Friday, November 18, 2005

Mr. T is here to save the day. Did you get the memo?

Instead of the computer-generated woman's voice that goes along with GPS systems in cars, soon you'll be able to have Mr. T scream at you to turn left at the next light. You can click to hear a couple examples on the link. Burt Reynolds and Dennis Hopper are two others who will give their voices, but neither can both help and threaten you like T. A GPS system that screams at you while you're trying to find your way around an unfamiliar city might not be the best idea, but it would still be a cool thing to have. I might be understating that last part.

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With layoffs in journalism more and more frequent, from Romenesko, I give you the "Memo of the Future" by Ken Fuson. Fuson is a columnist for the Des Moines Register. It's funny, yet scary at the same time. Fortunately, my paper hasn't gotten into the game others have. We're not hiring, but at least we're not firing. Yet.


As you are aware, these are troubling times in our industry and at our newspaper. Energy prices are soaring, health care costs are rising, and yesterday's announcement that Google has figured out a way to wrap fish over the Internet had made it increasingly difficult for us to maintain our 30 percent profit margin and keep Wall Street happy.

Therefore, it is with great sadness that I, your editor, announce the layoff of 159 people in our newsroom. These people will be offered a generous severance package, featuring a fabulous retirement cake, our hearty thanks for their many years of toil, and 10 percent off their newspaper subscription.

But we must look ahead. The layoffs will leave us with one full-time reporter, Billy Reston, who just graduated from Lincoln High School and says he is healthy enough not to require medical insurance. Billy's job responsibilities will be split among reporting, editing, photography, and keeping our Web page updated every 30 seconds.

Billy's younger brother, Bobby, will handle newspaper deliveries on his bicycle. Billy will be responsible for paying him and handling all liability insurance.

This decision will have absolutely no impact on the quality of the newspaper our cherished readers will receive. I have it on good authority, from studying the memos of other editors throughout the country, that it doesn't matter how many people you lay off or buy out, or how many years of experience they have, quality always remains at the same extraordinarily high, prize-winning level. (FYI: Billy will also devote roughly 75 percent of his weekends to entering contests. Bobby will lick the stamps.)

Our operating committee is holding an emergency retreat this weekend in Paris (great travel deals since the troubles!) to discuss future strategies. Please keep in mind that we will always work in the best interests of our shareholders, advertisers, readers and employees -- well, employee.


Your Editor

P.S. We could use some volunteers to conduct the United Way campaign. Billy?


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