The Register Star held a newsroom meeting after journalists started their campaign to organize the newsroom. A GateHouse executive noted that the company needed to find ways to reward its stars — other than raises.
Back then the comment made some sense. GateHouse was burdened with more than $1 billion in debt. The company needed to maximize its cash flow to service that debt. Raises weren’t an option.
But now that debt is gone. GateHouse is part of New Media Investment Group — which is flush with cash and looking to buy. For a host of reasons, the company also should reinvest in all the news operations it has stripped to the bone.
New Media is banking on the long-term viability of its newspaper/digital operations in markets like Rockford and Freeport. But the company has offered consumers less news and higher circulation prices, accelerating circulation declines.
When one of our members asked a Register Star manager about the newspapers employee retention plans, he was told there are no such plans. If you can find a better job, take it. Indeed, many newsroom employees have moved along since voting in the United Media Guild.
But “take it or leave it” isn’t much of a long-range business plan. Every time a newsroom loses a veteran journalist, its ability to deliver the best possible news product diminishes.