More fluff, fewer writers -- the Star. THIS is news????

Dateline: Wed 20 Dec 2006

Blog reader/writer Ms. Cynical noted in this space a couple days ago that she had received a mail-in survey about the Star's new "product." That's the one replacing the Sunday feature sections, to debut in January, called IndySunday.

Taking Down Words got the scoop on the online survey the Star apparently ran yesterday; how could I have missed it? Yawn. Anyhow, TDW was ever alert and here is the survey according to her, or check it online:

http://www.takingdownwords.com/

Here's the pitch:

"Dear Panel Advisor,

"Thank you for your continued support of The Indianapolis Star Advisory Panel.

"We hope you'll enjoy sharing your opinions in our latest survey, which will ask for your feedback on a new magazine we will be introducing in our newspaper called "IndySunday".

"We expect to launch this new publication in January 2007 and are currently finalizing its content and layout. Please take a few minutes to look at the prototype of the proposed section and complete the survey.

"Click here to take the survey

"Thank you for your participation. We value your feedback!

"Sincerely,

"Dawn Summers, Panel Director

"The Indianapolis Star Advisory Board"

So what does it mean? More newspapering by desperation. The Star for some time had aimed to fold its current feature sections into an INTake type product. The goal was to get rid of as many feature writers and editors along the way -- many of them are 40 years of age or more, and in G-land, they're ancient and disposable.

However, the rumor is that most of the feature writers who had been on PIPS -- personal improvement plans for the unintiated, also a management prelude to canning employees -- suddenly got off their PIPs. Guess the Fat Puppets etc. figure they need the bodies to staff the new section, until it can get launched. Then the dumping plan can begin anew. (Or as one reader said -- sure hope the Star puts plenty of AEDs in the features department, because they're going to be dying in there).

Managing editor Dennis Ryerson sends out weekly emails letting staffers know that other papers are laying off reporters. So lay off, already.

The very sad truth is, none of this is funny. These are people's lives and work and careers and futures we are talking about. How can these monsters in management sleep at night?

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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