Monday, February 4, 2013

A note from Marty delivers the bad news

Now, an unknown number of employees are headed for the dumpster.

Editor's note: Eye on The Record received two more Anonymous comments after publication of the previous post, "Is another downsizing in the works?" They contained memos from management and Editor Marty Gottlieb on staff cutbacks. The Gottlieb note is first:

"The reduction in newsroom positions could involve some layoffs, but that is yet to be determined. Before we analyze the need for that, we have decided to offer a voluntary severance program to eligible newsroom staffers to provide them the opportunity to resign from the company and receive severance benefits comparable to those provided under the standard NJMG severance package (a half week’s pay for every six months of service, capped at 12 weeks). To be eligible for the voluntary severance program, newsroom staffers must be at least 60 years of age and have at least 15 years of employment with the company. As provided by the company’s vacation policy, employees who resign will be eligible to receive their 2013 accrued, but unused, vacation time. This may prove to be attractive to employees who have been contemplating leaving the company. All staffers in this grouping will receive packages detailing the terms. Those eligible will have two weeks to apply. The company reserves the right to reject individual applications due to operational requirements.

"The packages will be delivered at an informational meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the 8th-floor AV room. Feel free to discuss the particulars with me, Doug Clancy and Susan Beard.

"Once we are able to gauge the level of interest and tally the dollar value of our other initiatives, we will determine whether involuntary terminations are necessary, as regrettable as they may be.

"But the need for some trimming is clear. To that end, I have decided to pull back from one of our most creative initiatives of the past year, our weekly Signature section. Through truly distinguished cover stories, brilliant design, photo layouts and graphics and features that explain how we live in North Jersey, Signature made its mark under the fine editing of Alan Finder. But as we look to enhance, rather than extend, our defining core of local news and features, it makes sense to me to take the best of Signature — Bill Ervolino’s excellent “Then and Now” column, those terrific cover stories and our superb graphics and photography — and feature them in the regular sections of the daily paper. As we do, there will be a measurable savings in newsprint costs.

"Signature allowed so many of us to think about what we would do if we went a step further in our reporting, design, photographs and graphics. That spirit, guided by Alan, is out of the bottle. Let’s make sure it stays there and informs our day-to-day work. The weekly rotation established to generate contributions from a wide range of writers will remain in place. The front page will be among the beneficiaries of what’s to come.

"As for Alan, he signed on for six months and is days from reaching that mark. This week’s will be the last Signature, but as he moves back to the many activities he put on hold to come here, he will leave a lasting mark — his signature, if you will. Join us in a toast to him, and the estimable effort he headed, on Friday after the 3:15 p.m. news meeting.

"There’s a lot to digest in this note. Feel free to drop by my office if you want to discuss any aspect of it.

"And thank you, once more, for making The Record the special place it always has been and will continue to be."



"Victor, people are giving you shit because this full [management] memo was on Romenesko for days and you apparently had no idea. I'll post it in parts.

"To the staff:

"North Jersey Media Group is undergoing a rigorous budget review in the face of the economic pressures that are confronting media companies across the country and that are compounded locally by continued high unemployment. The Record is a vibrant paper with an enduring commitment to high-quality journalism, strong circulation and a growing digital presence. Nonetheless, we are assessing operations to make up for shortfalls in revenue projections and increasing expenses, including significant benefit obligations.

"The budget review is focusing on every department, including the newsroom. And while the belt-tightening may not approach that of other companies, it will be real and will result in a modest reduction of positions in the newsroom, as well as other initiatives. Every unit of North Jersey Media Group is looking for ways to grow revenue, reduce expenses, or both. In the newsroom, we have figured out how to save substantially on page count and newsprint while not compromising our mission. We are trimming expenses and not filling certain open positions.

"Our fundamental aim is to rebalance our operation in a measured way to account for economic realities while maintaining and even enhancing our core product, which thanks to our ownership and to you is one of the finest regional news reports in the country."

That last sentence, claiming The Record is delivering "one of the finest regional news reports in the country," is sure to produce snickers from Palisades Park to Punta del Este and from Mahwah to Mumbai.


  1. The 2/4 blog is fantastic, a perfect blend of who and what. Reading the references to drones in the Kingdom of Borgdom, I am reminded of Ray Mitchell. He was a financial guy in the kingdom who got caught up in a proposal to move some operations south of the Mason Dixon. Rather than accept what he thought was a paltry buyout offer, he chose to take the busride to the prospective location with peons who were told they could relocate at NJMG expense. Management thought he would come back with his tail between his legs, but he called on the bluff. "It was great!" he said. "When are we going?!" At that point, buyout negotiations turned in Ray's favor, and he left-- feet first.

  2. I couldn't find anything on the Romenesko media blog about The Record of Woodland Park or North Jersey Media Group. I looked at posts in January and February. I doubt Jim Romenesko gives a shit about New Jersey or The Record. So, I question the accuracy of the Anonymous who sent me part of the text of a memo to the staff in Woodland Park.

  3. Whatever "it" is, why shouldn't I post it?

  4. The accuracy in terms of it being on Romenesko, not the memo itself.

  5. Did you try googling a sentence from the memo and seeing if it takes you to Romanesko?

  6. No, but the suspense is killing me: What happens if you do that?


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