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Denver Post owner Digital First Media accused of dumping employees, lying about plans

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This image from the Digital First Media Facebook page was accompanied by the following message: "Change is in store as we leave 2013 and enter the new year, including the employment landscape."
On Monday, we reported about layoffs at Denver Post owner Digital First Media, as well as the firm's refusal to discuss them -- a strategy that grew heavy-handed when a DFM attorney sent media blogger Jim Romenesko a legal threat for posting a graphic from an internal document listing those on the pink-slip list.

Since then, Myra Bronstein, a DFM employee who tells us she quit last month "in protest because of" the company's "pattern of mistreating and deceiving workers," provides more information about the number of workers let go and the behind-the-scenes machinations at a firm facing plenty of financial challenges.

Bronstein, who worked as a senior quality-assurance analyst for Media News Group, the company that owned the Denver Post before merging with Digital First Media, provided us with "2015 New Staffing Org Chart," an Excel spreadsheet she says was circulated by DFM Chief Technology Officer Bob Mason. (The screen capture shared by Romenesko was made using the document.) We're referring to the assorted charts rather than including them in order to protect the privacy of the past and present employees named on it. But a Facebook message Bronstein sent to John Paton, Digital First Media's CEO, under the heading "Bob Mason's distribution of highly sensitive DFM information" offers an overview of what it contains.

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John Paton.
The message reads:
John,

I'd like to know what you think about the fact that Bob Mason, Digital First Media CTO, widely distributed a document that he authored, containing the following highly sensitive information:

• Current and upcoming staff layoffs with full names of each person -- 43 names total.
• Staff members DFM is considering laying off with full names of each person -- 19 names total.
• Retained staff members and the pods they're assigned to.
• Dead projects (Unbolt, Saxo on BANG, Design, User Testing) and retained projects (Online Saxo).
• Outside services with exact costs to be cut (Bartertown, Bright Edge, Bright Cove, Crowdy News, ERA, Email Predict).
• List and costs of outside services to keep.
• List and costs of maintenance fees.
• Building cost.

I think it's absolutely outrageous that Bob Mason, Digital First Media CTO, distributed a list with such sensitive information. In fact, my name is on that list and greatly resent it.

I'd like to know what you think about it, and what you plan to do to mitigate the damage caused by Bob Mason's distribution of this list.

Via e-mail, Bronstein notes that Paton has yet to reply to her.

The portrait Bronstein paints of Digital First Media is far from flattering. "DFM's pattern is to hire and dump both direct employees and contractors with monotonous regularity and lie about their plans," she maintains. Here are her examples of "DFM's cyclical hiring and laying off workers":

• About three months ago they abruptly dumped 5 or 6 direct employees for some mysterious reason, at which point...Bob Mason held an all-hands meeting and assured everyone that no additional layoffs were forthcoming.

• One week later, they dumped all contractors regardless of how long they had left on their contracts.

• Around the same time they trashed project Thunderdome and the huge number of staff members on that project.

• Then on June 24, as you know, around 45 employees were kicked to the curb.

Regarding the latter, their names appear in the "staff notes" section of the spreadsheet with lines struck through them. The categories from which cuts were made include "Niche Editorial," "Mobile/Ventures," "Revenue," "Verticals," "Digital Commerce and "Business Intelligence."

Continue for more about layoffs at Digital First Media.

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5 comments
RyanHealey
RyanHealey

Why on Earth Alden Capital does not simply begin the sale of ALL the newspapers region by region was rumored months ago instead of destroying them piece by piece like this causing them to be worth far less to a buyer escapes all logic.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

This cunt rag DESERVES to FAIL.

PowerCompanyLtd
PowerCompanyLtd

@RyanHealey Your point is made. Under current leadership of Mr. Singleton this asset has declined. Poor product (biased and overly authoritative or lacking any investigative independance) and poor retention of employees signal a total decline.

My guess is the Springs Gazette owner will pick up this poor paper by assuming the debt.

PowerCompanyLtd
PowerCompanyLtd

@RyanHealey Who knows for sure, but your point is made. Personally I'm waiting for the Spring's Gazette to expand its push beyond Douglas County.

I'd consider taking the paper again if one was avialable (like WW) without a partisan bias. I know WW's market is primarli\y the triving engine of our future (under 40 crowd) and thus covers weed, concerts and other more urban matters with an urban bent.

The Post is a tired and jaded newsheet that just doesnt cut it, their publisher/owner seems to take more pride in casting his image about the state vs running a decent paper attempts to meet the markets needs and retains employees with policies found in a normal corporate environment.

The Post must be a very sad place to work under Mr Singleton.

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