the only voice of local labor struggles, is to lose 5% of it's staff, thats 120 workers, thats less coverage, and thats a real shame. From NY Newsday, in excerpted fashion: Newsday is cutting 120 jobs (2-28-08) By Keiko Morris
Newsday publisher Tim Knight Thursday announced that the newspaper will be cutting about 120 jobs throughout the company, citing declining sales and the "soft advertising revenue environment."

The reduction in Newsday's workforce -- about 5 percent -- comes as many news organizations nationwide have been cutting jobs to survive an already tough and competitive marketplace made more difficult by a slowing economy. Two weeks ago, several other news organizations owned by Newsday's parent company Tribune Co. -- Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant and the Chicago Tribune Media Group -- announced staff reductions affecting about 300 employees.

The company did not disclose how many management jobs will be eliminated. Of the union positions, at least 25 of those reductions will take place in the newsroom on top of 13 vacant positions that have gone unfilled. The pressroom will be reduced by at least 24 union positions and the transportation bargaining unit will be reduced by at least five drivers, according to Zachary Dowdy, vice president of the Editorial Unit of Local 406.

The company will reduce the number of union positions through voluntary buyout offers and, if necessary, involuntary layoffs.

Dennis Grabhorn, president Local 406 of the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said he did not agree with the constant cuts, noting that it has been only a year and a half since the last contract was signed and a substantial job reduction made. "Really all of this paper is doing now is getting rid of more Indians and keeping the chiefs," Grabhorn said.

"I just don't understand how a newspaper being the only daily newspaper on an island with more than 3 million people can have a circulation of less than 400,000 readers," Grabhorn later added. "I find that hard to accept. I don't understand why Newsday cannot sell on this island and that just tells me that Newsday is not putting effort into growing circulation." (continued at site)
I hope that the paper can still have enough reporters to continue it's local labor coverage. I actually look forward to reading it every chance I can and I always hand it off to another person who may not read it often, with the expectation that they too can see the variety of real life issues it has within it's pages and become a buyer also. Tim Knight, don't destroy Newsday, I depend on it.

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