HarperCollins is laying off staffers, the Toronto 'Metro' is written by interns, and approximately 41,000 media jobs have been slashed since the start of the recession. But things are looking up in France!
• After testifying in front of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform last week about the gargantuan pay package he picked up while his company hemorrhaged money, Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo made Congress a nice little offer: "Mr. Mozilo said he had left a card in each Congressional office with a help line for constituents having problems with their loans. He added that if the number didn’t work, “call me— I take this very seriously.’” [NYT]
• Since the federal death-penalty statute was revived in 1998, New York federal juries have been reluctant to impose the death sentence. [NYT]
• You know those ads for legal firms in the Metro? Yeah, they're really not all that effective. [Legal Blog Watch]
Daniel Magnus, the recently laid-off publisher of Metro New York, is suing his former employer, Metro International, for severance pay and bonuses he says the Swedish company has reneged on paying him. The back wages and bonuses he says he's owed add up to something like $400,000. The company says he shouldn't get it because he was actually being fired for cause, and basically it's all a pretty standard pissy-about-being-fired thing. Except then it gets weird. "At the heart of the dispute," the Post tells us today, is the Metro slogan, "All of the News in Less of the Time." According to Magnus, he did not authorize the slogan, but was "pressured to backdate and falsely sign" a document saying that he had. For this, he is apparently asking for damages of $117 million. What? Was this translated from the Swedish? Did something terrible and untoward happen, and Magnus was pressured and tortured by H&M-clad ruffians bearing Allen wrenches? Or is Magnus just suing his bosses because they pushed through a slogan that he didn't like, and he fears that an association with said slogan will harm his future professional prospects? Cause, like, it's not even that bad of a slogan. Kind of catchy, actually.
METRO IS SUED BY ITS EX-PUBLISHER [NYP]
• Fortune searches Davos for financiers to express contrition over the current credit crisis but comes up empty. The closest anyone has come, the magazine notes, is the chairman and chief executive of Moody's Corp, who said, "We and others have to retool our processes In hindsight, it's clear to us that there were fundamental failures in key assumptions supporting our analytical models." Quoth Fortune: "That's probably a little too mealy-mouthed and much too late to console people who bought the mortgage-backed commercial paper to which Moody's and its rival Standard & Poor's gave a top-notch AAA rating — only to discover it was actually junk." Snap! [Fortune]
• Just how big a fraud did Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue French trader, pull off? Before the bank caught him, he had taken out positions worth 50 billion euros. But some argue that he was responsible for only 1.5 billion euros in losses, and the bank's board lost the other 3.4 billion euros unwinding his positions way too fast. Meanwhile, top executive Jean-Pierre Mustier told the Times: “I was speaking to a competitor, this competitor called me and said, ‘You are living what is a banker’s worst nightmare.’” Imagine how dramatic that must have sounded in French. [FT, NYT]
• Bonuses now in the bank, Goldman rewarded bankers for a record-setting year with a special surprise: layoffs! [Deal Journal/WSJ]
After the Times' recent front-page exposé that rent in New York is apparently expensive, requiring tenants to have multiple roommates or live in non-standard housing — who knew? — Metro New York today follows up with a tale of hipsters finding suitably hip solutions to the city's affordable-housing crunch. It seems a Lower East Side couple, Jessica Delfino and her boyfriend, have retrofitted their nine-by-fifteen-foot living room as a stand-alone mini-suite, and they're renting it out at $70 a night: the world's smallest boutique hotel. Wacky! And not a bad business model, considering this is the second free PR plug the place gets this year. But the funny thing is, neither of those PR hits tell the whole story.
What doesn't Brooklyn have? An ad in today's Metro promised to undo the curses that plague us, be they addictions, debt, rage, or witchcraft. But if you can't make it out to the Universal Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Friday night at seven, call ahead and reserve a prayer. We asked for help in getting rid of our migraines, and the gentleman working the phones added us to the list. Doctors "won't fix all your problems," he said, encouraging us to stop by the church sometime: "How can you taste the food if you never go in the restaurant?" Caution to the cursed: Our man said the phone has been ringing ever since the ad hit the streets, so your prayer may not be answered in a timely fashion. Jocelyn GuestMetro New York [Official site]