Archive for the Rambling Category

Where the Jboy been?

Posted in Rambling on December 9, 2008 by sizzlingjboy

I haven’t posted in awhile. Besides taking some time to pursue other projects — gotta eat after all — I decided to give Ledger management the time they requested to get done what they felt needed to be done. I didn’t want to be faulted for spilling beans, revealing secrets or simply whining while they tried to prepare for the future.

Wednesday a large number of those who have taken the buyout will depart. Some departments — biz for example — already need to put on a few pounds to reach skeleton status, yet they are about to lose more.

Rumor has it that we are also about to be graced with our marching orders for the new year. That and some recent newspaper-industry news made the time seem right to have another say.

In Preperation for Wednesday’s meeting — Pt. 1

Posted in Rambling on October 28, 2008 by sizzlingjboy

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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All the talk

Posted in Rambling on September 30, 2008 by sizzlingjboy

Deadline for deciding on the buyout is looming. Oct. 1 is the last day to opt in here. Rumor has it the pace of visits to Mona Rowe’s office will accelerate over the next two days.

But the question of staying or going isn’t exclusive to us. The following is from a Sept. 22 column by Oregonian classical music critic David Stabler.

The Buyout: To stay or leave

Here in the newsroom, we’re still talking about The Buyout. You can’t get in the elevator, the bathroom or line up for coffee without someone asking if you’re taking it.

I don’t mean to make light. This is a sad, dispiriting time when many friends and colleagues are walking away, never to return to journalism. Some folks have exciting plans and can’t wait to launch them (books, web sites, teaching, buying that island in Oswego Lake), but the newsroom will not be the same without them.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

Stabler goes on to wonder how all of those departures will affect coverage by the newspaper. One can’t help but wonder that here as well.

Some might argue that The Star-Ledger now has no choice but to make some radical decisions about what we cover and how we cover it. Some may say this forces the hard decisions that have been delayed or avoided to this point.

From my perspective it simply seems difficult to imagine how we will continue doing what we have always done without a significant portion of that staff. The bodies will be gone. The future will depend on how we deal with that.

We are all familiar with the mantra: Do more with less. We have been hearing it for years. Is this the time to try and do less with less? A more focused less, a less directed toward what we can do that is unique and compelling.

Anyone have any thoughts on where The Ledger should focus coverage in the future? Any thoughts on how to gauge the paper’s audience and how best to serve them? I’d love to hear some ideas.

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Hardest parting

Posted in Rambling on September 26, 2008 by sizzlingjboy

After my last post I couldn’t help but go to this blog posting at Politckernj regarding the imminent “retirement” of two long-time Ledger political reporters, Robert Schwaneberg and Joe Donohue.

My point is not to single out those two for any special notice. Hey, the end is nigh (one way or t’other) for many Star-Ledger staffers. It was the comments that struck me.

Demand Results wrote: great reporters…and their absence from the scene only means that New Jerseyans will get even less information about state government. Not a great day for transparent government.

Republikyle wrote: Regardless of the editorial board’s opinions… it will be a sad day when the Ledger folds, and today is the beginning of the end with the loss of these two reporters.

Unlike the last commenter, I don’t know what the future holds for The Star-Ledger except that there will soon be a significant outflow of institutional knowledge, skilled writing, insightful reporting, visual excellence and editing acumen. Their bodies may be replaced — though that seems unlikely — but their journalistic excellence will be out these doors for good.

Such a loss is difficult to quantify in the short term. Perhaps the people of New Jersey will recognize it in the long run, especially if the Ledger (should it survive) doesn’t retool its reduced staff to properly cover the essentials of state/local government, high school sports and New Jersey news. But at this point we can only wait and see. Didn’t someone say that’s the hardest part.

The end is nigh?

Posted in Rambling, Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 by sizzlingjboy

I saw Sharon Adarlo’s email invite to an “End is Nigh” party at Mompou Tapas Lounge on Thursday night. I wondered if she knew something the rest of us didn’t. Heck I wondered if it was even for Star-Ledger folks since there didn’t seem to be any on the CC list. It appeared to be predominantly TV and radio people, judging by the email domains.

But based on what the invite said I also wondered if the broadcast media were facing some of the same issues as the rest of us.

Get together in honor of all our beloved colleagues who are going on to new jobs, or maybe better careers (with likely more job security).
So let’s give a nice toast to our buddies, as well as the dying profession we so love 🙂

So maybe the end is near. What’s killing me is wondering how it will all turn out. Buying a round for all of my colleagues, beloved or otherwise, would be a hell of a lot easier if I had a buyout check in my pocket.