Talk about feeding the hand that bites you: Current and former Star Tribune newsroom workers will buy an ad next week in their paper recognizing not only the 26 workers management is purging in a reorganization plan, but the estimated 140 laid off or bought out since January 2007.
The slightly bigger-than-quarter-page ad, scheduled to appear Tuesday, is arts writer Mary Abbe’s brainchild. Researcher/reporter Jane Friedmann, business reporter Dee DePass and health team editor Dave Hage helped compile names, arrange financing and get publisher Mike Klingensmith’s approval.
Despite the painful circumstances, Friedmann says the ad is meant as a public tribute, not a print protest. The list of names includes only Stribbers who have given their permission; 92 have said yes. Organizers were able to get a 50-percent-off early-week rate, allowing them to enlarge the $3,225, three-column ad to fit in all the fallen.
At its peak, the Strib newsroom employed more than 400; after the cuts, the count is closer to the mid-200s. Some of the 26 workers are still on the job, but almost all will be out by Feb. 11.
Surviving staffers are donating despite taking a pay cut in last year’s bankruptcy, and ex-staffers are giving despite bigger financial hits.
“It does feel a little strange paying the Star Tribune for an ad honoring people whose income they have truncated,” Friedmann acknowledges. “While I strongly disagree with letting this recent group of professionals go, I wish the company well. A little addition to the company’s bottom line doesn’t produce too much cognitive dissonance for me. After all, I’ll get a tiny bit of that ad revenue back in my paycheck some day.”