June 26th, 2008 5:33 pm | by News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Practically Expendable: The O's Staff Gets a Letter from the Publisher, and It Doesn't Look Good

Tags: media

Let the speculation begin. Employees at The Oregonian got this letter at their homes this week.

It starts by noting the tough times newspapers are facing thanks to competition from the Internet and higher costs of printing, health bennies and gas.

The most interesting news in publisher Fred Stickel's letter, however, is a reminder of the paper's longstanding job-security pledge, which he writes "never was intended to apply to weekly publications or to distribution of content over the Internet. The Pledge's protection is tied to the daily publication of The Oregonian's current newsprint product — not the functions you perform individually."

The clarification appears to suggest that those employees who are part-timers, or who work for the website oregonlive.com or for the daily paper's other weekly publications may not have the security they might have previously assumed.

A paranoid might even read into this the possibility that if the paper were to drop a day's service, say the lightly-read Monday edition, then it would no longer "continue to publish daily in its current newsprint form" and could arguably get out of this pledge for all employees.

Adding to the "when will the other shoe drop" feel of the letter is Stickel's final sentence: "I will keep everyone informed as we move along with operational changes."

In fairness to The O, much has changed since the lifetime pledge was announced 40 years ago to ensure employees never again went out on strike.

One final note: Check out this very similar letter that also went out this week from one of The O's sister papers in the Newhouse chain, the Newark Star-Ledger.
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