Prior to the late-November announcement by top editor David Jackson that the Washington Times would be cutting its staff, there wasn’t much newsroom chatter about the move.
Subsequent to the late-November announcement by top editor David Jackson that the Washington Times would be cutting its staff, there wasn’t a lot of information or informed gossip about the move, either.
Today some layoffs went down. Again, there’s not too much information going around: Details on the number of layoffs and the affected sections of the paper are scarce. Attempts to reach top editor David Jackson today netted only this e-mail reply: “Sorry, not today.”
An interview with one of those laid off, however, sheds some light on just how the Times may have suppressed the spread of information surrounding its plans. The now-ex-staffer says that he received a call late yesterday from the human resources department, telling him that he was to attend a mandatory meeting this morning; he knew what that was about.
The staffer later spoke with his supervisor about his invitation to what turned out to be a layoff meeting. The supervisor, he says, was unaware that the staffer was on the list of employees set to depart the payroll.
It’s unclear whether the paper systematically kept its managers guessing about the fate of their charges, although at a place that values secrecy as greatly as the Washington Times, an out-and-out blackout isn’t unthinkable.
Another staffer at the paper spotted an underhanded aspect to the proceedings: “They made these calls after business hours without talking to managers,” says the employee, who describes a chaotic series of events last evening: phone calls flying back and forth between employees and in-the-dark managers and few answers about what was taking place. “It was stunning,” says the staffer, who held onto his post.
“Based on the place’s history, you knew things weren’t going to be handled well, but this was handled worse,” says the ousted employee.