Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking news: Layoffs begin

Newsroom staff members from across the building have been called into meetings and notified that they are being cut.

Corporate previously announced that the Dallas Morning News was targeted to lose 50 positions from the news, production, customer retention call center and Al Dia.

We will try to post numbers of layoffs by department and job type by day's end. In the interest of accuracy, we may be slow to do that. The ensuing chaos may lead to mistaken information in these early stages. We ask for help with e-mail reports.

Please be rest assured that we will not name employees or list specific job titles that could identify them unless they grant us permission first. We will err on the side of respecting their privacy.


SPECIAL NOTE TO FALLEN COLLEAGUES: You should feel free to contact therockoftruth@gmail.com and use this blog to send farewell messages or contact information, or publicize your availablility to prospective employers. We will gladly broadcast that for you. It is the least we can do.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck and Godspeed..
from your fellow fallen Belo comrades. It sucks. No other way to put it.

David Hinojosa said...

Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I was laid off today. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to most of you, so I’ll do it here. I’m still processing everything, and everything is still pretty raw. I had been preparing for the worst, and quite frankly, I’m glad it’s all over. I won’t miss working for the DMN, but I will miss working with you. That was the best part about working there. I always felt honored to be working alongside so many talented people. I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing next, but I’ll figure it out. I do know that I will be taking the rest of the weekend off and start the rest of my life on Monday. Well, I guess that’s it. Take care of yourselves.

God bless you and good luck.

David Hinojosa
dhinojosa@aol.com
Sports

Tracy Everbach said...

Please know that my heart goes out to all of you. Many people in the community appreciate all you have done for us over the years. -Tracy Everbach, DMN alumnae and journalism professor at the University of North Texas

Anonymous said...

For those of you left after this latest round of carnage: consider it the loudest wake-up call you've ever gotten. Beginning Monday, start a job search. In earnest. Brush off that resume, and start sending them out. It won't be long before this happens again. I started my search in the days after the 2004 layoffs, and finally found a job in summer 2005. I was glad I got out while I could...

Anonymous said...

I was there during the buyout of 2006. I know the feeling but I know it's much worse during layoffs.

Things like this make me realize the idea of going back to school was a wise one.

Best of luck to all of you!

-Ivana Corsale
former assistant editor at Neighborsgo
Now graduate student in documentary studies at UNT

Anonymous said...

Your friends at the Star-Telegram wish you well.

Steve Steinberg said...

To those of you who are departing, remember this: It reflects not on you and your abilities, but on what the Dallas Morning News has become. Never forget that. I took the buyout in 2006, and while it's hard to say goodbye to so many good friends and colleagues, I've never heard a single alum regret leaving Belo behind.

David McLemore said...

Let me echo Steve's comments above. This is a tough day for many of you - but it may be your most liberating one too.

The torture is over, the decision is made and you can now get on with your life. Go do it.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks today to see, yet again, friends having to pack up and leave against their wishes. I've seen a lot of friends, and some who I only knew from their outstanding work, be let go over the years.
My sincere, best wishes to all of you who were let go today.
But I'd also like to add that there are, fortunately, many of us left behind, who continue to work hard to put out the best product we can, and who still believe in all that we hold dear about the role of journalism in our commnities and in our world.
So as we criticize the layoffs and the state of the industry, let us please not bash too much "what the Dallas Morning News" has become, for some of your friends and colleagues ARE what the Morning News has become. They ARE still there, toiling away, doing their best to uphold the ideals of our industry under increasingly more difficult circumstances.
I, personally, hope that i do all of ya'll proud for as long as I'm able to be here.

Anonymous said...

42 -- Total RIF number, which includes departments OTHER THAN newsroom (i.e. call center, etc.) Not sure what the newsroom count is, but guessing it's in the low-to-mid 20s.

Melissa Vargas said...

I was laid off from the Star-Telegram in July and it was the worst day of my life. I couldn't imagine doing anything else and I was angry, terrified and depressed. My family was uprooted and we had to sell our house in this terrible economy when my husband, also a reporter, took a much better job in Houston.
Three months later, I can honestly say the layoff was the best thing that could have happened to me. If you would have told me that in July, I would have punched you in the face and called you a pithy liar.
Things are changing in journalism, but it doesn't mean it's over for you.
It's hard not be angry and feel like it's a reflection of your work, but I assure you it isn't.
There are opportunities. Good luck to you all, my thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "They ARE still there, toiling away, doing their best to uphold the ideals of our industry under increasingly more difficult circumstances."

Yeah, they're toiling away because it's all they have in a bad economy. Let's not even talk about "ideals." Those are long gone, like all your friends that you watched leave through self-consoling tears. Please don't tell people on a site such as this not to bash the psychotic machine of unregulated capitalism, which is all this is now, nothing more. And soon, if you read Decherd's memo, it will be even much, much less. The new way here will be, and listen carefully, brownnosers and management will get all the raises. Read the damn memo, Sunshine!

Anonymous said...

"Read the damn memo, Sunshine!"

THAT'S what we need to hear today. Thanks! :-/

Anonymous said...

I got into this biz because I believed something about the value of journalism. Not because I wanted to salute any particular corporate boss. Nobody stayed with this job because of money or corporate loyalty. To the extent that we can continue doing journalism -- and we can -- that's what will pull those of us who remain.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Read the damn memo, Sunshine!" post person ...

Can you wait for the dust to at least settle a little before attacking us? Please?? Some folks here are kind of having a rough day.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, they're toiling away because it's all they have in a bad economy."

Bad economy? Yes. The only option? Definitely not.

Todd said...

Good luck to all of you, and a word of encouragement. Spread your search wide. Since leaving the DMN in 1997 to go online I have never been disappointed with the opportunities I've found. The skills that made you a commodity in daily journalism are in desperately short supply across the Internet. The ability to communicate with a faceless audience, synthesize numerous sources of information, and accomplish it all with a solid respect of deadlines makes you very valuable.

Todd Copilevitz

Anonymous said...

As a former news staffer, my heart sinks every time I see this topic. Best of wishes & thoughts to those departing.

The heart & soul of the paper - the news staff - has been cut until there is no blood left.

Anonymous said...

some of the choices have been a surprise

Sophie said...

Ah, I'm so sad for you all and for newspapers.

There is life outside the DMN. I promise.

Anonymous said...

For those of you in the unfortunate position of now having to look for a new job, I heard from a colleague, who used to work at the Sacramento Bee that they've got a few positions they're hiring for. Education and investigative.

kleph said...

Having fallen to one of the great Belo purges myself several years ago I'm acutely aware that commiseration and promises of better things down the road do astonishingly little to lessen the shock of being shown the door. I’d like to think that with all the practice they have had they could be more tactful about the process but I’m not foolish enough to believe it.

Because if there is anything in this world that well and truly sucks, this would be it.

I gave a lot of myself to newspapers because I loved what I did as a newspaper journalist and I wanted to be a part of an institution that exemplified that. The worst part about getting laid off was not the financial upheaval (although it was right formidable) but the fact that the company I had given so much of my devotion to, in the end, saw me as nothing more than a FTE on a balance sheet.

Still, as the prospector notes at the end of The Treasure of Sierra Madre: “The worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.” And that bitter certainty is the one solace for everyone after a grim season of awaiting this unpleasant day.

Best of luck to all of you. If I can make it after Belo, I am sure all of you can as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What happened to the big wiggers telling everyone that they were getting rid of the i-formation management structure? Remember? They said they were going to cut 10 metro eds and no reporters? It sounds like they cut more front-line worker bees than editors. Plus, we all know more reporters are on their way out the door. So what's the editor to reporter ratio now? One editor for every half-reporter? Good work Belo bosses. It's a genius "crisis plan." You should be so proud.

doug said...

I have three words for those who went through that awful Belo RIF procedure today.

Up.
Down.
Out.

Up - You're on your way there.

Down - Work as hard as you can every day to suppress the thought that newspapering has a future for you.

Out - Get out and enjoy the real world. Learn. Start growing again without fear. Take chances. Make a new, better life.

It's all possible if you just let go.

Best,
-=drb

Anonymous said...

It's astonishing what your company put you through. I wish all of you the best of luck.

--Newsroom employee (for now) at the American-Statesman

Anonymous said...

There is no problem with how local news is run.

It needs at least two DMEs, therefore, by having two DMEs, you need plenty of managers below them to justify it. At least now there will be just one AME, or so we're told.

An amazing stance to take when the worker bees across the board bore the brunt that your group was slated to take.

Before anyone gives too much credit for jobs saved that managers "fought" for, keep in mind that this only leaves us more vulnerable for cuts down the road, early next year possibly.

Seems today would have been a day to keep quiet on how local news is "fine" and everything's OK. No one outside of a few select managers believes that nonsense. That meeting left more than a few people miffed.

But, hey, it's not like we didn't predict this result on this blog for months. Can't say we're shocked, just disappointed.

anonymous said...

Disappointed and disgusted is more like it. If this is management's version of 'shock and awe,' I am definitely in awe of how boldly they still insist that everything is fine. What, are they crossing their fingers as they say that?

Anonymous said...

I didn't hear any managers today saying everything was "just fine." I heard them saying this sucked, as it certainly does. I understand the angst here, but I wish people would sometimes remember that Big Bad Belo actually comprises fellow human beings who, for the most part, are also just trying to do their (very difficult, certainly on day like today) jobs. Does anyone actually believe that our managers and higher ups sit around thinking up ways to torture us. This is industry-wide, and now this economy black hole is worldwide. Stop acting like we're the only ones in this mess -- be grownups and either keep doing your jobs to the best of your abilities, move on if that's the choice that was made for you -- or if you're still in the building and still whining, move on and let someone who actually wants it have that job.

Anonymous said...

"Stop acting like we're the only ones in this mess -- be grownups and either keep doing your jobs to the best of your abilities, move on if that's the choice that was made for you -- or if you're still in the building and still whining, move on and let someone who actually wants it have that job."
Ooooh.
Mr. Manager chimes in.
He's fine.
You're not.
But, "Get to work because we have babies to hire. They can't write a sentence, but we'll edit. They can't report, but we'll fudge."
Of course, Mr. Get-To-Work-Or-Get-Out is probably incapable of anything other than racking up bonus meeting mile points. Have at it, Mr. Manager. If you survive the next cut, you'll cash in for a toaster.
Writer: I know who you are. For years I've read your pompous memos and watched you turn from journalist to masturbatory sycophant.
The people who were fired today were far better journalists than those who remain in any realm of management.

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about torture, you moron?

And I must have been at the wrong local news meeting on Friday or I really misunderstood what was told to us. I recall someone asking a question about, essentially, span of control. The response from management was basically that there wasn't a problem with how local news functioned so it didn't need to be addressed.

Is it your assertion that we, after being told we were top-heavy with managers, are not top-heavy now? That we aren't doing our best Poseidon Adventure re-enactment because we're riding so far out of the water thanks to a lack of regular worker ballast?

In an age where each body becomes crucial and you need more feet on the street, I'm not sure how "big-picture thinking" and sitting in the office moving pieces around gets the job done.

Remember, some departments will be on their third and fourth re-organizations in almost as many years. Do you think it's any coincidence that those same departments are also the ones that have the most out-of-whack manager-to-reporter ratio?

It's not. You're a journalist. Do your homework. No one's saying managers take delight in this.

But no one's actually showing any of us how they paid a price to sacrifice for our paper's well-being either. In the end, it was empty rhetoric.

They know it. We know it. You know it. So spare us the platitudes.

Anonymous said...

The same people who are so quick to tell the rest of us to quit whining will be the first ones to complain about not getting a raise during this wage freeze or taking on more work thanks to the layoffs.

Take that to the bank.

Judy Walgren DeHaas said...

I am so sorry for everyone who lost their job and just want you all to know that after I left in 1999, I had the best time freelancing. I am at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver now, and although we do not have any positions open at this time, I will post anything that comes available. My heart goes out to you all.

Anonymous said...

It's me, "Stop whining," chiming in again. Just FYI, I'm not a Mr., I'm a Ms. And I'm hardly management -- I'm about as rank-and-file as you're likely to get. And I can both edit and write, and have done so at this paper and several other venues. I've already taken on a LOAD of extra work, and I was prepared and unsurprised about the wage freeze, so you won't hear me whining about that, either. (And if you weren't expecting that, you haven't been reading the paper you work for.) My point, for anyone who cares to listen, is that if you're still here, try to be positive, at least out loud. Those of us who still love this paper get tired of the daily doom-and-gloom speeches. You know, if you can't take it, fine. Just don't make it even harder for those of us who love journalism enough to try and stick it out, despite everything. And if you want to believe everyone in management is a big bad oaf, that's your prerogative. I would hate to go through life with such a hellish attitude, though, and I wish you luck in your (inevitable) therapy sessions.

Anonymous said...

When the economy was healthier and newspapers hadn't yet foundered on the shoals of the Internet, newspaper company CEOs could look like geniuses just by waking up in the morning. Corporate types and newspaper upper management felt they were brilliant, because the industry was raking in the bucks and there was a ton of dough to pad staffs, throw at projects etc.

Now times are tough, and no one has answers. Worse, no company I know of in the entire industry knows how to negotiate the current troubles with anything resembling grace or humanity.

You have to be there for each other. It's that simple.

Please don't sit here and fight amongst yourselves. You've all done good work -- some of you for decades -- and when you're replaced, and you will be, it will be by some 25-year-old kid willing to work day and night for half your salary.

We were those kids once, too.

What's happening is no reflection on you or your work. There are bigger things waiting for you out there -- which those of you who didn't get laid off should remember, too.

Take heart. So many of us who worked among you once are with you in spirit. You'll make it through this and come out on the other side. And you'll be happier for it.

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