In Preperation for Wednesday’s meeting — Pt. 1

As in the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign, change is the topic for the staff meeting has been called in the newsroom for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The question isn’t simply what will be discussed, but also whether that change will be significant enough to keep The Star-Ledger going.

The announcement says the short gathering will be to hear a “first cut at how we’ll be planning for transition” and then “discussion of same.”

I might wish for something a bit more concrete. The buyout process began about three months ago and the first wave of the orchestrated exits is that same day. It seems a little late to be discussing the process for how we will be planning.

Still, since we’re just getting started, I have some thoughts about what I would like to hear at the meeting and see occur.

I’m hoping this first cut won’t deal primarily with a shuffling of offices and consolidation of production responsibilities. I’m hoping it won’t be a hollow more-with-less pep talk. I really don’t want to hear we’re going to make it up as we go along.

I’m hoping that there is (or will be) a real plan and that it indicates the newspaper, maybe the entire Newhouse group, is ready to make the difficult choices required to keep going. Cutting staff by nearly 50 percent has been extremely painful; an operation performed with a meat cleaver. But it will be even worse if the patient, now a double-amputee, remains on permanent life-support or dies.

Beyond the newsroom I’m hoping that there will be changes that fix the dysfunctionalities in advertising between online and print that the publisher has mentioned in his monthly meetings with staff. I’m hoping that there will be sweeping changes in how things are done at Advance Internet that will provide for a coherent, cooperative and modern web strategy that fully leverages the creativity, insight and abilities of those working for Newhouse even if they don’t happen to be at an internet property. I’m hoping that there will be changes in how all of the New Jersey newspapers — maybe all the Newhouse papers — work together and share content.

I know, I’m hoping for a lot. Heck, all of that isn’t where I’d stop, it’s just a start. And maybe it doesn’t really matter to those of us who have been lopped off. But if The Ledger can’t change now, then it won’t change. And that would be a shame.

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