Priority Shifts

Newspapers in Education programs are getting lost in the JOA shuffle.

Moreover, even teachers who've liked programs such as "All of Us," a multicultural lesson plan from the Post that earns high marks, tend not to sign up for them again the next year; the librarian says only one instructor at the school uses NIE annually. As for the librarian herself, she ordered newspapers for the library at the beginning of the school year only to subsequently cancel the subscriptions. "It was a waste," she says. "Even if you only wanted it for one day a week, they'd send you several days' worth. You asked for one paper, they'd give you five -- and the Sunday paper was even worse. We didn't ask for the Sunday paper, but we were getting ten of them that nobody was using. It was like they were pushing them on you whether you wanted them or not."

Those days are probably over, but we don't know what will replace them yet. DNA's Nolan predicts that some form of NIE will be ready to roll in time for the start of the next school year. "This is an important area, and it will not be overlooked," he says. "But right now our focus for the next thirty to sixty days is the combined launch of the new weekend products and communicating the story to our advertisers."

Speaking of which: Post-JOA ad rates at the dailies won't be formally announced until April 2 and 3, but early signs suggest that they may turn out to be even higher than expected. A representative of a major advertiser who shall remain nameless says he was quoted per-square-inch contract fees more than five times higher than those the firm paid in the good old days. If that's accurate (and in recent days, DNA reps have been backing off those numbers), some noteworthy defections could be in the offing. Go ahead, Jake Jabs; stick it to 'em.

Fred Harper

In the meantime, Post editorial employees are learning that any increased profits for Post owner Dean Singleton may not be coming their way. MediaNews, Singleton's company, agreed to open negotiations with the Denver Newspaper Guild for a new contract, even though the existing Post accord isn't set to expire until the end of 2002 -- but last week word swept through the newsroom that editorial guild members wouldn't be getting the three percent raises that the business employees at DNA will receive annually through 2003 as the result of a deal signed in January. Guild president Tony Mulligan says such panic is premature; talks are ongoing, and nothing has been finalized. But paranoia is understandable given the announcement last week about benefit packages for non-union workers at the Post. On the bright side, these employees will be able to take advantage of a plan to match some 401K contributions for the first time, and assorted pension formulas have been improved. But non-union Posters who'd previously had 100 percent of their health-insurance premiums covered will now be stuck paying 20 percent -- which many see as the equivalent of a sizable pay cut. Reportedly, these alterations are intended to bring the Post into line with "industry standards."

Post editor Glenn Guzzo, one of the many editorial-department supervisors, columnists and others these changes will affect, acknowledges that even though some employees seemed either happy or neutral about the new benefits package, "I think it's fair to say that a clear majority see it as negative, because the negative part is immediate and the positive part is down the road." Guzzo numbers himself among those with "mixed feelings."

Six-day-a-week News subscribers who recently received notices from the DNA about new subscription terms know how he feels -- and that includes me. In the past, I received copies of the News each day except Saturday. But beginning in April, the Saturday edition will be the only one the News publishes each weekend -- and because of that, my subscription has been changed to a "Tuesday through Sunday delivery cycle" that omits the Monday paper. Why is this a ripoff? Because I'll still technically be paying for a Sunday News even though it won't exist; the Sunday paper will be entirely the province of the Post except for a single News editorial page inserted into it. In other words, the price I'm charged today for six newspapers a week I'll be forking over for five newspapers plus one page. I also subscribe to the Post, so I'll be paying for the Sunday paper twice.

This JOA's getting better all the time.

Editorially correct: Over time, I've sensed that the Post is much more willing to publish corrections than is the News -- a suspicion that was confirmed when the News took nearly a month to concede that it shouldn't have claimed some candidates mentioned in an October 22 voters' guide were running unopposed when they actually faced minor-party competitors. So when three News staffers -- Marc Shulgold, M.E. Sprengelmeyer and Gene Amole -- either omitted a pertinent fact or flat-out erred in recent pieces concerning former Beirut hostage Tom Sutherland, I decided to conduct a little experiment and wound up with more fuel for my fire.

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