Belo Blues

The technical revolution has brought about two things that make Buzz happy. One has to do with child rearing, as now kids practically raise themselves, what with the Internet and all. Two, reporters don't have to "report." They can simply wait for their inboxes to fill with tips from the aggrieved, the disgruntled and the batshit.

For example: In Buzz's e-mail this week was a missive from an insider at Belo's own West Coast newspaper, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. In it, she asserted that "life is not so peachy at the far-western end of the Belo empire."

What, has the CueCat just now made it to SoCal?

No, turns out that Belo is having problems with low morale--no news there, when you combine a poor economy with the notorious whining of a newspaper staff. (Buzz often wonders what the outcry would be in newsrooms if reporters had to be at their desks before 11 a.m. and surfing eBay was banned.) But there were more details. Several weeks back, an e-mail showed up in every employee's inbox from Wrench Inyoplan. The subject was "overtime." The e-mail read, in part:

"Working more overtime knowing you'll never get paid a dime for it? Trying to keep quiet, because things are so bad at The Press-Enterprise right now? Could morale get lower? It can get better, but only if we are heard. Unionize!" It went on to ask employees to join the 10,000-member Southern California Media Guild, CWA Local 9400.

No one at the paper or Guild returned phone calls Tuesday, but according to our mole (whazzup, whizzleblowerzz!), the paper didn't receive the posting well. After deleting the message from the entire network, folks were told that if they were found with the message in electronic or printed form, they would be suspended three days.

OK, sure, that action seems to violate at least three of Belo's five "core values" (build common understanding, practice candor and respect, work as a team), but it shouldn't be a surprise. Belo is used to running things Texas-style, where the only say workers have is upon which ass cheek they'd like the door to hit them on their way out.

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Eric Celeste
Contact: Eric Celeste

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