Friday, August 02, 2013
It's bad enough to fire people. It's lousy PR to dismiss them over the phone without giving them the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting. That, however, is what a communications medium has done. The Cleveland Plain Dealer laid off 50 editorial staffers by calling them at home and telling them to pick up their effects at the company's production center miles away from the office. Publishers have rarely treated content generators well. They consider them disposable like old blades from a razor. They seem not to understand that their media would be blank columns without them. On the other hand, journalists haven't done themselves favors by merchandising themselves as indispensable to free speech. They have learned bitterly in the last few years that anyone can claim credentials and anyone can speak out. They knew that conceptually but they didn't personalize it until the massive reduction in force from ailing newspapers across the nation. Still, it doesn't exonerate the Plain Dealer for how it handled the situation, and one can only guess the depth of resentment in the ranks of remaining reporters.