Memo to suits everywhere: When you make a tough decision that is certain to dent staff morale, at least make it with a modicum of grace.
Paul Pham, Sun-Times Media’s vice president for business operations, asked to meet with the Reader‘s general manager, Mary Jo Madden, last Friday afternoon to discuss the next budget. Madden spent most of Friday working on projections; but when she sat down with Pham at 4 PM the budget was no longer the agenda. Pham told Madden the company had decided to eliminate her position. Friday was Madden’s last day, though she was allowed back into the Reader offices Saturday to collect her things.
Madden was the Reader‘s staff leading symbol of continuity and institutional cohesion. She joined the Reader as classifieds editor in 1977 and rose to operations director, her title but not her duties changing when Creative Loafing, while it owned the Reader, decided to rename her general manager. For years Madden oversaw the administrative needs of the paper, reporting directly to the publisher. As there was no publisher after the Reader was purchased by Sun-Times Media (outgoing Creative Loafing Inc. group publisher Alison Draper stayed on to manage the first several weeks of the transition but then went home to Dallas), Madden coordinated this paper’s August move from the old Reader building at 11 E. Illinois to the Sun-Times Media suite at 350 N. Orleans.