Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Commitments of the Corporate Class

Thus far, I have refrained from commenting about the goddamn slo-mo, 2000 fps, ship wreck that is unfolding with the Times-Picayune.  I've refrained because my opinion, even though informed, probably doesn't mesh so tightly with the mainstream outrage and protest that has worked its way up to a fevered pitch, today, this "Eve before the Cull".

I feel like I am watching the Titantic sink while sitting on top of a lonely iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.  I keep wanting to yell, "Hey!  You guys get in the lifeboats...now!"

Unfortunately I think this thing is only going one way....vertical...not horizontal.

I don't want it be this way, my heart is broken that this thing is beyond citizen control but I know it is and there's no level of protest, nostalgia or indignation that is going to stop it.

Today (just turned today @ 12:05 am) is going to be a bloodbath at the TP.  I am as horrified as the next New Orleanian who pays attention and loves this city.  I fully realize the impact this has on the future of of New Orleans.  I am actually more horrified than most everyone else because I am about to become a Flying Wallenda without a fucking safety net.

That's not to say that I haven't wanted to smack the shit out of some people at the TP in the past, as I know they have me.  Still, we are part of the same tribe.  I may be a nomad but I also need to know the badasses are on the hill, keeping the campfire lit.  I need to look UP and see the flames churning.  

I can't speak for every blogger but I see the relationship between this blog and the TP kind of like the politics of ancient Japan....we wouldn't hesitate to cut each other's heads off in an internal battle but when we are fighting the dragon we appreciate each other's talents and tactics.  At least I appreciate them.

TP folk may not admit that but I believe it to be true and I don't mean that just about AZ.  Blogs have served a vital role in the body journalism of this city in the post-K environment.  We can do and say things the TP can't and visa-versa.

So I'm about to say some things they can't right now...especially when they are forced to sign non-disclosure agreements today in order to receive the piss-ant severance package they will be offered.  I also want to expound on why all our protests and outrage will fall on deaf ears to the Newhouse empire....in other words...what this whole thing is really about....

I personally started reading about it here but I suggest reading the following article first and thanking the guy who wrote it by the way:

Bronson v Newhouse trial opens     

Arguments began Monday afternoon before Judge Michael Youngpeter, with Bronson's attorney Vince Kilborn telling the jury Newhouse violated its pledge to his client and many other employees of their company. The job security pledge essentially said employees, as long as they did their jobs in a satisfactory manner, would not be fired for economic reasons or because of technological advances. 
(Please read it...take the time, I beg you.)

What happened in this civl suit is damn glorious.

A semi-small town attorney, Vince Kilborn, handed the billion dollar Newhouse empire their ass.   Newhouse got their butts kicked so bad they had to settle with Bronson, the plaintiff, in order to avoid the jury's judgement.  The NYC boys came down to the SEC to play flag football and Bama destroyed them in the 1st quarter.

 Judging by the comment section in that article, Bronson was very much a douchebag, himself.  But in the world of douchebaggery when the underdog douchebag bests the mega-douchebag it's still a wonderful sight to behold and that is exactly what happened in this lawsuit.  In fact, Newhouse was getting its ass kicked so bad in the courtroom they tucked tail and ran back to NYC, settling with Bronson rather than allowing the third act of the play to unfold.

 That sultry, Bama courtroom has tales to tell.

Imagine "My Cousin Vinny" but Vinny never shows up.  Nor does Marisa Tomei...and that particularly sucks cause then you don't really have a film.

In the trial, attorney Cecily Kaffer tried to plead the Newhouse case to an Alabama jury by decrying disruptive technology shifted the sands of the playing field :
"What changed? In a word -- the Internet," Kaffer said.

She told the jury during opening statements that Bronson had said the Internet was a fad and had been ill prepared for its encroachment into newspapers' bottom lines. She said in 2008 the paper had only made $300,000, and compared it to Bronson's $745,000 salary along with a $288,000 pension he had begun taking. 
The long and short of it is the Mobile jury clearly wasn't buying Kaffer's whining despite the Press-Register's measly earnings.  The Newhouse media dynasty was forced to settle with Bronson.  I imagine Kaffer and the other attorneys conducted a thorough autopsy of the lawsuit on the private jet when they turned tail and headed back to the "Big Apple".  I'm also sure they were rubbing that big bite taken out of their ass...way down south.

I'm also guessing they realized their original pledge was fatally flawed.  Let me sum it up for you...
 The job security pledge essentially said employees, as long as they did their jobs in a satisfactory manner, would not be fired for economic reasons or because of technological advances.
Quite simply, Newhouse overstated their commitment to the profession of Journalism.  I would call it a religion more than a profession but then again I'm a die-hard disciple.  The Newhouse lawyers are most certainly not disciples.  Hell...they're not even moved by the choir.

Alright, I'm going to break right here.  I've been told I need to "serialize" my shtick so I'm going to sign out.  But I would like to send you off with this perspective from Mark Holan:

'Newhouse Pledge,' Job Security, Now Relics of Once-Thriving Newspaper Industry  


Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

I see two different issues at work: (1) firing staff and salary cuts and (2) from a daily to a thrice weekly publication schedule.

In the grand scheme of things, I'd rather the latter than the former. This city needs talented journalists, it doesn't need a daily newspaper. It almost feels like a conspiracy where technological advances and industry shifts are being used as a subterfuge to gut the watchmen.

jeffrey said...

I'm glad you've started this discussion. I've got some complicated feelings about what's happening too. I hinted at it a little here but I'm waiting until the shock of 200 people getting fired by the assholes at Newhouse to pass before I start picking fights.

What I'm most worried about is an emerging elitism on the part of pro journalists like Jed Horne and David Simon who are already starting to blame "divisive commenters" and "internet freeloaders" for the loss of their grand church of consensus.

Even while they're being fucked by the Newhouses and others above them they'd rather cast their disdain downward upon the rabble.

Jason Brad Berry said...

There is going to have to be some come to Jesus moments on the pro's behalf.

And reading your post, I must admit:

"At the same time, it's tempting to think that some of our "betters" and their enablers are getting theirs."

I share that sentiment in regard to specific people but I'm trying to suppress it.

jeffrey said...

Me too. I hate seeing people fired. Especially in this fashion and for no defensible reason.