Investigative journalist Thomas Peele remembers the day he found out that he and fellow journalists on the East Bay Times and the San Jose Mercury News gained the Pulitzer Prize for their “relentless” insurance of the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse hearth in Oakland, California.
Peele changed into shocked and, of the route, elated that he and his team would be venerated for their dogged paintings protecting a tragedy that shook their area.
It changed into April 2017. One week later, MediaNews Group, proprietor of the 2 papers and ratings of others across the country, announced plans to transport the Bay Area’s copy desk paintings to Southern California, triggering 20 layoffs from a shrunken roster of fewer than 100 personnel inside the East Bay newsroom.
In a flash, almost 1 / 4 of the award-triumphing editorial body of workers turned into gone.
“It becomes a kick in the tooth,” said Peele, who’s an officer for the NewsGuild, the union that represents employees on the papers.
The chain’s owners and bosses, he said, “didn’t even send a pizza.” But they did send layoff notices, at the side of “word that our papers might be edited 400 miles away through humans we had no relationship with, and who had little information approximately our region of the nation. And we had been basically instructed a few tales wouldn’t be replica edited at all.”
“Pulitzer?” he requested. “What Pulitzer?’
It turned into all a part of a developing trend of moving tasks along with proofreading, replica modifying, and page layout to “hubs” that would save cash. Meanwhile, the papers had been worthwhile, not to mention Pulitzer-triumphing — but the hedge fund that owned their figure agency desired to skim extra off the pinnacle.
Two years later, MediaNews Group, higher known through its trade call Digital First Media, has determined that shutting down pressrooms, disposing of jobs, and concentrating layout and printing into local hubs hasn’t reduced costs sufficient.
Now it’s outsourcing California information layout to the Philippines, paying pennies at the greenback for work that after hired professionals who lived within the communities they served.
An employee inside the manufacturing branch of the layout hub, who asked no longer to be named because of fears he’d be laid off, stated Digital First as soon as assured employees that the hubs had been key to supporting the papers survive. By he depends, simply earlier than the Philippines settlement went into effect in May, the employer reduces its Southern California design and duplicates modifying pool by using a half of-dozen people — all at the heels of sixty-five layoffs across the business enterprise’s Southern California newspapers a yr earlier.
“They said it turned into to store money,” he said. “So as soon as we heard the whole lot become being outsourced, we were burdened, because we had been imagined to be that.”
Computers Covering City Hall?
At the Denver Post, the agency is pushing the envelope even similarly. In bargaining talks with union leaders this summertime, Digital First drove for the proper to use of artificial intelligence to cover excessive faculty sports. They also desire to permit computer systems to “collect and publish” municipal authorities information, together with “neighborhood news stories from suburban groups, school districts, and different governmental districts,” in step with an organization’s inspiration acquired with the aid of The Intercept. Denver Post union authentic Tony Mulligan stated the agency has already selected a dealer and budgeted cash for the prep sports activities transition.