Friday, September 19, 2008

Required reading

One of the many unanswered questions before us is how will the layoffs take place on Friday, Oct. 17.

We direct you to the American Journalism Review's profile of the Dallas Morning News' 2004 layoffs, also known as "reductions in force." Some staff members were not around then. Others have tried to block that time from your memory. All should re-read.

The profile, headlined "The Dallas Mourning News," recounts the layoff process, the reasons for it and the morale issues that arose. Several of our dearly departed colleagues spoke on the record about their experiences.

We understand this may depress some. That is not the intent. It is to inform during this time of uncertainty and prepare the staff for what could be happening on Oct. 17. The RIF timeline in the AJR article:
1) Managers attended classes, dubbed "firing school," directing them on what to say to a laid-off employee.

2) Cardboard boxes for packing up belongings began to appear.

3) Employees were instructed to be at their desks at a specific time on D-Day.

4) Some employees then were phoned and told to come to a room. Their supervisor and a human resources were inside. The supervisior laid them off by reading from a script provided by a consulting firm.

5) Employees were immediately locked out of their e-mails and the internal computer system. They packed their desks and left that day.

The AJR profile also gives valuable background and comments from top Morning News leadership. We do not have space to recount all the highlights. We choose one from CEO Robert Decherd.
"This is not a happy time at the Dallas Morning News. We know that. We acknowledge that. What we're saying is, let's take a step back together and understand what it is we have created as an organization ... and put back together the commitment, the loyalty, the belief that will carry us forward."


Anonymous said...

"Layoff School," as some of us dubbed it, is back in session. Headmaster Darryl "The Hammer" Thornton and his minions have already threatened managers not to talk or leave paper trails. Employee lists are being compiled behind closed doors. Think of it as The DMN version of Fight Club. Funny, if it weren't so repugnant.

One more item from Layoff School 2004: Mangers were told by HR not to say you're sorry to the employee you are cutting.

Sure hope the schedule dossn't get disrupted. The ventilation system is lousy with germs. Enough to make one feel faint.

Meanwhile, word is that Local News may lose an AME position along with the previously announced cut of a DME spot. One AME appears to be taking a more active role in layoff talks than the other.

Anonymous said...

Every employee should be required to read this story. It gives such a sense of place and the details from that time are amazing. One overwhelming thought after reading the story is how innocent we were back then.
I lived through this time, but even I had forgotten some of the details.
This quote at the end says it all: "What I did not hear (and I listened hard for it) was anything resembling true regret, or a true comprehension of the pain that these men have inflicted. It sounded like salesmanship to me--good salesmanship, and persuasive in its way, but missing something vital."

Anonymous said...

I was one of the 1027's and I found the presence of HR monitor in my bosses office to be demeaning both to myself and my boss. Interestingly enough, I asked my boss if the functions of my job were being eliminated and he said yes. Three days later a younger person was doing my job, same functions. That was a clear violation of the labor laws concerning "reduction in force." I am not a party to the age discrimination suit because the layoff left me with no finanical means to engage in a prolonged legal battle with a company that can swamp the festivities with a battalion of lawyers.
And the lack of true comprehension and pain being inflicted is a very correct observation. My only lingering hope is that the actions being taken as ordered by the failed leadership at the very top levels haunts them and their minions for the rest of their days, but of course that is unlikely as it was "not personal, just business."

Death said...

Also, buzz out of metro ...

Supposedly the night metro desk is going to include the TSW/Int./Nat. wire desks now. No word on whether the night metro editor or A-Section Production Editor will lead that team, or what assignments might change.