Remedial Media: The Ermen Effect

As their separatist supremo Pierre Karl Peladeau went on sabbatical to pursue his new hobby in Quebec nativism, his controlling interest tucked in his back pocket, the Ottawa Sun tied off a new four-year contract with its wretchedly-paid hacks.

The deal? A goose egg in year one, 1 per cent raise in year two, and 1.5 per cent in years three and four. They make a desert and call it labour peace.

Of course, inmates of the union-bashing trash tab would probably never have organized in the first place had it not been for years of abuse from dickish managers like ME Don Ermen, an empathy-free zone who will send you an email while he’s looking right at you.

A student of the suck-up, kick-down school of corporate toadying, Vermin is so mistrusted that underlings have been known to secretly record one-on-one meetings with him.

His thuggish management oeuvre – playing hacks off against each other, assigning extra nights and weekends to those who displease him — is leavened by an innocent and yet inapropos playfulness with female employees.

The much-married Shrek lookalike means nothing by it of course, but his over-familiar ways were an inspiration for the inclusion of sexual harassment language in the original collective agreement. Poor, misunderstood Don was even press-ganged into compulsory training sessions. They didn’t take.

While union and management reps were bashing out their agreement in January, Ermen did his bit for labour relations by exhuming an old bit of spreadsheeting, micromanaging busywork: requiring a written daily summary from each hack of their output, the better to tally up the journalism product from each human resource.

The last time this much-loathed scheme surfaced, Ermen awarded 2 points for a 400-word story, 1 point for 200 words, half a point for a brief and a quarter-point for a tweet:

From: Donald Ermen <>

Sent: Tue, 21 Jan 2014 19:00:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Tracking

A few years ago, I use to get an e-mail from each of you that quickly detailed for me each day the items you produced. We did it for several years and we’re going to start again. Please keep it simple. The following format would be appreciated.
Blog postings

This is for all platforms. So if you wrote a story only for the web, then include it in the total for stories. If you took a photo for your blog, include it in the total.

To compile this list each day only takes a few minutes. There are lots of good arguments as to why we should not count journalism. But there are lots of good arguments as to why we should. If anyone has questions or comments, please e-mail or phone me.

“Used to,” Don, never “use to.” Did we mention he’s also the Sun’s resident literatus, blogging on books for the paper’s famously erudite readership?


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4 comments on “Remedial Media: The Ermen Effect
  1. Steve-O says:

    The Sun newspapers are for semi-literate and illiterate people – with lots of pictures to fill up the pages.

  2. orphancarguy says:

    That photo of the V! From the deep crease line going all around the face, and the disconnect of front slaphead/rear thatch look, could it be that there is a smiley clown mask imperfectly spackled on over a deeply disturbing ‘real’ face?

  3. Patrick60 says:

    More people lip-read the Sun than any other tabloid.

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