Newspapers

Why Register staff is relieved

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Because Dean Singleton didn't buy the paper. Dave Wielenga in OC Weekly recalls what happened when Singleton's Media News took over the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

He showed up at the Press-Telegram to personally inform employees that they made too much money, that they were fortunate to be employed at all and that the list of their subscribers was worth more in a sale to a competitor than their newspaper itself. Then he proclaimed all union contracts null and void and summoned every worker, one at a time, to appear before his staff to plead for his or her livelihood.

It took only two weeks to march nearly 500 employees through the re-application process—not very long because these weren’t typical employment interviews. Workers were told that résumés and clips were unnecessary. The interviewers didn’t even take notes. Employees emerged bewildered from interviews consisting of chats about the weather, football, freeway traffic or the best restaurants in town. Some questions pried into lifestyle, relationships and children. One woman was forced to reveal that she had no kids because her only son had just committed suicide. Meanwhile, just so the workers wouldn’t forget how dispensable they were, their jobs were being advertised in the Press-Telegram’s help-wanted section.

A couple of weeks later, just before Christmas, the employees invited to stay were given take-it-or-leave-it offers to sign on the spot. Most of them had their wages slashed in half and their benefits ground into rubble. Everyone else was escorted from the plant by armed guards.

Singleton owns the P-T, Daily News and several others papers around L.A. (Link via Romenesko)


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