Inside the comfort and warmth of the Crowne Plaza hotel near Times Square, Tribune Co. executives droned on to stock market analysts about more job cuts they anticipate in 2006, using the almost Orwellian language of "greater efficiencies" in news-gathering, "focus on cost management" and "redeploying resources." Outside the hotel, frozen MoveOn activists who had gathered 45,000 signatures opposing the company's already announced job cuts in newsrooms were forming a plan.via Romanesko
Huddled on the sidewalk outside the hotel were Adam Green, civic communications director for MoveOn, a few placard-clutching volunteers, and Todd Gitlin, media activist and professor at Columbia's Journalism School. Green and Gitlin made a few remarks for the clutch of reporters and photographers who tried to keep their hands warm scribbling notes and avoiding gawking Times Square tourists. Then it was time to crash the party.
Picking up two cardboard boxes containing the 45,000 signatures and heading through the doors to the hotel -- followed dutifully by a couple photographers and reporters -- Green headed off for his rendezvous with destiny. Sort of. Met at the foot of the escalator by a security guard, Green identified himself and headed up, trailed by a couple of security guards. Once the group hit the second floor, where the conference was being held, a few more security guards -- who refused to identify themselves -- pushed the procession right back toward the "down" escalator, and into the lobby. There, they were met by even more security guards who, apart from being in a pretty bad mood, seemed to relish a little bit of action. They kicked the group back outside, where it regrouped on 49th street. ***
MoveOn activist Noah Winer actually managed to make it past the security phalanx and into the conference, where he "made a mini-speech and tried to present a petition with 45,000 signatures protesting the job cuts." In a wish-we-had-been-there moment, Winer asked Tribune Chairman Dennis FitzSimons, "Many of us are wondering why you're cutting the ability to deliver news your readers want. Will you meet with some of those consumers? They're outside." Needless to say, Winer didn't get a response.
But as Paidcontent.org tells us in an update, Winer tracked down FitzSimons after the meeting, "ask[ing] repeatedly if he would meet with "his customers." FitzSimons looked at him, and said,
It's not surprising that FitzSimons wouldn't give Winer the time of day -- after all, it's pretty obvious at this point that neither quality journalism nor engaging critics of its business tactics is high on Tribune Co.'s list of priorities. However, cutting newsroom staffs -- from Los Angeles to Chicago to Baltimore to Orlando to Hartford -- is.
More Trib Inc stories.