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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Slevin’

TWT Tries to Pave New Road: Three More Layoffs Hit With New Hires on the Horizon

WashingtonTimesFeb92006.jpg

Out with the old. In with the new.

So goes the slow but steady procession of changes happening at TWT since Sam Dealey came aboard as editor in February.

Not surprisingly, some aren’t pleased.

Three more reporters are being laid off this week – a longtime religion writer, Julia Duin (pronounced Deen), a foreign correspondent and a state department reporter will all have their positions eliminated before the week is out. In coming weeks and months, the newspaper will add reporters in the core news area of politics, FishbowlDC has learned.

To be sure, Dealey has faced an uphill battle that hasn’t always endeared him to staff. Over the past several months, some reporters have questioned his style and intentions. They watched as publisher, Jonathan Slevin, was ousted after clashing with Dealey.

On Wednesday publications such as WaPo‘s Story Lab and Mediaite provided accounts of Duin’s layoff – she is a victim of TWT , both publications reported. End of story.

But there is more to it.
FishbowlDC spoke with Duin by phone Wednesday. The conversation was not smooth, moving in fits and starts of Duin claiming to go on and off the record, of claiming to have no warning signs of her layoff. When questioned about the events leading up to her layoff, she expressed discomfort with the interview and repeatedly wanted to know if FishbowlDC would be talking with Dealey. The answer was always yes, I would seek comment from him just as I sought comment from her.

Dealey wrote to FishbowlDC on Wednesday: “The Times is moving forward in a new direction with new priorities. In some instances that necessitates position eliminations, of which Ms. Duin’s was one. We thank Ms. Duin for her years of service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Duin says she didn’t see the layoff coming, but there were signs. Even she begrudgingly admits this to FishbowlDC and on her blog (Julia’s blog). Duin writes: “I knew things were going south when my articles were either cut in half, tossed out of the print edition or placed in the back of the paper.” She claims she was let go because of a WaPo story by Ian Shapira on May 1 in which she said there were snakes in the newsroom and otherwise disparaged management.

An excerpt from Shapira’s May 1 story:
The finances are so tight that the newspaper hasn’t paid some of its bills or tended to basic maintenance issues — such as hiring an exterminator to deal with mice and snakes sneaking into the building on New York Avenue in Northeast.

“The feeling everyone feels is that it’s a totally rudderless ship,” said Julia Duin, the paper’s longtime religion reporter. “Nobody knows who’s running it. Is it the board of directors? We don’t know. There was a three-foot-long black snake in the main conference room the other day. We have snakes in the newsroom — the real live variety, at least. One of the security people gallantly removed it.”

Continued after the jump.

> Update: Duin had seven front page stories in April, not three as was previously reported.

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Is TWT Preparing for Shut Down?

Following The Washington Times‘ announcement of intent to lay off at least 40 percent of its staff of nearly 400, sources tell FishbowlDC that something is still awry with the management’s intent for the future of the paper:

“We have developed plans to secure our position and advance our vital role in an evolving media marketplace and through challenging economic times,” said President-Publisher Jonathan Slevin.

After issuing letters to staff per the federal WARN Act (which offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs), TWT management has made no effort to retain prized employees — or any staff at all.

In the midst of mass layoffs or other corporate upheavals, it’s common practice to offer retention bonuses, ensuring key employees don’t jump ship during the upheaval. But newsroom sources say management has made no mention of the paper’s future, nor has any top TWT official contacted individual employees since a mandatory staff meeting on Dec. 2.

Other signs leading some to believe that the paper will cease to exist in the coming months are the contracted CFO (Curtis Scheel from Tatum executive services) and the paper’s intention to leave former Executive Editor John Solomon‘s post vacant.

While one proposed sale of the paper recently fell through, there is still a chance a buyer will turn up and persuade company execs to sell. And even if that doesn’t happen, the paper could still drastically reduce its staff and move forward as a political sheet, possibly as an internet-only publication.

But some say the facts point to a different future.

“Nothing is certain, but the projected layoffs are inching closer to 60 percent and the option of closing the paper within six months is starting to look like the most likely scenario,” a source familiar with the situation told FishbowlDC.

Washington Times to Wipe Out Staff

As predicted, The Washington Times is making huge cuts to their staff of nearly 400. In a surprise staff meeting, TWT President Jonathan Slevin announced the upcoming layoffs. Shortly after, the paper distributed a press release (after the jump) announcing “a significant staff reduction.”

“Changes at the Times are rooted in a rigorous business analysis, applying sound and tested financial principles, and shaping plans informed by current marketplace realities,” said Slevin. “In this regard, the company is aggressively working to achieve efficiencies of scale that must include significant staff reduction of its 370 personnel.”

Sources tell FishbowlDC that rumors of the paper’s intention to shift to a primarily web-based product have been swirling in the newsroom over the last few weeks.

See the official release after the jump.

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TWT Calls Surprise Staff Meeting

TWT‘s VP of HR Sonya Jenkins just notified staff of a surprise meeting at the request of Jonathan Slevin. In response to the memo (below), one staffer said “here comes the hammer.” Stay tuned.

From: “Sonya Jenkins”
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 2009 14:34:47 -0500
Subject: All Staff Meeting Today

Dear Colleagues,

At the request of Jonathan Slevin, Acting President and Publisher I am notifying you of an all staff meeting (all employees) that will be held in the Ballroom today at 3:30 p.m.

Sonya Jenkins

TWT‘s Slevin Addresses Miniter Allegations

This evening, Jonathan Slevin, TWT‘s acting publisher addressed staff via memo about accusations of discrimination, an EEOC complaint filed by Richard Miniter and rumors about the pub in the “blogosphere.”

In the memo, Slevin requests of his staff, “that during this time of transition you read certain newspaper and blog reports about this organization with a discerning eye.”

If I may be so bold…I’d like to suggest that TWT begins communicating with their staff and the journalists that cover their organization less than two business days after scandalous stories about the paper hit the Web. I mean, really?

Memo obtained by FishbowlDC after the jump.

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TWT Newsroom Panics After Solomon Resigns

Following the resignation of Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon this evening, TWT Managing Editor David Jones addressed his staff via the below memo. Jones says that the newsroom will carry on “business as usual” but sources tell FishbowlDC that Times staff is expressing panic and fearing the worst.

One senior member of the newsroom suggested that it was time to look for a new job while a younger reporter told us, “we’re in trouble without John. Solomon had the vision, heart and had begun to make the Times a real force in Washington news media.”

Memo obtained by FishbowlDC:

From: David Jones

Date: November 12, 2009 6:47:30 PM EST

Subject: re john solomon

For those who were not in the newsroom for our impromptu meeting a few minutes ago, let me just say that we have been assured by Jonathan Slevin that despite the resignation of John Solomon, the company remains as committed as ever to keeping The Washington Times going as a robust multi-media company. He noted the huge strides we have all made over the past two years and asked Jeff Birnbaum and me to carry on “business as usual” while the new management carries out its review of all our operations. Slevin also expressed his respect and appreciation to the newsroom for your efforts of the past week, in which you all have continued to put out a first-rate product in a very difficult time.

The Memo: TWT‘s Solomon Resigns

The memo from TWT‘s Sonya Jenkins obtained by FishbowlDC.

From: “Sonya Jenkins”
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 17:57:04 -0500

Dear Colleagues,

At the request of Jonathan Slevin, Acting President and Publisher, I am forwarding the below announcement.

“Effective November 6, 2009, John Solomon has resigned his position as the Executive Editor of The Washington Times.”

Breaking: TWT Announces Resignation of Executive Editor John Solomon

TPM reported first and FBDC confirms that TWT has announced the resignation of executive editor John Solomon, effective six days ago.

TWT Staff Meeting at 11:30 AM

Another heaping helping of the piping hot casserole of crazy coming out of The Washington Times this morning: After a press release and a memo about the press release were issued in reference to TWT‘s major management overhaul, an email was finally sent to staff, inviting them to freak out meet in the ballroom at 11:30 for a meeting to discuss moving forward in a financially responsible manner.

Amazing.

Memo after the jump.

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TWT Management to Discuss Exec. Overthrow at 10AM

Sources inside The Washington Times say that the paper’s management team has been called together for a 10 am meeting to discuss the Moon brother’s surprise overthrow of three top executives.

President and publisher Thomas P. McDevitt, CFO Keith Cooperrider and Chairman Dong Moon Joo are all out according to a press release that TWT issued this morning. The release also names Jonathan Slevin as acting president and publisher.

Rumors are swirling that Executive Editor John Solomon who’s been in his position since January of 2008 may resign as a result of the shakeup. In my humble opinion, that would be mean huge trouble for the Times and a blow to morale that I’m not certain the newsroom could handle.

According to our sources, TWT staff has not been briefed nor received any information regarding the changes or implications of the shakeup.