Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dubow thanks employee 'senses of humor'

[We're so LOL! Craig Dubow in his annual photo]

CEO Craig Dubow's letter to shareholders in the just-out 2007 Annual Report is chock full of interesting observations and facts(?) about the two-year-old strategic plan -- and Gannett's rapidly shrinking employee base. Selections follow. Read, and discuss!

  • "At all times, our customers pressed us for quality journalism -- and the plan delivered."
  • "Gannett has always led the industry in innovation."
  • "Our program to train hundreds of print journalists in the use of video has been much lauded. More than 800 journalists are shooting video for their newspaper Web sites, and now more than 55 advertising/non-news employees have been trained to create video advertising solutions."
  • "Gannett's newspapers and television stations are our heart and soul. They give us our identity, our principles and our culture. And under our strategic plan, they are pumping up, acquiring all sorts of new muscles while maintaining their constitutional vigil under the First Amendment."
  • "Every accomplishment I've talked about in this letter -- our solid financial base, our commitment to the customers, our innovation and our top-notch content -- is possible because of our employees. Every one. I expect a lot from them, and I get more. They are hardworking, loyal and, increasingly, strategic. They have shouldered a difficult burden in the past two years -- maintaining our successes while carrying us through the transformation. Transformations are emotionally challenging, stressful processes. But our employees are coming through it with their creativity, senses of humor, perspective and their devotion to the company intact. I am in awe of their dedication and reserves. I deeply appreciate all their work, and I thank them."
  • "Our executive team has great talent, intellect and belief in the power of Gannett. Our employees tell us they are ready to go. 2007 helped put all the pieces in place; 2008 will see it through. I assure you, you will see great progress."

Meanwhile, back on Earth: Gannett's stock closed today at $30.23 a share, down 4.8%. Over the past 12 months, shares have plunged nearly 51%, after scoring the industry's second-worst performance of 2007. Now, remember: A smile is just a frown -- turned upside down!

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  1. Gannett might have trained 800 journalists to shoot video, but how many really are producing their own video for the web.

    At the paper I recently left, about two dozen journalists were trained, but only one person (a former copy editor) is actually shooting video on a regular basis. When he doesn't, often it's a photographer, not one of the trained reporters.

    But, of course, Currie and Carroll wouldn't know that because they never get out into the field to actually review how "far" sites have progressed.

    Saying 800 are trained, but if you look at the web sites for GCI papers, it's easy to conclude 800 journalists (reporters) aren't contributing.

    Some sites do get it and are models to be emulated. (Fort Myers for instance.)

    But other sites do just enough to say they are in their monthly reports.

  2. "Our employees tell us they are ready to go"?

    Yeah, go to another job. Hell, another industry.

  3. I've started teaching myself to make videos, then edit them, add music, upload them and write introductory text on the blog. It's a lot of fun -- and a whole lot of work. I think video can be a powerful part of First Amendment journalism, if it's done well. But that costs money, so ...

  4. Under the Grandfather point of law, I could have Dubow, throwed in a DC holding cell,for at least seven-two hours, A good part of it on his knees, I bet? If his hire mouths, does not stop threating members of my family, about any writing I am doing regarding Gannett, it will happen. Craig, if your reading this,( sources told me that a certain PR person, gives you stories about you, so you probably are). If you have anything to said Craig, you say it to me direct?

  5. Just another example of something that isn't what it seems at GCI. Video is a joke across the whole company. Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea to publish on all platforms.It's what our readers want and e xpect from us today. BUT you can't do that when we are constantly laying people off! You're right on the money, video takes a lot of time to shoot and produce. Time the Information Center does not have the luxury of these days. Again, we have our heads so far up our asses that no one wants to admit that. It really is a freaking joke that we spend so much money training and buying equipment and it never gets used. I can give you 50 like examples of exactly the same thing all over the company.
    Great idea in theory, but not practical in todays environment. however we like investors to think we are actually doing it because it sounds great.

  6. rmichem, please, do tell about the story you are writing.

  7. I doubt readers are demanding video from us on a regular basis yet. Based on the stats I've seen, articles and photo galleries do much more for the most important metrics, like time on page. Articles -- yes, good old text -- are both more popular and keep readers longer.

    It's the primary dilemma of video. Besides being expensive to produce, it's not worth it on a regular basis, but the occasional lightning strike -- which is just as likely to come from a reader at the right time and place -- has become an essential part of our coverage. And that's when you need to have the equipment and the video skills.

  8. There is only a small percentage of Gannett newspapers that do video well. Most of the videos by the majority of newspapers are hideous, the quality and content is a joke. Once in a while you will get a good spot news video from a good news shooter but it gets lost and grouped with too many videos that are horrible. I clicked on a news video once and it was 50 seconds of the camera in one position shooting way off in the distance an out of focus flashing light on a parked police car, no sound, no titles and no narration to tell you what you were looking at. And nothing happened in the video, there was no people, no action, just a police car. It is obvious the photo managers let this go on so they can tell GCI that they posted 42 videos in the month of November, they want quanity not quality

  9. Here's the deal ... I just never have figured out how I was going to be able to cover an event, take notes (for Internet updates) shoot video and snap off a few photos, too. Then rush back to the Information Center, post the punchline of my story on Saxotech, upload the photos and video, and write the story for the print edition.

    I have never managed to pull it off and it depresses me that anyone thinks I really might be able to do it.

  10. I wrote a version of this over at your other blog item about video, but it bears repeating here:

    I'm one of the 43 who took buyouts at USAT in December, and was talking today on the phone with one of my ex-colleagues who's still on staff. This person took the digital camcorder along on a recent assignment, dutifully shot footage/etc. along with notes/quotes for the printed version, and when the time came to file both, was told by the dot-commies, in essence:
    Sorry, but we don't have anybody available to edit/package that video.

    What a joke. Sounds like disarray AND a continuing disconnect between print and 'Net to me. Wasn't this one of the points of the latest version of reorganization for Your Nation's Newspaper? Who's minding this store, anyway?

  11. About a year and a half ago, Gannett did some two- or three-day training sessions at at least a couple of sites. I don't know if this was company-wide, but the "800" figure Dubow refers to may be the attendance records for such training sessions.

    We had about six people from our site attend a training, and when they came back, they were responsible for training the rest of us. Of course, they did their best, but we're all strapped for time.

    As it stands now, we have about six people (out of a newsroom staff of around 30) who regularly produce what I would consider very good quality video, considering the equipment and time constraints we all have to deal with. There are about four or five more (myself included) who produce videos sporadically and often at a slightly lesser quality than our "regulars."

    It's like many other things at Gannett...the top brass say they want us to do something, yet won't give us the proper time and resources to do it. Until they make a stronger commitment, I'm afraid the sites won't make much more progress on the video front.

  12. A good question to ask about those 800 videographers ... how many are still working for Gannett? We've had about 1/3 of our trained personnel leave the newspaper to go elsewhere for various reasons (usually because management would rather berate where they say they're going rather than try to encourage them to stay). Needless to say, the remaining videographers are feeling the pressure.

  13. At the Star in Indianapolis, we don't do on-camera standups in our broadcast-web pieces. We edit and produce the stories in third-person style - one of the most difficult forms of storytelling, I'm told from TV types who actually get to narrate the pictures. Listen, the journalistic quality is top notch. It just takes a helluva lot of time, and print reporters are still learning how to be "visual" and navigate the extremely user-unfriendly software AVID. The final product is worth it. If OT disappears here, so will quality/quantity of videos, I'm afraid.


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