Sad days in LA
In his memo today to LAT staff, publisher David Hiller wrote "We eliminated approximately 170 positions, mostly through the voluntary buyouts; we are planning to hire back approximately 50 positions in the core paper to strengthen talent in multi-media, local coverage, marketing and sales. In addition, we will be adding likely more than 30 additional staff in interactive before the end of the year."
Wait. Fifty-seven hard-working, content-providing journalists are out of a job! Were any of the folks (we've heard were) "encouraged" to leave the paper offered opportunities under the new LAT plan? A plan outlined in the April 23 buyout announcement and described again in more detail in today's memo, that surely was in the can early on.
It won't be lost on many readers and observers (example here) that the changes LAT upper management hopes now to achieve will have been at the expense of staff who have dedicated years of talent and service to the paper, their community and the journalism industry. Neither will it be lost on most that it is their contributions which have produced the profits now lining the pockets of upper Tribune management types.
Hiller writes that everyone has to be involved in how change happens and should be "invested with a sense of urgency", but how much involvement will the remaining journalists really have in the forward direction of the paper and it's web site? The staff is invited to "think about what you can do; talk to your manager and colleagues about it" and "Let me hear from you if you have ideas you want to share", but will workers' concerns about corporate profits being put before public interests also be considered?
"We are a living, changing organization and this [is] all part of how we adapt", wrote Hiller at the end of his memo.
A living, changing organization adapts best when it's workers — the ones making the biggest and most valuable contribution to the success of the changed organization — are truly included in the process. Regrettably, that can only happen when workers speak with one voice.