"I want, I want, I want ... but that's crazy"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who's in charge of this monkey cage?

It was a day in the office today, and what a day it was. The ad manager (who is, btw, the busybody who decided to complain to the publisher that I should be working in the office instead of from home) called a meeting with her ad staff, then she came over to the graphics department (which is where my desk is located) and called all of them in as well. She specifically said, "Not you, Rachel," so I was left sitting in an empty office with no idea of what was going on. No big deal. I figured it was an ad thing and didn't involve me. A couple of hours later, the editorial staff met. Circulation had a meeting at some point in there too. So what's the big news? Fortunately, one of the graphics girls recognized that after everyone else had been told, I'd been left out. She broke the directive given in the meeting specifically to NOT mention it to me. Seems two of our papers are moving to a morning delivery instead of the afternoon as they are now. This does not affect the ad staff or the graphics staff. It will only affect circulation (of course) and editorial (of course) and ME. My deadlines are based on our press deadlines, but no one thought to mention it to me. If we go to press at 1 a.m., that means that I have to start working at 1:15 a.m. If we go at 3 a.m., I start at 3:15. You get my drift.

Needless to say, the fact that I was AGAIN not informed of vital news that directly affects my job (similar to the time that my boss was fired and NO ONE notified me - for two months I did not even know whom to call if I got sick or needed a day off), I sent off an angry e-mail to my boss. I've been there for six years - longer than all but the five or six hardcore lifers on staff - so I can pretty much say anything to my boss and get away with it. In a move that was totally out of character for him, rather than sending me a brief apologetic e-mail, he personally walked over to my side of the building, at the opposite end from his, and apologized to me for the oversight. He invited me to the afternoon meeting for the one editor and the staff photographer who were not around for the first meeting.

We got a little bonus information. In addition to the deadline change, which takes place in two weeks even though they haven't yet figured out a press schedule, he said the papers must find a way among the three to cut $200,000 from the budget....AND if anyone quits or gets fired (that won't happen), they will not be replaced. That includes the photographer. They'll be sending the reporters out with cameras if she goes. The upside to that, of course, is major job security. We're officially irreplaceable. The editors can't risk cutting staff any more than it has been already. Think of it: someone gets fired or quits, everyone else has to pick up the slack. We're at the breaking point already. Given even more work to do, people will start quitting. The quality of the papers goes to hell.

I've got a simple solution, and I've been voicing it for five years - and I'm not the only one. They need to combine the two southern county papers. Nearly all of the coverage is duplicated anyway. The actual stories themselves are directly shared for all local items, and the rest is wire copy. Circulation is slumping at both. The towns in which the two papers are based are a 12-minute drive apart. With consolidation, they could not only eliminate the cost of one of the two buildings, but they could sell off one of the presses, boost circ numbers by combining the circulation for both, raise ad rates because of the increased circulation, etc., etc. It would not only get them the $200,000 cut they want; it would actually make the paper profitable. Hell, they could get that money from selling the press alone, and with the savings on the facilities, not only keep the staff but give us all raises as well. (We haven't had any raises at all in five years.)

Simple solution. Absolutely no logical reason NOT to do it, which is probably why that seems to be the ONE thing they steadfastly refuse to do. They'll throw any half-assed idea into implementation without any thought to its effects if someone thinks there's a chance it might bring in money, but this...nope....won't even consider it. WTF?

I had a really nice chat with G this evening. It was definitely the brightest point of my day, and we talked on a level that we'd never quite reached before. I think it could be an important step in our friendship.

Now it's long past the time I should have gone to sleep. I have work in the morning (and for seven more straight days before my next one off).

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