What Were You Thinking, Cleveland Plain Dealer?
Headlines announcing newsrooms cuts, transitions to all-digital formats, and overall restructuring take very few of us by surprise these days, as the impact of digital is felt everywhere and this industry is forced to revisit its business model.
But layoffs by phone? Cleveland's The Plain Dealer earns this week's "What Were They Thinking?" Culture Award for its almost unbelievable decision to alert its editorial staff to stand by for a phone call between 8 and 10 a.m. on July 31 to learn whether or not they had a job at the newspaper. Considering this is a communications business, that is a heck of a cold way to communicate such sensitive news to your workforce, don't you think?
Bloomberg BusinessWeek's post about the layoff used the photo above of one of the victims of the movie "Scream" who should have known better than to answer the telephone.
The post noted that the 50 affected staffers, which constitute one-third of the newsroom, "were then asked to collect their severance materials the next day, not at the office but at the paper’s production center, which is about 10 miles away. Ouch. Hopefully, they didn’t leave anything valuable (or perishable) at their desks."
The layoffs also coincide with the newspaper, Ohio’s largest, announcing that it would be scaling back home delivery to four days a week. Click here to read the letter the newspaper issued to its readers to explain the move. Note the comment to this letter below:
"Since just about all the PD reporters were informed by robo-calls they were being fired, I suppose we will be seeing more "guest columnists" and stories from the AP and not any real reporting."
It's a sad day for these journalists and newspaper employees. I read in some coverage of this move that a local brewery is hosting the affected workers for one night. Apparently the brewery has received many calls from people around the country, including fellow journalists, offering to buy a round for them.
There had to be a better way to communicate these changes.