The Star Tribune trades employees for Web development?

It seems that there is no time when it is a good time to be in the newspaper game just now, at least if you’re a Star Tribune employee. The beleaguered newspaper recently emerged from bankruptcy, only to declare Monday that they are cutting 100 positions, as MinnPost’s David Brauer reported Monday. Brauer quoted Strib Newspaper Guild co-chair Graydon Royce as saying that “up to 30” positions will be lost on the editorial side; According to the Associated Press, that’s about 10 percent of the newsroom and editorial staff.

Brauer republishes the memos making the announcements here and teases out from the memos’ thick corporatese that the paper isn’t just cutting back, it’s also expanding: Specifically, there will be “a major effort to redesign StarTribune.com in ways that will improve both usage and commerce.” Online journalist Patrick Thornton, in conversation with Brauer on Twitter, expressed concerns that no doubt many are feeling: “I hope they get this ‘major redesign’ right. Otherwise they wasted millions and cost people their jobs.”

Almost without notice, the Twin Cities lost roughly 1,250 janitors last October; the fact is just now coming to light thanks to John Keller, executive director of the nonprofit Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, as reported by the Associated Press. It seems that Immigration and Customs Enforcement audited a company called ABM Industries, who demanded paperwork from employees proving their immigration status, and then fired the ones who failed to comply.

Sasha Aslanian of Minnesota Public Radio digs into the story, interviewing Keller, who provides a glimpse into the impact of this on the people who lost their jobs: “There was a lot of fear that even showing up to talk about your documents that you were going to be arrested and detained by ICE. People thinking that they shouldn’t go to work, extremely concerned about their children. Almost always the first concerns in these circumstances — even when your children are US born — is, what if I go to work and don’t come back?” Aslanian also talks to one of the employees who retained her job, who estimates that 80 percent of her coworkers were fired.

Al Franken already has responded to the House of Representatives passing the health care reform bill this past weekend; specifically, he responded to the last-minute jockeying that restricts abortion coverage. Pat Kessler of WCCO quotes the senator as saying, “[T]his doesn’t even allow a woman to buy with their own money insurance coverage that provides that kind of care for her in the exchange. And I just think that’s not right.” Many local Twitter users Monday were likewise unsatisfied, tweeting and retweeting links to a story by Robin Marty on RH Reality Check that retold of her own experiences as an example of “women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried,” and require dilation and curettage to remove the fetal materials. According to Marty, the Stupak Amendment would have the unintended consequences of allowing insurance companies to deny payment for this procedure, saying that were she to find herself in the same circumstances, “I hope the insurers don’t force me to carry that fetus until I medically harm myself, all for the sake of saying that they do not cover abortion services.”

Anybody who has had to look after kids knows how squirrelly they can be, and a Golden Valley day care provider came up with a novel solution: safety pins. KARE11 provides the bare details of the story: “According to the criminal complaint, she told officers she would take the child’s arms out of the sleeves and then pin the sleeves behind the child’s back, creating a straight jacket. Meinhardt also says she would pin the child’s pajama legs together at the calves to restrict movement. The zippers on the pajamas were also pinned so the child couldn’t get out.”

The Star Tribune’s Chao Xiong offers the physical details, describing how the day care provider, Arvilla Meinhardt, was “quite pale” and was “sweating profusely” when the police knocked at her door, and how the officers discovered a “bowl filled with large safety pins and also saw a pair of pajamas with pin holes in its sides.” Xiong quotes the Golden Valley police chief: “I wouldn’t rule out future charges.”

In today’s Tim Pawlenty news, the governor managed to shoot a trophy buck at Saturday’s hunting opener, according to KSAX. Unfortunately, because of a schedule that had him appear in Iowa later that day, he could not track the wounded animal, and left his hunting party behind to complete the hunt; the story does not say whether they ever located the deer. Pawlenty will be headed to Florida on Friday, according to the Associated Press, where he will be speaking to The Forum Club of Southwest Florida. No word on whether he plans to hunt anything while he is there.

The Tom Petters trial remains strange, thank goodness, as that means it’s fascinating. Monday saw a fellow named Larry Reynolds put on the stand, and Reynolds has, as John Welbes of the Pioneer Press puts it, “a lengthy criminal past.” How so? In a related story, Welbes breaks down the man’s history. For one thing, Reynolds isn’t his real name, it’s Larry Reservitz, but he was given the new name when he was put into a witness protection program by the feds in the 1980s. It seems a contract was put out on his life after he wore a wire to aid an investigation “of a plan to defraud the state of Massachusetts”; previously, he had been an attorney in Boston with a penchant for filing false insurance claims. Although Petters never knew about Reynold’s past misdeeds, he must have had an instinct about the man, as he at once put him to work creating fake invoices, according to Reynolds. Petters’ attorneys demanded a mistrial, as the judge “repeatedly upheld prosecutors’ objections to questions about Reynold’s history.” The judge almost as quickly rejected that demand.

While the Timberwolves’ loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors was no cause for celebration at home, it did encourage a triumphant column from the U.K. Mirror, which has a sports feature called Britwatch. As the name suggests, the column tracks British residents in international sports, and, in this case, they were especially impressed by London-born Kelenna Azubuike, who scored 31 points against the Wolves. The story notes that Azubuike, who was raised in Oklahoma, is apparently not actually eligible for British citizenship, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the Mirror. As long as he’s trouncing the Wolves, they’ll go ahead and claim him.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/10/2009 - 10:37 am.

    I once had the misfortune of reading a stomach churning defense of partial birth abortion that Ms. Marty wrote.

    Others may have read the same thing and come to a differing conclusion, but personally, I find little to recommend Marty as a competent, reasoned source of information on the topic at hand.

  2. Submitted by Bob Collins on 11/10/2009 - 11:15 am.

    //Otherwise they wasted millions and cost people their jobs.

    This is the unreported angle of Twin Cities media, the extent to which people in newsrooms hold their Web counterparts personally responsible for their demise.

    I had to laugh when I read this because about a year ago somebody at the Star Tribune determined that it would be a fabulous idea to put the classified ads section in with another section, and have them upside down.

    I don’t recall anyone suggesting that person took their jobs.

    Whether legacy media newsies want to admit it or not, there is less and less of a line of editorial (say it with a quiet reverence) and design.

    Any organization that engages in “us vs. them” within its own ranks is bound to fail.

  3. Submitted by Wayne Van Cleve on 11/10/2009 - 01:18 pm.

    I’m thinking that since Guv Timmy is so busy going around the country with his job, and his second job (Governor of MN), that he should start hunting from a plane like his pal Sarah does.
    Doncha know.

  4. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 11/10/2009 - 02:57 pm.

    Does anyone seriously think a Strib redesign will cost millions? Let’s be a little realistic, people.

  5. Submitted by Bob Collins on 11/10/2009 - 08:32 pm.

    Heh. Maybe they’re basing it on the $80 mil the U.S. spent for recovery.gov.

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