Seems like I write this story every other year, which is a shame.
Another round of buyouts and possible layoffs is currently underway at the Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.
Thursday, the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia revealed that PMN is looking to cut 10 percent of their membership, while explaining that they do not know how many reductions will come from “other unions and independents.”
An article published on Philly.com clarified the situation:
Citing declining revenues, Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com, on Thursday announced buyouts aimed at eliminating 30 union jobs in the newsroom and other departments, plus an unspecified number of nonunion jobs.
The buyout will be offered to about 140 employees, including 117 members of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents journalists, plus those who work in advertising sales, finance, and other departments, the company said. The union said the company’s target is 10 percent of its 302 full-time members.
“We wish we didn’t have to make these tough choices, but these are the economic realities of journalism in 2019,” Terrance C.Z. Egger, Philadelphia Media Network’s publisher and chief executive, said in a statement.
The news organization is a for-profit enterprise owned by a nonprofit, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
You might recall a few veteran sports guys took buyouts about a year and a half ago, namely Mike Kern and longtime scoreboard editor Bob Vetrone. Dick Jerardi also left the company, though I’m not sure if also took a buyout or just retired outright. Those personnel moves were part of a restructuring that saw 50 people lose their jobs, while the company hired 45 folks to replace them, focusing more on the digital side of things.
Without having too much insight into the details surrounding these issues, I just wonder why this keeps happening. It feels like this occurs every other year, which makes me wonder why they can’t get the personnel situation figured out. This has been a continuing theme for almost a decade now, which resulted the Philly Voice split, a nonstop re-jiggering of the web and newspaper sides of the company, and several ownership changes/disputes along the way.
Either way, we’ll see what happens on the sports side of things. The buyouts and layoffs don’t seem to be targeted at one specific department or personnel group. There are still a number of veteran sports columnists and beat reporters over there, along with folks behind the scenes.
PMN currently has four full-time Eagles writers in Zach Berman, Jeff McLane, Les Bowen, and Paul Domowitch. There are four full-time columnists in Marcus Hayes, Bob Ford, Mike Sielski, and David Murphy. Six of those eight travel to Eagles road games, and I’m fairly sure all eight of them go to home games.
During the Sixers season, those four columnists will also show up at various games and practice sessions, along with Marc Narducci, who floats around in a jack of all trades role. Keith Pompey and Sarah Todd are the full time Sixers beat writers, while PMN has three Phillies writers (Matt Breen, Bob Brookover, Scott Lauber) and two Flyers writers (Sam Carchidi and Sam Donnellon). Guys like Mike Jensen, Ed Barkowitz, John Smallwood, and Jonathan Tannenwald handle other assignments, like college sports, high school, and the Union.
I know it’s 2019 and the newspaper industry has been slowly dying for what seems like an eternity, but it’s gotta be shitty to go about your day-to-day business with the threat of buyouts and layoffs always hanging over your head. Feels like the powers that be can’t get this thing organized in a sustainable way, which is why we’re headed for yet another round of nonsense.
I think it’s also fair to point out that some folks can be lazy, one-skill assholes, protected by ridiculous union contracts that value seniority over merit.
Some folks, not all.
It creates a log jam that prevents young and motivated workers with diverse and contemporary skill-sets from advancing.