My newspaper filed for bankruptcy late Thursday night. I don't know much else, but the online story on our home page says that the company hopes that Chapter 11 will help it "reduce labor costs."
You know what labor costs are, don't you? My pay. That's what it is. My pay, my pension, my health care. These are the things they want to cut.
I'm not being paranoid; I know they're not singling out me, personally, for this. But I do know that some time in the next few weeks or months, I'm going to face a substantial pay cut, and almost certainly a pension freeze.
When I started there, about twelve years ago, the place was swimming in money. It's astounding to think of now. There were annual bonuses for everyone on the staff, and people were making money hand over fist on their employee stock purchases, and when there was news--not even huge news, just big news--we'd regularly go up two and four and six open pages.
One year we introduced a new TV ad campaign; the entire company was invited to the fourth floor to watch the ads. The lunchroom had been converted into a little movie theater. Someone had hauled in some glass candy cases and stocked them with Raisinets and Junior Mints; in the corner, a popcorn machine erupted with fragrant yellow popcorn. Smiling staffers handed out the candy and popcorn as we filed into the makeshift theater.
We watched the ads, and as we filed out another smiling employee handed each one of us a free wristwatch.
I went home and told Doug that I was convinced there was someone at the paper whose job it was to open the windows on the top floor and dump out bushel baskets of money.
None of this is why we are in financial trouble today; businesses don't work like that. It's not a matter of if only we had saved that money we spent on candy and watches we'd be able to pay our bills now. No, what happened was this: we were sold. And then we were sold again. And the people who bought us, each time, borrowed more money to pay for us than they could pay back.
It's the debt that's crushing us.
You already know about all the cuts they've made over the last two years--the wonderful people who've taken buyouts, the wonderful people who've been laid off, the cuts to space and travel and the closure of the little coffeeshop on the second floor and our parking lots and adjacent building put on the market. It's been surreal, watching everything close down and people move out and the newsroom get quieter and quieter and the trash only emptied two days a week instead of five and the invasion of mice a month or two back and all those empty desks.
And here I still am, doing the job I fell into by accident thirty years ago and grew to love, keeping my head down, trying to concentrate, trying not to be distracted, but to keep on working and get things done.
49 minutes ago