Did you catch the story in the Maui News earlier this week announcing a new contract that includes pay cuts, higher medical premiums, and layoffs?
The story, which ran without a byline, reports 14-18 positions at the newspaper will be eliminated through “voluntary” departures or layoffs. That’s got to be a big chunk of the newspapers staff. The did not say whether a severance package is being offered as an incentive to leave.
Here’s a bit of history from Anthony Pignataro on MauiFeed.com.
The cuts announced today should have been expected. Back in March 2011, The Maui News had sought to eliminate 10 positions. During a meeting with labor leaders at the time, Bradley made a particularly brutal case.
“At Wednesday’s meeting, Bradley asked the unions to consider a proposal to reduce the workweek from 37.5 to 35 hours – a 6.6 percent pay cut – and to delay by one year a 3 percent snapback (2 percent in wages; 1 percent in pension) set to occur on July 1,” stated a Pacific Media Workers Guild (which represents some of the paper’s employees) press release issued at the time. “In support of the request, he provided union leaders with details of sharp advertising revenue declines in a number of key categories.”
In May 2011, the Maui News employees agreed on a new labor contract that would rescind that layoff notice and prohibit further layoff notices until April 1, 2012. Apparently, The Maui News‘ owners (that would West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers) didn’t waste any time once the deadline passed.
One of the first Maui News reporters to announce her departure is Ilima Loomis, who is an award-winning reporter, blogger, and author.
Here’s what she had to say:
I will be leaving The Maui News on April 24 to take
a position as managing editor of Spirituality & Health magazine. I was not actively looking for a job, and was fully prepared to stay with The Maui News for the long haul. But when this opportunity came along, there was just no way I could say no.
S&H is a national magazine with a circ of around 65,000. They are
based in Traverse City, Mich., but have a satellite office here, so I will remain on Maui. I will be working with Editor-in-Chief Karen Bouris, who I really admire and share her vision for the magazine. This will be an incredible learning opportunity for me.
Then she added:
I think you can imagine the mixed feelings I have leaving local journalism behind — for now. But you also probably know that we are currently facing layoffs, and so by leaving I will be protecting the job of a less senior employee. That is a very bright silver lining for
Ilima emailed me later to make one clarification:
…my decision to leave now was truly not
planned and is in no way tied to the layoffs. I’ve been concerned that my leaving will be seen by some as a vote of “no confidence” in the paper, and I’d like to make it clear that that’s not the case.
By coincidence, this timely column appeared in the NY Times Media Decoder blog today (“Fill in the Blank: Being a Reporter Is the ______ Job in the World“).
And so it goes.
[The following brief postscript was typed by Ms. Wally when she snuck over and lay down on my laptop keyboard in search of a warm spot….
Thank you, Ms. Wally.]