Jeans pocket

t doesn’t look like it’s getting any easier to be a journalist.

The Halifax Media Group, which bought a chain of small and medium-sized American newspapers from the New York Times Company for $143 million, has been getting national attention for a string of corporate decisions. The first was on January 9, when it was reported that the company would be requiring new hires to sign a rigid non-compete agreement. Its conditions included that the journalist is barred from working for any media enterprise in any city where Halifax Media has a presence…for two years after leaving the company. Even if the employee is fired, she can’t get any job in a market where Halifax Media operates.
Because, you know, who needs a job in the journalism industry? (Oh, all of you? Oh, okay, never mind.)
Turns out all the bad press didn’t go unnoticed by the company: publisher Diane McFarlin later announced it was scrapping the stingy new agreement. The era of Halifax Media sounds like an uncomfortable one. Four days after the non-compete fiasco, Gawker reported that the company banned jeans in the newsroom.

Consider it a throwback to a classier age. Back in my day, men used to wear three-piece suits and there wasn’t any of this denim nonsense. Everyone wore a hat, and you’d take it off when a lady walked in the elevator with you. Maybe you’d offer her a cigarette, ask if she wanted to join you for a scotch in your office and suggest she be your receptionist.

Wait. That’s Mad Men. Never mind.

Journalists are busy. Most of them don’t have time for social lives, never mind ironing. To quote Gawker on the issue, “God forbid a company do anything that might make the miserable days spent in a cubicle under the fluorescent lights a wee bit more humanizing.”

Halifax Media, this has not been your week.


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About the author

Scaachi Koul was the Production Editor of the Summer 2012 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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