Digital First Media Could Have Used a Copy Editor

Adding insult to the injury of more Bay Area consolidation

Newspaper publisher redacts some heavy-handed language aimed at Bay Area employees.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

Karma is a five-letter word.

Or put another way, the cosmos was winking last week when Digital First Media revealed plans to reduce staff at the copy editing desk for its Bay Area News Group (BANG) holdings. From the workers’ union website item:

In a Q&A issued Tuesday [April 18], DFM told its workers they must continue to “satisfactorily perform” their jobs and “demonstrate cooperation with the team during the transition period” in order to qualify for severance when they get laid off.

“Satisfactorily performing your job includes making no disparaging remarks about the company, keeping confidential the terms of your severance agreement and not releasing any unauthorized materials to the public regarding the above,” the management told BANG workers. The company also said it will require employees to sign a release of claims.

(Editor’s Note: On Thursday, DFM management issued a revised Q&A deleting the language about “disparaging remarks” and removing the extra requirements for receiving severance. Management representatives said that language was included by mistake in the initial document issued two days before.)

The Pacific Media Workers Guild, which spoke via conference call with DFM Thursday and plans further discussions with the publisher, is questioning whether these plans fall within allowable, existing contract parameters. Copy editors from DFM’s San Jose Mercury News were previously consolidated into the East Bay facility, and by June, DFM wants to relocate some of the affected employees to the Los Angeles Area News Group (LANG) facility in Monrovia, Calif., where workers are not unionized. Some layoffs may also be necessary, DFM indicated.

Journalists in the Bay Area are bemoaning the fact that this latest move comes on the heels of DFM paper the East Bay Times winning a Pulitzer for its coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire.

H/T: Mike McPhate

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.