Update: USA Today editor explains why staffers weren’t retained and changes to sports media group. Here’s the link.
Tom Pedulla had been at USA Today since 1995 and worked with Gannett newspapers for 31 years. So when he had to re-interview for a job he already had, he took it as a good sign that both of them were conducted over the phone.
“I thought they were comfortable with what I was doing,” Pedulla said.
It turns out Pedulla was wrong. Yesterday, Pedulla was among the sports staffers who were let go by USA Today. Others include Michael McCarthy and Tom Weir. The layoffs were part of USA Today restructuring its sports group.
Pedulla was stunned, especially at the timing. As the paper’s horse racing writer since 1998, he was looking forward to covering I’ll Have Another’s bid for the Triple Crown at the upcoming Belmont Stakes.
Pedulla is feeling many emotions. High on the list was his anger at not getting a face-to-face interview. As part of the restructuring, all staffers had to interview for their positions. Pedulla stressed he would have gone to Washington to talk in person to editors.
“If you think someone’s job was in jeopardy, you’d want to do it face-to-face to make the best possible decision,” Pedulla said. “I never got a face-to-face interview to keep a job I had for 31 years.”
Pedulla also learned of his dismissal over the phone yesterday.
“I was told they are looking for reporters who can break stories every day,” Pedulla said.
Again, the timing of that statement felt weird to Pedulla. He also covers the NFL, and the day before editors asked asked if he could reach Tom Brady’s father.
“I have a good relationship with him,” Pedulla said. “I made some calls, and he eventually called me back from Prague (where he was vacation). I got the quotes that the paper needed. If that doesn’t prove I’m an effective reporter, what does?”
Pedulla, 55, realizes everyone at a paper is vulnerable these days. His number came up Wednesday.
“I know it’s a business and they made a business decision,” he said. “I have no choice. They lost a lot of good people. They’re going to be hard to replace.”
Pedulla was heartened that his phone started to ring once the news got out. He will be covering the Belmont for America’s Best Racing site.
“I’ve always written with a lot of passion, and (America’s Best Racing) said that comes through in my writing,” Pedulla said. “It means a lot to me that I’ll still be at the Belmont.”
Pedulla then added: “I’m hoping this will be somebody’s else gain and (USA Today’s) loss.”