In these bleak days for the newspaper industry, it's rare to find a sliver of encouraging news. At South Florida's dailies, more than 1,000 people have lost their jobs in the past few years, and more layoffs seem to be announced every few months.
So one can hardly blame the top execs at the demoralized Palm Beach Post for wanting to celebrate when their sales staffers met their goal of raising $82 million just before Christmas.
In the waning days of 2009, insiders say employees at the paper's West Palm Beach headquarters were called down to the lobby for a mysterious meeting. There, they found a big blue box, out of which jumped a large man in sunglasses and a red cape. It was Chuck Gerardi, the paper's "Revenue Man," announcing the $82 million achievement dressed as a superhero.
Here's the email staffers received summarizing the meeting:
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The Post Reaches $82 Million Sales Goal
By MICHAEL GORGA
Senior Marketing Copywriter
It seems Santa came early this year for us here at The Post. On Dec. 23, Chuck Gerardi announced that we hit our sales goal of $82 million, a super-colossal achievement by anyone's standard. The employees, gathered in the lobby, erupted with cheers and clapping upon hearing the great news. This monumental achievement marks a turning point for all employees here at The Palm Beach Post, igniting a sentiment for good things to come. "Congratulations! And thank you for your contribution to our achievement of our magical 82, said Chuck "Revenue Man" Gerardi. "This is a day that we all should be very proud of, and I believe it is but the beginning of even better days ahead."
To thank the staffers, insiders say the Post execs also ordered 82 pizzas -- perhaps putting a small dent in the pile of revenue that caused all the hoopla.
All of which is fine, except for the small problem of timing. Gerardi's announcement came a week after La Palma, the Post's weekly Spanish language paper, laid off three employees.
Those journalists, facing a jobless Christmas, probably weren't in a celebratory mood.