Mar 7, 2008

Mandatory meeting*

I'm told SGVN Executive Editor Steve O'Sullivan has called a mandatory meeting at 1 p.m. to discuss a major organizational change.

Since the cat is already out of the bag (I was respecting the wishes of a source) it is expected that O'Sullivan will step down. It is unclear if he's leaving on his own accord or is being forced out by the new "operational efficiencies" that appear to have consolidated power at the San Bernardino Sun.

O'Sullivan took the exec ed job in 2006.

Elsewhere in the Singleton empire: Layoffs and buyouts at the Mercury News and the Bay Area Newspaper Group.

*Updated information

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the best news I've heard in an otherwise horribly dark week. The number of experienced, dedicated and talented reporters and editors who left the SGVN papers in the past couple of years specifically because of this guy is amazingly high. The kindest thing I can think of to say is "good riddance."

Cortney said...
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Cortney said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm sure he'll spin this -- like he does everything else, from the webcasts to the horrific "Street Edition" -- as a tremendous success. And he'll go back to teaching somewhere, where he can pontificate and wave around his MBA, safely protected from reality.

Anonymous said...

I missed the deleted comments, They must have been great.

Although I only met with this guy a few times, I heard a lot of things about him from all the places he's worked at.

I hope he's really gone. He should have been the first one.

Anonymous said...

No, Lambert should have been first.

Lisa said...

I have only fond memories working for Steve O'Sullivan as a cub reporter at the Daily Bulletin. His cerebral mentalities and generally positive disposition were missed immediately when he left for the business side. Most missed when he left the newsroom were his Christmas parties. What other editor can you think of -- actually invited his newsroom to his home and gave them all the drinks they could handle. None! He’s the only editor I ever had who extended that type of generosity. Christmas cocktail parties don’t equate with good journalism - but they do create a good work environment and that fosters good journalism.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I never knew the Christmas party Steve O'Sullivan. The one I knew was an arrogant, pompous, lecturing, self-important bully who treated his co-workers with contempt and was obsessed with the sound of his own voice.

Anonymous said...

Now who will walk around the office eating tuna out of a can and telling everyone about what an "intellectual" he is? Tell me, goddamnit!

Lisa said...

Ah the tuna. I forgot about that. At least it's better than a certain editor, who's still employed, who used to clip his fingernails at his desk. Yuck. ... Sorry this is so off topic ...

Anonymous said...

I was at the SGV Tribune in the mid-1990s, and I actually thought Steve was a very smart, albeit power-hungry, guy. He had a lot of good ideas and had a lot of energy, and that was a great thing in that newsroom. That said, I distinctly remember the day the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced. Our EXTRA edition was on TV, and there was a typo or some sort of error. Next thing I knew, a chair came flying past me across the aisle between news and features. He did have quite a temper.

Anonymous said...

The Steve I heard about wouldn't even make eye contact or shake a prospect employee's hand when introduced to him - basic professional courtesy...talk about an arrogant a-hole.

Lisa said...

Wow, that’s pretty different than the Steve I knew who spent at least 30 minutes doing the talking during my interview at the Daily Bulletin when I applied for starter gig as nite copy editor. There were diagrams involved and excited discussion about technology. Either too much time under a Singleton roof got the best of him -- or some people simply have an ax to grind.

Anonymous said...

Well Lisa, seems you are the only person who liked the guy - at least posting here...is there anything we should know...?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lisa. Steve did all the same for me as he did for her. He was a great mentor to a young journalist. I would take him over Lambert or Pine any day.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was at the Trib in the mid-90s and forgot about the OJ EXTRA and flying chair. But I was there that day for the EXTRA and the Altadena fire EXTRAS as well as earthquake EXTRAs.

The SO'S I knew ran hot and cold. If he liked you, he could be a good mentor, brainstorm with you and work out the kinks in a complex live story. He was very hands on and he was the exec editor at the Trib at the time.

Life at MN must've changed him. A LOT.

Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan was a pain, but Lambert is far worse. It's like comparing Don Rickles to the Antichrist.

Question: Is Frank Pine related to the late Joe Pyne?

Anonymous said...

Question of the Day: Is this more power than Art Pine has ever dreamed of?

Anonymous said...

oops Frank Pine... well, in the long run it really doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

In meetings, O'Sullivan would ramble on and you could see everyone looked like deer in headlights. While everyone agreed with him while in his office, it was business as usual after people walked out of there, with not much more insight about the topics than when they all walked in. This guy always talked about his intellect but never really produced anything substantial. He'd throw out ideas like rice in a wedding, hoping something would stick. But having just met that Lambert guy, he really takes the cake. His attitude is so way out of touch with reality it sickened everyone at the meeting. He rambling on about having to start from the ground up and that HE doesn't know how to do it. This guys has great orator skills like the Shaqster has point guard moves. You heard it hear first, the collapse of SGVN civilization as we know it has begun because these new guys, usurpers, grave robbers, hyenas will never accomplish anything of substance because it is inherent in them. It is who they are, and believe me these people are no leaders. They should be ashamed of treating people with disrespect and arrogance. They will reap what they sow though. And O'Sullivan, teaching journalism ethics in ULV, man, what is he going to teach, how to be the greatest A**hole and how to treat people like nonhumans? ULV, do your paying students a favor and pull another sacrifice there too. Dont wait for this guy to ruin your J-dept. too. Remember that all of those who have suffered are not just numbers, but they are people too and I hope that everyone on of them has the greatest success in their life after this road bumb, because that's all these guys are, flies and vultures who thrive on carcasses. But now that everything is down to less than bones, what are they going to destroy next? The only thing for them to do is self-implode and believe me, if anyone can do it, it is them and I hope I am around to watch it all and call out the names of those now gone as these rats walk out the doors for their last time. Because it will happen.

Anonymous said...

It of course is fascinating to see the good people of SGVN learn what Sun and Daily Bulletin people have known for a long time -- Steve Lambert is an idiot.

In 2006, when he asked for suggestions to modernize, one since-fired editor suggested blogs.

"That's so 2005," he said.

Now the papers are all over the blog thing.

Lambert is famous for trying to do all sorts of new things -- niche publications, etc. -- with no additional resources. He plays favorites and has a major Napoleon complex.

Sorry, but you folks are screwed.

Anonymous said...

I love how Lambert tries to pump up the remaining members of the newsroom with "we will win this fight," when he infamously noted that he doesn't even read our paper (Sun) during a meeting with City News staffers.

Anonymous said...

Little less kind than the first posting because kindness is only for good people in bad situations. This bad people took a good situation and made it bad.

If Lambert is reading this, do yourself a favor and quit today. How can someone with so little talent (grass growing in midwinter has more talent) and with such destructive carelessness continue to try to run a paper? Because he has diluted himself so much that he cannot see reality any more. You should be oh so ashamed and embarrassed about what your employees think about you that you should pack up your things and get out of town. How can you face employees, neighbors and acquaintances, your minister, knowing that you are not respected and that people think so little of you. You are a bafffoon to all of us. You are a court jester. You are smug and arrogant and will never amount to anything more than an unsuccessful a** kisser to Denver. If you have any self-respect in you, quit, retire, fire yourself, go away, walk out, pack your things, leave, disappear, just plainly move on and don't look back. You are a disgrace to journalism and a shame to your name and family.

Anonymous said...

You know what I remember about Steve O'Sullivan? I was told by a very nervous reporter that during an interview with him, O'Sullivan had called a former managing editor with the paper (who Steve had forced out of the company) a dope. The disgust with which he said it is what made that reporter nervous.

I also remember a company picnic held at a local park. It was shortly after Frank Pine was promoted by O'Sullivan - because they both speak the same arcane language. We were all looking for the two of them. The reporters finally found them hiding behind the park's snack bar.

Oh and then there was the time he walked in on a City News budget meeting - because the coffee pot was in the conference room -listened to one reporters pitch of a post 9-11 story on a Muslim trying to cope with their terrorist image. He launched into an hour-long lecture on how all of Islam's message was to "kill all non-believers" and convert the world. True? Who knows. But an hour of this? Jason Cohen was the editor at the time.

Steve did many things that he did not think were going to catch up with him. Worse, he was a very Jekyl and Hyde personality, surrounding himself with people he felt were non-threatening. O'Sullivan is the reason Frank Pine quickly ascended the corporate ladder. Outwardly I know Steve is happy for Pine. But inwardly ... it is evident that the student overthrew the teacher.

I hope this has been a very valuable lesson for Steve.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, few of the king's courtiers ever lasted the length of an entire administration. The monarchy can be funny and fickle that way.

At one time, some of these courtiers must have thought themselves untouchable, only to be banished from the court and disgraced in the end. To those who would rise to take their places, look to your history books.

History has shown us time and time again that those who curry the king's favor at some point, sooner or later find themselves no longer of use or amusement to the king.

Campbell said...

You know a lot of people have problems with their boss, no matter who he or she is or what type of manager they are. My relationship with Steve could not have been warmer and more supportive, even when he spiked my cartoons. He really cared about the editorial mission he felt he had and told me on many occasions that he was not comfortable being anything more than managing ed. When he was made publisher of the DB he lost something he loved...the newsroom! It was almost funny the way he would find excuses, anything really, to leave his office and cruise the editorial side day after day. He would sit and talk (and talk and talk) to just about everyone about, well, just stuff. Like he didn't want to go back to the dungeon of the publisher's office and wait for Bob Balzer's calls anymore!

The day they announced his move to take the job at the Trib, seen as some as a demotion, he had the biggest grin imaginable. I approached him cautiously, sure he'd be in a foul mood. He told me he was thrilled to be back in "the nitty gritty" newsroom again where he said he had more fun. If he really was Mr Hyde to some of you all I'm sorry. Maybe it's you.

Mike Rappaport said...
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Anonymous said...

This previous post about Steve O. caught my eye: "He would sit and talk (and talk and talk) to just about everyone about, well, just stuff."

I find it extremely interesting that Steve O. was able to find so much free time to wander around and chat it up with friends while the rest of the newsroom was working hard to put out a paper. From what I understand it seems like the man really loved to hear the sound of his own voice.

Did he really not have enough work to do that he was able to spend so much of his time socializing while those under him worked themselves to the bone?

It sounds like his leaving wasn't really much of a loss.

On the contrary, it's a shame for the other employees who lost their jobs even though they spent their time at work actually WORKING.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for the Jekyl-Hyde analogy. Despite some disagreements, I thought we had a decent working relationship and seemed to get along OK most of the time until ...
I gave notice after finding a PR job. I handed in my resignation letter after a three-day weekend, not knowing my editor and others had been laid off that Friday. I gave one day shy of a 2-week notice and was told I was "breaking the law by not giving full notice." I knew this was B.S., made a sour face at him and called him a bully. A couple years later, after the PR job became a nightmare, I tried to get in at another MNG paper. After I was told I had the job, I got a call from a very disappointed former editor informing me I had been put on a do-not-hire list. During the several years I worked for Singleton newspapers, I was told what a valuable employee I was. Sespite a workload that was at least twice what it should have been, I still wanted to come back.
It's funny: Now I look back at being blacklisted as a Blessing From God.
I feel so much sorrow for my former co-workers. They truly love journalism and have put up with so much abuse IMHO just to be a part of a newsroom.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact you are not the only person O'Sullivan did that to. He could be a very petty man.

Anonymous said...

Of course that was BS, employment with a Singleton company is at-will, both for the company and the employer. That's why you can be fired at any time.

Giving two weeks notice is just a professional courtesy that is given to your current employer, it is NOT a requirement.

I know one employee who only gave her editors one week's notice. And she was an employee they had a investment in, even used her for those billboards they were doing.

Anonymous said...

The only regret I have leaving the Trib and newspapers in general is not being there the day O'Sullivan announced his exit. He's a self-important blow hard. I, too, left the Trib specifically because of him and his horrendous decision to demote the best, hardest-working, loyal city editor in the history of the newspaper. Not only that, but O'Sullivan left him hanging for god knows how long before finally releasing the ax and bringing in another self-important blow hard who loved to throw 15-minute temper tantrums in the middle of the newsroom over things like Oscar Nominations! Y'all know who I'm talking about...

Anonymous said...

Calling O'Sullivan a blowhard leaves you nowhere to go with Lambert.

Talk about your "all hat no cattle" guys; his editing skills are minimal and his lack of writing skills is on display every time he writes one of those front-page pontifications.

Plus, the suspicion around the newsroom is that he's at least a little bit insane. When he gets angry, his voice heads up into a register only dogs can hear and there's a strange light in his eyes.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Rappaport said...

Matt, I thought I was right, but I withdrew the comment.

Anonymous said...

My favorite O'Sullivan moment was when he called the reporters in his office for a meeting. He was going off on some tangent (gasp) about circulation, and he asked
us if we knew what penetration was. No one made eye contact with one another or said anything until former reporter, Marianne Love, said, "I know one kind of penetration." I don't think that was the one that O'Sullivan was referring to.

-Jennifer McLain

Matt said...

Free speech is great and all that, but I have to say I'm dismayed to see the direction these comments have taken. Why is it so easy for people to insult one another? I suppose the anonymity is a big reason for it. Perhaps some of you should give your names if you stand behind your comments. Our industry has enough problems without people sniping anonymously at one another.
- Matt Krupnick

Anonymous said...

What comes around goes around

Anonymous said...

To the gentleman who commented earlier about those who chose to post anonymously, congratulations are in order.

How fortunate that your paper up north was one of the few able to avoid layoffs. You must be relieved. Sadly, some of those down here in LANG did not fare quite as well.

So before you judge the LANG people who comment here anonymously for fear of risking the jobs they still do have, you might want to remember your good fortune when you cash your paycheck. Some of your peers are standing in the unemployment line and many here are worried about joining them.

Matt said...

And that's my point, Anonymous. You people snipe without having any factual basis for it. Nearly 110 of my colleagues left our company yesterday. Many of those are my friends and many of them are outstanding journalists. If these people hadn't left on their own, we would have had layoffs. If you call that situation "faring well," I'm not sure where you're coming from. Nobody at a MediaNews paper is faring well right now, so stop insulting people in the same situation as you.
- Matt Krupnick (NOT anonymous)

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say I'm insulting people simply because I tell you to reserve your judgement of others.

Sadly, there is plenty of "factual basis" for what is being said here, sir, I wish there wasn't. And unless you are now unemployed, we are not in the same situation. But since I still intend to work in journalism again, I feel it is safer not to use my name lest I be blacklisted.

Matt said...

This conversation is so silly. You said nobody lost their jobs in the Bay Area, when more than 100 people actually did. You're also saying I can't take exception at your comments because I didn't lose my job. And finally, you're saying that it's OK to insult editors when they're not the ones responsible for the layoffs. Why not take a look at the real reason for these problems: Newspaper owners' failure to invest their profits in the technology and innovation needed to survive. Personal insults are so petty and so useless.
- Matt Krupnick

Anonymous said...

For the commenter Matt K:

You said; " You people snipe without having any factual basis for it."

Anonymous said: "How fortunate that your paper up north was one of the few able to avoid layoffs."

You said: "Nearly 110 of my colleagues left our company yesterday... If these people hadn't left on their own, we would have had layoffs."

Who is the wrong one here sniping? You Matt. Anonymous is factually saying you had no layoffs and you provided the proof yourself.

If your friends left, they left most likely with a big payday, as in buy-out. Now, I don't have the facts, so can you explain to us why they left willingly?

Matt said...

And as far as the last comment goes, the Mercury News -- part of our company -- had yet another round of layoffs last week. And anyone who thinks a MediaNews buyout is a "big payday" doesn't have their facts straight. I can't believe all of you (or who knows, maybe it's just one person) are arguing about which is more nefarious, a layoff or a buyout. The entire situation is terrible, and all I'm saying is that personal insults are not the way to solve anything. Especially anonymous insults.
- Matt Krupnick

Anonymous said...

In what way were you personally insulted Matt by what I wrote? Because I told you to respect others' right to post anonymously, you view this as an insult?

Did I insult anyone, editors or otherwise, in my posts? No. I addressed your comment directly. In fact, prior to reading your comment admonishing others for exercising their free speech, I hadn't posted anything here. I do, however, respect others' right to be heard and if they choose to do so anonymously, I respect that choice. I merely asked you to do the same and provided you reasons why people chose to do that. I also asked that you remember your good fortune before you judge others. Just for clarification, I never said all papers up north were spared, I said your paper didn't have layoffs, which was true.

Are not other people allowed to have views that differ from yours?

Matt said...

Look...I have no idea what "you" said and what "you" didn't say. That's because "you" have chosen to remain anonymous. What I said was that people -- maybe not "you" -- shouldn't resort to personal insults. If "you" didn't insult anyone, then bravo.

As for the stuff about our jobs, I feel like we're having parallel conversations, so let's be done with that. I don't want to be put in the position of discussing who's in a better situation. I think we can all agree that these are grim times all around.
-- Matt Krupnick

Anonymous said...

These are grim times, indeed. I wish they were not.

It's also time for me to return to the employment ads. Good luck to you, sir, and your colleagues.

I remain,

Anonymous

Anonymous said...

My two cents:

This is US of A. Freedom of speech is one of our rights. People can post anyway they want. Sorry that others don't want to play by your rules, Matt. We play by the rules that are set here in this blog, and that is to post like I am just doing - Anon.

Who are you to tell people how to vent their anger, how to deal with their losses? If you notice, our moderator Gary has deleted some comments, maybe because these were too brutal, but most are staying up, meaning that people are given the opportunity to express their thoughts.

Exercising that freedom is what all of us do and what you are doing as well, just not your way. Would you like it if someone to guide you on how to express yourself?

Anonymous said...

PS: Matt,

you did not answer as to the reasons all your friends and colleagues chose to leave to avoid layoffs?

Gary Scott said...

First let me say that Matt Krupnick, whom I competed against many years ago, is a fine reporter.

I agree that some of the anonymous comments are overly nasty. I've had to delete a few and I've thought about deleting others. I don't want this conversation to get bogged down in personal attacks or flame posts. Don't make me be a censor.

And Krupnick is absolutely right about the silliness of fighting over who's worse off. That's the cannibalism I warned about - eating our own is a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm Christina Esparza, and I'm the one who first called O'Sullivan a blow hard. Sorry for the confusion. And J-Mac, that is my favorite O'Sullivan story, too. I especially liked how upset he got when she said it.