WEST PALM BEACH –If SunFest‘s a rite of passage into summer in West Palm Beach, so are mass firings at the Palm Beach Post.
The ritualistic May bloodletting that has followed closely the departure of snowbirds over the past few years took place again today in the nearly-empty South Dixie Highway headquarters of the Post.
By my count, about 10 workers were let go: five from the advertising department and five more from the newsroom.
It’s tough to get exact numbers these days: The Atlanta-based owners of the Post hide behind its status as a private company to avoid reporting things like personnel cuts — never mind that the paper has plastered labor cuts in other companies on the front page.
I’m told by sources inside that the 10 unlucky ones got called into the offices of supervisors about noon then were escorted out without being able to clean up their desks.
“They used the excuse that the advertising folks who were canned didn’t make their quotas of sales,” the source said. “Very few people manage to make their numbers.
“Business people in the community are no fools. They know advertising in the Post no longer gets results. The news content is so weak that nobody’s reading. It’s like to trying to sell shit.”
What’s more, Gossip Extra is told those in charge of ad sales have come up with a new product that immediately tanked.
“They’re asking ad reps to sell year-long packages to advertisers,” the source said. “So we have to go to a business and sell a one-year contract for $100,000.
“We are getting some looks. One client asked me why he would sign on without guarantee that the Post would even be around in a year.”
Even the amount of traffic to the newspaper’s website has been questioned by those who pay to have their advertisement displayed.
In a rare move, the Post‘s executive are making it impossible for outside website to estimate web traffic.
It became obvious a new round of cuts was coming when a couple of suits traveled from Atlanta in April.
More firings are expected in late September, according to the pattern.
In related news Timothy D. Burke, the Post‘s publisher who dutifully presided over the firings for more than 1,000 people from the newspaper, just spent $830,000 on a townhouse in the fancy Tierra Del Sol neighborhood.
This isn’t the first time Burke has shown a tone-deaf lack of understanding of what his employees are going through.
Two years ago we reported Burke’s daughter Riley received a $2,000 from the company’s Pathfinder Awards scholarship designed to help low-level employees’ children.
Those scholarships are, morally at least, for those for whom a couple of thousand dollars make the difference between going to college or looking for a minimum wage job.
They’re not for the children of corporate shills who’re making well into the six-figures.
Makes you wonder what it’ll take for the remaining employees of the rag to grow some pride and force a shut down of the so-called newspaper?
Yep, at this point, a good old-fashioned strike might be the only way for the remaining workers to protect themselves.
While owner Cox Media Group still hopes to sell the Post and its sister paper Palm Beach Daily News, a strike would garner national attention to the plight of newspaper employees throughout the country, and make the lives of Cox execs as miserable as the lives of their leftover workers.