Sunday, March 02, 2008

Programming note: I've 'opened' commenting

I've lost track of how many comments readers have written since I moved Gannett Blog into higher gear in January. Hundreds? Probably. In all that time, I've only spiked one (I had a libel concern). To my delight, I've discovered you like to write smart comments that are on topic. (No NAFTA! No deviations into Britney Spearsland!) So, in an experiment, I've changed this blog's settings: Comments now appear as soon as you hit the publish key; you no longer need to wait until I read and approve them. (But I'm still reading each one; I learn a lot that way.)

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.


  1. I love Gannett Blog. It's a great site about a very interesting company.
    Here's my question to you, Jim, and readers of this blog: Is anyone hearing scuttlebutt that Gannett desperately wants to get out of Detroit? You ran a post quoting a Standard & Poors report that talked about the worse-than-expected financial performance in Detroit. I have heard rumors that Gannett wants to get out of there badly because the state's economy is so terrible and is not likely to improve any time soon. And Gannett, which is in a partnership with Singleton in Detroit, has previously turned over operations it wants to unload to the Media News mogul. I believe Gannett did so in El Paso.

  2. I've heard nothing specific about Detroit. But here's the pattern I'm seeing emerge, which would likely form a framework for the restructuring plan I believe management may unveil in March; that's when, I think, all Gannett's publishers are gathering together as a group for the first time in a while.

    Gannett's aim now is to squeeze as many efficiencies out of its businesses as possible; revenue's not growing, so expenses have to come down. That's why GCI centralized circulation/customer service functions at the three big regional centers; the one in Oklahoma, I believe, could employ 500 people. It's why photo toning is being centralized and, now payroll. It's why more ad production work is being contracted to India.

    One way this is made easier is when Gannett has papers in so-called clusters -- like in Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey. When papers are physically close together, work can be further centralized to reduce headcount. So, for example, you get a single statehouse bureau covering government for all the papers in a given area. Advertising director and IT manager jobs get eliminated at, say, four of five papers in a cluster; the surviving ad director/IT director takes on the work of those four who left.

    So, bottom line: If your paper is far away from other Gannett papers, that could make you vulnerable -- especially if you're in a slow-growth market -- when the company announces just how many newspapers it plans to own in the future -- and which ones.

  3. Is "vulnerable" the best way to describe a newspaper Gannett might sell? Perhaps you could sub in the word "lucky"? In Utica, N.Y., there's a great success story happening. Gannett had owned the daily newspaper in that town since nearly the beginning of the chain. Last year, it sold Utica to GateHouse. The publisher, who used to be a partyline Gannettoid, has written several columns -- this one, specifically -- extolling the virtues of not suffocating under Gannett any longer. For the first time in a long time, it seems, Utica's in hiring mode. I suspect that's likely the case at other formerly "vulnerable" newspapers.

  4. Thanks for the tip! I wonder what other former Gannettoids are experiencing, post-Gannett, at those three other newspapers GCI sold in May 2007?


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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