Colorado Independent staffers warned not to talk about layoffs

The Center for Independent Media wants staffers to zip it -- zip it good.

Hope I didn't get Cara DeGette into trouble.

DeGette is the former editor and current senior writer with the Colorado Independent, a news-and-information website affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Independent Media. After news surfaced yesterday about sweeping layoffs at the Independent and its sister site, the Minnesota Independent, I reached out to David Bennahum, the Center's CEO and president, who engaged in a Q&A to accompany the blog "The Colorado Independent is Downsizing But Not Disappearing." Afterward, however, I was able to reach DeGette, who offered her take for a second blog, "Cara DeGette on Layoffs at the Colorado Independent." Then, this morning, Jim Romenesko's indispensable media news page on the Poynter Institute's website published a memo from CIM deputy program director Robin Marty warning that employees who talk to the media about restructuring may be fired. That's a mighty hard line for an organization whose mission statement includes the following passage: "The Center views an informed citizenry as a fundamental principle of civil society and American democracy; in the words of the Supreme Court in Garrison v. Louisiana: 'Speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.'"

If the time stamp on the missive as published by Romenesko is accurate, DeGette spoke to yours truly before this dictate went out. That should mean she's safe -- but who knows? Read the memo below. -- Michael Roberts

Topic: Memos Sent to Romenesko Date/Time: 11/12/2008 8:22:20 AM Title: CIM staffers warned about discussing layoffs Posted By: Jim Romenesko

Memo to Center for Independent Media employess

Hi, everyone. I know the last 24 hours have been a lot to think about. We also understand that one of the the assets of online media is that everyone knows lots of reporters, and has established very close relationships with their media, both local and national. I need to ask you all to please not respond to media questions about the CIM and our restructuring process. If you receive any calls or emails, please forward that information on to me so I can direct inquiries to the proper channel. It is imperative that you do not talk to the media yourself about this issue. Any violation of this will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Thank you for your assistance in this, and one again, thank you all for continuing on with us. If you have any questions, please do hesitate to contact me.

Robin Marty Deputy Program Director Center for Independent Media