Layoff scenes: In Cherry Hill, ‘Spot News’ goes

A Courier-Post employee in Cherry Hill, N.J., reports that the paper’s last layoff victim was notified this morning. “Was he news? Slightly,” my correspondent says. “Was he advertising? A little. Was he circulation? Maybe. Marketing? Kinda sorta. He was Spot News, the Courier-Post‘s mascot. The now laid-off employee put on a 30-pound dog costume regularly to spend time in the community as the cute and cuddly face of the newspaper. He’s cleaning his locker out right now. You know things are bad when the mascot gets cut.”

Our correspondent continues: “In other strange news, I witnessed my first newsroom prayer circle yesterday. After the newsroom was notified it was spared, the metro editor summoned everyone into the conference room. He then asked everyone to pray with him for our colleagues who lost their jobs. I quickly exited the room. Other people also were pissed.”

What’s the mood like at your place? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: today’s Courier-Post front page, Newseum]

49 Responses to “Layoff scenes: In Cherry Hill, ‘Spot News’ goes”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Angry because the guy was hypocritical or angry because of the prayer circle itself?

    If his intentions were good, I’m not going to be critical of it.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Far be in from the average newsroom staffer to care about anyone else. They only view the pain in terms of how it impacts the newsroom. What is wrong with saying a prayer about the “non jounlalists” that had their lives turned upside down?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    In Westchester most people are relieved and happy they survived. They don’t realize that more will happen before the next big round in December. Between now and then, employees can be cut quietly and departments can be centralized. The cuts made last week and this week were part of the big company wide move but individual sites will still make cuts in the near future.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry, but I have no issue with a little sympathy in an otherwise train wreck of a situation. Perhaps if there was a little more of this kind of thing, things wouldn’t be so bad. Kudos to the editor.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I would have been pissed if he would have pulled out a prayer rug and prayed to Mecca.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    11:51 and 11:54, I think the person was angry over what we’re all seeing, needless cuts and managers who offer band-aid solutions. I don’t think it’s a lack of compassion for what’s going on in the other departments. The intentions of the prayer circle may have been nothing but good, but like any other crisis, prayer isn’t welcomed by everyone as a salve for the pain and anger they’re feeling. Prayer isn’t comforting to everyone, and the editor, while well-intentioned, made an error in assuming everyone would willingly jump in on that.

    The better option, IMHO, would have been to offer it up for those who wanted to join him/her, rather than summoning everyone to participate.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a non-Gannett journalist whose best friend survived these cuts, but I know first-hand how a newspaper layoff feels, so I’ve been saying prayers all week for those who are losing their jobs and facing uncertainty. I would certainly hope that nobody would take offense to that. When someone prays for me, I consider that a very humbling honor.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I was one of the people let go from CP and thank the editor for his thoughts, if it were the newsroom people getting cut, they surely would want a prayer said for them. I agree with the comment that it probably would have been better if the editor had asked those that would have wanted to be included to join him, or better yet, how about just a moment of silence for those of us who departed?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    All good intentions aside, the organized prayer was highly inappropriate on a number of levels.

    The editor should be formally reprimanded for their actions and they should publicly apologize to all employees who were present.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    12;19, I can tell you as a longtime newsroomer and Gannett escapee (I’ve been out about a year) there are a lot of us who didn’t bear the animosity that folks seem to believe existed. I have a lot of friends who were spared yesterday, but I don’t know any of them who were cheering the cuts in other departments. This situation sucks because people are losing their jobs needlessly, regardless of where they work or what department they’re in.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    If a non-supervisor had called for meditation or prayer, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But when someone with hiring/firing influence (direct or indirect) does that, it’s just wrong. The person should be reprimanded.
    I no longer work for Gannett.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    11:56 – from where are you getting your information? Is it a reliable source?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    My publisher and I attended the same church before he was fired earlier this year. I didn’t like him. He was a negative influence on the organization.

    So here I am in church praying for better days and the grace to keep the newspaper blues form wearing on me … and the source of those blues was sitting just feet away.

    And there he is praying.

    And I’m thinking: What a conversation that must be.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Perhaps my Spot News Bobble Head doll now has some value as a collector’s item … Long live Fido!

    What will they put on their news pages now that the damned dog can’t visit the local diner and hand out cheap gift certificates to the patrons? That’s what drove me over the edge seeing that BS “news” coverage dominating the local news pages … no more dog, no more news, no more C-P … it’s only a matter of time.

    Perhaps Spot can drive his truck across the bridge to North Market Street and the former CP execs can adopt him for Philly…

  15. Anonymous Says:

    And sadly I fear that now this editor will face retribution because someone posted it here.

    Compassion is sometimes a good thing.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I learned my lesson from Jack Kelley days about people who wear their religion on their sleeves, and want others to know it. For management to encourage a group prayer in the newsroom or in his office is not correct. It has nothing to do with p.c. It has everything to do with hypocrisy.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Hypocrisy? Exactly.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    W.W.G.D. or,
    What Would Frank Gannett Do?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Frank Gannett would have prayed, If I remember correctly he was very active in his church.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I have yet to have a Unitarian Universalist boss who tried to force me to pray on the job! Bet I never will either.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Christ, there’s been some bad editors at the CP. Thank god I didn’t have to work for this bozo. If the Courier is saying prayers, their just Last Rites.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Amazing! Courier-Post's brain surgeons (so-called management) got rid of the mascot but kept quite a few completely useless incompents such as the classified manager, the "marketing" director (Spot News' boss & his cutesy little marketing assistant, a useless administrative person who supposedy assists the AD, a sales lady who's a holdover from the Bob Collins days who must have something on somebody, etc., and it goes on and on. Maybe these will go during the next round which will come by December. Meanwhile we all scratch our heads. Rather we expected much of this because of who is running (ha) the place.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    If Frank G was unitarian he wouldn’t do last rights. Thats a Catholic gig!

  24. Anonymous Says:

    He was Unitarian, according to the bio information I read.

    Does anyone know if there are any Gannett descendents around who might want to comment on what’s going on with the company? There you go Jim. Your first video assignment!

  25. Anonymous Says:

    I would like to say that the prayers from the newsroom people are very much appreciated. But the real prayers must be said for the remaining people that were not let go. Our sleepless nights are over with, are yours?????

  26. Anonymous Says:

    I’d just like to clear up a few things about the “C-P prayer circle”. First, everyone was called into the conference room so that the AME could announce that no newsroom jobs would be cut. She then addressed the metro editor and asked if he’d like to add anything. He praised the hard work of the newsroom and said that if anyone would like to join him in prayer he would welcome it, but he understood 100% if some people were not comfortable with that. At that point most of the people, including myself, left the room. I have done plenty of praying for my co-workers and myself off the job and felt no pressure to stay in the room, but I’m sure for some it was comforting to pray with their co-workers.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    I went to church the Sunday before the anticipated layoffs and prayed – not being specific that I was praying not to be laid off. Well I have been sent packing and the way I look at it – God answered my prayers – He/She knew I needed to get away from my evil boss and better days are in store for me! Happy Trails to me and I wish the best to all that I leave behind (even my evil former boss)

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Hypocrisy? I see that being tossed around here and wonder if someone could elaborate on why an invitation to pray for one’s colleagues would be hypocritical? Please explain. Poorly handled. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Most of the people commenting here were not there.

    I’d be stunned, and pleasantly stunned to see more than a half dozen professional journalists humble themselves long enough to even consider prayer. But, hey, we all know that is not going to happen.

    What I think is insensitive is that apparent act of attempted kindness, while perhaps not handled well in the modern workplace, is being labeled as something that is “evil” and inappropriate. Not gonna say I would have invited people to do it, but certainly have said a few private prayers in my car, at home, at church and at my desk for all of my colleagues suffering at this difficult time. I guess that makes me evil too.

    The thing that bothers me here is that people are “pissed” and have the feeling of open hostility toward prayer. Indeed, in a company and culture where we claim to be so accepting of diversity, I can tell you that in every single newsroom I’ve worked in over the last 20 years, my faith has been openly attacked at every turn in news meetings, newsroom decision-making, newsroom banter and jokes and totally inappropriate comments that would be cause for immediate dismissal of the employees involved. Yet, because it’s Christianity, we have an openly hostile work environment in ALL of our newsrooms that is allowed, enabled and even sometimes participated in by co-workers and management who would scream bloody murder if the same kind of open hostility were shown to any other group, organization, etc….

    Would I have led my team in prayer in the newsroom or even invited them to it? No. Would I do so privately at my desk? Yes. And, if people that think that’s strange or weird or it pisses them off, then they can get over it. If we’re about allowing a diverse range of opinions, beliefs, etc., why is it that it’s still OK for us to attack and beat upon a man who may just have been offering a sincere show of sympathy and support.

    Why not just say, “That’s not me” and go back to your desk? Instead, not only are you railing about it. You’re pissed. Sounds like maybe the person with the issue with religion is you, not the boss.

    I’ll pray for you.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Jack Kelley stands as a fine example of what’s morally and ethically right in journalism? Holy crap. I’m scared if that’s who we’re holding up here as a good example/commentator on newsroom ethics.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    I WAS there and even though I know the manager in question had only good intentions, it was nonetheless inappropriate. This manager supervises MANY information center employees. He is their boss. It is not appropriate to ask coworkers to leave a conference room if they dont want to publicly pray. To agree with me does not make you anti-Christian, nor does it mean you think the manager is evil. To agree with me is to know what is appropriate and inappropriate in a workplace. Having said all that, I will add that I have no intention of complaining to HR or anyone else because I know how hellish the last week has been for everyone, and yes, I suppose we can all use all the prayers we can get, even the ones that would have been better delivered privately or after hours.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    As a Christian who works at a newspaper, the LAST thing I want to do is wear my faith on my sleeve and be a hypocrite.

    I have seen plenty of them growing up in evangelical Christianity, and the stories of professed Christians who later acted like absolute jerks stand before me as an example of how not to act in a generally secular workplace.

    The best thing I can do is shut my mouth, do my job, treat my coworkers with kindness and respect and, if the subject ever comes up naturally, then I talk about why I believe in what I believe.

    I would have handled things very differently, and tried to express my faith through how I did my job and especially how I treated my coworkers and those I supervised. That would have made a better impression, especially if the horror stores I read here are true.

    As far as people getting offended by faith…it has as much of a place in society, and yes, in the newsroom, as atheism, or Islam, or any other religion, or for those who choose not to practice any religion. Many Christians are nowhere close to the worst-case, skirt-chasing, greedy preachers we are all stereotyped as being, just as many non-Christians are not the stereotype amoral, liberal hostile angry people sworn to destroy forever what is “good and wholesome”.

    Like 7:36, I’ve had people make snide, unprofessional, rude comments about my faith to my face and about Christianity in general. I shut my mouth, even during times when I should have spoken up and said something.

    But now I speak out, and honestly there are worse things to get angry over than a call for prayer. How about your coworker who’s always gossiping about everyone else, oftentimes in an unprofessional, vicious, cruel manner? When are you bringing him or her in to be confronted by a supervisor?

    How about sexual harassment? Gender or age discrimination? Backstabbing amongst coworkers? Or what’s happening to the rank and file all over Gannett?

    Those are things to get passionate about and angry over, not a prayer circle.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    I bet every one in that room said thank God, when they found out that their job had been spared.

    Work might not be the place to hold a prayer circle, but he didn’t force anyone to stay and had only compassion for his fellow co-workers who had just been let go. The power of pray is a wonderful thing. And anyone can pray for me when ever they want.

    Yesterday was a bittersweet day. I was glad to have been spared, but my heart breaks for my fellow co-workers who lost their jobs.

    God Bless them all.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    You can’t TRULY be a Christian and be in any management position within Gannett. I mean this in the sense of the compassion, openness and honesty that Christ is said to represent in his biography. In order to be Gannett management, you must sign over your soul at some point.

    There is no other explanation.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    THAT is hypocrisy. Amen.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Render unto Gannett the things that are Gannetts and to God the things that are Gods.

    Using 1:09’s criteria the only orgnaizations a Christian could work for would be the Red Cross, Chik Filet and United Way. (But only if you approve of the organizations they support).

  36. Anonymous Says:

    I can say I was there on Tuesday and there was no pressure to participate in the prayer. I think this was a hellish week like none we’ve ever seen before, and while I’m not sure it was entirely appropriate, I can’t fault the guy for responding in a way that made him feel better.
    I’m normally very distrusting of anyone in authority there, but I don’t think anyone was judged for not staying in the room.
    Considering everything, let’s just cut the guy some slack.
    That’s the first — and last — time you’ll ever hear me say that.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    Keep thy religion to thy self.

    Should not have to say it but sometimes it is needed.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Was Spot News the one crapping on the floor at Cherry Hill?

    Lesson to the rest of you whiners at C-P.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Perhaps the most serious risk affecting firms and individuals who promote the practice of workplace prayer is the legal risk that may arise in the context of an allegation that the firm or its employees have established a “hostile work environment.” This risk can negatively effect, in substantial degree, both the financial well-being and the public reputation of a firm or individual.

    Whereas federal law provides all persons with freedom of religious expression, the right is not absolute. In particular, the right may conflict with the rights of persons to be free from harassment and a hostile work environment, as established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Good point 9:35 PM
    I remember my Gannett new hire orientation from HR. Among other things, the HR person stressed
    -no swearing,
    -hands off other employees.
    The hands off one was difficult for me since I’m a “touch the shoulder,” and “touch the hand,” kind of person. Well, I changed since it was Gannett’s rule and I worked for Gannett.

    Now, I just find it amazing that anyone would support a manager’s voluntary call to prayer in a company that apparently has such strict work rules. Calling for prayer on company time just shows a complete lack of common sense.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    They say there are no atheists in foxholes, but wow. Talk about inappropriate.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    What is the punishment going to be for the employees who walked away from the prayer session and did not participate? Have no doubt, there will be retribution for this, because those who push for prayer in newsroom don’t like those around who are opposed to it. The manager who led this session now has a list of those he regards as irreligious, and when the next round comes, whose names will appear on the layoff list? I find this an outrageous breach of Gannett’s workplace policy, and I think the powers that be need to step in and put stop to this now. Those laid off in the future: print out these comments and bookmark this page, because a labor lawyer will have a field day collecting back pay for improper discharge from now on.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Imagine what a lawyer would do with a case of some laid off because they weren’t sufficiently religious to take part in a management-sponsored prayer group. Wow.

  44. Anonymous Says:

    It is Christians being singled out here because it is they who are acting like the Taliban and openly forcing other people to acknowledge and honor their beliefs. Do you realize how uncomfortable it is for someone of another faith to have the prayer group stuffed down your throat, or someone in the cubicle next to you determined to convert you. No, I do not want to participate in a prayer group, and I do not want to go to a church circle. Your religion is your business, and mine is mine. I do not need converting, thank you.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 6:07 PM
    Yes, I do know how uncomfortable that is. That’s why I think the manager who offered up voluntary prayer on work time should be reprimanded—actually demoted to a non-supervisory postion since it seems the damage is done.

  46. Anonymous Says:

    “It is Christians being singled out here because it is they who are acting like the Taliban and openly forcing other people to acknowledge and honor their beliefs. Do you realize how uncomfortable it is for someone of another faith to have the prayer group stuffed down your throat, or someone in the cubicle next to you determined to convert you.”

    I’ve never seen that at the Gannett paper I work at. I don’t condone forced proselytizing either.

    On the other hand, I’ve been subjected to hearing the sexual exploits of coworkers before, and to hearing coworkers tear down their peers behind their backs. Nothing is ever done, or said, against that.

    However, Christians always get singled out – especially when they fumble the ball, as with this prayer group or in the sad case of Jack Kelley.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    11:03 am xxxHowever, Christians always get singled out – especially when they fumble the ball, as with this prayer group or in the sad case of Jack Kelley. xxx

    Tell me what other religion represented in Gannett newsrooms these days other than evangelical Christians? The prayer groups is only part of it. There are the unwelcome invitations to join people in church, to attend some church-sponsored socials, or join in some church-sponsored picnics. There are the hurt looks when the overtures are rejected, and yet the invitations to church-related events are repeated. How many times do I have to say no for people to realize no means no, and that I have no interest in you or your church. We just work together.
    Leave me alone.
    As for the “sad case” of Jack Kelley, USAT’s own investigation found that he was given unbelievably wide latitude partly because his own editors did not believe someone so earnestly and openly religious could be a fraud. It was no sad case. He was a fraud who cloaked his fraudulent activities in his religion.

  48. Anonymous Says:

    A manager who pays employees and himself to pray publicly—and a company that knows about it and does nothing—is not a place I care to work. And with this much spare time to do non-work things, why are layoffs necessary?

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Hey! Work for (or recently not working for) a NJ paper? Trying to get a more local blog going at Take no offense Jim! We are totally copying your idea here, but this co. is so large (for now) that it’s sometimes hard to find site-specific info. There’s not much on this NJ blog but let’s change that. Start blogging NJ!

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