The battle over concessions by Boston Globe union is over and management won. Was there ever any doubt? By a decisive 366-to-179 vote, the Boston Newspaper Guild voted to accept a package of pay cuts, benefit reductions and other concessions that is harsher than the one the union rejected last month. Owner New York Times Co. responded to the earlier contract rejection by unilaterally slashing wages 23%. That forced the union to dance a jig and recommend a revised package that had even deeper benefits reductions. Despite considerable grousing in the ranks, Guild members ultimately decided they’d better accept the current deal before things get any worse. Still, widespread layoffs are expected.
Meanwhile, Boston Business Journal editor George Donnelly reports that the Globe’s cross-town rival Herald just closed its fiscal year with a $2 million profit. It seems the publisher started cutting costs and working with the union long ago, while the Globe shoveled money into a pit. So who’s more likely to survive if the recession continues? Ask staffers at the Seattle Times, who believed that the Post-Intelligencer was the weaker of the two local dailies before Hearst abruptly pulled the plug.
Congressional Quarterly, which has been on the market for much of this year, has been acquired by rival Roll Call, which is part of the Economist Group. This can’t come as happy news to CQ employees, who now face the awkward task of merging with an organization that would have been happy to put them out of business. Still, they could do worse than work for The Economist. “The new CQ-Roll Call Group will have the largest and most experienced newsroom covering Washington,” said Laurie Battaglia, managing director and executive vice president of Roll Call Group. Mike Mills, editorial director at Roll Call, will call the shots at the combined entity.
Steve Yelvington has a well-balanced reality check on the future of journalism. The decline of print isn’t the end of journalism, he argues, but it will require a shape-shift. While Yelvington does succumb to some finger-pointing (“Newspapers could have invented search, directories and social networking. Few even tried.”), he ultimately puts the challenge of reinventing journalism at the door of journalists: “How long and how well newspapers and professional journalists persist in our future will be determined in part by how well they identify new ways to play socially valuable roles.”
Cox Enterprises continues to divest its newspaper holdings. It just sold three North Carolina dailies and 10 weeklies to John Kent Cooke, a media, sports and real estate magnate. Cooke’s son will run the North Carolina operation.
Mark Potts analyzes Rupert Murdoch’s plans to knock off The New York Times with The Wall Street Journal, dubbing it a “scorched earth strategy.” Murdoch appears content to let the Times Co. implode under the weight of its own debt while gradually moving the WSJ into its mainstream news stronghold. “There’s been some speculation that Murdoch’s real endgame is to buy the Times on the cheap, but why bother? If he makes the Journal the dominant national paper as the Times withers, he’ll emerge the winner,” writes Potts. It’s a good point. Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff has said that the Australian media magnate “sits around all day and thinks about buying The New York Times,” but why bother when market forces may make that expense unnecessary?
Darrell Laurant writes: “I run something called The Writers’ Bridge that is unique in the freelance universe. Not only do we match ideas with markets, but we generate lots of ideas for writers. We handle each member individually, and we’re good at hand-holding. My biggest frustration is the inability to recruit journalists, a group I see as the guts of this endeavour. I am currently a columnist/feature writer for a mid-size daily in Lynchburg, and I think I have something to offer. It costs $10 a month, but I’m willing to offer two months free to anyone who’s been laid off, just to check us out. After that, it’s $10 a month.” Let us know if it helps, OK?
Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer Krystin Wiggs writes about being victimized by an elaborate hoax concocted by a young man who claimed to be a gifted and successful chef. The man, Vinayak Gorur, convinced Wiggs that he had won scholarships to culinary school and landed a sous chef job at a top restaurant at the tender age of 21. Gorur even enlisted an accomplice to masquerade as head chef at the restaurant for a phone interview. The guy even duped his parents. Wiggs is sick, angry and apologetic about the whole thing, but her story will resonate with any reporter who had gone through the usual motions of reporting a seemingly benign human interest story. How often do we go the extra mile to verify a story when everyone appears to be so genuine?
Slate has a clever video mashup of what media coverage of the moon landing might look like today. Many of the quotes are clipped from the last presidential election, but work just fine. Best scene: Wolf Blitzer interviewing a Neil Armstrong avatar.
For sheer satirical hilarity, though, we can’t beat this clip from The Onion.