Cleveland Plain Dealer staffers find out if they’re ‘separated from employment’

July 31, 2013
(smartfurniture.com)
(smartfurniture.com)

In a series of phone calls this morning, editorial staffers at the Cleveland Plain Dealer found out whether or not they were laid off in one of those classic newspaper biz-model restructuring plans. Yet in a memo on the downsizing, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s management couldn’t bring itself to use such straightforward language to describe the proceedings. Here’s how the memo described the transaction:

From approximately 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 31st, employees in the Editorial Department will receive a phone call notifying them that they are either being separated from employment on that date, or that they are not being separated from employment. Employees who are notified that they are not being separated should report for work at their next regularly scheduled time.

Bolded text added to highlight euphemistic, stilted, HR-driven drivel. Would the Cleveland Plain Dealer ever use such impenetrable language to describe layoffs in its news coverage? Let’s check.

Answer: Yes, in quotations. A search of the Plain Dealer site for “separated from employment” yields this recent story about the federal government’s rules on retirement funds. One paragraph from the story:

In a March report, the Government Accountability Office said, “Many experts told us that much of the information and assistance participants receive is through the marketing efforts of service providers touting the benefits of IRA rollovers and is not always objective. Plan participants are often subject to biased information and aggressive marketing of IRAs when seeking assistance and information regarding what to do with their 401(k) plan savings when they separate or have separated from employment.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | July 31, 2013