Politics & Prejudices
The importance of being Hansen
Congressman Clarke remains a humble but energetic voice for Detroit
Published: August 17, 2011
Newspaper atrocity: For years, perhaps the best local papers in this part of the world have been the Heritage Newspaper Group. The flagship paper is the twice-weekly News-Herald, which covers the Downriver area, but also includes weeklies in a number of communities in Wayne and Washtenaw counties, including Dearborn, Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, Manchester and Grosse Ile.
These are hard times for all newspapers, but the Heritage papers had the extreme misfortune a few years ago to be acquired by the world's worst owners, the Pennsylvania-based Journal-Register Company, aka JRC, which prefers cheap over quality, every time.
Five years ago, they converted the Oakland Press from a better-than-average medium-sized daily into a joke, firing the senior editors and laying off most of the staff.
JRC later went bankrupt, and was acquired by something called Alden Global Capital last month.
"This is a great vote of confidence in our strategy," JRC head John Paton said, sucking up to his new masters, adding that he wanted to "personally thank our employees for their efforts during this turnaround."
Veteran corporation watchers know statements like that mean the gas chambers are gearing up. Sure enough, last week JRC got rid of the best talent at Heritage, firing longtime managing editor Karl Ziomek, features editor and environmental expert Paula Evans Neuman and photo editor Larry Caruso, among others.
This was clearly not done for any reason other than to dump some of the higher salaries, not that any of these folks were making very much. One shocked staffer told me that when they e-mailed complaints to JRC management, their ability to do so was disabled.
Henceforth, staffers were told, they'd report to Glenn Gilbert, the small-time Ohio editor who has been running the Oakland Press since JRC brought him in to fire the senior editors five years ago.
Apparently he is supposed to supervise Heritage from Pontiac, which ought to be perceived as the insult it is. The Heritage papers have been an important part of the Downriver community for decades. If I were a politician, citizen or business owner there, I would let these out-of-state merchants of greed know how I felt.
> Email Jack Lessenberry