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See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes (Rodale, October 2003),
Friday, November 14, 2003
Newspaper Guild statement on
The Newspaper Guild of
Greater Boston is deeply saddened by the layoffs today of 2 union
members and the reclassifications of 2 others. (Three of the union
members work full-time for the Commercial Unit, and 1 worked for
the Editorial Unit as a part-time news photographer.) We will
continue diligently to represent their rehire and other
We also we wish the best for the
8 veteran Guild members from the newsroom ranks who accepted
early-retirement packages. Their absences will be greatly
We remain deeply troubled that
Guild ranks at the Herald have been depleted by nearly 10 percent
in recent months through layoffs, buyouts and attrition. However,
we appreciate that Publisher Patrick J. Purcell has made sincere
efforts this week to spread the pain of staff reductions across
As a result, today is a tough
day for many of our friends and colleagues who work in jobs
outside the Guild.
All of us who love the Herald
and believe strongly in Boston's remaining a two-newspaper town
are committed to getting through this difficult time and putting
out the best paper we can.
posted at 4:41 PM |
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Purcell, union president speak
out. Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell's statement just
rolled off the fax machine. It states in full:
Regrettably, it was
necessary for the Herald to reduce its workforce. This was
accomplished through employee voluntary buyouts, retirements,
attrition and the elimination of several positions.
As of Friday, 19 employees have
been impacted. Of those 19, 12 full-time newsroom employees
accepted buy-out agreements and one part-time newsroom employee
was laid off. All impacted employees received a severance
A soft economy and increased
expenses have caused many in the newspaper industry to take
similar action. The Herald worked diligently to minimize the
impact on its employees by reducing expenses in other areas
throughout the company, and only after exhaustive evaluation of
all aspects of our business did this course of action become
The 19 figure is lower than the 22
being bandied about (by, ahem, Media Log) earlier today.
Lesley Phillips, president of the
Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston and a Herald staffer, says
that 12 of her members were affected. Of them, eight had applied for
the buyout and were accepted; two, including the part-timer, were
laid off outright; and two whose positions were eliminated have
"bumping rights," which means that they could choose to leave or to
take other union jobs, a situation that would cause two other
employees with less seniority to lose their jobs.
Phillips expressed "sadness" for
those who find themselves unemployed, but also had some praise for
the Herald. "In the past 48 hours I've been convinced that
this company has done what it can to keep the impact low," she told
me. "It's just been stressful. It's been a stressful number of weeks.
We were waiting for this. Now we go forward and go on to fight
posted at 4:21 PM |
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The axe comes down at One Herald
Square. Two of the Boston Herald's bigger names will be
drastically scaling back their presence, as long-anticipated cutbacks
at the city's financially ailing number-two daily are finally playing
Television columnist Monica Collins
and political columnist Wayne Woodlief have both been told that their
contracts will not be renewed. Both, however, will continue to write
for the Herald on a freelance basis. Collins will write her
Sunday "Downtown Journal" column once a week (it may be moved to the
Monday paper), and Woodlief will continue to write weekly as
Although an official announcement
will not be made until later this afternoon, the word out of One
Herald Square is that 12 union employees have accepted an
early-retirement incentive known as a "buyout," and an additional 10
non-union employees -- a category that includes Collins and Woodlief
-- have been told that their positions are being
As of early this afternoon, word
was that not all of those who are losing their jobs had been informed
Herald spokeswoman Gwen Gage
said the paper would release a statement at 3 p.m.
Collins is expected to spend a lot
of her time on "Ask Dog Lady," a syndicated column of tongue-in-cheek
advice for dog owners that appears locally in the South End
News and the Cambridge Chronicle -- the latter owned by
Herald publisher Pat Purcell's Community Newspaper chain.
Collins also has a website, askdoglady.com.
Woodlief, at 68, is already past
the customary retirement age. Nevertheless, he says he was
"surprised" to learn that his job had been eliminated. "I've gone
through the cycles -- mad, glad; well, not glad, sad -- and in a way
I'm looking forward to some liberation, especially since I can
continue the column once a week," Woodlief told me this afternoon.
"I'll be around to haunt the politicians and afflict the comfortable
and comfort the afflicted for next year for sure, and maybe
This has been a tumultuous year for
the Herald. In the spring, beset by declining circulation and
advertising revenues, Purcell brought in former Herald editor
(and former New York Post) publisher Ken Chandler as a
consultant, while leaving editor Andy Costello and managing editor
Andrew Gully in charge -- a confusing management scheme that has led
more than one staffer to wonder who was really running the
The Chandler-ized Herald has
been a distinctly downscale product, with a heavy emphasis on
celebrities, gossip, and scantily clad women. The early returns,
however, are mixed. The most recent circulation figures show the
paper continues its slow slide (as does the Globe), though
perhaps not quite as much as it would have were it not for Chandler's
drastic steps (see "Tabzilla
The newsroom has been on
tenterhooks since earlier this fall, when management announced it was
seeking buyouts from union employees (see "This Just In,"
26 and October
Of course, it remains to be seen
whether Purcell can now right the ship and return his struggling
paper to profitability. But with the bad news finally out of the way
-- until the next time, anyway -- he's given himself a chance at
least to change the subject.
Says Woodlief: "It's clearly not a
happy day. At the same time, most folks are saying, hell, it's the
Herald, we'll go on."
posted at 1:48 PM |
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Thursday, November 13, 2003
This Republican filibuster is
brought to you by the Fox News Channel. "[T]he producer
wants to know will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so
they get it live to open Brit Hume's show? Or if not, can we give
them an exact time for the walk-in start?"
Klaus Marre has the
story in the Hill.
Read it and gag.
posted at 5:21 PM |
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A legend at 34. One fact
really caught my eye in this morning's Boston Herald coverage
of former Herald reporter Paul Corsetti, who died yesterday:
he was 54, and he left the business 20 years ago.
Corsetti was a minor newspaper
legend, going to jail rather than giving up a source and carrying a
gun after he was threatened by James "Whitey" Bulger. I'd forgotten
the details, and was fascinated to be reminded of them this morning.
But to think that he did all of this by the time he was 34.
The obit doesn't seem to be online,
and columnist Peter Gelzinis's tribute
is for subscribers only. Gelzinis, in particular, is in fine form,
observing that Corsetti was a hardbitten throwback to the days when
reporters reported and handed their notes off to "rewrite men," the
guys -- and they were pretty much all guys -- who stayed in the
newsroom and did the actual writing.
Gelzinis quotes Corsetti: "What I
do is get the story and hand it to you ... writers. Otherwise,
what the hell would you do all day?" (BTW, the italics are accurate,
but didn't make the transition to the Herald's
earlier Gelzinis column on
Corsetti that you don't have to pay for. Shhh! Don't tell anyone
where you found it!
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd today
quotes Newsweek quoting the New Yorker. Who does she
think she is? A media critic? A blogger?
No marriage, no protection: no
justice. Media Log confesses to not having followed the Rosie
O'Donnell case in microscopic detail, so maybe I should have known
But I hadn't realized that Gruner
& Jahr had been able to introduce into evidence e-mails exchanged
between O'Donnell and her partner, Kelli O'Donnell, because -- as the
Times' David Carr puts
it today -- "she was not
entitled to the same protection as a spouse."
Just another small
Book report. If you'd like
to hear me talking about my book, Little
and scroll down a bit. You'll be able to listen to the interview
Here & Now's Robin Young did with me yesterday on WBUR
Radio (90.9 FM).
This morning at 11:15 a.m. I'll be
flogging Little People on the PowerNomics Radio Network with
host Tom Pope (click here
to listen); and this evening, sometime between 7:30 and 8 p.m., I'll
be on Nitebeat
with Barry Nolan, on the Comcast Network (CN8).
New in this week's
Phoenix. The real stakes over the Republicans'
outcry re the leaked
Democratic memo from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
posted at 9:18 AM |
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003
He's here, he's queer, he can't
get not-for-profit status. Harvey
Silverglate passes along
this absurd story
from the New York Law Journal. It concerns one Christopher
Barton Benecke, who considers himself to be "gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender" (all four?), and who wants to obtain not-for-profit
status for a group that he founded called Queer Awareness.
It looks like it's not going to
happen. Benecke ran afoul of the language police who work for the
state of New York. They ruled that the word queer is indecent
and degrading, and therefore is banned by a state law governing the
names of not-for-profit corporations.
Thus, for Benecke, the price of
being queer includes not being able to claim tax-exempt
Benecke is suing on First Amendment
grounds. Needless to say, he should win.
Dark days for the Dark Lord.
Newsweek has a tough cover
story on Dick Cheney, and
how his paranoid fear-mongering within the White House helped make
possible the war in Iraq.
Even with all the weasel words,
it's not a flattering picture:
[I]t appears that
Cheney has been susceptible to "cherry-picking," embracing those
snippets of intelligence that support his dark prognosis while
discarding others that don't. He is widely regarded in the
intelligence community as an outlier, as a man who always goes for
the worst-case scenario and sometimes overlooks less alarming or
at least ambiguous signs. Top intelligence officials reject the
suggestion that Cheney has somehow bullied lower-level CIA or
Defense Intelligence Agency analysts into telling him what he
wants to hear. But they do describe the Office of the Vice
President, with its large and assertive staff, as a kind of
free-floating power base that at times brushes aside the normal
policymaking machinery under national-security adviser Condoleezza
Rice. On the road to war, Cheney in effect created a parallel
government that became the real power center.
posted at 9:01 AM |
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Blaming Kerry. The
commentary over John Kerry's decision to fire campaign manager Jim
Jordan is all the same: it's Kerry's fault, it's the candidate not
the handler, his message is muddled, he's Gore II (a line
pushed especially hard by Jim VandeHei in this morning's
Washington Post), blah, blah, blah.
All this is true up to a point. But
consider, if you will, the possibility that Kerry's biggest problem
is that he cast a principled vote that he knew would be unpopular
with the liberal activists who control the Democratic primary
I'm referring, of course, to his
decision last fall to side with the majority in authorizing George W.
Bush to go to war against Iraq. No, I wasn't happy with his vote, but
I understood it.
Everyone -- even Jacques Chirac and
Gerhard Schröder -- believed Saddam Hussein was harboring
weapons of mass destruction. Long-term UN inspections were the best
way to go, something that is even more obvious now than it was then.
But there was considerable merit to the argument that Saddam would
give the finger to the world if there weren't also a credible threat
of force coming from the US.
We didn't know then what we know
now: that Saddam's WMD capabilities were vastly overblown, aided and
abetted by Bush-administration lies over Nigerien yellowcake,
aluminum tubes, and the like. Kerry certainly doesn't want to
announce publicly that he was duped, given that almost the entire
rationale for his candidacy is his deep experience in foreign policy.
So he flounders and flops, trying desperately to explain his vote to
party activists who will never fully forgive him for having abandoned
his antiwar roots.
So perhaps the pundit who comes the
closest to explaining the dire state of Kerry's campaign this morning
is Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi, in a piece
headlined "Kerry's Irreversible Error."
Vennochi's view of Kerry's pro-Bush
vote last fall is entirely cynical, which I guess makes sense if you
believe that (1) Kerry thought he already had the Democratic
nomination sewed up and therefore (2) he was positioning himself to
peel moderate independents away from Bush in the general-election
campaign. That's a lot of presupposing.
But Vennochi gets it right when she
Reversing the Kerry slide
is going to be difficult, because Kerry cannot reverse the single
biggest mistake he made as a presidential candidate: voting for
the Iraq war resolution. His vote represents the
get-tough-by-getting-to-the-middle brand of thinking that is big
in Democratic Leadership Council circles. That thinking, however,
is not popular with grass-roots Democratic activists in Iowa and
New Hampshire. It pushed them right into the arms of antiwar
candidate Howard Dean.
I don't know Kerry. I do know that
reporters who've covered him the longest don't seem to like him very
much. Yesterday ABC's "The Note" -- in a fictitious memo from Jim
Jordan to Kerry's new campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill --
the Globe's reporting on Kerry "the most relentlessly negative
coverage of any presidential candidate EVER by a hometown paper."
if "The Note" has been updated by the time you read this.)
That's a bit much, and the
"Note"-sters may have been trying to reflect Jordan's views rather
than make any sort of objective assessment. But there's no doubt
the Globe has been rough on Kerry at times.
In the midst of all this cynicism
and negativity, it would be interesting if it turned out Kerry's
downfall was the result of his being too principled rather than too
The politics of Macs versus
PCs. One would have thought it unnecessary to revisit that
less-than-penetrating question at the Rock the Vote debate over which
computers the candidates prefer.
But reader A.S.B. points me to this
absolutely hilarious account of what really happened, written by the
hapless questioner in a letter
to the Brown Daily Herald.
The link was working last night,
but it appears to be overloaded this morning. Read it if you can. If
you can't, try this
link to the
NewsMax.com site. Essentially, the student was bullied into asking
the question, and was told that if she didn't, she wouldn't get her
15 seconds of media glory.
Hilarious but also outrageous.
Shame on CNN and Rock the Vote. The debate was stupid enough without
their witless attempts to dumb it down even more.
posted at 9:11 AM |
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Monday, November 10, 2003
Kill one for the Gipper.
Before the beatification
of Ronald Reagan is complete, we might want to step back and consider
his administration's involvement (somehow, the phrase his
involvement inevitably rings false) in one of the seamier
episodes of the 1980s: US support for Guatemala's right-wing death
According to this
Tim Weiner piece in this
morning's New York Times, the worst possible outcome has been
avoided -- that is, former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt,
a butcher (and born-again Christian!) trained at the notorious School
of the Americas, did not make the runoff.
James S. Henry has written
excellent overview of how
the Reagan White House supported right-wing terrorism in Guatemala,
which claimed nearly all of the 200,000 lives that were lost during
that violent time. After crediting Jimmy Carter with substantially
reducing assistance to the butchers of Guatemala, Henry
But when Ronald Reagan
took office in January 1981, the old public policy of mutual
understanding and back-scratching returned. Indeed, Deputy White
House Chief of Staff Michael Deaver's LA/DC- based PR firm, Deaver
and Hannaford, was hired by the junta's cronies, a substantial
amount of Guatemalan money reportedly found its way to the Reagan
war chest, and sanctions against US arms purchases
Thanks to Al Giordano's
Left, Outside weblog for
pointing me to Henry.
Meanwhile, NPR yesterday ran one of
the most bizarre stories you're ever likely to hear. Apparently a
major issue in the Guatemalan election campaign is the demand for
back pay by former members of the right-wing death
You can listen to the report in
Real Audio by clicking here.
Hypocritic oath. Let's get
this straight. George W. Bush, just as he did in the 2000 campaign,
has opted out of the public campaign-finance system.
Howard Dean knows he can't keep up
with Bush unless he follows suit. So, according to John Kerry, Dean
has gone over to the dark side.
Kerry on Dean: "I'm disappointed
that Governor Dean has taken a very different road than Democrats
have stood for as a matter of principle."
But Kerry knows he can't keep up
with Dean unless he opts out of the public system. So that's
exactly what he intends to do later this week. Kerry, though, wants
us to know that his reformist credentials are intact.
Kerry on Kerry: "We're going to
make our decision over the course of the next day or so. Now, whether
I will or not, I'll make that decision. But I'm prepared to.... I've
always said if any Democrat decides not to live by it, then I think,
within the universe of Democrats, we have to make our
Whether you like what they're doing
or not, the truth is that Dean and Kerry are doing precisely the same
thing for precisely the same reason.
Here is Andrew
Miga's Boston Herald account
of Kerry's appearance on CBS's Face the Nation
posted at 9:02 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.