Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memo from Fred Hamilton

January 28, 2009

Dear Fellow Employee:

In a further effort to help offset the continuing decline in revenue and position the company for future financial success while mitigating further job losses, I am announcing the implementation of a mandatory one (1) week furlough for employees to be scheduled during the period beginning February 1, 2009 and running through the month of March. All executive and management of the Company will be included. Each employee's department will determine the actual week an employee is furloughed.

I realize that we are all working hard to overcome this difficult time. I know this action will create a strain on our personal budgets, and unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that a furlough will prevent any further layoffs. However, from what I am hearing across our company... "a brief period without pay is better than many more layoffs."

This is not to trivialize the serious nature of furloughs. Implementing unpaid furloughs is indeed a very serious step. This furlough action is unprecedented for our company.

Over the next few days, your department heads will meet with you to further explain the furlough process and how people will be scheduled. A Q&A sheet is being prepared for distribution. Your human resources contact will be available to assist you and your supervisors. Personal situations will be considered based on seniority and the operational needs of the company. But, such considerations should only influence when a person's furlough begins and ends, not if a person will or will not be excused from a furlough.

As always, our customers remain our highest priority. Through your dedicated efforts, we have continued to publish quality newspapers and to produce top notch websites. Our challenge is to assure that we remain a strong company and continue to develop innovative new products which provide value-added for our customers.

At this time, it is important to understand that we, like many media and other companies, are facing significant challenges due to the deep recession. We are not the first and we certainly won't be the last to implement furloughs or take similar steps in order to address these challenges and keep our financial houses in order. We take these actions on our own because we can and we should... for the long term good of our customers and ourselves.

Thank you for your understanding, your support and your dedication.


Fred Hamilton
Publisher and CEO,
Inland Division

Monday, January 26, 2009

Memo from Steve Hunt

Good afternoon,

As you know, the copy desk from the San Bernardino Sun and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin will be joining our copy desk on Monday, Jan. 26 as we create an Inland Division Universal Desk. This desk will be responsible for copy editing every story and designing and paginating every page in our three newspapers, as well as the Sun and the Bulletin. It is an enormous task, one that requires incredible cooperation and planning. That cooperation will involve every reporter and editor on our city desk, features desk, business desk and sports desk.

One of the challenges in this venture is that three papers now share the same off-the-floor deadlines. The Whittier Daily News, Sun and Bulletin all are due off the floor at 10 p.m. Experience tells us that won't work very well when we join our desks into one. So, we're going to adjust two of those deadlines to give our designers and copy editors enough of a gap to ensure we make deadline for all three papers every night. Beginning Jan. 26, the deadline for the Sun will be 9:30 p.m. and the deadline for Whittier will be 9:45 p.m. The Bulletin deadline will remain 10 p.m. Pasadena's deadline will remain 10:45 p.m., while Tribune's will change to 11:30 p.m.

But those aren't the only changes. Because many of our copy editors and designers will be working 1:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. shifts, we also are going to change the copy deadlines for reporters at all five papers. Beginning Monday, Jan. 19, all inside A section copy for the three SGVN papers will be due at 1:30 p.m. A1 copy for Whittier and Pasadena will be due at 5 p.m., while A1 copy for the Tribune will be due at 5:30 p.m. This will provide us with the necessary copy flow so copy editors and designers can meet their page flow deadlines. For those of you who have never worked on a copy desk, what this does is prevent a logjam of pages on deadline, which would inevitably lead to late press starts and late delivery of papers. Of course, we realize there will be live and late stories from time to time. Special allowances will be made for those, as well as breaking news. But the hope here is to set up a system that provides for greater copy flow earlier in the day to ensure every paper in the Inland Division makes deadline and every reader gets his or her paper on time.

Naturally, those of you making photo assignments will want to try to line those up as early as you can too. We have more leeway on A1 than inside the A section, but it greatly helps designers to have art early in their shifts. Again, exceptions will be made for live events and breaking news.

Also next week, we will have one-hour earlier deadlines on Tuesday because of the inauguration. Circulation plans to print several thousand extra copies to sell on the street and wants to make sure those papers get to delivery people earlier. So on Tuesday night, Whittier's deadline is 9 p.m., Pasadena's is 9:45 p.m. and Tribune's is 10:45 p.m. For that night only, we'll want normal inside A copy by 2 p.m. and everything else by 4 p.m.

Thanks very much for your help. And while I am at it, I will echo Frank's comments about the good work you have all done recently. The Rose, our Jan. 2 parade wrap and the other special sections we've done recently were exceptional. But I am most proud that we had incredibly strong papers throughout that busy period and have kept that going. These are trying times for newspapers and most other businesses. But I am so proud of all of you and the papers we publish every day.

Thanks very much,


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Comment from Alan Mittelstaedt

I can't remain silent any longer.

Noah's an outstanding reporter and writer, and it's sad that he's leaving the paper. It wasn't too long ago that any newsroom in the country would die for a dozen energetic and creative writers just like him and the rest of his colleagues at the Daily Journal.

Noah's fascinated by science, technology and the law, among other things; his diverse range would be welcome at any paper striving to be on the cutting edge of legal coverage in a demanding market like Los Angeles.

Why is such a talent as Noah packing his bags?

I urge the paper's top management to do some soul-searching -- and go online today to enroll in an intensive management training course at Poynter or somewhere else. Learn the basic rules of civility and leadership that inspires.

In the meantime, start treating every writer with respect. Stop screaming, and start listening. Stop writing reporters up for minor mistakes, and start sending notes of thanks. Offer constructive criticism, not personal attacks. (By the way, such attacks are lawsuit bait.)

As I told David Houston in one of our final meetings, I have never witnessed a supervisor with a more demeaning, abusive style in my 29 years in this business. (And I've encountered some contenders in my day.) I couldn't tolerate or condone his Pleistocene-era style and left the paper at the end of the year.

The Daily Journal's filled with talented writers. Noah is one of the best of the best. He's too young to be leaving a paper that so sorely needs his enterprising talents right now.

Let's hope changes can be made to keep others from wanting to follow him.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Memo from Jim Janiga

Dear Fellow Employees,

Today our company is announcing the suspension of all annual merit increases to be effective February 1, 2009. We are not certain how long this suspension will last but are hopeful that the coming 2010 Fiscal Year operating budget will allow the suspension to be lifted. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2009. No guarantees but that is our goal. In the meantime, all merit increases earned and due before February 1, 2009 will be processed.

Under this suspension all increases earned and due on and after February 1, will be suspended for at least five months. For example, and based on that anticipated time period, if you are due a merit increase this coming March 2009, that merit increase will be delayed five months to August 2009. If you just receive a merit increase this past December 2008, your next merit increase would be due May 2010. Your Human Resources representatives can assist with any questions or concerns you may have.

Suspending merit increases will not reduce our current expenses but it does help us contain our expenses for a period of time. So obviously more needs to be considered and implemented, if warranted. To this end we are asking everyone to share with us any suggestions you might have regarding cuts in our operating expenses that are measurable, timely and sensible; cuts that can help us avoid more layoffs and are cuts you may be willing to accept. We need your input.

Unfortunately we cannot promise there will not be layoffs in the future but we should always endeavor to do what we can to prevent as many as possible. Obviously, growing revenue is our best option but until revenue streams stabilize and grow, reducing our expenses will continue to be a painful but necessary focus. Some early suggestions have included mandatory furloughs, cuts in our vacation benefits, pay cuts (temporary and/or permanent), reduced work schedules, allowing volunteer reduction in hours while retaining most full-time benefits, and more.

No one has THE answer and no one should naively speculate what others may not be willing to do to help save a co-worker's job... even where there are no guarantees. We would be foolish not to ask for your support, ideas, focus and commitment.

Everyone needs to be engaged. We need to support each other. We can and will make a difference. Times are tough but we are tougher. Your ideas are important to all of us.

Thank you for your attention and thank you for your continuing input and loyalty.

Jim Janiga
Senior Vice President - Human Resources

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sen. Gil Cedillo is running


(SACRAMENTO) - State senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) today confirmed his intention to run for the 32nd congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Hilda Solis, the Obama administration choice for Secretary of Labor.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Latinos and the working people of East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley. Hilda Solis has been a strong leader on labor and economic issues for the 32nd District. As a candidate I seek to continue that focus, creating a competitive workforce, securing access to affordable healthcare and investment into public safety and transportation," shared Cedillo.

Cedillo has taken on a variety of issues during his legislative career. In 2008 he proposed legislation to provide college financial aid, housing assistance and medical support services to veterans returning from the Afghan and Iraqi wars. He has passed legislation to increase access to healthcare for the uninsured via community clinics and revitalize urban communities through investment.

His immigration reform proposals, licensing all drivers and higher education opportunities for immigrant students in line for citizenship, focus on rational solutions to national security and creating a viable, domestic workforce. The varied agenda has earned Cedillo a reputation for pragmatism, frequently working to find common ground among competing interests.

Cedillo's announcement follows an announcement by fellow state senator Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles) that she will not pursue the 32nd congressional seat. Sen. Romero, a lifelong education advocate and respected Latino leader, has given her endorsement to Cedillo. "I have evaluated the candidates who continue to seek this congressional seat and will be giving my endorsement to Senator Gilbert Cedillo. Senator Cedillo has been a forceful advocate for public safety and anti-gang initiatives. He has been tenacious in his advocacy for the rights and dignity of working families and the preservation of good middle-class jobs," said Romero.