About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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May 27, 2009

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Former Globie

The point you are missing is that cutting the salaries of the Guild journalists by 10 percent, while managers' salaries have been cut by only 5 percent, is patently unfair, particularly when you understand that often Guild members in the newsroom are performing exactly the same work as managers in the newsroom in some departments. While the publisher can claim that managers have also given up their annual bonuses ... which, if his math is right, were something in the neighborhood of 11 percent a year ... Guild members have not had a pay increase in four years and get no bonuses at all.

Imagine the reaction if Congress passed a law imposing a 10 percent tax increase on everyone, except for people who work for the government. If you're going to cut salaries, cut them across the board at the same rate, period. Cutting editor X's pay 10 percent because he/she is a Guild member, and cutting editor Y's pay 5 percent because he/she is not ... that's just flat out discrimination.

If I were (still) a Guild member, I would vote "no." The Guild itself sent out a spreadsheet comparing the proposed cuts (including benefits, like 401k and 401a contributions, health care increases, etc.) with the 23 percent cut in salary threatened by the Globe (which would preserve the 401k and other benefits). It's a difference of maybe $3k a year in total compensation for someone making $75k.

Current globie

You have this all wrong, Mr. Potts.
If anything, the newsroom employees behind the petition are fully aware of the consequences of rejecting the contract. That is why they are circulating the petition. They know there are reckless union members campaigning for a no vote in the hopes that management will return to the table and somehow keep the lifetime guarantees. Those are the delusional union members who are playing a game of chicken, not the petition authors. This petition at least allows management to know there is another avenue should the contract be voted down. This is not about getting more money out of the Times company. I can live with an 8.4 percent cut, though it'll hurt like hell. I plan to vote yes, but have signed the petition because it's a last-ditch effort to save the newspaper if the vote-no campaign is successful. I think the comments by Beth Daley and Scott Allen make that perfectly clear. It says on this blog that you are a recovering journalist. Perhaps during your retirement, your ability to read carefully has atrophied?

Mark Potts

Obviously, this is an emotional issue, with lots of complicated nuances that may only be clear to those on the inside. I stand by the sentiments expressed (as a neutral observer) in my post, and I think these comments illustrate the complexity and emotion.

MA

I would vote yes and do 10% less work, while looking for a new job, or probably start on a new career path altogether.

Michael Prager

To paraphrase the estimable Marge Gunderson, "I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your analysis, there." Phrasing like "... the newsroom crowd seems to think it has a right to dictate business terms to the true owner of the paper..." undercuts your claim of being a neutral observer and leaves little doubt where your sentiments lie. You don't talk about the "management crowd," and the petitioners (they are not demanders) betray no indication that they "seem to think they have a right to dictate." In fact, if you're paying attention, those who wrote the petition fear it is going down to defeat, and are trying to save the agreement. These people WANT an agreement, and see their more fiery colleagues willing to scuttle the deal, and the paper, because they consider it too onerous to support.

phillygirl

Oh, goodness. Mark Potts, "entrepreneur and consultant who works with media and internet companies," supports the management wisdom of paying itself generously while telling employees to be "realistic"! Surprise, surprise.

Keeping media companies in business for now is good for them, and for Mark Potts --- on their 2009 tax returns. But busting unions and decimating the ranks of journalists is not going to pay off, not even for the Sulzbergers.

Mark Potts

Gee, phillygirl, will it help to know that I was a Guild member for years? Sorry, but there's a time and a place to play hardball--and a time when playing hardball could cause you and your colleagues to lose their jobs. The Globe lost $85 million last year, the Times Co. is in dire straits. As the post says, this is a very dangerous game of chicken.

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