6 August 2012 at 10:43:42 AM
I received an unsolicited email from Kathryn Jones on the morning of July 30th, 2012. Here are some excerpts from this email below but I believe she has written about it on her Facebook page if you want to check there too:
There are a lot of rumors going around town and I wanted you to hear this from me.
I resigned from the Reporter a week ago Thursday. Two things triggered this. First, my supervisor, the American Consolidated Media regional director of the Southwest cluster and publisher of the Waxahachie Daily Light, ordered me to withdraw a job offer to a candidate that he enthusiastically approved at first. This was after being second-guessed by his bosses up the food chain.
The job was to take classified ads and cover sports, neither of which is a full-time job. The candidate was a young man who lives in Glen Rose, has a journalism degree from Tarleton and a young baby and was eager to get his journalism career started. He gave notice at his job and was ready to start work -- today, in fact.
I'm no lawyer, but as I understand it, making a job offer with a starting date and salary, even verbally, is still a contract. But ordering me to withdraw the offer, the corporation was committing breach of contract. I did not withdraw the offer -- I went to Mineral Wells to the West Texas Press Association and picked up five first-place awards, including Journalist of the Year (for the second year in a row) and first places for news writing, column writing, feature writing and general excellence (also for the second year in a row). At the Texas Press Association in San Antonio last month, the Reporter won first places for special section and headline writing.
When I returned, I learned my supervisor had called the job candidate and changed the job parameters -- he would have to be based in Stephenville. Then the offer was withdrawn.
Second, after I balked at withdrawing the job offer, my supervisor told me he thought separating the Reporter from the Stephenville Empire-Tribune had been a mistake. I had fought for that and this job offer was going to be the last piece of getting us fully independent.
Before then, the sports writer had always been split between the E-T and the Reporter.
Rather than do something I considered unethical at the very least and participate in the dismantling of all that I had worked for and faced with the prospect of reporting to Stephenville again, I resigned. My last day was to be Aug. 2. Last Tuesday, after putting the paper to bed, my supervisor and the Empire-Tribune editor show up in my office, demand my office keys, order me to collect my personal possessions and leave.
I did. I don't want to work for people like that. BTW, the corporate managers never told me congratulations or thanks for the hard work or anything. They just ordered me to leave.
I hear the Reporter will be a much smaller -- and likely much more timid -- newspaper and website. They hired Amanda Kimble, who is a very good reporter, to succeed me. She lives in Stephenville, however. And I noticed on the Reporter's Facebook site that the "E-T/Glen Rose Reporter" are now looking for a sports writer. A story in the E-T about Amanda's promotion -- written by the editor, Sara Vanden Berge, who was on hand when I got kicked out of my office -- referred to Glen Rose as a "sister paper." Step-sister is more like it.
As for my plans, I'm still a contributing editor at Texas Monthly and will resume my freelance writing career. Am just glad I no longer have to work with "superiors" who view people as disposable.
But I thought you might be interested in all this not because of what happened to me personally, but because the company that owns the Glen Rose Reporter, the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, the Waxahachie Daily Light, the Brownwood Bulletin and about 100 newspapers across the nation is controlled by foreign interests -- Canadian bankers, no less. ACM is owned by the Royal Bank of Canada. Before that, it was owned by an Australian multi-national conglomerate.
ACM's managers are focused on cutting every expense to make the company appear as profitable as possible so its properties can be sold. It's a sad commentary on the state of journalism today that corporations and financial/foreign interests that are obsessed with profits control media in places such Glen Rose, Stephenville, Waxahachie and Brownwood. Who ultimately loses? The people who have trusted their hometown papers to be honest brokers of information.
Thanks for all you did while you were here Kathryn, I appreciate it!
For those who are looking for a more historical view of this ACM control that Kathryn references, Debbie has been talking about the buyout of the Glen Rose Reporter since before it happened in 2007, some links below:
Glen Rose Reporter Newspaper to be Owned by Australia's Macquarie Media Group?
More on Glen Rose Reporter Newspaper Owned by ACM (?) which is Owned by Macquarie
Dallas Morning News on ACM's Purchase of the Glen Rose Reporter newspaper
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1 - humanbeing
6 Aug 2012 @ 9:02:07 PM
This is just another all-too-familiar example of how 'corporate' is leading our culture down the path of mediocrity. Creative and independent thinking be damned. All too often, those who 'manage' are completely disconnected from the challenges faced by the productive ones on the ground, the ones doing the job that pays the salaries for those at the top. Then, of course, the managers have to get rid of the experienced and gifted employees they originally hired to cover up their own ignorance and insecurity.
Who pays? We all do.
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2 - salon
8 Aug 2012 @ 1:30:06 PM
My own opinion, which I'm spoken here before, is that news is not the province of only one group, especially in these days of ubiquitous social media (freedom of the press belongs to the one who owns one) A newspaper is in business to make money and balance news against offending advertisers. The model is thus tied to financials, and even more particularly so when you have an entity that is run by a board whose job it is to bring in the cash. Otherwise, why start charging for obituaries??
The man who's listed online as the new regional director of the ACM media empire here locally is Jeff Parra.
ACM was bought by Macquarie Media of Australia, which turned into Southern Cross Media, and then, when the financials were not good, bought by a group of lenders in 2010.
Who were those lenders?
The lenders acquired 90 percent ownership of the company, according to an Australian banking and investment group that owned American Consolidated Media until Wednesday. The group, Southern Cross Media Group Limited, maintains a 10 percent non-voting equity stake, though lenders acquire "100% control" of American Consolidated Media, a Southern Cross news release states.....
...a Reuters report stated that the lenders in 2009 included the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, New York-based CIT Group, GE Commercial Finance, Macquarie Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and the Royal Bank of Canada.
Here's that same article from the Athens OH newspaper.
Not sure if the same group of lenders created a board to manage ACM or what. If anyone knows, please post with a source.
What is good is that ACM is coming into the digital age. That said, media empires are also fighting an uphill battle, because anyone with an iphone or ipad can take videos and photos and post them, to a huge variety of sources. In other words, being able to cover a grass fire, as Micah Moore of the E-T did, is no longer limited to an official entity but can also be from anyone else who happens by and wants to talk/write/video/photograph it. And, one wonders, if there is a censorship of what a reporter can post (and we know that there is from other comments Ms Jones has made on her FB page), then it truly cannot be inclusive news. I believe ACm calls that *content worth sharing*. (At the same time, again, ACM is in business to make money) (Micah Moore has actually been promoted and has left Stephenville)
Also interesting is to read about the layoffs at ACM, including this one. Looks like there is a consolidation of even ads sent to Athens, OH from newspapers in Michigan.
The link above for the newsroom news at the ACM site indicates taht there are two ACM Design centers, one in Athens, OH and the other in McAllen, TX.
Here is another interesting article about ACM in Cecil, MD.
The Whig is owned by a Texas-based company, American Consolidated Media, that is in turn owned by a group of banks, investors and other debt-holders who took over the company from an Australian media operator that acquired the Whig and several other regional newspapers in a heavily leveraged buyout deal several years ago.
The Whig has not reported on several past dust-ups on the legal ad issue at commissioner meetings, even though the expenditure of taxpayer funds is normally an obvious subject for reporting. The Whig also refused to report or editorialize on conflicts and controversy in this year’s primary election season for county council and county executive contests and waited until after the election to intone in an editorial that its silence was a matter of neutrality.
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