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In what seems to be an attempt to demonstrate why they're reporters and not business experts, a group of over one hundred Newsday employees have sent a letter calling on "Tribune Co., Newsday's parent company, to invest in the newspaper's "creative, original journalism," while halting the widespread staff cuts and space trims that have hurt the paper, its readers and its advertiser." While we love the idea of Tribune execs somehow pitching forward at their desks, smacking themselves on the head and shouting, "Good God, they're right! Why didn't we think of that?", we're pretty sure the main service of this letter will be to provide a quick-and-handy checklist for HR during the next inevitable round of layoffs. Full release after the jump; keep an eye out for the bit about the "shameful, illegal and costly inflation of our circulation figures."

A Message From Newsday Employees to Tribune: "Stop the Cutbacks"

December 11, 2006 - More than 100 Newsday employees called on Tribune Co., Newsday's parent company, to invest in the newspaper's "creative, original journalism," while halting the widespread staff cuts and space trims that have hurt the paper, its readers and its advertisers.

Today, the staff sent a letter - signed by 112 reporters, editors, researchers, photographers, artists, designers, librarians and copy editors - to Tribune Co. Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons. The signers said that Newsday continues to post enviable profit margins, above 20 percent, and boasts a strong core of loyal readers who are looking for a "complete" newspaper that covers local schools, national politics and world events in a comprehensive manner.

"Tribune has been dismantling that capacity in the name of short-term profits," said Pakistan bureau chief James Rupert. "It's no way to build a newspaper - in the Internet era or any other."

Newsday is an "extremely lucrative enterprise" that could grow even further if new investments were made and some open staff positions were filled. Instead, however, Tribune has imposed an environment of cost-cutting and staff reductions.

"The bleeding has to stop," science reporter Bryn Nelson said. "It's undermining our ability to do good journalism, and good journalism is good business."

Under Tribune's six-year stewardship, Newsday's newsroom has been slashed by about a third, with cuts occurring in nearly every department, at nearly every level, from sports to business and from copy editors to listers.

"If the cutting continues, we can't be the best watchdog for our region," Long Island reporter Zachary Dowdy said. "Inevitably, the readers will be the ones who suffer."

The action taken by Newsday's employees comes at a time when newspapers across the country are facing staff and space cuts. Indeed, today marks a national Stand Up for Journalism day, commemorated around the country. But the newspapers under Tribune's leadership have faced an especially troubling situation, as editors at several newspapers have left or been forced out when they refused to make requested cuts.

The letter from Newsday's staff comes as Tribune considers a possible sale of the company, and employees said they hope potential future owners will take note of the paper's immediate need for additional staff and resources.

"Anyone who buys this paper should know that they're getting a newspaper with an incredible staff and limitless potential," said business reporter Tami Luhby. "But to be a great paper again, we need the support from our owners."

Newsday employees are requesting a meeting with Tribune's management to discuss their concerns. They are also considering additional steps to continue their fight for the paper's future.
(Letter attached)

December 11, 2006

To the current and potential future owners of Newsday:

In the newsrooms and bureaus of Newsday, we watch with growing dismay the Tribune Company's stewardship of our newspaper. In its six years of ownership, Tribune has damaged Newsday as an instrument of public information and accountability and, for that matter, as a business.

Newsday has long been an extremely lucrative enterprise, with enviable profit margins north of 20 percent. And it is extremely important to Long Islanders, who want to read about their towns, their state, their country and their world. They're loyal to Newsday, in spite of its recent troubles, and the paper is still the dominant voice on its home turf.

Newsday's staff is still utterly dedicated to doing the best reporting and writing anywhere. When permitted, we do just that, reporting from Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq, while simultaneously uncovering the waste of public funds in Long Island fire houses and schools. But it is becoming more and more difficult to cover the region and the world under a corporate owner that looks to cut rather than build.

Tribune's attempts to increase its profits are dulling Newsday's brand and giving readers and advertisers less incentive to turn to the paper. Tribune has cut Newsday's news staff by about a third, curtailing our ability to cover even Long Island. It has ordered our foreign bureaus to close and slashed our staffs covering Washington, D.C., New York City, business, and health and science. Our staff is spread too thin; we're missing stories we should have gotten. Too often, when we hear of stories that are important to our readers, there is no space for them. The company has forced us to replace much of our unique journalism with wire stories that can be found on the Internet.

Although local news always has been this paper's core, we deplore Tribune's idea that readers are interested only in what happens in their ZIP codes. Indeed, Newsday grew during the past 66 years because its staff built a newspaper so comprehensive that Long Islanders didn't need another one. Today, we still want to give our readers that great newspaper, if only we had the resources to do so.

We know that this a tough time for newspapers. And we know that Newsday worsened its situation with the shameful, illegal and costly inflation of our circulation figures. But we also know that Tribune's efforts to boost profits and its stock price have, to date, failed. So we suggest another strategy: Invest in creative, original journalism that will serve our readers and advertisers and make our company thrive.

We urge Newsday's owners to stop the cutbacks and make a new commitment to give us the resources and support we need to once again make Newsday the best and most complete newspaper for our readers. And they should do so quickly. We ask Tribune management to meet with us to discuss our future.

(List of signatories attached.)
Name Desk
Stacey Altherr Long Island
Rhoda Amon Long Island
Kevin Amorim Part 2
Jim Bernstein Business
Judy Bernstein Night Copydesk
Bill Bleyer Long Island
Denise Bonilla Long Island
Rick Brand Long Island
Pat Brandt Part 2
Peggy Brown Features
Tom Brune Washington
Dan Bubbeo Features
Pat Burson Part 2
David Cassidy Library
Errol Cockfield Albany
Carol Conyne Foreign
Sarah Crichton Foreign
Wil Cruz Long Island
Joseph Dionisio Part 2
Lisa Doll-Bruno Business
Michael Dorman Opinion
Zachary Dowdy Long Island
Kathy Drouin-Keith Night News
Eileen Effrat Library
Carol Eisenberg Washington
Emi Endo Long Island
Reid Epstein Long Island
Martin Evans Long Island
Roberta Fifield Long Island
Glenn Gamboa Part 2
Erik German Long Island
Craig Gordon Washington
Rafer Guzman Part 2
John Habich Part 2
Celeste Hadrick Long Island
Susan Harrigan New York Business
Darrell Hazelwood Photo/Art
Beth Holland Milnes Long Island
Tom Incantalupo Business
John Jeansonne Sports
Bart Jones Long Island
Marshall Katz Sports
Jennifer Kelleher Long Island
Eden Laikin Investigations
Gregory Long Sports
Marshall Lubin Sports
Tami Luhby Business
Carl MacGowan Long Island
Joe Mallia Long Island
Laura Mann Library
Erica Marcus Part 2
Randi Marshall Investigations & Enterprise
Bill Mason Long Island
Carrie Mason-Draffen Business
Liisa May Part 2
Matt McAllester Foreign
Antoinette McLoughlin Part 2
Elizabeth Moore Business
Paul Moran Sports
John Moreno Gonzales Long Island
Henry Moritsugu News Desk
Deborah Morris Long Island
Keiko Morris Business
Laurie Muchnick Part 2
Bernadette Murray Long Island
Bill Murphy Long Island
Collin Nash Long Island
Bryn Nelson Health & Science
Ridgely Ochs Long Island
Rosemary Olander Part 2
Al Ortez Night Copydesk
Gustavo Pabon Art
Tania Padgett Part 2
J. Jioni Palmer Washington
Steve Parks Part 2
Luis Perez Long Island
Carol Polsky Business
Iris Quigley Library
Graham Rayman Long Island
Joan Reminick Part 2
Delthia Ricks Health & Science
John Riley National
Richard Rosenberg Features
Michael Rothfeld Long Island
Spencer Rumsey Part 2
Jim Rupert Foreign
Warner Sabio News Copydesk
Ted Scala News Desk
Jonalyn Schuon Features
Karla Schuster Long Island
Gene Seymour New York Part 2
Jack Sherman Art
Ann Silverberg Part 2
Jack Sirica Long Island
Jennifer Smith Long Island
Jim Smith Features Copydesk
Andrew Strickler Long Island
Jan Stuart New York Part 2
Bozena Syska Art
Letta Taylor Foreign
Katie Thomas Enterprise
Glenn Thrush Washington
Mark Toor National
Robin Topping Health & Science
Joanne Utley Art
Beth Whitehouse Features
Sophie Williams New York
Richard Wiltamuth Features
Jayme Wolfson Part 2
Andrew Wong Graphics
Ellen Yan Business
Jerry Zezima Part 2