Design Director Also Out At Sun-Sentinel

The Sun-Sentinel's staff reorganization involved more than the announced departure of Deputy Managing Editor Pat Thompson. Also lost in the reshuffling was Design Director Paul Wallen, who helped oversee the much ballyooed redesign of the newspaper and was also involved in the reorganization process until it cost him his job.

The 40-year-old Wallen, widely described as a quality designer and better guy, was hired away from the San Diego Union-Tribune by the Sentinel in April 2007.

These are just the opening salvos in a major wave of buyout/layoffs that is expected to be announced soon. Just weeks ago, Wallen was trying to assuage concerns of staffers working under him in the design department about a reorganization there. "If you have questions, concerns, or just want to vent please feel free to come see me," Wallen wrote his underlings in an email on February 3. "Also understand that things will come into focus better in the coming weeks."

It's a reminder how cruel this business is -- one minute you're reassuring the troops, the next you're standing in the firing line. 

Speaking of the firing line, commenters in the previous post had a lot to say about Thompson, both positive and negative. Thompson herself responded, specifically to a complaint that she was unfriendly in the elevator (yes, that's how petty it can get).

"I apologize if I didn't speak to you in the elevator," she wrote. "That doesn't sound like me. I always speak to my colleagues whether in the elevator or anywhere else. Maybe I was consumed with trying to solve a problem that day, or frustrated about something, and didn't notice you; there are some metro staffers I don't know well, since I never worked directly with those folks. Or maybe you had done something that annoyed me and instead of smiling at you, I simply mumbled hi. Sorry it bothered you that much. It's true I'm not fond of chit-chat ...".

The entire debate is fascinating to me. Even as the newspaper business is crumbling around us and people are losing their livelihoods left and right, a snub in the elevator can't be forgotten. The quirks of the human condition never cease to amaze.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman