April 24, 2009

Why is Valley Publishing seeking help?

Updated 5/3/09

I am very confused about what's happening with three Michigan newspapers. See, in March I read The Flint Journal to lay off 82, and reorganization plans for the Flint newspaper, Bay City Times and Saginaw News.

The April 24th Flint newspaper has an ad (see thumbnail) seeking full- and part-time reporters, part-time sports reporters, sales representatives, classified sales professionals, and customer support representatives. The same ad, which includes the logos of the three newspapers but asks that replies be sent to hr@valleypublishing.com, seeks a full-time interactive media manager and a full-time interactive media coordinator.

I can't find an online version of the ads as of 11 p.m. Friday or I'd let you see them for yourself. I think that's wrong on two counts. First, if you're seeking people with online skills shouldn't you look online too? Second, the company that asks firms to pay extra to put their jobs online should model the desired behavior by putting their ads online. (The ad was found the next day, with a publication date saying it was published April 24. It's was not up on May 3, most likely because such ads are usually 7 day buys.)

The company is described as a "Mid-Michigan Publishing and Internet News Company." Based on the hr email address, I assume it is Valley Publishing, which was created in 2003 when Advance Publications' Saginaw News and Bay City News decided to share a printing press. The building is in Bay City. A published report said 141 employees worked there in 2008.

By the way, a Great Lakes Bay Area publishing company has been advertising for nearly a week for a graphic designer(s). The headline says designer, but the first line says immediate openings for creative individuals, so I am not sure how many positions. The replies go to a blind box at The Saginaw News.

My favorite line in that ad is the one saying be comfortable working "with shifting priorities and schedules." Isn't that necessary to get any regular paycheck these days.

Oh well, I'll send off a few emails and try a few calls because I am curious. It is times like these I wish the industry was more transparent, or at least covered by a reporter.

About the updates: I published this entry before I added links to supporting articles. Those are linked now.

About the deleted comments: That's a whole 'nother post. Basically, I don't believe in anonymous slams and I do believe in fairness.


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  5. http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=1049993

  6. Here are the questions pulled from the deleted comments. I can't edit comments, so this is my way of dealing with that. Also, I had posted a reply to someone who had asked if I got my answers. That prompted an unfair label so I took my reply down. I'll post these questions over on the mlive.com site where the newspapers have requested questions go.

    Can the part-timers at the Flint Journal also work part time for Valley?

    Can those laid off apply?

    Will the current staff train their replacements?

    I also was asked if I applied. I have not applied to any of the advertised jobs.

  7. It's hard to find this over on mlive so I'm going to make it easy for folks. Here's what mcwFlint asked over on mlive and the editors answer:

    Posted by mcwflint on 05/04/09 at 2:10PM at http://www.mlive.com/baycityforward/index.ssf/2009/04/executive_editor_john_hiner_ta.html

    Valley Publishing recently advertised some available jobs. Can the current part-timers at the Flint Journal, Bay City Times, or The Saginaw News also work part time for Valley?

    Can those laid off apply?

    Can former staff apply?

    What training is available?

    The ad describes jobs requiring video, audio and blogging skills. What format do these clips need to be in?

    Posted by EdJohnHiner on 05/04/09 at 8:31PM
    Thanks for your questions.
    I think there may be a bit of confusion due to the names; Valley Publishing, which accepted the applications, is the site of the printing facility for The Bay City Times and for The Saginaw News. It also will be home to a combined production facility, where pages will be designed, photos processed and ads built for all three newspapers.

    There are jobs available at all three papers and at Valley; it seemed like it might be more confusing to have all applications coming in to one of the three papers.

    To directly answer the question, I have not considered the possibility that part-timers would work at several sites, but I think it is most likely that current part-timers would work only in one site. They also can apply for full-time positions.

    To answer the next two questions: Applications are open to all people who fit the qualifications listed in the advertisement.

    I'm not sure how to answer the training question. We would endeavor to hire folks who can demonstrate the skills needed to do the listed jobs well.

    Naturally, we would offer appropriate training to those already in jobs to accommodate changing technology.

    In terms of the kind of format video and audio need to be in, I would imagine mpegs or .wav files for video and mp3 files for audio, but I'll have to confirm that.

    Last is an answer to a question you didn't ask, but that some people may be wondering: If the three newspapers laid off employees, why are we hiring?

    The answer is that, in addition to layoffs, remaining employees had their pay and benefits reduced to levels we felt would allow us to remain competitive. Given those circumstances, many employees have told us they intend to leave.

    Again, thanks for your questions.

    John Hiner, executive editor

  8. I've followed a Valley Publishing white van around Bay City and noticed it drove up and down each street in a grid-like pattern. These white vans have extra large tops and racks for tons of electronic geat -- a month ago, I noticed the same van being detailed for MDOT at a local dealer on Euclid. Interesting vehicle interior, indeed. For what is Valley Publishing scanning the city?