By: Joe Strupp
If employees at the San Jose Mercury News need certain new office supplies, they may be out of luck for a while. According to a staff-wide memo sent out last week by Managing Editor David Satterfield, the Knight Ridder flagship has put a freeze on the purchase of some items until at least the end of June. “And think twice before printing out those 300-page reports,” Satterfield advised.
The memo also noted, “We’ll still travel, but we need to be judicious about it.”
Satterfield confirmed to E&P that he sent the May 4 memo, which he says was needed to keep costs low as the industry hits financial problems and the local economy remains troubled.
“We’ve had real hard times,” he said about the San Jose area and Silicon Valley, which is still recovering from the dot-com crash of several years ago. “We just said, let’s try to get through May and June with existing supplies. It is just a way to cut back expenses. I don?t think it’s a huge amount of money, but you’ve got to get it where you can.”
Satterfield also noted that the freeze on supplies is not limited to editorial. “I don’t think it will have much impact on how people do their jobs,” he added.
But Luther Jackson, executive officer of the San Jose Newspaper Guild CWA Local 39098, said he has heard from several guild members who were concerned about the directive. He said worries have arisen over how it might affect the paper’s quality.
“I think it is critically important that our members have the equipment to do their jobs,” Jackson told E&P. “For the paper to remain strong, our members need to have the tools and equipment with which to do their jobs. The higher the quality, the more people will read it.”
Satterfield said he understood the concerns, but pointed out that anyone can seek an exception if they truly need more supplies. “We will not cut out paper and pens,” he said. “But if someone wants to go out and buy a new tape recorder, we will find one in the building they can use.”
In the memo, Satterfield also wrote: “We’ll still travel, but we need to be judicious about it. … We’re going to try to get through May and June with existing supplies — the exceptions are copy paper and toner. …If you really need something that we don’t have, please let [Deputy Managing Editor] Steve Wright know and we’ll find a way to accommodate your request.”