Take It Back

May 25, 2012 by

Since I am a Twitter addict, I caught David Carr’s tweet of his Media Decoder blog post on the Times-Picayune‘s massive downsizing and found myself filled with dread.

The downsizing itself was not unexpected, I’m sorry to say. What came out of left field about this was the way it was done, that Newhouse Newspapers didn’t possess the slightest courtesy – hell, neither the brass cojones nor steel ovaries – in telling their employees themselves what was going on. To have learned this via Twitter and another publication for most of these hardworking people was a serious insult. The insult carries over into the community at large as well, as the death of thousands of cuts leads to the inevitable conclusion: the Times-Picayune‘s only availability to readers being behind an online paywall – as if, indeed, laptops grow on trees in the Ninth Ward.

Although a number of the paper’s employees weren’t too demoralized to partake of free drinks at Molly’s last night, I do wonder if substantial numbers of them, if not large numbers of soon-to-be laid-off employees at another downsizing paper down the road, will ever possess the organizational capacity – not to mention the chutzpah – to do what was documented in Argentina in the film The Take.

In the wake of Argentina’s dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They’re part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system.

But Freddy, the president of the new worker’s co-operative, and Lalo, the political powerhouse from the Movement of Recovered Companies, know that their success is far from secure. Like every workplace occupation, they have to run the gauntlet of courts, cops and politicians who can either give their project legal protection or violently evict them from the factory.

There is currently a SaveThePicayune Facebook¬†and Twitter, but I don’t know how long those can simply collect people’s laments and complaints. I’ve been at it for a couple of days now and I’m already getting tired of it. Newhouse probably won’t really listen to those.

Some days, though, one cares so much that it hurts. And in that, I agree with this guy.


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