Two memos went out at the Times today, and we can't help but see a connection.
First came the carrot: The paper is switching to a new automated payroll system, and, as part of its installation, every staffer will receive a test payment of $.01, theirs to keep. (The Bizday version of this memo, sent by Krazy Ken Meyne, carried a first line that made us think it was spam when it showed up in our inbox: "Ladies and Gentlemen: Unexpected Cash Bonus Coming Your Way!!!!" As it turned out, it was not.
But then was the stick, a message from Bill Keller. (Had he gone for a spammish first line, we have no doubt he his would have been "Add INCHES in Your Pants!!") Apparently it's imperative the whole newsroom move to a higher — we'll say it — metabolism, to build in an extra 15 minutes for copyediting time. We hope they figure out a way to give Alessandra maybe even 16 or 17, but the larger point is this:
There's no such thing as a free penny.
Both memos after the jump.
From: Ken Meyn
Date: February 1, 2006 11:16:05 AM EST
Subject: Fwd: Message from News Administration - Payroll System changes
Ladies and Gentlemen: Unexpected Cash Bonus Coming Your Way!!!!
You're reading this now, aren't you! (But, would I lie to you? There really is a bonus - check out paragraph six).
Please read this carefully: it affects how you will file for every kind of payroll/overtime function. If you have questions, call Alan Flippen, (7790) or Gloria Bell (7181).
TO: NEWSROOM STAFF
FROM: ALAN FLIPPEN, NEWS ADMINISTRATION
RE: UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE PAYROLL SYSTEM
FEB. 1, 2006
To the Staff:
There will be some major changes this year in how payroll is processed for Guild employees at The Times who are paid weekly. When the changes are complete, you will enter your overtime, comp time, vacation and other payroll claims electronically via a Web site, and your managers will also approve them electronically.
We hope this will improve your lives by eliminating paperwork and making it easier for you to keep track of vacation days, comp time and holidays. We also expect it will let us pay your overtime and other claims more quickly. These changes will not affect the weekly issuance of your base pay.
It will be sometime this summer before the new payroll system is fully in place, but you will start noticing some changes soon, including a change of payday from Wednesday to Thursday (more on that in a minute).
There are new or slightly modified paper payroll forms that we need to ask you to start using immediately. Your desk administrator has copies, and you can also download copies to print out and fill in from the Intranet; look for the Payroll forms link under Services on the left-hand side of the Newsroom Navigator page. (The updated forms should be available at this link by Wednesday, Feb. 1.)
Most of these new forms will be similar to the old forms except for one thing: you will now have to enter your Employee ID on the forms. If you use XMS or the Shared Services Centers Employee Self-Service website, you already know your Employee ID; its the six-digit number you use to log on to those sites. Otherwise, you can find it on your pay stub or by asking your desk administrator. Forms without Employee IDs will be rejected by payroll, so please be sure to fill this out.
Sometime around the beginning of February, as a test of the new system, the SSC will make a 1-cent deposit to the bank accounts of all employees who are on direct deposit. The penny is yours to keep. (If you're not on direct deposit, consider signing up now to receive this generous bonus! You can sign up for direct deposit online through the Employee Self Service System at http://selfservice.nytssc.com (from work) or https://portal.sscconnection.com (from home or on the road). Or, you can pick up a direct deposit form from the Payroll Department on the 8th floor or from the Human Resources Department on the 7th floor.)
In March, paychecks will start being processed at the SSC. When this happens, payday for Guild employees who are paid weekly will shift to Thursday. The first Thursday payday will be March 9. If you feel this change will cause you a hardship, please contact the Payroll Department at ext. 3705 before February 15 to arrange an advance.
The debut of the Web-based system for entering claims is expected in June or July, but that could change. Watch this space for updates.
And if you have any questions about the changes at any time, please feel free to call News Administration (Alan Flippen, xXXXX, or Gloria Bell, xXXXX).
From: Bill Keller
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 11:45 AM
Subject: 15 Minutes
To the Staff:
On Monday, Feb. 6, a new and more detailed system of internal deadlines will go into effect across the News Department. They have one aim: to give copy editors 15 minutes more to edit stories. The new deadlines will have some other side benefits on copy flow and production, but these are not the point. The aim very much in line with the recommendations of the Credibility Committee last year is to give our copy editors additional time to do their crucial jobs of presenting our work at its best and heading off errors before they get in the paper.
For this to work, all of us are going to have to do our parts. Assignment editors will need to be conscious of production demands when assigning deadlines. Reporters will be given deadlines that always subject to changing news demands are to be met. Backfielders will need to be conscious of copy flow to the desk. Decisions about display pieces will have to be made in a timely manner.
Lots of folks around the newsroom have been involved in the planning of this effort; there is an editor in each department who has designed its own internal deadline schedule, and to whom questions can be addressed. If you have more general questions, please ask Peter Putrimas, Merrill Perlman or Mike Leahy.
Individual desks have accumulated baseline data so that we'll be able to make certain that the goal of 15 additional minutes has been met. We'll be reviewing how each department is doing as we go along, and adjustments in deadlines will be made when necessary. The Metro Desk went first on this effort, and reports that the extra time has been found.
Last year I promised that copy editors would get 15 additional minutes to work on stories. The system is now in place to deliver on that promise.