Thursday, 30 April 2009

Student request

A student at the University of King's College in Halifax is hoping TSF readers can help her with a story about recent layoffs and buyouts in Canadian newsrooms.

"I am particularly interested in the number of veteran journalists vs. the number of younger, or newer, reporters who have recently left newsrooms," says Bethany Horne. "At the Sun(s), which demographic has been most affected by the recent round of buyouts and layoffs?"

Bethany says many managing editors have been unwilling to speak to her about this subject, "so I am writing to the editors of this blog in hopes of finding a source who will."

If you can help Bethany with her story, send her an email at"


  1. Ensure you also include whether they were union or not which had a huge effect on who stayed and who went in many cases...unfortunately most of the time the effect was negative when unionized.

  2. WTF? Half the younger people who were laid off at the Toronto Sun the last round got their jobs back because of contract language that said anybody taking buyouts (and there were a surprising number of those) saved a job.
    That wasn't in play at non-union shops. There they just pick people off like skeet, accept the buyouts and carry on with the layoffs.
    What reflexive propaganda-fueled nonsense from Mr. Anonymous. That is, unless he has a vested interest in dissuading people from accepting advocacy on their behalf and a set of rules that management agrees to and is legally bound to abide by.

  3. Can Anonymous explain what s/he meant? Do I take it that the writer was a young journalist at the bottom of the seniority list? Or is there an agenda here?
    In Toronto, we managed to save all of our young writers who were full-time and on the December cull list because of buyouts by staff. Unfortunately, the part-timers and contracts were laid-off
    Please remember this: It's not the union who cuts staff.

    Rob Lamberti
    Chair, Toronto Sun Unit
    CEP 87M

  4. As stated "in many cases" may not have included the Toronto Sun. No personal agenda, just pure observation in 4 union shops...

  5. You still didn't back up what you said. So we've got an anonymouse saying things like "in many cases" and "most of the time," without specifics. And from exchanging emails with Ms Horne, sadly, it sounds like she may be leaning toward the dodgy journalistic practice of quoting anonymous sources. It's bizarro-world thinking that people who take anti-union positions are somehow brave and need to have their identities protected - as opposed to the people who put their jobs on the line in the first place by standing up in plain sight and starting certification drives. If you don't succeed, you're as good as gone.
    As for me, like Jim Croce and the pine trees lining the winding road, I've got a name.
    Jim Slotek

  6. The original issue was which demographic has been most affected by the layoffs. You simply can't deny that bargaining agreements dictated some of the outcome.

  7. You want me to say that laying off somebody who's been at a newspaper a couple of years at the expense of somebody who's been there 15 years is a crying injustice?
    Ahhh, now we're getting to it. It would be better if they could cut loose fortysomethings with families to support, who'd put in decades honing their craft, to be replaced by twentysomethings who maybe don't know the ropes yet, but but work cheap. The wealth of knowledge and experience of the people who've been gassed? For that matter, the interests of the readers? Who gives a shit?
    Well, we're not playing that game. I make it a point to remind the younger people in our unit that youth is a temporary condition, and basing a career on working cheap is not helping anybody, least of all themselves. Soon you're an underpaid thirtysomething in danger of being replaced by somebody willing to work for even less.
    Ideally, in a newsroom there should be a mix of young employees learning from veterans, and that's what we fight for.
    The young reporters/copyeditors certainly weren't complaining when we got them a grid. Some of their salaries increased by five figures, and some "part-timers" who were actually putting in 40-plus hours a week were suddenly getting full benefits.
    The point of seniority is to discourage management from using layoffs as a cost-cutting measure in the first place, because they don't incur effective savings laying off the lowest paid people.
    One of the things that surprised me about being on the union side of the table was how much of maintaining the quality of the newspaper fell to us, not to the people you'd think would be most concerned about it - management. But that's how it is.
    Life isn't simple, but you've said nothing that even begins to suggest how life would be better if we were simply at the mercy of managerial whims. Oh yeah, young people would keep their jobs at a new-world-order wage, working twice as hard as the old farts who could do their jobs in half the time. You want fries with that?
    Then again, you're still an anonymouse.