Editor’s Notebook: Knox Maytag series publishes Sunday-Friday

From The Register-Mail:
Starting Sunday, The Register-Mail will begin publishing a five-day series providing the results of a study done by Knox College faculty and students about the lives of former Maytag workers. The refrigerator plant, operating for 50 years in Galesburg, employed about 1,600 people when it was announced in October 2002 that the plant would close and move its operation to Mexico. The final production line shut down in September 2004, leaving 902 union employees out of work. The series, Maytag Employees in Transition, focuses on what has happened to those workers.

The study, which included a survey, and the series were done by Knox College faculty and students in cooperation with an advisory group of former employees and with The Register-Mail.
Marilyn Webb, distinguished professor of journalism at Knox, was the project and editorial director. Professor of economics Richard Stout was the principle data analyst. Knox photography instructor Mike Godsil was photo director. Ryan Sweikert was the assistant data and editorial director. Of the 902 workers, 425 received surveys last summer asking a variety of questions about their lives; 133 surveys were returned, adding up to a 31 percent response rate.

The series includes 11 stories that present the results of the surveys, while telling the stories of former workers. Stories include topics such as pay, health, retraining, fears, future, loss of community and job satisfaction. The series starts Sunday and runs each day through Friday.

The series is a real service to the community, offering the first comprehensive look at what actually happened to those who found themselves out of work when the plant closed more than six years ago. The end result came about through a tremendous amount of research, interviews, writing and editing. The Register-Mail thanks Marilyn Webb and all those involved for providing series to The Register-Mail for first publication.