With little incentive to roll back their own salaries, newsroom sources say, the rank-and-file is loathe to bend to a corporation that granted Belo chairman Robert W. Decherd a 140 percent pay hike last year and did little to smooth things over with a more recent cut for the head honcho.
And pay is not the only issue. Last week, union members voted to file a grievance against the ProJo after management sought to delay a series of 401(k) payments meant to compensate for a freeze in the company's pension program.
With all this low-level unrest, one could read executive editor Thomas E. Heslin's extraordinary note to readers this weekend — assuring Rhode Islanders that the ProJo is "here" and "very much alive" — as a bid not just to shore up circulation, but to rally the troops at Fountain Street.
"This is the news organization that sets the public agenda," wrote Heslin, who did not respond to a call for comment. "This is the news organization of history," he continued. "This is the mirror. This is the big picture. This is the Hope."
And despite all that's happening in Providence and Boston, there is — remarkably — still hope in the ProJo newsroom.
The paper has made impressive strides in its online, breaking news operation in recent months. State House coverage continues to hum. And investigative reporter W. Zachary Malinowski is keeping up the heat on the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, which came under scrutiny with the death of a Chinese national in its custody last summer.
Reporters are reporting, Hill said. Photographers are taking photographs. There is not much in the way of woe-is-meism. "You can't become a co-conspirator in your own demise," he said.
Here's hoping the demise doesn't come along anyway.