August 1, 2013 Last Updated 9:41 am

Third of newsroom staff gone at The Plain Dealer; AT&T out at Starbucks, Google comes in

Morning Brief:

A third of the The Plain Dealer newsroom staff – about 45 reporters, photographers, page designers and other Newspaper Guild members –were laid off or volunteered to leave the Advance Publications owned Cleveland, Ohio newspaper yesterday morning.

PD-flag-sm“In order to realign our workforce for future growth, we have found it necessary to make additional reductions,” said the paper’s publisher, Terry Egger, in the public announcement. In the past Advance has pointed to its “digital first” strategy as the reason for the layoffs. Mercifully, the paper eschewed using the cliché which most journalists are learning has nothing to do with digital media, and everything to do with cost cutting.

Employees were asked to wait by their telephones yesterday to hear if they would still have a job.

The layoff pattern has been consistent at Advance newspapers that have been “realigned” such as the Times-Picayune in New Orleans or The Oregonian in Portland. As Advance is privately held, no publicly released earnings report can confirm or contradict the wisdom of the downsizing strategy.

In Cleveland, effective on August 5, the paper will be reducing its home delivery to three days a week – Wednesday, Friday and Sunday – and subscribers will have access to the seven day e-edition. The paper will still be available on a seven day a week basis at retail outlets, making the creation of the replica edition possible.

The situation in Greece has not improved – for either those seeking work or for journalists hoping for a pay check. Despite this, the situation in Greece is receiving very little coverage here in the U.S.

The unemployment rate is currently at 26.8 percent, but Greece reports so slowly that the figure given is from April. Youth unemployment is over 57 percent.

For journalists, the situation remains dire. The Athens News, the English language paper, closed last year and journalists there were forced to work for a long period without pay. The situation at EnetEnglish, launched in February appears to be no better.

The IMF yesterday warned that more debt may have to be written off it the situation does not turn around.

“To avoid further across-the-board cuts in wages and pensions, and to ensure that the recession gradually bottoms out and gives way to a steady recovery in 2014, it is essential that structural reforms gain much stronger support and momentum,” the IMF state.

AT&T is out at Starbucks. The deal that initially brought in free WiFi to over 7,000 store locations is now over and Google and Level 3 Communications will take over from here, promising greatly increased speeds for store customers.

Starbucks said they were not looking to replace AT&T (how politically correct of them) but were looking to expand their relationship with Google. With this move they have done just that.

“Every day, our customers rely on the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks to study, work, connect with friends or just relax. We want to make sure that they can access the web effortlessly and quickly, no matter what they’re doing, or what device they are using,” said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks. “Our goal is to continue to provide our customers with the best in-store experience possible, and we are excited to offer these kinds of unparalleled experiences at a broad scale.”

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