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Trouble in Tahiti? An Open Letter At The Daily

From the Daily:

An open letter to our readers

On behalf of a number of editorial staff members.

For more than 100 years, it has been The Minnesota Daily’s obligation to serve the University of Minnesota community with accurate and honest news pertinent to community readership. The community, in turn, supports the Daily through picking up the paper, visiting the website and student service fees — from which we received more than $500,000 this year — knowing that we provide the services which many on campus have come to depend. We have recently failed to fulfill our obligation.

Recent financial decisions within the Daily have not been made transparent. For this, we apologize. Though many details have yet to come to light, the intention of this letter is to explain, to the best of our ability, an accurate account of the events in question.

Last Thursday, The Minnesota Daily Board of Directors approved in a board meeting the allocation of bonuses of up to $3,000 to both the Daily Business Operations Officer and the President — two of three employees who comprise the Office of the Publisher. The third member, the Editor-in-Chief, did not receive a bonus because of enacted disciplinary action.

These bonuses come at a time when the Daily is facing dire financial hardship. The most impactful budget cuts made to the Daily this semester include massive pay cuts (reaching 50 percent for some), discontinuing a Friday print edition and cutting entire departments and sections of the newspaper.

At the time these cuts were announced, at least one member of the Office of the Publisher stated in an e-mail that all three would “forego” bonuses.

Other members of the Office of the Publisher have since denied that this agreement was made.

Shortly after the announcement of the bonuses, an editorial employee sent a letter to every Daily employee calling for a petition to prevent the Office of the Publisher from receiving bonuses. There is a Daily policy against sending such mass e-mails without approval from a member of the Office of the Publisher. Several others responded with their own mass e-mails. On Sunday night, several Daily employees drafted a petition to be given to the Daily Board of Directors asking that the bonuses be withdrawn.

On Monday morning, the Office of the Publisher suspended for one week without pay the author of the original e-mail calling for a petition. It is unclear if all three members of the Office of the Publisher agreed upon this punishment. No other authors of similar e-mails have yet been punished.

Many Daily employees, including the large majority of the editorial department, perceived this action as being taken to stifle the petition. The discipline was passed down by the Office of the Publisher without consultation of other managers.

Many believed the Office of the Publisher punishing an employee for speaking out against its members was a conflict of interest. After a large protest within the Daily, the suspended employee was reinstated.

However, there are still many questions unanswered. We implore the members of the Office of the Publisher to fulfill the Daily’s obligation to you and supply you with those answers, truthfully.

—Andy Mannix, City Desk Editor, incoming Managing Editor

—Mike Rose, current Managing Editor, acting Editor-in-Chief

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