Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday | Dec. 12 | Got news, or a question?

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  1. Anybody out there in Gannettoid land hear of any shenanigans with their Moms sites? At the paper I work at, two males in the Information Center were directed by management to pose as females in the Moms forums to start conversations to increase traffic. Also, some moms in the community were getting paid a weekly stipend to go on their sites and start conversations. Is false page view generation an actual strategy for all sites?

  2. what now? we go out and report the freakin news , that's what now... what about GNS --- are they having lay-offs upcoming or not ? anyone know ??

  3. I guess you cant use "the other shoe just dropped" when talking about this Detroit thing. It looks like the whole shoe store just dropped. I think the newspaper business just died. Bye, bye, miss American pie, I went to the paper box but the paper box was dry. Them good 'ole boys drinking whiskey and rye, singing "this will be the day our newspaper will die!"
    God bless Newseum! Without, where would I show my kids where we got news before 2009, the year newspapers died?

  4. Jim, can you get clarification about if there will be low teens cuts again next year or if he was talking about the cuts we have already made?

  5. I will try, 12:15 a.m., to get that clarified. But Corporate still isn't responding to an earlier question I sent to Tara Connell, so the big freeze continues.

  6. The mommy site at my paper also has paid shills.

    Please expose this scam.

  7. Jim, have they ever responded to your questions? I am curious? If you are asking them legitimate questions that are not about secrete deals such as to clarify his statement they should answer them. I am starting to think that maybe I work for a shity company. I hope that I am wrong. What am I thinking, of course I am wrong. Damn this is some good Cool Aid!

    (click on my name to see my pic!)

  8. I'd love to pretend to be a chick on the mommies sites and get paid for it.

    Of course, I'm kind of a perv anyway, so hanging out and adding my two cents about the best Cincy beej's while polishing my stalker skills might be a good career opportunity.

    If all goes well, my plans should 'upend the traditional thinking about content in our industry, both in how we gather it and how we sell it.'

  9. I heard from a very reliable source that the Journal News Circulation for Thursday was 98,000. For a New York Market Paper those are dismal numbers. I simply cannot understand how the management and Directors still have a job there.

  10. 12:10 AM - Cincinnati built its Mom's site using paid posters.

    When those actions became known, the defense was that they were transparent in that help wanted ads were placed to recruit people to do it. Ah, that's hardly a defense.

  11. I would just like to mention that at the Asbury Park Press we have been informed that by next week the powers-that-be want 100% of the ad building farmed out. The folks who have been scanning and sending to 2AdPro and others vendors now have additonal "helpers". Management has been sitting in to "help" send our jobs elsewhere. That's right, JM is helping to send work out, but did not help when we were overloaded at other times in the past. Amazing. The overall feeling is that this is the "end" of our production department as we know it. Soon they will do the same with our online advertising. JA will be out of a job, too. Although I'm sure that won't hurt him much since he has been doing his own private work on Gannett's time for many years now.
    Yes times are changing, but our publisher keeps telling lies. He knew all along that the production department would eventually be dismantled. Instead of prepping us for new job positions within the company he just made false promises to keep us long enough to let us go. If he was just honest... Oh wait...he is management for Gannett.

  12. Grim Reaper: The paper box will not be dry. You can still get one there if you like. You just won't be able to back over a copy on the way out of your driveway.

    Get over it, people! Moves like this will keep the business running long enough to pull another $30 billion out of the market, at a minimum. After it's all been paid out in dividends and the Dubow/Martore duo is on to its next debacle, who cares what happens to the individual properties?

    Merry Christmas,

    (Not) Craig

  13. "Anybody out there in Gannettoid land hear of any shenanigans with their Moms sites? At the paper I work at, two males in the Information Center were directed by management to pose as females in the Moms forums to start conversations to increase traffic."

    You mean a couple guys started the blowjob conversation in Cincy? Priceless!

  14. I've heard rumors that our Moms site has been paying people almost since it started. They have a select group (clique) of conversation leaders and such and those are the ones who get paid. I don't know how much or how often.

  15. 12:10, 1:06 - This shouldn't surprise anyone. Fudging circ numbers has been standard in the industry forever, this is a natural extension.

    The question is where you report the abuse to. ABC doesn't even try to find it. The Tribune frauds of earlier this decade could have been identified by a freakin clerk, yet the auditor never saw them. Those issues were eventually reported by a contractor directly to advertisers, who in turn went to government agencies and their own attorneys. ABC was actually named in the subsequent lawsuits, and Trib paid almost 100 million in settlement and people went to jail.

    If you report anything, ABC is not the place to go. FTC, state attorneys general, advertisers would be best bets.

  16. i thought it was against the ethics policy to misrepresent yourself.

  17. A little contest today, with the market expected to implode.

    How low will GCI be at the close?
    My guess: $6.47

  18. In Phoenix, a couple of people who work on the Moms site were told to set up multiple user IDs and make numerous posts to drive traffic. I don't think *they* were paid (other than their salaries) to post but I know they paid their friends to set up multiple IDs and post. This was several months ago and management claimed not to be aware of the practice. They said the practice was to stop. Not sure if it actually did.

  19. Walmart settled a WAGE & HOUR dispute in Minnesota about UNPAID OVERTIME & FRAUDULANT TIME-SHEET for $54 Million to avoid a potential $2 BILLION liability.

    Des Moines and everyone else -whether your afraid or not KEEP TRACK of LL YOUR HOURS.

  20. Ethics policy? What ethics policy. It is a violation of the ethics policy to make up things, but they do this all the time on the Moms site on the grounds it gets conversations going. They also get on the sites to talk about commercial products -- hey, you hear about the latest milk pump, and it's for sale at xxx, etc. This all pumps up the figures, giving investor saps a misleading figure on the use of these sites.

  21. Ethics policy: shut up and write your Metromix weekly on your fave restaurant with real cheap eats that you have never visited or even seen. Yum. Eat that ethics policy. Tastes good.

  22. Todd: I was wondering when we'd hear more from Westchester.

    The mood there is pretty grim, and everyone seems to think there will be more layoffs, but I don't know the basis for that.

    The ramifications of the layoffs are already being felt in some departments as copy grows scarce.

    Not sure if they will actually lay off more reporters since we are bare bones already.

    In other news: The editor has invited us all in the newsroom to "holiday lunch" to spend extra money left over in the contract with the lunchroom vendor. Some of the leftover money in goods will go to a food bank, too. I have mixed feelings about this. In a place where there is NEVER a staff meeting or any kind of effort to foster cohesion, this seems oddly timed. If we had all gotten together all the time, maybe it wouldn't seem so odd. I am sure that most people will just take their lunch back to their desks and surf the Web while they eat. The top editors there cast their die a long time ago to create a newsroom with very little fellowship. I think I personally have had less than 5 conversations total with the top editor, and these include two-sentence exchanges in the elevator. The managing editor is the same. While really nice when you talk to her, she doesn't get out in the newsroom much.

  23. ...and good for you, too.

  24. Detroit is so much toast, now that Congress has rejected that bailout plan. Readers won't have money for anything afer this is over, so GCI might just as well blast ahead with this plan.

  25. MOMS is a joke. we were emailed at our site and we were asked to join whether we were moms or even female. I do not think it helped.

  26. Interesting news on Tribune financial disaster. Dubow and Martore are not alone in their benefits.

  27. 9:59 - Do you still have that e-mail?

  28. OK, 9:18 a.m., the contest is on. I bet GCI stock will be $6.66 at close today.

  29. 9:59. i think i do

  30. McLean is the fourth richest neighborhood in America, Forbes says:

  31. CityBeat, the alt-weekly in Cincinnati, exposed the Moms pay-to-play scam last year. One of the "players" was a company called Pure Romance, seller of sex toys and sex lubes. It stirred up one of the most popular threads in Moms history: "The Other Entry," about the joys of anal sex. But here's that CityBeat story:

    With much fanfare, The Cincinnati Enquirer recently launched a new blog on its Web site,, apparently aimed at the newspaper’s primary demographic these days — busy soccer moms in West Chester and Mason.

    Some sources inside the Enquirer, however, are questioning the newspaper’s practice of using paid “discussion leaders” to post items on the blogs in an attempt to generate feedback, without identifying the leaders for readers or making it clear that they’re being paid.

    Critics say the practice echoes what happened when the Enquirer launched its “Grandma in Iraq” blog last year. Although editors knew the blog’s author was a military public relations flak, they initially didn’t reveal that fact to readers. The blog was pulled after some readers uncovered the fact and alleged the blog was concealed pro-war propagandizing by the U.S. government.

    Enquirer editors, however, insist the two situations are different and defend their use of discussion leaders on their blogs.

    In a response to an e-mail inquiry, Michael Perry, The Enquirer’s managing editor for non-daily publications and new initiatives, states the discussion leader positions were advertised in the newspaper and there wasn’t an effort to conceal their use. More than 100 women applied and 10 were selected, Perry wrote.

    “We did this for a few reasons: Other sites in similar situations have done this,” Perry wrote. “The women we hired are moderators to some extent, alerting us to spam and helping us delete it. They also let us know about other possible objectionable material.”

    Perry notes that the leaders comprise only 10 people out of more than 2,500 registered users. In the three weeks since the blog launched, it has had more than 9,800 posts about more than 1,300 topics.

    “Is this practice necessary? I don’t know,” Perry writes. “We have not needed them to start discussions among users; users are doing that themselves. Just look at the numbers. But it was great from the beginning to have moms taking ownership of the site, championing it in the community and helping monitor the content.”

    As newspapers increasingly shift to more and varied online products, questions about how the content is produced and what the newspaper’s role is will probably continue to become more common, media critics agree.

  32. I worked in Westchester for many years. When I started, circulation was about 175,000 daily. After all the News 2000 gimmicks and Teen Panels to build circ it's below 100,000 now. And no manager is accountable, only the reporters lose jobs.
    The "management" team in Weschester the last eight/10 years years has been the most incompetent in the business. Hacks who are rewarded and promoted for kissing butt and cutting throats. Attributes Gannett truly relishes in a manager.

  33. This blog is at its best when Jim does straight-on reporting -- the matching fund donations by board members to religious groups, etc. Well done!

    It is at its worst with this so-called 'crowd sourcing' where everyone shouts out rumors and everyone cringes and squeezes their worry beads. Any post with the phrase 'I heard' in it should be ignored.

    Reporting is the way to go.

  34. It goes back longer than that in Westchester (1990) - the late Joe Ungaro was the last executive who knew what he was doing.

  35. I say GCI closes at 7.01

  36. The Gryphon Project

    The Gryphon project focuses on the design and development of highly scalable, available and secure publish/subscribe systems. A publish/subscribe system contains information producers, which publish events to the system, and information consumers, which subscribe to particular categories of events within the system. The system ensures the timely delivery of published events to all interested subscribers. In addition to supporting many-to-many communication, the primary requirement met by publish/subscribe systems is that producers and consumers of messages are anonymous to each other, so that the number of publishers and subscribers may dynamically change, and individual publishers and subscribers may evolve without disrupting the entire system.
    The earliest publish/subscribe systems were subject-based. In these systems, each message belongs to one of a fixed set of subjects (also known as groups, channels, or topics). Publishers are required to label each message with a subject; consumers subscribe to all the messages within a particular subject. For example a subject-based publish/subscribe system for stock trading may define a group for each stock issue; publishers may post information to the appropriate group, and subscribers may subscribe to information regarding any issue.

    An alternative to subject-based systems is content-based messaging systems. A significant restriction with subject-based publish/subscribe is that the selectivity of subscriptions is limited to the predefined subjects. Content-based systems support a number of information spaces, where subscribers may express a "query" against the content of messages published.

    We have designed and implemented the Gryphon system to provide content-based publish/subscribe functionality using the fast, scalable routing algorithms that we have invented. The system is structured as a redundant overlay network of routing brokers. Clients access the system through our implementation of the Java Message Service (JMS) API. The system supports best-effort and guaranteed delivery, and both normal and durable subscriptions. We have paid particular attention to scalability, availability, and security:

    Scalability: Brokers may be added into the network to provide support for additional clients. We used this approach to provide capacity for almost 100,000 concurrently connected clients for Wimbledon 2001. Our configuration support is flexible enough to efficiently support geographic distribution of brokers. Server farms in multiple geographies may be linked through a number of explicit links rather than requiring NxN connectivity between all brokers.
    Availability: Gryphon responds to the failure of one broker in a network by rerouting traffic around the failed broker. Reconfiguration is automatic and requires no intervention by an administrator.
    Security: Gryphon supports access controls for limiting who may publish and subscribe to portions of the information space. Different secrecy and integrity policies can be specified for different parts of the information space. Multiple authentication mechanisms can be used to verify client identity: simple password (e.g. telnet), mutual secure password authentication (password is never sent over the wire), asymmetric SSL (password sent over a secure SSL connection to the server) and symmetric SSL (both client and server use certificates to authenticate each other).

  37. I worked at Westchester in the early '90s and had high regard for Larry Beaupre, the EE, and Evelyn McCormack, the ME.

    They were both visible in the newsroom, approachable, energetic, smart and funny.

  38. 11:34: I'm fairly sure that Detroit calls it the Griffon Project -- spelled that way. The document you are referencing appears to be about some IBM research; see this link:

  39. Our Moms site also pays several people to be discussion leaders. I've also been tasked with contributing to those forums.

    I feel dirty.

  40. Anyone from Des Moines: are you still publishing front-page editorial cartoons, or was that scrapped with Duffy's departure. I traveled through Des Moines occasionally, and thought the front-page cartoon idea was quirky but interesting. It marked the individuality of the Register. Since corporate doesn't like individuality, I would not be surprised to hear that quirk is now gone. Am I correct?

  41. 11:34: ROFLOL

  42. Beaupre was a very sharp editor. But funny? The Mona Lisa smiled more.

  43. Dear Mr. Dubow,
    Thank you so much for the early Christmas present. I knew I might get a little something special under the tree, but I had no idea.

    You must have put a lot of thought into my gift. After all, your timing virtually assured two things: One, that I’d have to use my severance carefully and choose between gifts for my children and keeping a roof over their heads; and two, that I’d be looking for another job at the worst time of the year during the worst economy in 50 years. After all, I know many hiring managers who are hurrying to make a hiring decision before they head out on their own Christmas vacations.

    And now that I think about it, your gift has really made me feel special. You must have realized that there is a huge demand for highly literate, well informed news wonks who can cram a full thought into a three-word headline, can construct a full budget out of two story ideas, design a magazine-style front in two hours and then do it all over again an hour later, get a “real person” to comment on a concept he’s never heard of and squeeze 80 hours of work into 40 hours on the clock. Who wouldn’t want to hire me?

    And besides, while I was busy being creative and innovative and folksy and imaginative in covering my beat, I had no idea I was working at a non-essential, extraneous position. Next time I’ll remember to have a life.
    So, while you were out shopping for 2,000 of your closest friends, I hope you remembered to pick up a little something for yourself. Oh you did? Oh, that’s right – your multi-million-dollar paycheck and bonuses.

    Thanks again, Mr. Dubow. You really shouldn’t have.

  44. Are the moms sites really about making money on page views and ads, or access to marketing "research?"

    If it's research, you'd think the company would tell the "moms" that upfront or get some kind of consent form signed.

  45. As to Westchester, I'd just add that the only communication we got from the EE on firing day was an email explaining that the internet was slow.

    Oh. By the way, anything else you'd like to tell us?

  46. 11:34 Sounds like this was written by Chris Saridakis. Listen to that GCI presentation at the UBS conference this week, and you will see the similarities.

  47. 12:25 It is not research. It is viral advertising. You start these groups, get the discussions going, then drop in a posting promoting some product. The research part of it comes when posters react, saying it is garbage or they would use it if they made these changes to it, or they tried it and didn't like it. Procter and Gamble has been using this for years to test out new products on recipe sites. It didn't work so well for them because garbage is garbage, and people won't buy it no matter how much you promote it on these sites.

  48. Regarding the product pitches in the moms blogs, are they trying to sell this to advertisers yet?

    "For only $XX we'll get a 'real mom' (wink, wink) to rave about your[product]on our web site..."

  49. It's been days since anyone has talked about Cherry Hill. Are they still publishing?

  50. From Des Moines, no more cartoons on the front page. Editorial cartoons are a thing of the past. If it doesn't make money, why put it in the paper? Gannett doesn't care about quality any more, its all about the almighty dollar now.

  51. ADV PRODUCTION ARTISTS in Gannettland: Do you think corp will eventually outsource us all? We've lost half our staff (so far) but they tell us they want to keep the big local accounts here (auto, furn, groc). I am from Des Moines. In this blog, Asbury Park posted their dept is all gone....If our advertisers knew their ads were being built from India, they be pissed. Gannett said in the paper 2ADPro is in Calf. That is a white lie. They have an office there but their production is in a cheap third world country.

  52. We were just informed here in Westchester - via our Weekly Buzz - that we will be printing the Poughkeepsie Journal.....

    A decision that was already announced over at PKJ how long ago?

    Jim - suggestion for a blog post: what makes everyone say Westchester is as crummy as it is? Those of us that are still working here already know, but there are others outside of TJN that have opinions.

  53. It has always been "all about the almighty dollar." Always.

    However, in the past, it was possible to make and make more of the "almighty dollar" AND ALSO have a quality product.

    Today, to retain that almighty dollar, the cost of quality is a handicap to that bottom line.

    Hence, dollars trump quality. And will every time.

    Sad, but true./

  54. 1:55 - we do our ads cheaper here in the interstate group than 2adpro could possibly take care of them. If they charge $15 - $20 an ad - versus the $10 plus benefits per hour that our artists start at - the math doesn't make sense. A publisher would have to be an idiot to approve those kinds of cost trade-offs, never mind the public backlash.

    I have no idea what they make on the coast, though, so maybe APP does come out ahead letting Apu take care of the ads.

    Logic, however, doesn't always win.

  55. I can't speak for other sites, but in Wilmington, the newsroom was never approached with a request to participate on the Moms site. Nor were there ads soliciting paid moderators/commenters. It all seems pretty aboveboard here. (The only thing that was a bit odd was that the paper ran an ad seeking a Moms editor, and then gave the job to someone already working there. Seems like a small waste of newsprint if you've got an in-house contender who already knows the system and players.)

    The AME for niche content, Jill Fredel, oversees Moms and pitches in running it personally during the editor's vacation time. Jill is the most honest, ethical, compassionate person in the entire newsroom, and I have a great deal of personal and professional respect for her. I can't imagine her being involved in something like what other commenters here describe.

  56. I don't know what the big deal is about the Moms sites. Of course they're totally lame. But I generated a thread that lasted for more than a month simply by calling moms who don't vaccinate "wackos." Boy, it was like lambs to the slaughter. Most of the "moms" on that site are true-believers who think it's smart to homeschool even if they have a third-grade education. It was hilarious. I think they recruited more of their zealot friends to come over and flame me. I didn't realize there were commissions for driving traffic over to Moms. Gannett owes me some coin.

  57. Responding to 1:23pm,

    Yes, Cherry Hill is still publishing.

  58. You haven't heard from Cherry Hill because there aren't enough people left in the newsroom to come up for air and post. By the time they get home, they are probably too exhausted from doing 5 jobs. And what else is there really left to say? The only unanswered question is when the axe will fall on the rest of us.

  59. Ever think that Gannett blog is somehow tied into Ripple6, and Corporate is using this site to find out what the rank and file think of their management operations/ get feedback from the field on ConceptOne and Information Center ideas????

  60. There's nothing ethically wrong with paying community management staff to foster communication within an online forum. The only gray area here is if they actually have men posing as women - and even that is laughable.

    Those of you freaking out are grasping at straws - there's no "fake traffic" or "false page view generation" here - the traffic is real, if people want to take part in the conversations.

    This kind of thing happens all over the Internet and is considered more than normal - it's often mandatory to get communities started.

    Lighten up and concentrate on the fact that you might lose your job next week, next month, or next year. Sheesh... stop complaining and start solving problems.

  61. 3:19, so the internet has no ethics at all and this stuff is normal. What's next to be ethical and normal on the internet? Plagiarism? Maybe your kind of thinking is why newspapers and news gathering websites are a joke now.

  62. 2:53 - if you want to see a flame war start, mention how you either a) think animals are as important as people or b) think people who dress their pets are idiots with poor priorities.

    Every time we run an animal abuse story, the 'OMG' vs 'So What' factions line up and declare a thumb war. Can go on for days. We're a small site though. 50k circ.

    I've got two sign-ins on my paper's site. When I get bored, I start fires with myself. Is it newsworthy? No, but it's at least as entertaining to a sizable fraction of our audience as the comics are....

    Plus, when I'm off my meds, I either write here or there.... :)

  63. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  64. @3:19: Just because "it happens all over the Internet" doesn't make it right. In order to survive, newspapers should be able to hold themselves to a higher standard.

  65. "Detroit Dailies to Curtail Home Delivery"...posted on the WSJ website at 3:41 p.m. today...CNBC captured on TV within minutes.

    Plus the WSJ writes..."Rumors about the publisher's plans have surfaced in recent days on the "Gannett Blog," which is run by former USA Today reporter Jim Hopkins.

    Way to go Jim! Way to go!



    In related news, Gannett will be closing their bottom 83 dailies the entire month of January to cut inventories of papers printed but unsold.

    Green Bay, carry the flag, will ya?

  67. 3:14 p.m., why would Gannett use Ripple6 for that when they can get as much employee feedback as they want from this blog?

  68. There may be nothing wrong with "seeding" discussion in more than few people's views, but given that newpaper franchises are built in a great part on the credibility that they hold, its a highly questionable act in mine and more than a few others.

  69. The only thing surprising to me about today's revelations re the bogus Moms contributions is that some sites are paying people to do it. At our paper, several news staff members were "encouraged" to create fake letters "to get the thing off the ground" with no reward. Totally unprofessional and dishonest but totally in keeping with Gannett's cynical attitude toward the public and its own employees.

  70. Somewhere, at a McDonald's drive-through speaker:

    Employee: Thanks for coming to McDonald's. Would you like to try a combo meal?

    Me: Um, yeah, I'll have a large Big Mac Meal and a small chocolate shake.

    Employee: That's one large Big Mac Meal and a small chocolate shake. Is that all?

    Me: Yes, that's all.

    Employee: Your total is $7.52. Drive around to the first window.

    (I drive around to the first window. I look in my wallet. Nothing there.)

    Employee: Your total is $7.52.

    Me: Uhh, wow, I just remembered--I don't have any cash. I'm sorry.

    Employee: Well, do you own any shares of Gannett stock?

    Me: Yes.

    Employee: Well, just give us one share of your Gannett stock.

    Me: NO! You mean, a share of Gannett stock is only worth the price of a large Big Mac Meal and a small chocolate shake? Blasphemy!

    Employee: Yes, it's true. But buck up, little camper. Tomorrow, you'll only be able to get a medium Double Cheeseburger Meal and a small shake with each share of GCI.

    Me: D'oh!

  71. WSJ attributes Jim to breaking the Freep story, which it confirms by saying plans for home delivery publication only Thursday, Friday and Sundays.

  72. On Thursday 12/11/08, USAT cut several "marketing" positions across the country.

  73. 3:19 So how is paying someone to work the Moms sites isn't generating fake posts and fake counts? They are paid for this work. Jim gets an honest count of people coming to his site, which he could use for ads if he wanted to do that. Paying someone to puff up site usage is similar to paying someone to buy bulk copies of your newspaper. You can't do that to advertisers in newspapers, and you should not be permitted under ethics rules to do that online. Newsday got in real hot water for doing this recently, and ended up having to reimburse advertisers for phony circulation figures.

  74. Thank goodness you chimed in, 3:19. What a ridiculous barrage of paranoia about the Moms sites.

    They're called Discussion Leaders, folks. Therefore, not surprisingly, they lead discussions. Group Discussion Leadership was even a course in the communications department when I was in college; this is hardly some subversive unethical plan.

    You can't have a breakdown over everything that is new. We need new business models to survive. Become part of the solution or please, please, please go home!

  75. re: Detroit -- Jim gets a mention in the WSJ!

  76. 3:19 Nothing ethically wrong???? Is it ethically wrong to make up stories? If you answer yes, then why is it ethical to pump up usage on Moms sites by seeding posts or making up threads?

  77. Lookie here, Pulitzer is giving prizes for Web-only publications. You think Jim's efforts are prizeworthy, given his breaking news efforts not only on Detroit, questionable foundation dealings, and the layoffs that Gannett sought to suppress. I'm reading a lot of Jim Hopkins on the Web these days. Be one hell of an irony for Jim to win a Pulitzer when USAT has never.

  78. Info on the online Pulitzer:


    In regards to 2AdPro and losing your job due to outsourcing:


    Being that Gannett has to kick in monies to pay for those on unemployment, you would think they would somehow take this into account as far as the dollars and cents of it all. Go figure!

  80. I'm curious. What would you do if a manager told you to pose as someone else and get a conversation started on the Moms site?

  81. Hey Jim,

    Apply for the pulitzer. I think you'll qualify under items 3 and/or 10:

    3. For a distinguished example of investigative reporting by an individual or team, presented as a single article or series, in print or on
    10. For distinguished criticism, in print or online or both, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

  82. Just to throw this out there - we all know what Gannett has done to its papers in NJ, and what has happened to the Star Ledger. But does anyone have any insight as to what's happening at places like The Two River Times, or the Greater Media weeklies, or the Princeton Packet, etc.? I'm curious as to whether those outlets are going to survive at all, if they're doing any better than anyone else, or what.

  83. @3:47, @3:33, @4:35:

    Howdy. @3:19 here. The moms sites are community sites under the umbrella of newspaper organizations. They're not actually part-and-parcel of the newspaper. There's no 'journalistic integrity' involved here.

    And before you start waving your arms around at the implication that there is no integrity at all, I should add that I don't see anything wrong whatsoever with seeding content. It's not that "the rest of the Internet is unethical." It's that the practice is not inherently bad. There's nothing deceptive about a community moderator starting a discussion! It's expected, it's encouraged. You don't seem to understand that.

    There's nothing surreptitious about it, except having someone who is a male pose as a female.

    But even if the Community Leader is a woman and is a mom, paying her to lead discussion is nothing different than paying someone to edit and/or select the "local journalism" pieces that are cropping up on some sites.

    One might say it's unethical to farm the news out to the public. Again, I disagree there as well.

    It's possible that this kind of culture is shocking to you, and I can't say you're wrong for thinking it. I just wonder if maybe that's why papers are dying - some people entrenched in their old ways (Dubow, anyone?) can't keep up with the way the future is headed.

    @4:33 Thank you for being another voice of reason.

  84. @5:27
    I haven't been asked to pose as someone else on Moms, but to post as myself. I happen to be a mom. It's a little awkward, but I guess it's not unethical. At least, it's not so far. It's uncomfortable, because I don't like being forced to go into my personal life. I could just be whiny about it, I suppose.

    But I think our paper pays four moms in the community to be on the forums. From what I see, they are the only active participants.

    To answer the spirit of your question, if my manager does ask me to do something unethical such as promote an advertiser, I will argue and won't do it.

    And probably get laid off in February.

  85. I forgot what the cost is to send an ad to 2AdPro. I'm thinking $25 or $35. If so, my site is sending it's required 75+ ads a week. That's 97.5K to 136.5K per year.
    That works out to be at least 1 1/2 to 2 full time USA workers (with benefits). When I was in ad make up, on average I did 50-75 ads a week.

    How does this make financial sense?

  86. I just removed a comment that contained the entire text of a Wall Street Journal story. That is a violation of copyright law. Please don't do that.

  87. The Moms Sites: When Ketan Gandhi first made this the most important venture in the NJ publishing world (Courier News and Home News Tribune), everyone was badgered into signing up under as many names as possible. Employees were responding to other employees. The cheery little nymph from HR was assigned the job of being cheerleader for the site. Crappy prizes were given (some type of women's wrist purse) which a good number of the male employees won! No great surprise. At Christmas, everyone, male and female, was given a tacky sweatshirt with "Central Jersey Moms" on the front. The male employees were speechless and knew it would not be a good idea to wear them to the gym! No one ever pretended the entire MOMS idea was legitimate or creative or productive.

    It cannot be proven, but many believd the sweatshirts were bought by Ketan in India when he went there to work the deal with AdPro.

    As has been evident, MOMS never did much for circulation...and no one still can say why Ketan departed so quickly! Word on the street is that he's wearing those freakin' sweatshirts on the streets of Philadelphia.

  88. Whatever was the end of that Ketan story, anyway?

  89. On the 2 Ad Pro Discussions:
    In NJ only the lowest paid artist was around $12.00/hr. the highest paid were around $20.00/hr. (after 20 yrs) I make $16.00/hr been here for over 12 yrs, under 15 yrs. We don't make that much money, considering the cost of living in this state. I still have a job... till 2009 next round most likely. I knew many of the people at APP ADS and they were good people, some worked harder than other. But all in all good decent people who liked what they did and were great to work with. They are terribly missed by us survivors. I guess it is what it is. Shameful though. JM is a good person and most likely only doing as told by the powers above in the ivory tower of the APP. Geez, the silence and echos in the APP are deafening. God bless us all, everyone. We need it.

  90. everyone who worked closely with ketan ghandi could answer the question of why he was let go.lets just say he may have been stabbed in the back.

  91. 5:40 PM, my wife is an ad agency rep, so here's the scoop...

    Two River Times has lost some ROP, but appear to be doing well. Privately owned.

    Greater Media weeklies: GM is known for weathering the storm when it comes to the economy. They make such a large profit margin during the good times, that the bad times are a piece of cake for them unlike other newspaper companies. Privately owned.

    Princeton Packet, underwent restructuring last month consolidating all satellite offices and papers at Princeton. A handful of employees were trimmed and/or reassigned. Newshole cut (also happened in the early 90s). The Packet is launching a new portal next month, (!), which will also include coverage of towns outside its NDM. Ketan's buddy Aamir Musharif (!) is marketing director. Privately owned.

    (!) how embarrassing for Gannett!

  92. Here I thought the MOMS sweatshirt stood for Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth, Somerset counties.

  93. no disrespect to aamir but how did he go from circulation director to 6 month in desinj to marketing director in princeton packet. i dont get it but good for him

  94. You fucking losers! You are actually saying that the mom sites are unethical because they seed stories and have people impersonate others!

    What the fuck do you think THIS blog does?

    Jim Hopkins is the biggest shill and you losers are all anonymously falling for the bullshit.

    This blog is full of the same amount of shit as our mom sites.

  95. On Thursday 12/11/08, USAT cut several "marketing" positions across the country.

    12/12/2008 4:23 PM

    I have heard this news several places. I also heard it goes deeper than just the marketing department to include circulation, HR and other departments.

    When can we get some news on this news? Where are all the readers that provide the investigative reporting for Jim? I'm tired of hearing Detroit rumors - is it one day, two days all weekend? Who knows?

    This USAT thing has apparently happened and no one is talking.

    I guess if it doesn't have anything to do with editorial people or mom sites it doesn't matter?


  96. 8:30 pm: That's not exactly a rousing endorsement for YOUR mom's site.

    I have a question. You wrote:"Jim Hopkins is the biggest shill." Who or what am I shilling for?

  97. Also, Merriam-Webster defines shill this way:

    1 : to act as a shill
    2 : to act as a spokesperson or promoter (the eminent Shakespearean producer…is now shilling for a brokerage house — Andy Rooney)

  98. Thanks for stopping by mom!
    (Why do you always embarrass me like that Mom?)

  99. 8:41 pm: I share your frustration. I keep asking, but I can't get folks from advertising, production, etc., to report in.

    The closest I've gotten was a tip that a Minneapolis (I think) marketing executive told staff that USA Today was undergoing a 5% across-the-board layoff. Maybe it's not over. I'm ready, whenever anyone wants to give me their numbers.

  100. RE: Jersey papers. A publisher of weekly newspapers, Elauwit, based in Haddonfield, has been named one of the top 10 fastest-growing companies in South Jersey for the past two years. It also just started publications on the Main Line outside of Philly.

  101. 8:30pm

    The difference is that the mom sites attempt to sell advertising to unsuspecting advertisers by skewing the number of "hits" by alleged readers. The same goes for some (perhaps not all) of the "local" gannett papers' websites. Especially when Gannett employees are forced to have the afore-mentioned websites load-up on their browsers as they begin their day at work. Again, it skews the numbers to trick potential advertisers into thinking a lot more people go to these sites for news, etc. They spend their dollars but don't get a hell of a lot of business accordingly. To me, THAT is unethical and downright FRAUD.

  102. Jim, Here is a mystery for you! The Fed recently lent out 2 trillion in loans. Bloomberg asks the Fed who the recipient is under Freedom of information act. Fed responded this past Monday with "its a trade secret". No of course its not Gannett...but who is it?

  103. 8:30PM--- How dare you infer that Jim Hopkins is a shill.Shill for what-- the truth? There is not way for figure you out! Considering your own choice of vulgarity, it seems that you were well trained by Gannett and will be around for awhile.

    For your current slander of this Giant of a Man, Jim Hopkins, may you receive a genuine bitch-slap from everone who knows you and is not too revolted by your ordor to administer you punishment. (Just the added pinch of kink is so refreshing!)

  104. Is it "MILF's" or MOM's ???

  105. Thank you, 10:27 pm; you are too kind. (I am, however, barely 5'7"!)

  106. 5:21

    I was laid off last week. My exit letter did not specify anything about "outsourcing". I asked my HR manager to see if she could re-word my letter...never heard a word back from her. How can you proove outsourcing?

    I also heard during those two years you can enroll in a two year college to earn a degree and get the tab picked up.
    Any suggestions?

  107. 12:05 AM Outsourcing:
    Go google outsourcing Gannett and you'll find numerous articles about the outsourcing done by Gannett. This should help justify your claim of your job being outsourced. Also, if you saved any memos from your job about anything related to the outsourcing or layoffs, that might help. I've been saving stuff sinch last March or forwarding emails to my personal email for future reference. Good Luck!

  108. 12/12 11:02PM...had a long talk with Sparky. He likes good things in smaller packages, so he's wild over you--- if he can ever get you away from the computer. Neither of you has much time left when it will still be safe to conceive another Jim or Sparky OR TWINS!

    Sparky said that the Hop in Hopkins means that you hop like a bunny when he calls! Perfect lead for the Moms Eat Moms feature.

    WE need those smiling faces in NJ.... The last time the M.E. laughed was when he discovered he created his own Poopgate while giggling as he polished and scrubbed the Publisher's desk!

  109. 1:19 - as an ad designer, I've been saving all the crap on 2adpro I can find, including material here.

    When I get the word, I want retraining, and I want cash. If big G can swipe tax dollars to move jobs from city to city, I want to do the same thing.

  110. You could also go to the 2AdPro section of this website and print out whatever you may think pertinent. OR google 2AdPro and the website for thee India location will come up with job openings, descriptions, address, phone number, etc. Check it out!

  111. My understanding is tracking software does not count in-house hits.

    So, I guess none of you has a subscription to your paper? You wouldn't want to "skew" the numbers unfairly so you probably make sure none of your relatives get a subscription either.... or neighbors...

  112. For all the wonderful, talented designers out there in Gannett-land, please start looking for new employment now - before you and all of your co-workers find yourselves in the same boat, flooding the market with out-of-work designers. Start developing your skills in another area - go back to school. Please don't waste anymore of your precious time, loyalties or affections on Gannett.

    There is a plan, and it originally was supposed to go down at the beginning of 2008. It included laying off ALL designers and literally outsourcing everything to 2adpro.

    It became pretty clear in late 2007, 2Adpro, while "up and coming" was not ready or prepared to deal with the load of daily ads. Add to that the obvious cultural differences, and the plan didn't go off as originally expected. But make no mistake - 2adpro will rise to the occasion, will hire enough designers to make good on its promises and it will only be a matter of time before they know our culture as well as we do.

    Regarding pricing, 2ad was willing to cut deals left and right to get Gannett to sign on to their little newbie operation. Previous to hob-nobbing with Gannett execs, the only place 2ad could really be found was undercutting legitimate design freelancers at websites like Elance,com. The guy who runs 2ad is a newspaper Ad Director reject from California. He basically started in a little hole-in-the-wall apartment in Cali.

    Here's the deal - $12 dollars an ad - 2 corrections, max. Turn it to India by 5:00pm and get an ad back in your inbox by 8:00am the next day - guaranteed. Doesn't matter its size - and if the error is on India - it doesn't count towards your 2 corrections. The more ads you send, the more 2ad cuts the rate. It's like buying in bulk - what you don't get in price, you make up for in quantity (think Walmart). And forget getting savvy in web design to make yourself useful at the paper - cause 2ad does that too - at no additional cost.

    Now keep in mind, that the 2ad guy is new to this whole design thing - it's kind of like the lady who owns the salon, but really doesn't know how to cut hair - just there to collect the profit. So I think Mr. 2ad is getting a school of hard knocks education on the real world of design issues - like, no info, poor info, can't read it, design time for a 2x versus 10x , and in general changes, communications etc. This alone will keep this "deal" in limbo for a time - but only for time.

    And designers, if you are fixing ads that come back from 2ad at deadline, you are basically covering for 2ad... to the tune of your own job. If you can at all avoid it, please don't fix it.

    One other thing - this claim that if your job is outsourced, you are entitled to more unemployment seems fishy to me. Unemployed is pretty cookie-cutter. I've become rather well acquainted with the folks at my local unemployment line - and they really don't give a rats you-know-what about your situation. As far as they are concerned, everyones got a story, as they are running on fumes themselves. Unless you have legitimate documentation that says otherwise, I would expect to get the same as everyone else.

    Bottom line, newspaper design - and likely layout too, is a dying function. Now is the time to take your future into your own hands and move on.

    One wild suggestion (things that come to mind on an idle Saturday at midnight) Designers unite. Start your own 2adpro, only in the good old USA. Make a plan, organize and walk out together. For the short term it will devastate your local paper, and create high impact visibility for the local media - in the long term, you just might find some peace of mind.

    Good luck and peace to all.

  113. 9:32 PM, two of Elauwit's chiefs had worked at the Courier Post in Cherry Hill.

    The Courier Post shut down its very popular (and money making) Suburban Weeklies Group several years ago.

    Everywhere there had been a CP suburban weekly, there is now an Elauwit publication.

    To coin a phrase, how embarrassing for Gannett.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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