Houston Chronicle To Employees: No Raises, But Enjoy The Barbecue & 5k Runs

Categories: Spaced City

chronlogUSE.jpg
Not their new logo
The Houston Chronicle, like many if not all print-journalism outlets, is still trying to adjust to the ever-changing conditions that have been thrust on it.

Fear not: The paper has undertaken a campaign designed to make it one of the "Top 50 Places to Work in Texas."

How it's reportedly getting there, well, that's another matter.

Memos have gone out (see one at the end of the item) and meetings -- many, many meetings -- have been held between management and staffers.

The memo speaks for itself, in the standard corporate-speak that always seems to be used in these things. The meetings, though, have resulted in some bruised feelings, possible misunderstandings, and a growing sense of frustration, disbelief and paranoia at 801 Texas (the kind of paranoia that leads to staffers airing complaints only through third parties, for instance, for fear of losing a job.)

The takeaway some employees have gotten from the meetings: No more raises.

As in "ever." Instead staffers will be eligible for merit bonuses from a pool.

-- Execs reportedly told employees they didn't want future budgets saddled with raises, so the bonus-payment system is preferable. Apparently the first round of bonuses will come in January.

-- But all is not lost; the perks just got better! As in -- and this is what we're told, we swear we are not making this up -- occasional barbecue catering for the newsroom! And an enhanced chance to get that team spirit by running with fellow Chronsters in 5K runs and to play with them on softball teams.

-- Also coming out of the meetings: Some employees are being reclassified as salaried, which means no overtime. Unfortunately for some, we're told that change took effect just as the Chronicle was making the transition to its highly hyped (and kinda meh) redesigned webpage, and when the inevitable glitches occurred some (possibly just one) newly designated employee had to come in on the weekend to fix things, without getting overtime.

-- There's also been some grumbling that the most noticeable aspect of the redesign is to hide reporters' bylines while highlighting columnists' bylines, but such a star system wouldn't be all that unusual. Even if it would be, again, frustrating for the grunts pumping out the reams of copy needed to feed the web beast.

To be sure, some of the message between management and staff might have been garbled or misunderstood in the delivery -- we're thinking that if you hear "no raises" and "barbecue" strung close together, you tend to lose focus and concentrate on the negative from that point on.

We asked Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen for clarification. He didn't want to get bogged down in details (at all) but did acknowledge a somewhat mixed reception to the ideas set out:

More than 1,200 people work at the Chronicle. As you might expect, we heard a wide range of comments after company-wide meetings. Many people came away excited by the plans; others had ideas that we could build on. The goal here is to be transparent and to involve all of our associates in the process.

Regarding your chron.com question, we're excited about the new design and will continue to work to improve it.

If any Chronicle folks want to add/elucidate, pound away in the comments or Facebook or e-mail.

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14 comments
theodore9
theodore9

I was the primary maintainer and developer of the entire Hearst blogging network from January 5 through Friday, July 13, 2012, including blog.chron.com, blog.sfgate.com, etc.

 

My contract was summarily terminated without cause or warning after I had just finished working 563 hours (123 overtime!) getting the implementation of pix.29-95.com to somewhat work (after my manager Mr. Slusher let the project totally blow up) and doing most of the backend work for the chron blog redesign and migration to new servers.

 

I was terminated so quickly they wouldn't even let me submit 30+ hours of work I had almost completely done, including a complete re-implementation of the blogs' gallery system. I felt adrift and that's what I get for working os hard for a company that my relationships and health suffered.

patrickatm08
patrickatm08

@richardjustice maybe you leaving made it a good place to work?

blackjackdavid
blackjackdavid

Sentence of the year, Red. Well done.

 

To be sure, some of the message between management and staff might have been garbled or misunderstood in the delivery -- we're thinking that if you hear "no raises" and "barbecue" strung close together, you tend to lose focus and concentrate on the negative from that point on.

max1hc
max1hc

@richardjustice @houstonchron The Chron says the beatings will continue until morale improves.

RobbieCrab
RobbieCrab

@richardjustice easy fix. Come back. Its just not the same anymore especially while our Astros dismantle and rebuild.

RifleJohn
RifleJohn

@richardjustice Did you see it coming or did they simply fall apart without you?

FakeJohnMcClain
FakeJohnMcClain

@richardjustice I've got my own private bathroom with phone and answering machine by the toilet. Give me a ring sometime.

ByMMartinez
ByMMartinez

@richardjustice @houstonchron Given a choice between a raise and a BBQ, who wouldn't choose some ribs and chicken?

miss_msry
miss_msry

Typical Chron speak; many words used saying little.

auslander
auslander

"The Houston region continues to lead the nation in economic growth and diversity, with most leading indicators suggesting innovation and investment will continue to thrive, and we are poised to both hasten and benefit from these fair winds. And upon these fair winds, you can expect an occasional BBQ lunch, served at your desk free of charge, and borne aloft by reputable interns, followed by a jog throughout one of the nation's most resilient and attractive urban areas. Because the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die!"

Jackie Hibbard
Jackie Hibbard

Fire fighters aren't getting a raise for the next 3yrs, why should you get one at the comical? It's the bad 'economy' so we all must do our part!

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

But what about the paraplegic vegetarians?

theodore9
theodore9

It was mostly because of my unexpected, unnecessary termination that the blog redesign was not released on 21 July 2012 as scheduled. I had talked to my manager just the day before of my intense desire to take two weeks of unpaid time off, because I was beat to the bone; he denied me a vacation saying, "Ted, we need you too much". Then the next day, he terminated me.

 

The guy never had the courage to tell me I was let go. He had the contract agency deliver the message. He never once told me why. He told others it was due to lack of funds but immediately hired outsourcers who struggle to keep pace.

working_poor
working_poor

@Jackie Hibbard most Chronicle hourly employees have not had a raise in six years, we wish it was only three...

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