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Globe layoffs: the latest

Thanks to a reasonably successful buyout program and last week's layoffs of 20 editorial part-timers--including five part-time photographers--today's layoffs hit the Globe newsroom with less force than they might have otherwise.

Today's union casualties are as follows: "Names" columnist Paysha Rhone; sports copyeditor Ginger Deshaney,  Globe West reporter Rachani Rathi; and business reporter Nicole Wong. Wong, several people tell me, actually volunteered to be laid off so that a colleague with less seniority could remain employed.

I'm also told that David Yee, a senior assistant copy editor on the night desk, was laid off today as well. [Note: I'd originally written that two other managers were laid off in addition to Yee, but have since been informed that that's incorrect.]

The part-time layoffs have gotten less attention than the buyouts so far, from me as well as other people. I'm still working on a comprehensive list of all the part-timers who were let go. But one of them--photographer Michele McDonald, who was a Pulitzer finalist for feature photography in 1997--told me earlier today that she was deeply frustrated at the way she was asked to leave the paper.

"I'm going to really miss the Globe, but I feel like there's something wrong with a system that treats people in this way," McDonald said. "The union contract says they don't have to give part-timers any severance pay or notice, so that's their excuse. 

"My daughter's bat mitzvah was [two days after the layoff], so they said I could keep my equipment and laptop and phone until today," McDonald continues. "But I think the other photographers were asked to turn in their equipment [immediately]--and they told me to remember to bring my parking pass and Boston Globe identification card in. It makes you feel like you're a thief or something. I went to Iraq with them [to shoot Rakan Hassan's homecoming]; I went to Bosnia during the Bosnian War for them."

McDonald also made an argument similar to the one I heard from David Mehegan last week--namely, that she could no longer do the sort of work at the Globe that she used to. But in contrast to Mehegan--who left voluntarily--this actually seemed to make the sting of her exit worse.

"Years ago, I worked with Eileen McNamara on a story about why the black infant mortality rate is so high in Boston," McDonald said. "Every year we'd run stories about the stats for whites and blacks in Massachusetts, and Eileen said, 'Well, why?' We did this incredible series; I'm very proud of the work that we did. And in some ways, what really saddens me is that I feel like that's work I oculdn't do anymore at the Globe anyway. It's gone. It's another age. It's over."

  • Scott said:

    It seems that everyone and their uncle now thinks that they're a reporter, what with blogs, Facebook, Twitter and such. Ethics, research, attribution are all over looked. Thus is the marginalization of journalism these days. Very sad news.

    March 30, 2009 9:08 PM
  • Dirt Dog said:

    ...and Steve Silva still has a job.

    March 30, 2009 9:37 PM
  • Ron Newman said:

    Why does Dan Shaughnessy still have one?

    March 31, 2009 12:53 AM
  • Jake said:

    Why is the Globe still paying for Boston Dirt Dogs? I can see paying for it before the explosion of blogs but now it's just another site with hardly any original content and what original content is there is terrible. There are hundreds of better Red Sox blogs than Dirt Dogs and thousands of better writers than Steve Silva. What a waste.

    March 31, 2009 2:33 AM
  • More deathwatch « I have a funny last name. said:

    Pingback from  More deathwatch « I have a funny last name.

    March 31, 2009 5:19 AM
  • David said:

    I've got no business knowledge on this subject, but it seems to me the Globe should concentrate on the local news only. I don't see how they could possibly compete with national news services.  

    Also they should drop their lame A&E coverage.  While A&E is extremely important for the town, The Phoenix does it so much better there's no reason to read the globe's sorry excuse for reporting.

    Business is another section in which the globe will never be competitive again, IMO.

    March 31, 2009 9:05 AM
  • Rozzie said:

    David - what do you call local news?  I don't care to fill my head with every fire and property tax override story for all the towns within 495.  That's okay for a website to click around for 10 minutes, not for a newspaper you want to spend 45 minutes with.  I like Ty Burr and Sarah Rodman to name a couple, and I think the arts are a huge part of Greater Boston life.  I want to know what the columnists have to say too.  I miss the international coverage and the fact that we had a Boston representative at major world stories.  Yeah, those days are gone, but there's a lot more to the Globe than those 4 pages of Metro stories, and I doubt that I'd read it at all if you were deciding their future.

    March 31, 2009 11:23 PM
  • Print is Dead said:

    Has anyone noticed that all these layoffs are women? One of them -- Deshaney -- has been there almost 10 years. Something stinks.

    April 1, 2009 9:56 AM
  • Sully said:

    It seems ironic to me that Miss Macdonald throws the union in there saying that that is the Globe's excuse for not giving severance, etc...

    The unions are what is killing these papers. They make changing with the times extremely hard, and making smart business decisions even harder.

    If this chick was a great photographer that the Globe wanted to keep part or full time, they couldn't do it because the  Union has full time seniority deals in place. Basically if you suck at your job but have been there long enough, you are protected while the new all star in your department gets laid off.....  

    Unions make for lazy journalism and bad newspapers in my opinion.  

    April 1, 2009 10:57 AM
  • Bill Toscano said:

    Ron: Dan Shaughnessy still has a job because he's one of the nation's premier sports columnists.

    April 1, 2009 10:27 PM
  • Mr. Reality said:

    Unions have saved journalism from indentured servitude. Young reporters have been complaining about so-called "deadwood" since the days of John Peter Zenger. The problem really has more to do with management, lost and unable to distinguish good reporting from mediocre, hiring young and inexpensive people who are unable to do the job. Think I'm wrong? Go to the library and look up a random Globe or Herald from 20 or 30 years ago. Story for story it was a much harder hit and better read. This tsunami has been coming for a long time and newspaper management must accept 100 percent of the blame.

    April 2, 2009 12:34 AM
  • printisdead said:

    The union v. management argument here is a little oversimplified. There are plenty of lazy, unmotivated newsroom employees holding on to jobs because of seniority alone, and there are plenty of managers too lazy to hold these people to account for their lack of productivity. Far easier to blame the unions than to bother with the bargained processes for disciplining employees.

    As for the Globe, Sully, most of the all stars (Charlie Savage, Michael Smith, among others) leave on their own because, as Michele McDonald points out, there's really very little room anymore to do the kind of work that made them all stars. The Globe and the Herald are just two of the many papers around the country that somehow think the way to turn around their sagging fortunes is to keep cutting staff, watering down their content, and hoping somehow the loss in circulation doesn't cancel out the cuts to payroll. Inevitably, it doesn't work out, so they cut more staff, further water down the paper, etc. At least one, if not both, of these papers will stop printing before this time next year. It's sad, and there's plenty of blame to go around.

    April 2, 2009 1:33 AM

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