Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Valley layoffs in the new and old economy

Yahoo axed 1,100 workers last week. One middle manager, Ryan Kuder, achieved his 15 second of fame by blogging his last day (Feb. 12) on Twitter. Apparently he got visibility and some job leads out of the public expression of his career trauma.

Ironically, I read about it this morning in the San Jose Mercury News in a feature article by Jessica Guynn. Ironic, in that the San Jose story (incorrectly datelined "San Francisco") appeared first in the LA Times Tuesday (since that’s where Guynn works).

Ironic, because Tuesday the Merc announced that it’s initiating another round of buyouts and/or layoffs at the paper — in addition to even more drastic cuts at its sister papers in the East Bay. One report linked this to the current slowdown in home sales.

Unlike previous slowdowns that were part of the well-understood cyclical nature of newspaper advertising (such as the one that caused me to quit newspaper reporting in 1983), there will be no recovery when this is over. The industry has failed to solve the problems facing it. In the case of the Merc, the editor who started their rethinking project has gotten the boot — apparently because her plan was too radical. The alternative to a radical decision is apparently no decision at all, i.e. Controlled Flight Into Terrain.

Dean Takahashi’s decision to jump this month from the Merc before he was pushed is looking unusually prescient. It may be a lateral move financially, but at least he’s joining an organization (VentureBeat) that’s embracing new media rather than ignoring it or fighting it.

No comments: