Friday, December 15, 2006

The Ultimate Threat

Very nice to see that assignment to the copy desk is still used as a threat....
Post Newsroom Not Smiling as Downie Calls Thursday Meeting
By Harry Jaffe

As Washington Post reporters gird themselves for today’s 3 pm meeting with executive editor Leonard Downie, they use four words to describe the mood of the newsroom:
And for good reasons.

A month ago Downie issued a memo saying the Post would have to “shrink the newsroom staff” and “renovate sections” and tighten the news hole. Translation: fewer reporters writing shorter stories at different assignments....

Then there’s the case of Linda Hales—her treatment blurs the line between buyout and layoff.
Hales came to the Post from the International Herald Tribune in 1988. She edited the Home section for a decade. She won the Penny-Missouri Journalism Award in 1991 for general excellence in editing.

In late 1999 she started writing a weekly Style section design column. Her essays ranged from chair design to makeovers of congressional offices to her take on Italian silverware.
When the Post announced its most recent “voluntary” buyout offers, Hales says she told editors she wasn’t ready to retire. Editors told her it would be best if she took the deal.
The word from Downie, according to Hales, was: “I see you on the copy desk.”

Hales, 57, considered her 700-plus bylines and her belief that a design column has a place in a “great newspaper,” and she fought for her job. At last report she had been assigned to the copy desk for Metro tabloid sections.Hales was not laid off, technically, but she certainly was shunned at best and at worst treated shabbily.

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