A Literary Critique Of Layoff Memos

Hamilton Nolan · 12/04/08 04:14PM

With so many layoffs going down today, it's a good time to take a look at how, exactly, a layoff memo should be written. Actually, any time you're critiquing a flood of layoff memos is by definition a bad time. But we'll disregard that for the moment. People need to be let down in the proper way, lest they get justifiably angry enough to put managers up against the wall. After the jump, we analyze five elements of today's memos that illustrate everything you corporate flacks need to know about firing people like us:

Get Rich Quick By Marketing To The Unemployed!

Hamilton Nolan · 11/25/08 03:34PM

Monster.com and CareerBuilder, the two biggest job-search websites, are both planning to spend millions on Super Bowl ads! They want to promote their fancy website redesigns and big plans to get everybody jobs now that there are no jobs left. This economic downturn is leaving everyone laid off, which is a great business opportunity! Or so a lot of people seem to think. But is it really? We have detected a flaw in this largest of growth industries: Marketing to the Unemployed. It seems like a great idea at first. All these people without jobs, and full of desperation! We got a press release for a new "networking" event" called "Get Canned":

CIA-NYT Connection Exposed Via Job Ad!

Hamilton Nolan · 11/24/08 09:48AM

When times get tough and employment becomes a far-fetched hope for many, it's good to know that you can still turn to the Paper of Record to direct you towards the last remaining employers. Specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency. They still need bodies! The shadowy government spymasters are the lead advertisers under the "Jobs" tab on the New York Times' website (the ad clicks straight through to their homepage). There are only two possible explanations for this. Both of them are bad. Conspiracy: The recession has forced the Times' true role as a government propaganda agent to the surface! You think Judy Miller's WMD coverage was a mistake? The paper has been promoting the CIA's position to the publi for years! Open your eyes, people! This ad is but the tip of the iceberg! The Job Market Is Even Worse Than You Thought: I mean, they couldn't even get Wal-Mart or somebody to sponsor the Jobs page? Campbell's Soup isn't hiring factory workers? Clandestine operations in the War on Terror, it seems, are the last place to get reasonable health care coverage. And Jesus Christ, you can't even make 80K for parachuting into Pakistan with a submachine gun to hunt Al-Qaeda. Times are tough.

It's A Great Time To Be A Pirate

Hamilton Nolan · 10/31/08 01:15PM

We challenge you to come up with a more badass job to have than Somali Pirate. You cannot come up with one! Except for the fact of living in a war-torn penniless country and taking your life in your hands on the high seas with no guarantee of success or mercy, it is just about the awesomest line of work ever. A million dollars in a single day? Piracy is the I-banking of a new generation! Easy money!

Sneaky Ad Industry Proudly Displays Minority Employees

Hamilton Nolan · 09/24/08 11:10AM

It turns out that the ad industry has managed to find some minority people to hire after all! The NYC Human Rights Commission has been formally on the industry's ass to hire more non-white people and stop being such insular crackers. But everybody watching assumed they would fail, because ad reporters are extremely cynical and also because the industry really didn't seem to give a fuck itself. But hey, looks like they have snagged some of those elusive employees "of color!":

Secret Layoff Talking Points Sent To Entire Company In All-Time Classic Email Fuckup

Hamilton Nolan · 09/03/08 02:47PM

Oh dear, it seems that the corporate leadership of a media agency has royally fucked up. Carat decided it had to lay off some workers. So the honchos carefully prepared secret internal talking points and strategy memos laying out exactly how they would break the news to the staff and clients, and deal with the media fallout. Then they accidentally emailed all that shit to their entire agency. Ha. Ha. Ha. The highlights are just so delicious: Lesson 1: Layoffs provide innovation, somehow. Message to clients:

Tina Brown Building Powerhouse Of Impeccable Reporting Instincts

Hamilton Nolan · 07/23/08 09:47AM

Former New Yorker editor and Princess Di grave-dancer Tina Brown has been working on a big new internet venture over at Barry Diller's IAC building for a few months now. So how's it coming along on the recruitment front? Well, she'll have the cruise ship beat covered, at least. We hear that Nicholas Wapshott, currently a columnist with the NY Sun, has been telling people at parties that he's going to join Brown's startup. Wapshott's claim to fame: when he came to America in September of 2001, he decided to sail over in style on the gaudy QE2-causing him to completely miss the 9/11 disaster, which had to be handled by a junior reporter he was supposed to be managing. Heh.

Advertising's Race Problem

Hamilton Nolan · 07/08/08 01:14PM

The advertising industry is too white! It's been an issue forever-see any episode of Mad Men for the historical perspective. Two years ago the NYC Commission on Human Rights decided to hold hearings about diversity in advertising, and all the big ad agency conglomerates enthusiastically signed on. Declaring a firm commitment to diversity is a modern hallmark of the ad industry, along with every other industry. Since diversity hasn't been achieved, of course, the hearings drag on to this day. But Ad Age reports that at last night's meeting, only six white people showed up, and "two were members of the commission, two were lawyers and one was a journalist." That's problematic, since white people are supposed to be the ones getting educated here. And they got called on it:

Elle's Website Has More Turnover Than A Pancake House

Hamilton Nolan · 07/03/08 11:17AM

Elle magazine has more internal drama at its website than one fashion website deserves! Elle.com is perhaps Hachette's most visible site, so its success is an important totem for the company to prove it knows how to do digital things right. But after some ballyhooed comings and goings at the site that have been noted here over the past month, media types are wondering whether Hachette is planning a total restart of its online properties. Well, even more new turnover at Elle.com could mean just that!

How To Take A Layoff With A Smile

Hamilton Nolan · 07/02/08 09:09AM

Yesterday's rumor of Hearst folding Quick & Simple magazine was quickly confirmed by several emails that poured in to our world news headquarters. (You know your magazine has problems when "rapidly rising paper prices" can do you in for good). But at least one staffer had such a P-M-A (Positive Mental Attitude, yall) that we feel compelled to share her note with you. Think of it as a shining example of how to feel good about a bad situation. With wine:

Newspaper Outsourcing Comes To The OC

Hamilton Nolan · 06/25/08 12:46PM

Further cause for existential despair in journalism: the (Pulitzer-Prize winning!) OC Register is going to outsource some of its copy editing and layout work to a company in India. But uh, don't worry staffers, it's only a test! A test which will inevitably lead to foreigners taking good old American journalism jobs. Don't be fooled by management doublespeak. It's time to panic!

How To Manage 20-Somethings: The Real Shit

Hamilton Nolan · 06/24/08 03:50PM

Totally irrelevant newsweekly-turned-listicle-magazine US News & World Report brings you a straight-talking list of ten tips for managing an office full of 20-somethings, according to old business dude G.L. Hoffman. His pointers include "Add value," "Let them use their media," "They want standards," and "Expect varied, non-chain-of-command type communications." Whatever that means. As an actual 20-something, I'm communicating up G.L. Hoffman's chain of command that this list is straight up crapola. You are old and your advice is dorky, Mr. Hoffman! And too long—we 20-somethings have no attention span (or respect for our elders), due to drug use. After the jump, five real tips for managing an office full of 20-somethings, should you ever find yourself in such an unlucky position:

CBS Early Show Staffers: Watch Your Backs

Hamilton Nolan · 05/27/08 10:41AM

How is it humanly possible for the CBS Early Show to be so dysfunctional? And so early in the morning, at that? The show has been a nest of infighting for months, since the times of deposed mean boss Shelley Ross. Now, we hear that more scheming and devious machinations are underway. A tipster says that Zev Shalev, who was named a senior producer for the show in March (and who CBS execs are said to want to take over permanently as the show's top producer), may be in the crosshairs of Michael Rosen, another senior producer who was once described to us as "a tyrant to the staff." Laurye Blackford, a departing senior producer and "mean girl," may also be involved. Of course, anyone who has survived at the show through all of its internal turbulence must be presumed to be an expert Machiavellian corporate backstabber. Beware, CBS staffers! Do you have any more info on the Early Show's drama? Email us, please.

Crazy Websites Work!

Hamilton Nolan · 05/19/08 02:35PM

What does it take to get a job in this tough economy? A crazy website demonstrating that you are an insane person! Back in March we reported on Josh Millrod, a maniacal young man with a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance and Certificate in Journalism from Indiana University who built a seizure-inducing site full of consciously exaggerated braggadocio about his entry-level marketing skills. And it worked! Josh writes in today to report that he has in fact landed a job in marketing, and we wish him the best of luck. This tactic also worked for ad copywriter Yutaka Tsujino, whose website proclaiming how much he sucks got him a prime job earlier this month. Professionalism was always overrated. [Earlier]

Post Cuts Loose Reporter Who Sued NYPD For Racism

Hamilton Nolan · 05/19/08 08:27AM

The New York Post has canned Leonardo Blair, the black reporter who earlier this month filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD alleging racial harassment. Blair probably got the sense that his employer didn't really have his back when the Post ran an editorial ho-humming racial profiling complaints the same day that Blair filed his suit. Neither the Post nor Blair would comment on the end of his employment there. At least the Daily News is now free to commission Blair to write a scandalous tell-all of racial discrimination in the inner bowels of the Post. If they don't, you have to wonder whether they're sufficiently bloodthirsty (or rather, justice-thirsty) to play with Rupert Murdoch. [NYDN]

Weather Channel Anchor Accused Of Being Leering Dirtbag

Hamilton Nolan · 05/06/08 04:24PM

Weather Channel anchor Bob Stokes is being accused by a former on-air colleague, Hillary Andrews, of being a sexually harassing, stalkerish jerk. For an extended period of time. Andrews says that Stokes harassed her predecessor out of a job, and then began harassing Andrews even harder, constantly hitting on her and asking her inappropriate questions; i.e., "Will you lick my swizzle stick?" Andrews is now suing Stokes, and two highlights from her court documents are below, describing some of Stokes' conduct. Also, a bonus clip: a colleague forgetting Stokes' name, on-air. Maybe she blocked him out of her mind.