Wednesday, January 27, 2016


On page 160, the textbook briefly discusses "Employment-at-Will," in which legal sanction is given "to the principle that an employee works only at the will of the employer and can be dismissed at any time, for any legal reason." (Emphasis added.)
     However, that final caveat is being reinforced by litigation in many employment-at-will states in addition to the book's example of someone being fired contrary to an adopted staff manual's procedures.
     Albuquerque attorney Martin G. Marshall points out that the courts are chipping away at the employers' right to arbitrarily fire someone under this employment doctrine in many states. This makes it more likely that a fired employee can appeal to a jury, which is often more sympathetic to the employee than to the employer.
     As an example, Marshall cites court cases in New Mexico, which is an employment-at-will state and typical of others. He said the doctrine "has been swallowed by exceptions such a public-policy, whistle-blower, and anti-discrimination laws. Also, the National Labor Relations Board has taken the position that a broad employment-at-will in employee contracts or handbooks might violate the National Labor Relations Act."
     Marshall said the employer's situation is difficult. He recommends that a contract's at-will statement include a system of severance for "non-cause" terminations and a separate arbitration for "cause" firings.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Newspapers are left to fend for themselves

More major media corporations are spinning off their print properties -- especially newspapers -- into separate companies. No longer under the national and in many cases international corporation's umbrella, such print properties are being put out into the storm by themselves.

New York Times article discusses how newspapers in particular are being set adrift by corporate owners such as Gannett, The Tribune Company, Journal Communications, and E.W. Scripps. As the article states, these new print-only companies "are sailing into very tall waves."

For newspapers, "the journalism moment we are living in is more about running for your life than it is about optimism," the article states. "Newspapers continue to generate cash and solid earnings, but those results are not enough to satisfy investors" on Wall Street.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ah, the wonders of competition

Advance Publications is beginning to back off the company's new strategy of publishing a print paper only three days a week and sending subscribers to the Internet the other days. At least in some cities.

Why? Subscribers have been enraged and competitors have been emboldened to step in.

So, after Advance scaled back the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011 and the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2012, both have been restored to seven-day printing again. In Philadelphia, Saturday newsstand sales had been suspended. In May 2013 that decision was reversed. In New Orleans, Advance decided to put a tabloid version of its Times-Picayune on the newstands on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays because the neighboring Baton Rouge Advocate had started selling subscriptions in New Orleans. 

"The much ballyhooed unmaking of daily newspapering seems to be unmaking itself," The New York Times said in its analysis, adding that, "The belief that historic monopolies will hold together just on the basis of inertia has proved to be wrong."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Citizen journalists? Or suckers?

There were 9,000 so-called "citizen journalists" who wrote free articles to build Huffington Post into a commanding aggregator site. When founder Ariana Huffington sold it for $315 million in 2001, quite a few began feeling more like suckers than writers — and that's what they were called in a 2012 Doonesbury cartoon.

 Receiving a byline seemed nice until Ariana cashed her check for millions with no intention to share. Then some writers thought they should have gotten a piece of that action. After all, where would Ariana be if it weren't for their efforts? So they filed a class action lawsuit to get "back pay," if you will.

The lawsuit was thrown out in a March 2012 ruling. U.S. District Judge John Koetl said "no one forced" the writers to work for no pay.

 "They never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open," the judge wrote.

 The willingness of so many people to write, take photographs, and shoot video for free to enrich multimillion-dollar conglomerates is a phenomenon that several national corporations are tapping into. An estimated 750,000 people have submitted free stories, videos, and photos to CNN's iReport website, for example, and billionaire Philip Anschutz uses free journalism from citizens as the foundation for his nationwide chain of Examiner websites. Local TV stations across the country are using the free videos and photos submitted by their viewers.

 Meanwhile, the ranks of paid, professional journalists continue to decline.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Will readers be more important than advertisers?

For the first time since the 1890s, a major daily newspaper is receiving more revenue from readers and circulation than from advertising. New York Magazine reported this turn-around in an article on the second-quarter 2012 report from the New York Times Co.

(The New York Times is "probably the first major paper that has crossed that line," media analyst Ken Doctor said. "It is an interesting moment."

Print and digital advertising continued to fall for the Times Co. and its three newspapers, including the flagship New York Times. That shortfall still remains to be addressed. For the second quarter, advertising fell by 6.6 percent to $220 million. However, circulation revenue increased 8.3 percent to $223 million because of the Times' successful paywall and subscription price hikes.

The MediaNews Group newspaper chain also crossed the circulation vs. advertising line for the first time in January 2012, the magazine reported.

The demise of the nineteenth-century penny press circulation wars has led to newspapers' overwhelming reliance on advertising revenue ever since. The massive drop in ad revenue due to Internet competition is forcing newspapers to look more to their readers for support. "We have the pieces of an emerging business — we just have to see how far how far we can go," Doctor said.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The challenge of keeping reader's comments civil

There have always been letters to the editor. However, the rise of instant reader feedback on the Internet, and the trend of newspapers to print anonymous reactions to the news, have intensified problems in the potentially wild world of interactivity.

Involvement of the public in commenting on websites and in newspapers often means that the discussion of serious issues devolves into name-calling, abusive, and even libelous insults.

Although it seems like a modern problem, editors have been wrestling with reader comments at least since the mid-1700s.

“In the conduct of my newspaper I carefully excluded all libeling and personal abuse,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography. “Whenever I was solicited to insert anything of that kind and the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press—and that a newspaper was like a stagecoach, in which anyone who would pay had right to a place—my answer was that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction.”

Several newspapers, broadcast entities, and online sites refuse to print any comments because readers turn rancorous so often under the cover of anonymity or fake names. Several media companies are pursuing different strategies toward vetting reader comments. <link> Others publicize a real-name policy to stem the negativity, such as the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent <link> which warns:

“This is a community conversation, but The Independent is controlling it on our site. Therefore, we set the rules….Although the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows for freedom of speech, Congress is not in charge of this site. This is a privately owned Web site.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An end to the "good old days" with unions

The success of people banding together for sudden flash-mob rebellions in several Arab countries and elsewhere in 2011 has led to a new dynamic that could foretell problems for managers of companies, if it hasn't occurred already. 

Now there is conjecture that encrypted texting on smartphones and use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others, could lead to groups being formed spontaneously in a workplace. [link] Disgruntled employees could organize themselves over grievances even in union-free offices, and do it almost instantly. Such sudden uprisings could be much more difficult to control or predict than a union-managed situation. And, of course, unions could marshall their members into an immediate work-stoppage or other protest much more effectively than in the past.

One more issue for present and future managers to think about.