Media Fear and Meeting at the Seattle Times
posted by April 7 at 12:15 PMon
On Friday, a member of the union that represents Seattle Times employees circulated an email intended to address “rumors” of looming 25-30 percent cuts in staffing at the newspaper.
Then, earlier today, Times management sent out an (ominous?) email telling all of its reporting staff to be at a meeting at 12:30—and to check in with supervisors for a “briefing” afterward if they couldn’t make the meeting. I’m sure I’ll hear more about the meeting after it wraps up. In the meantime, here’s the email from the union rep, Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe:
After I sent out this most recent e-mail about the International’s elections, a few of you pointed out that it was pretty insensitive of me to send it out while saying nothing about the rumors buzzing around at the Times.
I apologize for that, but I don’t know anything more than you do at this point. Believe me, the other unit officers and I (and many others of you) have been trying to chase down what we can find out all week, but it’s all still just speculation.
Just a weird journalist habit, I’m sure, but I try not to go to press without any facts.
What I know for sure is this:
1. I heard a rumor earlier this week that 25-30 percent layoffs were coming. Managers in high places have said that this is NOT true. They couldn’t say more than that, but that specific one isn’t true.
2. IF any layoffs happen, the company gives the Guild and employees at least four weeks’ notice. We’ve received no such notice.
3. When layoffs happened recently in other departments, the company offered those being laid off a package of pay/benefits exceeding what they were contractually obligated to offer. If (again IF) layoffs happen again, we would again go into talks with the company about what they’d be offering people.
4. If any of you hadn’t yet heard these rumors, I apologize for scaring you half to death by using the “l” word, but this e-mail really doesn’t make any sense without it.
5. The rumors seem to point to Monday for something: A meeting, an announcement, an announcement of a meeting … something. Again, I have no idea if this is true. If management wasn’t planning a meeting, I hope they at least take the opportunity to send us all an e-mail telling us to relax.
6. We’ll get you more information just as soon as we have it.
It’s OK with me if this e-mail goes to reporters (in house and out of house) doing stories about this, but I won’t have any additional comment until we know something for real.
I know it’s scary in this industry these days. Hang in there, OK? We don’t have much, but we have each other.