Thursday, August 21, 2008
My paper had gone through buyouts in the years before I came to call it home. Our staff was already so thin, I knew that really, there was no fat to trim.
At Unity, as I went booth to booth hearing tales of recruiters who wanted to hire, but couldn't, I had a little bit of satisfaction in the fact that I had a job and for the moment, my newsroom was remaining in tact.
Not so much anymore.
Midnight was the deadline for employees willing to take the buyout that the company offered days after I left UNITY. I got the call that we'd be trimming some lean while I was at a court reporting conference in Reno.
I stepped out of the session to have my boss read me details on my buyout offer. I don't remember the details, but I think it was something like $4,000 and maybe another $4,000 in medical coverage.
Peanuts, even by industry standards.
So I chalked it up and readied myself for whatever would come. I had good clips and contacts, so I'd milk them dry if I got laid off. Until then, I was going to go back to my job and work like nothing had changed.
But things are changing.
Come Sept. 12 or so, the 22 people who took the buyout across the company (here, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.) will be gone. Among them will be my friends, Scotty and Mark. And I almost think I'm more sad about seeing them go than anything. I would barely make it past the cubicle pod they shared when I went down to visit the newsroom because I'd be wrapped up in conversations with them, laughing and joking and somehow learning at the same time. I'm going to miss that.
The 22 people who took the buyout may not be enough, as the company hoped for 10 more to take the offer. We'll find out in the coming days if we'll resort to layoffs. If so, part-timers will go first, and then jobs will be taken by seniority.
Mark spoke with The Providence Phoenix and offered these thoughts on the buyout. Says The Phoenix: He described how a previous buyout opened fresh paths for him, including the chance to cover the State House, and in terms of younger staffers, he says, "Now it's going to be their opportunity."
My God, I hope he's right.continue...