The consolidation of LANG-east continues with word that all pre-press operations - creative services, ad services, imaging, pagination - for the San Gabriel Valley papers is being moved to the San Bernardino Sun.
Between 15 and 20 people will be affected by the relocation plan, but not all of them in the same way. One-on-one interviews are scheduled for Friday to decide who gets to make the 40-mile trek out to Sun headquarters and who gets to file for unemployment.
Blogger Paul Oberjuerge chronicles some of the other forced migrations between the newlywed papers (he also mentions a rumor I've heard that MediaNews is selling its building in Ontario). Since some people might rather quit than take on an 80-mile-a-day commute on clogged freeways with record gas prices, this is one way to thin the work-force without having to fire anybody.
One person who did just that after the papers decided to experiment with a consolidated copy desk is Mark Masek*. He ran the copy desk while I was an editor at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and is one of the nicest people I ever worked with. Here's part of a comment he left on Oberjuerge's blog:
I can’t say whether a combined copy desk would have been a good idea, considering all the issues related to coverage, communication, work flow and processes, etc., and also considering the MediaNews financial picture and long-term plans. It might have been a good idea — perhaps the only possible idea — but none of the people who were actually expected to do the work were involved at all in any discussions or planning for the move. We were simply told to pack up our desks, drive out to San Bernardino, knock on the door, and see what happens.
This was part of the prevailing atmosphere of fear, secrecy, mis-information and arrogance in the newsroom. They didn’t come to us and say, “Here’s our situation, here’s what we’re facing, and here’s what we want to do. You know the copy desk operations, what works and what doesn’t. Since you work on this every day, you might even have some suggestions or ideas that we hadn’t thought of. Now, how can we make this work?” Instead, they shipped us out with no plan, and told us to make it work. The fact that they brought the copy desk back a few months later shows the success of their way of doing things.
Management certainly has a right to run things the way they want, and allocate their resources however they want. I won’t argue that point. I didn’t quit because of what they did. I quit because of the way they did it.*Masek did have another reason for leaving LANG: He got a job at the Los Angeles Times.