The Washington Post exists today because of cost-cutting and quality improvements instituted by publisher Katharine Weymouth. But that hasn’t stopped some Post reporters and the Newspaper Guild from complaining about her compensation.
For her efforts, Weymouth received more than $2 million last year, mostly in bonuses tied to profitability. The New York Post reported that reporters are “fuming” over her pay, given that the paper has been cutting costs, in part by offering reporters buyouts to leave.
“We’ve been through such difficult times, and the publisher continues to take these big bonuses when we haven’t had a respectable raise since 2008,” Newspaper Guild Co-chair Fredrick Kunkle said.
The reason those reporters have jobs in the first place is that Weymouth has turned the paper around from losing as much as $82 million a year to operating at a profit. The whining is typical of unions’ entitlement mentality: that employees have a right to their jobs and raises even if their company is about to go under because of heavy losses.
Besides cutting costs, as outlined in my story Washington Post Has Become a Model for the Media
, Weymouth has turned the paper into a fair and balanced publication under Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. Conservatives have taken notice. Readers now get a report they can trust. That has to be helping to improve circulation.
As it happens, had Weymouth continued as a lawyer at Williams & Connolly instead of accepting the publisher job in February 2008, she likely would have become a partner and made in the range of $2 million a year.
In going up against the unions and slothful practices, Weymouth takes after her grandmother, Katharine Graham. Back when Graham was publisher, under a contract with Columbia Typographical Union 101, the paper had to pay Post printers to set what was known as “bogus type.” When advertisers provided material already set in type, the Post’s printers would reset it and then throw their work away.
In October 1975, Graham stood up to the unions, allowing the pressmen’s contract to expire after the union would not agree to changes that would eliminate wasteful work rules. Within hours of the expiration of the contract on Oct. 1, pressmen tried to shut down the paper by sabotaging the presses, setting one on fire. They jumped night foreman James H. Hover, beat him up, and threatened to kill him, according to Chalmers Roberts’ “The Washington Post: The First 100 Years.” Hover had to have 12 stitches.
To keep the paper coming out, non-union employees wrote stories, took classified ads, and ran the presses. With these employees, Graham manned machines that bundled and wrapped newspapers as they came off the presses. I know: As a Washington Post reporter, I was a member of the Newspaper Guild but was outraged by the pressmen’s actions. I manned those same machines after midnight with her.
The whining about Weymouth’s compensation is emblematic of unions’ mentality. It illustrates why unions, which served a legitimate purpose before fair labor laws were enacted, now represent only 7 percent of private sector employees.
Instead of acting like spoiled brats, reporters should be thankful that the granddaughter of the legendary Katharine Graham has come to their rescue, saving the paper from almost certain extinction.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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