EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth in a series of Monday odes that chronicle the legacy newsroom. Each is written from different first-person perspective. Together they create the mumbled narrative of a special and sadly contracting culture. The author, Don Nelson, has been a newsman for almost 50 years.
To see previous poems:
CEO, IN THE CATBIRD SEAT
You wouldn’t believe the bonus
I’m getting this year.
We lost a boatload of money
In every market, but less
Than we would have,
Because I eliminated jobs
And consolidated operations
And slashed benefits
And gutted pension funds
And pimped for Wall Street
Because it is my job
To maximize shareholder value.
Our debt load would bankrupt
Many third-world countries.
It doesn’t matter.
Our stock tanks, the board loves me.
Our circulation drops, the board adores me.
Our advertising revenues plummet, half the board
Wants to sleep with me
Because I will do whatever it takes
To protect their dividends.
When I add a couple of vice-presidents;
We’ve got a lot to do.
Fat to cut. Functions to streamline.
Severance packages to fabricate.
Transitional strategies to invent.
Bonuses for everyone!
We have a growth plan:
We acquire failing companies
From desperate sellers for rock bottom prices,
And suck the marrow out of their bones
To cover this quarter’s shortfall,
And leave communities, and counties, and entire states
With zombie newspapers or
None at all, if that pencils out.
I go to conventions and make speeches
About doing “more with less”
And intra-market operational efficiencies
And cross-platform synergies
And the digital imperative.
I never talk about people.
We are not in the people business.
I don’t talk about readers because
I don’t know any readers.
I know metrics and P&L and ROI
And the board chairman’s favorite Scotch.
I was once E&P’s Publisher of the Year.
And got fired the next month
By a guy at corporate
Who used to be beet farmer.
When the dark side beckoned
I was ready.