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Friday, November 14, 2008

Sign of the Times

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Yes, the Slog has had its criticisms of The Seattle Times, but no one with any sort of heart takes pleasure in watching working journalists get downsized out the door. With that, another sad note to the Times newsroom, this one written yesterday by Executive Editor David Boardman and leaked to me by an employee of the paper:

I had hoped never to have to write another of these notes, but the winds of our beleaguered industry have returned us to this sad place. And while we have known for weeks that a major staff reduction was coming - and shared that with all of you in no uncertain terms - it didn't make it any easier today to tell a dozen of our newsroom colleagues that they could no longer work here.

On a positive note, that number was less than I had expected. We received 19 Expressions of Interest to leave voluntarily, and accepted them all. Because many of them were from long-time staffers paid higher than the mean, we were able to limit the total reduction to 31 from the 35-45 we had projected. (Additionally, we are eliminating seven open positions and project cutting another 20 through attrition.)

That said, these 31 people will leave behind a profound legacy - and an enormous hole. Each and every one has been a dedicated Times employee, and all are gifted journalists who have helped make this the outstanding newspaper it is.

Those who are leaving voluntarily are:

Val Campbell
Bill Dietrich
Kim Eckart
Stuart Eskenazi
Sheila Farr
Michele Matassa Flores
Pat Foote
Cathy Henkel
Angela Lo
Patrick MacDonald
Rod Mar
Colleen McBrinn
Megan Meidinger
Elizabeth Rhodes
Craig Smith
Terry Tazioli
Heather Trimm
Peyton Whitely
Cindy Zetts

I will not list the people being laid off at this time, out of respect for their privacy. Most of them, and those departing voluntarily, will be working through mid-December, with a few staying on longer. We will find an appropriate way to honor them all before then.

Thanks to all of you for helping keep this difficult and painful process as civil and respectful as it can be. As always, I feel privileged to be your editor, and your colleague.



Comments (19) RSS

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How come this post has nothing to do with Sarah or Trig Palin? Surely, they had some fault here with the Seattle Times layoffs.
Posted by dred on November 14, 2008 at 9:56 AM · Report this
dred, you insensitive ass, get it through your head that Palin had nothing to do with this tragedy. It was clearly pit bulls.
Posted by eric on November 14, 2008 at 10:06 AM · Report this
What makes journalist layoffs more special than other layoffs? You know, the ones happening all over the place that are being posted on slog without any "no one with any sort of heart takes pleasure in watching" to it.
Posted by self-important on November 14, 2008 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Damn. Elizabeth Rhodes was one of the most entertaining realtor and developer shills in town, more ridiculous even than Aubrey at the P-I. I will miss having her to kick around.
Posted by tomasyalba on November 14, 2008 at 10:25 AM · Report this
It's going to be a frightening day when all local news is covered by bloggers and slog.
Posted by sad on November 14, 2008 at 10:27 AM · Report this
It is sad that these talented professionals are losing jobs. The impact of the loss of people like this is yet to be felt.

The same is true for autoworkers and others who contribute their skills to our society.
Posted by CommonKnowledge on November 14, 2008 at 10:35 AM · Report this
We won't feel the impacts until a major cover-up goes unnoticed because bloggers can't afford and DON'T do investigative journalism.

It is a tragedy, and if anybody needs a bailout to keep our Democracy going, it is the Free Press.
Posted by Non on November 14, 2008 at 10:56 AM · Report this
"paid higher than the mean" is code for Employees with Experience, which means anyone 40 or over in that group could sue for age discrimination.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 14, 2008 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Oh man, we will really miss Sheila Farr's art reviews. She was by far the best art critic in the city. Good luck, Sheila!
Posted by crazycatguy on November 14, 2008 at 11:06 AM · Report this
I think the point Will, was that these "experienced" people, many of whom are probably close to retirement age already, voluntarily took the early out package offered by management, and weren't in point of fact "laid off", so it's pretty hard to claim age discrimination in this instance.
Posted by COMTE on November 14, 2008 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Governor: Seattle Times endorses Dino Rossi, KC votes for Gregoire 63.83%
Sound Transit: Seattle Times endorses "no," KC votes "yes" 78.65%
Seattle Parks: Seattle Times endorses "no," Seattle votes "yes" 58.65%

Worst of all, I'll go ahead and blame the Seattle Times editorial board for endorsing Reichert for being "not liberal," and causing Darcy Burner to lose by 2% in King County.

Unfortunately, none of the editorial board is the list. It's always the talented, hard-working, valuable, innocent workers who pay for management's mistakes. I think continuing to take conservative editorial positions in one of the most liberal cities in the world certainly qualifies as a big mistake. There's a reason most of us here get much of our local news from Slog and other alternative sources now.…
Posted by jrrrl on November 14, 2008 at 11:13 AM · Report this
jrrrl @ 11,

FSM help us, that is so true.

My distaste for the Times turned into serious loathing after their despicable 2006 election endorsements, which were largely a total insult to their readers and anyone else who values logic and intellectual integrity. And let's not even get into the way both papers smeared Chris Gregoire and Darcy Burner on a daily basis. I won't buy their papers or click on their websites.

We get far better reporting from West Seattle Blog and Horse's Ass than the Times or the PI, which both seem to have contempt for their Seattle readers. Fuck 'em.
Posted by Original Andrew on November 14, 2008 at 11:41 AM · Report this
At this rate, the news of Seattle will be covered by people who live in Renton or Auburn or Everett. The only people who can afford to live here will be old boomers who bought their houses in the 70's, or inherited mom and dad's old place.
Posted by Auburn on November 14, 2008 at 11:51 AM · Report this
I'd love to take a local paper, but they're both crap.

Even after you wade through the recycled AP stories and the wads of advertising, the local writing is barely worth reading. The Stranger manages to produce relevant, useful and interesting writing about bike trails, housing density and historic building preservation. Even the minutiae of City Hall politics is somehow rendered readable in The Stranger but not in the Times or the PI.

Seriously Times and PI people. If you don't want to lay people off, try producing a paper that's worth reading.
Posted by blank12357 on November 14, 2008 at 12:15 PM · Report this
How about they just fire all their columnists and editorial page staff.
Posted by Giffy on November 14, 2008 at 12:17 PM · Report this
@8: What part of "Those who are leaving voluntarily..." don't you understand?
Posted by rjh on November 14, 2008 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Just for fun: what does the Stranger pay its staffers?
Posted by Fired_Josh_who's_next? on November 14, 2008 at 6:21 PM · Report this
Hmmmm no Blethens on the list. Ryan's a unqualified dumbshit try to be publisher. The rest are just as lazy and stupid. The problem is not the paper it's those who own it.
Posted by s444s on November 14, 2008 at 10:16 PM · Report this
Rod Mar had some great photography during the olympics and his blog is very readable... hope he wil land somewhere good.
Posted by hamburgler on November 15, 2008 at 12:48 AM · Report this

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