News Cycle

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Archive for April 2009

Highlights of Obama’s Third Press Conference

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Here is a video highlighting President Barack Obama’s press conference last night from the White House.

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April 30, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Highlights of Obama’s Third Press Conference

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http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1155201977

Here is a video of the top moments in President Barack Obama’s press conference last night from the White House.

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April 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Health Care Unions: We’re Not Ready to Protect Workers During Flu Pandemic

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A new union survey of more than 100 health care facilities across the country reveals that many are not adequately prepared to protect workers’ health and safety during an influenza pandemic.

The report, “Healthcare Workers In Peril: Preparing to Protect Worker Health and Safety During Pandemic Influenza,” conducted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the AFL-CIO and other unions, concludes that workers face a very high risk of becoming infected when caring for patients with pandemic flu unless adequate health and safety measures are in place in advance of a pandemic.

“Our survey has identified serious deficiencies in the preparedness of health care facilities,” said AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee. “Unless hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities do a better job of addressing all health and safety areas surveyed, workers will become sick and, as a consequence, be unavailable to care for sick patients.”

With no existing comprehensive federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard on airborne diseases designed to protect health-care workers, the pandemic flu preparedness survey was conducted to assess the extent of employer efforts in planning adequate safety and health measures.

More than a hundred surveys were collected by six unions in 14 states. The collected surveys indicate that health care facilities have made some progress in preparing for a flu pandemic, but much more needs to be done. Results show:

* Only 4 percent of the respondents reported that their facility was “very ready” to respond to a flu pandemic.
* Less than half the facilities surveyed (43 percent) have provided pandemic flu training to their workers, one of the fundamental elements of protecting workers from occupational hazards.
* One-third of the facilities have yet to develop a written plan for responding to pandemic flu.
* Only 54 percent of the facilities have identified health care workers who will be at some risk of occupational exposure to the pandemic flu virus.

“In order to provide care for patients infected with pandemic flu and protect health care worker from exposure, plans for safety and health issues should be made before the flu arrives,” McEntee said.

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April 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Swine Flu

Tribune’s Botched Job in Handling The Baltimore Sun Layoffs

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The Tribune Co., owners of The Baltimore Sun, gave everyone a primer yesterday in how not to handle a layoff by limiting information and treating its staffers in an unprofessional manner.

Information about the layoff came out through a slow drip, and no official announcement. Even this morning, a day after the deed was done, there is no press release detailing the cutbacks on the corporate website. This not only causes confusion both inside the newsroom and out, but it fertilizes the rumor weeds that spread.

The only corporate comment has come from Renee Mutchnik, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, who said: “We’re going to become a 24-hour, local news-gathering media company so we can more effectively gather content and distribute it among our different platforms — print, online and mobile.

“As everyone knows, more and more readers are moving online, and advertisers are following them.

“This is our plan for success, not just survival.”

But there are no details on that plan. Are they going to shut down the print product? If not, how do they expect to produce a quality print product with so few people? Will you continue to be a news organization, or will you shift to an information service? Are there plans to beef up the website? There are also rumors of Tribune shifting personnel to Chicago, any truth to that?

By the way, there was no definitive answer to the number of people laid off. At various times throughout the day media reports had it at 15, then 58, later 60, and finally 61. This is roughly 29 percent of the 205 editorial staff. Some were notified on Tuesday, others Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild memo states that in addition to the editorial layoffs, The Sun has laid off seven employees in other departments including advertising and customer service.

For the record then, 61 people from editorial and seven from the business unit have been dismissed, as best as anyone can tell.

“It’s stunning, just the breadth of them across the board,” The Sun quoted Angie Kuhl, the paper’s unit chairwoman for the Guild, which represents 148 newsroom workers, including 40 who were laid off Wednesday. “They are clearly trying to move to be an information producer, not a newspaper publisher. It is a flattening of the newsroom,” Kuhl told Editor & Publisher’s Joe Strupp.

The notifications to staffers were a joke. Some got word on Tuesday, others on Wednesday. Four journalists covering the O’s-Angels baseball game were notified by phone, as documented by Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.

(Tough times in the newspaper biz. Two writers for the Baltimore Sun in the press box here got the news — by phone during the game — that they had been laid off in the latest round of cost-cutting. Stay classy, Baltimore Sun management.)

(UPDATE: Make that three reporters and a photographer axed by the Sun during the game.)

It wouldn’t be so bad if the O’s were away, but they were playing in downtown Baltimore. Notifying the employees before going to the ballpark wouldn’t have been too much to ask, would it? I certainly hope they did not file a story.

David Ettlin, writing on his blog “The Real Muck,” gives a graphic minute-by-minute account of the Tuesday-Wednesday Massacre, including this tidbit of one staffer getting the news. Go to his piece, it’s a great read:

Ellie Baublitz, who put in 22 years and four months as a Sun editorial assistant after a few years as a community news freelancer, wore a spritely yellow outfit to work Wednesday, to “cheer people up” — but having heard from a newsroom confidant of the Tuesday Night Massacre, she came prepared.

“I stuffed two shopping bags into my briefcase, just in case I needed them.”

About 2 p.m., as the newsroom awaited an expected announcement, Ellie and fellow editorial assistant Fay Lande were summoned by a top editor into a glass-windowed conference room overlooking the newsroom and told of their layoffs.

Ellie came out in tears and, by one reporter’s account, “That really broke the newsroom up, when Ellie broke up.”

In a telephone chat Wednesday night, Ellie acknowledged the account as “pretty accurate,” and recounted how colleagues cheered and applauded staffers leaving the building after getting the same fate.

“It was pretty ugly down there,” Ellie said. “They probably did me a favor. The last couple of years have been really bad.”

There are so many better ways to handle such an awful situation. I know from my own experience that managers take no joy or glee going through this process. But there are steps they can take to make sure people are treated with respect, and that information is properly and clearly communicated. (Communication at a newspaper, who would have thought of that?)

1. Notify those affected in person on the same day. Notify them in private, not in glass window offices so everyone can watch (as described by Ettlin above). Give them the dignity of saying good-bye to their co-workers if they so choose.

2. Gather the remaining staff so the chief executive officer can tell them face-to-face. Thank the leaving staff publicly for their fine service; emphasis that this was a business decision and does not reflect their integrity or hard work. Describe the vision for the organization’s future and what the company’s goals are as it moves forward. Invite questions and answer them honestly.

3. Issue a press release detailing how many people were laid off, what departments they came from, and how many are left. Thank the departing employees, and include language about the future of the organization. This eliminates the rumors and water-cooler chatter.

Written by newscycle

April 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

Tribune’s Botched Job in Handling The Baltimore Sun Layoffs

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The Tribune Co., owners of The Baltimore Sun, gave everyone a primer yesterday in how not to handle a layoff by limiting information and treating its staffers in an unprofessional manner.

Information about the layoff came out through a slow drip, and no official announcement. Even this morning, a day after the deed was done, there is no press release detailing the cutbacks on the corporate website. This not only causes confusion both inside the newsroom and out, but it fertilizes the rumor weeds that spread.

The only corporate comment has come from Renee Mutchnik, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, who said: “We’re going to become a 24-hour, local news-gathering media company so we can more effectively gather content and distribute it among our different platforms — print, online and mobile.

“As everyone knows, more and more readers are moving online, and advertisers are following them.

“This is our plan for success, not just survival.”

But there are no details on that plan. Are they going to shut down the print product? If not, how do they expect to produce a quality print product with so few people? Will you continue to be a news organization, or will you shift to an information service? Are there plans to beef up the website? There are also rumors of Tribune shifting personnel to Chicago, any truth to that?

By the way, there was no definitive answer to the number of people laid off. At various times throughout the day media reports had it at 15, then 58, later 60, and finally 61. This is roughly 29 percent of the 205 editorial staff. Some were notified on Tuesday, others Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild memo states that in addition to the editorial layoffs, The Sun has laid off seven employees in other departments including advertising and customer service.

For the record then, 61 people from editorial and seven from the business unit have been dismissed, as best as anyone can tell.

“It’s stunning, just the breadth of them across the board,” The Sun quoted Angie Kuhl, the paper’s unit chairwoman for the Guild, which represents 148 newsroom workers, including 40 who were laid off Wednesday. “They are clearly trying to move to be an information producer, not a newspaper publisher. It is a flattening of the newsroom,” Kuhl told Editor & Publisher’s Joe Strupp.

The notifications to staffers were a joke. Some got word on Tuesday, others on Wednesday. Four journalists covering the O’s-Angels baseball game were notified by phone, as documented by Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.

(Tough times in the newspaper biz. Two writers for the Baltimore Sun in the press box here got the news — by phone during the game — that they had been laid off in the latest round of cost-cutting. Stay classy, Baltimore Sun management.)

(UPDATE: Make that three reporters and a photographer axed by the Sun during the game.)

It wouldn’t be so bad if the O’s were away, but they were playing in downtown Baltimore. Notifying the employees before going to the ballpark wouldn’t have been too much to ask, would it? I certainly hope they did not file a story.

David Ettlin, writing on his blog “The Real Muck,” gives a graphic minute-by-minute account of the Tuesday-Wednesday Massacre, including this tidbit of one staffer getting the news. Go to his piece, it’s a great read:

Ellie Baublitz, who put in 22 years and four months as a Sun editorial assistant after a few years as a community news freelancer, wore a spritely yellow outfit to work Wednesday, to “cheer people up” — but having heard from a newsroom confidant of the Tuesday Night Massacre, she came prepared.

“I stuffed two shopping bags into my briefcase, just in case I needed them.”

About 2 p.m., as the newsroom awaited an expected announcement, Ellie and fellow editorial assistant Fay Lande were summoned by a top editor into a glass-windowed conference room overlooking the newsroom and told of their layoffs.

Ellie came out in tears and, by one reporter’s account, “That really broke the newsroom up, when Ellie broke up.”

In a telephone chat Wednesday night, Ellie acknowledged the account as “pretty accurate,” and recounted how colleagues cheered and applauded staffers leaving the building after getting the same fate.

“It was pretty ugly down there,” Ellie said. “They probably did me a favor. The last couple of years have been really bad.”

There are so many better ways to handle such an awful situation. I know from my own experience that managers take no joy or glee going through this process. But there are steps they can take to make sure people are treated with respect, and that information is properly and clearly communicated. (Communication at a newspaper, who would have thought of that?)

1. Notify those affected in person on the same day. Notify them in private, not in glass window offices so everyone can watch (as described by Ettlin above). Give them the dignity of saying good-bye to their co-workers if they so choose.

2. Gather the remaining staff so the chief executive officer can tell them face-to-face. Thank the leaving staff publicly for their fine service; emphasis that this was a business decision and does not reflect their integrity or hard work. Describe the vision for the organization’s future and what the company’s goals are as it moves forward. Invite questions and answer them honestly.

3. Issue a press release detailing how many people were laid off, what departments they came from, and how many are left. Thank the departing employees, and include language about the future of the organization. This eliminates the rumors and water-cooler chatter.

Written by newscycle

April 30, 2009 at 9:12 am

WHO Raises Pandemic Flu Alert Level to Phase 5

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The World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert level to 5 this afternoon, the second highest level for the organization. Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that the disease cannot be contained. At least 91 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported throughout the globe.

WHO says the phase 5 alert means there is sustained human-to-human spread in at least two countries. It also signals that efforts to produce a vaccine will be ramped up.

The disease, which is believed to have originated in Mexico, has now spread across the globe, with confirmed cases having been reported in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand and Israel. The United States has also reported its first death from the disease in a toddler in Texas. A confirmed case was also reported in Costa Rica, and South Korea and France both had probable cases.

The WHO said on Tuesday that while it was not yet certain that the outbreak would turn into a pandemic, countries should prepare for the worst. “Countries should take the opportunity to prepare for a pandemic,” said the acting assistant director-general for the WHO, Keiji Fukuda.

“Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5,” said Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, in a statement released in Geneva today. “…All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.” After the announcement was made, Wikinews learned that the WHO website had crashed for several minutes, presumably due to high traffic volume.

There is no vaccine for swine flu. In 1976 during an outbreak of the disease, at least 500 people became seriously ill, and of them, 25 had died when inoculated with an attempt at a vaccination. The 500 that became ill, developed a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which caused paralysis “and is characterized by various degrees of weakness, sensory abnormalities and autonomic dysfunction.” Those who developed the disorder did so because of an immunopathological reaction to the drug. Nearly 40 million U,S. residents, including then President Gerald Ford, were inoculated,

Written by newscycle

April 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Swine Flu

Baltimore Sun Lays Off 60 Journalists

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UPDATE, 4:23 p.m. Eastern, April 29, 2009: The Associated Press is reporting this afternoon that The Baltimore Sun has laid off nearly 60 people in its newsroom, including veteran editors and managers, columnists, photographers and designers. Earlier reports had the figure as low as 15 people being let go.

A spokeswoman for the newspaper says managerial-level employees were laid off at the end of the day Tuesday, and union-represented employees were informed Wednesday afternoon.

The Sun did not disclose how many people lost their jobs, but the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild says 37 people were let go Wednesday. Staffers who were laid off Tuesday say about 21 managers were let go.

Maryland’s largest newspaper is owned by Tribune Co., which is operating under bankruptcy protection.

Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher writes was the first to report the eventual size of the layoff this morning:

The mass exodus of editors at The Baltimore Sun is expected to approach 20, according to Newspaper Guild leaders at the paper, who said the layoffs are part of a shift away from traditional newspapering and toward multi-platform content.

They also fear that more cuts, to guild members, are looming with as many as 20 rank-and-file jobs expected to go.

“They are clearly trying to move to be an information producer, not a newspaper publisher,” said Angie Kuhl, Guild unit chair at the Sun. “It is a flattening of the newsroom.”

Her comments followed Editor Monty Cook’s meeting with newsroom staffers late Tuesday, in which he announced at least 15 of the editor-level layoffs, which included both top editorial page editors.

Kuhl said the editor departures are expected to grow to 20 before the end of the day, but do not include Cook. “This is really a devastating hit,” she said. “These are experienced journalists with a wealth of knowledge.”

A source told DCRTV.com:

“Fifteen mid- and top-level editors just laid off at the Sun… The casualities include: Deputy Managing Editor Paul Moore, Editorial Page Editor Ann LoLordo, Op-Ed Editor Larry Williams, Med/Sci Editor Patricia Fanning, Sports editors Ray Frager and George VanDaniker, Copy Desk Chief John McIntyre, Systems Editor Steve Auerweck, three bureau chiefs (leaving none), Regional Editor Jay Apperson, and Photo Assigning Editor Chuck Weiss. All editors were told to leave the building immediately. A security guard was stationed on the skywalk between the building and the employee parking garage. Rumor has it the Guild employees will get layoff notices this week.”

Another source told the website:

“I just read through your brief about the 15 layoffs at the Sun and noticed you have no names for the three bureau chiefs. Their names are Joe DeCarlo, Dan Clemens, and Bill Caulfield. Also receiving a layoff was Eileen Canzian, who was one of our Metro editors and one of the brightest journalists in the room. Their experience, expertise and institutional knowledge – not to mention a genuine love for the city of Baltimore and the surrounding area – will be sorely missed.”

One editor laid off is John McIntyre, whose own blog You Don’t Say is a favorite of mine. He writes about his departure on the blog.

Yesterday, the grim economics of the newspaper business made April 28 my last day at the paper. It was, as they say in theatrical circles, a good run. I had more than two decades of the company of some of the smartest and funniest people I have ever known, working for supportive editors of the paper, and in all that time we struggled day after day to make The Sun a formidable newspaper. We succeeded more often than we failed, and no man has been more fortunate in his colleagues than I have.

But when the curtain falls, you are supposed to get off the stage, and this is my final post at baltimoresun.com. I expect to continue blogging elsewhere, but you will no longer find me at my post here. In addition to colleagues who have been great fun, I have had the good fortune to collect a remarkable corps of loyal readers, and I salute you all with gratitude and affection. You have enriched my life.

Written by newscycle

April 29, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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