Unhappy Holidays

A few exiting editorial employees of Copley Newspapers are being allowed by management to say their glum good-byes in print. Union-Tribune "readers' representative" Gina Lubrano bid her polite adieu last week, beginning with "It wouldn't surprise me if you missed the article that is changing my life forever. On Nov. 2, The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a six-line announcement on Page 3 of the Business section saying that 67 employees who have been with the company 30 years or longer had been offered 'voluntary retirement incentive packages.' That includes me." Lubrano went on to laud her also departing support staffer. "Over the last 10 years, many of you have been telephone pals with my assistant, Diana Mortenson, to whom I will be forever grateful for her patience, good humor and diligence on behalf of readers. She ended 40 years of employment as a Union-Tribune employee on Friday, too." Another longtime employee, arts writer Preston Turegano, says his final column was spiked.

Back at the Copley-owned Canton (OH) Repository, Rick Senften, who has written the paper's "Mustard Seeds" column since 1980, wasn't as politically correct as Lubrano in announcing the end of his career. "Now, it's time to say goodbye, well before I'm ready," he wrote. "The Repository is on the sales block, and I agreed to a buyout to help the company reduce the payroll. Copley Newspapers, the company for whom we've enjoyed working since 2000, wants to make sure the paper is attractive to potential buyers, and some positions must go for that to occur." He added, "Yeah, it hurts a lot, all the more each day as the calendar counts down to Dec. 29, my last day."

Then readers chimed in on the paper's website. One attacked "the bumblers at Copley" for offering buyouts "as they attempt to put their financial house in order -- a house that they ransacked themselves, no matter what spin they [want] to put on it." Proclaimed another, "I think we should all prepare to say 'goodbye' to the Repository. I don't see anything good ahead for this newspaper. If you're going to buy out employees who've worked there for 35 years or so, you can usually kiss the rest of them goodbye too. Everyone better get a computer, and learn to use it. This will really hurt those that need this paper the most; the poor, who don't have pc's, the elderly, who look forward everyday to reading their paper."

But in the midst of all the Copley cutbacks, publisher David Copley continues to back his favorite charities, including Hollywood's American Cinematheque; Copley Newspapers was listed as a top-tier "platinum sponsor" -- along with Warner Bros., Budweiser, Acura, Lyn and Norman Lear, Vanity Fair, and Giorgio Armani -- of the group's October tribute to actor George Clooney.

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