It’s Projo’s Froma Harrop vs. Krugman, Drum and Grove

May 12th, 2011 at 7:27 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Congratulations to The Providence Journal’s Froma Harrop, who is a finalist for a 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the commentary category.

And what august company she’s in: Harrop’s fellow finalists are Paul Krugman of The New York Times, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum and former Intel CEO Andy Grove. The winner will be announced June 28 in New York City.

Harrop, who lives in Providence and whose column is syndicated in nearly 200 papers, was also a Loeb finalist in 2004. She was a business writer for the Projo before becoming a columnist and joining its editorial board.

The Journal doesn’t appear to have a page for Harrop’s column, but her syndicate collects them here.

I’ll add that Froma and I met recently while appearing together on a Rhode Island PBS program about the future of news (it airs May 25) and she’s a lovely lady – we both love Instapaper, too. Good luck!

(photo: Creators Syndicate)

Projo union OKs new 3-year contract with AH Belo

February 16th, 2011 at 6:43 pm by under General Talk

The Providence Journal’s largest union has approved a new three-year contract with the newspaper that will freeze wages and increase medical costs but that supporters also hope will protect some jobs.

The final vote today was 147-50 in favor, Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill told me this evening after union officials tallied the ballots. Turnout among eligible voters was about 83%.

“This was difficult for everybody,” Hill said. “Even the people who voted yes didn’t like it. We lost ground economically under this deal – even though there’s no pay cut, our health costs are going to go up, in some cases significantly.

“So in that sense, I think even the yeses were holding their noses,” he said.

The new contract covers the Guild’s roughly 250 workers. It will take effect on April 1 and continue through Dec. 31, 2013; the union’s previous pact expired at the end of last year. The Journal is the only one of A.H. Belo’s three papers whose workers are unionized.

“There was a significant amount of upset about this, but the [newspaper] business all over New England and all over the country is in tough shape right now,” Hill said, adding: “My standard line is [this contract] is a product of its times, and those times in the newspaper business are bad.”

Hill, a veteran Journal reporter, put the situation more starkly in a letter to his members last week that noted the paper’s daily circulation has fallen below 100,000 and its advertising revenue is down by more than half.

“You don’t have to look at the empty desks in your work areas, or walk past the third-floor offices full of file boxes instead of people, to be reminded of how many of our friends were laid off in 2008-09,” he said.

For more details on the contract, check out my original post about it and my follow-up interviews with Hill from Feb. 2 and Feb. 11.

Projo union to vote Wednesday on new contract

February 11th, 2011 at 10:39 am by under General Talk

Reporters and other rank-and-file members of The Providence Journal’s largest union will vote Wednesday on whether to approve a new three-year contract that would freeze wages and raise medical costs but may protect some jobs, the union’s chief told me this morning.

The Providence Newspaper Guild will hold a meeting for its 250 members on Monday, followed by question-and-answer sessions Tuesday and then a formal all-day vote Wednesday, union president John Hill told

The votes will be counted Wednesday evening. “I don’t want to go to bed not knowing” the outcome, said Hill, a longtime Journal reporter.

Asked what he was hearing from members about the proposed agreement, Hill said: “Nobody’s happy about it. It sucks.”

But, he continued, the bargaining committee felt this was the best deal it could secure, particularly when newspaper employees elsewhere are taking wage cuts as opposed to the proposed freeze at the Projo.

To demonstrate how much the Journal has changed since the last contract was negotiated in 2007, Hill went into the paper’s archive to compare its Jan. 25 edition from that year with the one from this year.

The Jan. 25, 2007, Projo was 64 pages long; the Jan. 25, 2011, edition was down to just 36 pages.

The paper’s revenue has fallen by double-digits and its head count has been reduced by more than 100 over that time period. ”For us to get a freeze – I know a lot of people aren’t thrilled about it, and I don’t blame them for not being thrilled about it, but I do think in the context of what’s going on, it’s the best of a bad situation,” Hill said.

The union chief also expressed cautious optimism about the potential that better days are ahead for the newspaper industry. As publishers return to profitability, that could draw in new owners – perhaps including employee owners, as is the case in Portland – and help the union get back some of what it has given up recently, Hill suggested.

AP’s new reporter takes Norway-to-Providence path

February 7th, 2011 at 3:23 pm by under General Talk

A warm welcome to the newest member of the local press corps, Ian MacDougall, who started work today at The Associated Press’ Providence bureau on Westminster Street.

MacDougall will replace Eric Tucker, who is leaving for a new posting in Washington, D.C., after nearly six years in Rhode Island, where he specialized in law enforcement coverage. Tucker’s last day will be later this month.

MacDougall traveled a unique path to Providence, where he joins veteran scribe Michelle Smith; his last job with the AP was at its bureau in Oslo, Norway. So at least he’s ready for the weather here.

No word yet on whether the wire service will hire a third reporter for the Providence bureau to replace Ray Henry, whose position has been empty since he left for Atlanta about a year ago.

Eric Tucker leaving AP’s Providence bureau

November 22nd, 2010 at 3:36 pm by under General Talk

Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker is leaving the wire service’s Providence bureau to take a job with the AP in Washington, D.C. Tucker told friends about his decision today; an AP spokesman declined to comment.

Tucker joined the local AP bureau in May 2005 after working in New York and New Jersey. His focus has been on legal issues and the courts – he was a leader in coverage of the lead paint case – but like any AP reporter he covers anything and everything depending on the news of the day. I’ll miss working with him and I think the rest of the Rhode Island press corps will, too.

Tucker’s move to D.C. follows the departure of another one of AP’s local reporters, Ray Henry, who took a job in the Atlanta bureau last winter. Henry’s position hasn’t been filled, which has left Tucker and his able colleague Michelle R. Smith manning the bureau on their own for the last few months.

The AP instituted a hiring freeze back in 2008 – I’m not sure if it’s still in effect, but it seems unlikely to me they would leave Smith all alone once Tucker goes. Still, a two-person bureau is a sign of the times – less than a decade ago the wire service had five reporters, an editor and a photographer on staff here.

Update: The Providence AP bureau has some illustrious alums, including CNN’s John King, New York Times senior editor Alan Flippen and – closer to home – WRNI’s redoubtable Ian Donnis.