Friday, April 13, 2012

Pinch takes a blow

Staffer: In hard Times, Sulzberger travels

A Times staffer’s scorching e-mail attacks Chairman Pinch Sulzberger        
The mood is turning uglier inside the New York Times, where publisher and acting CEO Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has again been ripped for his globe-trotting ways, this time by .”

“The Times is in labor turmoil,” wrote health and science reporter Donald McNeil. “Journalists are openly angry. 

Even the sacred Page One meeting has had a protest,” he said, referring to the incident last month in which members of the Newspaper Guild gave a silent stare down to top editors, including Executive Editor Jill Abramson, as they headed to their afternoon meeting.

McNeil went on to blast the Times as a company with no CEO, where Sulzberger this year “canceled his annual State of the Times address.”

A Times spokesman said the company has recently hired headhunter Spencer Stuart to find a replacement for ex-CEO Janet Robinson, who was forced out in December, but who angered rank-and-file workers when it was revealed she had a golden parachute of $24 million.

The e-mail also says that Sulzberger is enthralled with “management gurus” and the latest is Michael Useem. The e-mailer said that Sulzberger will be attending a seminar in the Himalayas with Useem in late May.

“A Nepal trek is very Arthur, since he’s a rock climber and an Outward Bound tripper. But to learn leadership, shouldn’t a 60-year-old corporate chairman already know whether he’s a leader or not? Shouldn’t that have been decided by age 35 or so?”

A Times spokesman said that Sulzberger is actually undertaking the trip as a teacher of a seminar to Wharton School students, where he will “be teaching case studies.” The topics will include the thinking behind the decision to publish the WikiLeaks documents and the decision in 2010 to put most of the Times Web content behind a pay wall. 

The spokesman added that Sulzberger is undertaking the trip on his personal time, not as a corporate trip.

Negotiations with the Newspaper Guild, in which the company is proposing to gut the company’s once lucrative retirement and pension programs, remain acrimonious.

The Guild, with over 1,000 members, has been without a contract since March 31, 2011. 

Talks have recently resumed following the ouster of Robinson, but the size of her severance and other payouts rankled the membership. There is no sign of a settlement in the near term.

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