Friday, May 16, 2008

Reader: Broadcast moves graphics work to Denver

[Mile high: Denver TV station KUSA's homepage]

Updated at 4:24 p.m. PT: A reader now says the company producing the "mundane" graphics discussed below is Chyron of Melville, N.Y. Stock picker Jeff Smith at Seeking Alpha wrote about Chyron's growth prospects in March.

Updated at 10:11 a.m. PT: TVSpy now says as many as 50 employees were affected by what the broadcast trade site is calling "bloodletting at Gannett."

Earlier: The TV division is consolidating graphics production for its 23 stations at a single new facility to be called Gannett Graphics Group, or G3, in Denver, a Gannett Blog reader says. As part of that move, Broadcasting laid off a number of artists at the 23 stations yesterday, the reader says; I don't have the exact number. Those laid off may apply for work at the new Denver facility, the reader says. Denver is home to both KUSA and KTVD.

Larger stations will keep one artist, and G3 initially will have 10 artists, the reader says: "Unlike NBC and Media General's art houses, Gannett has entered into a deal with a company that can generate most of the mundane daily graphics automatically, letting the G3 artist concentrate on the high-end and complex animations."

The Denver launch is part of a broader and apparently accelerating series of cost-saving moves across Gannett, and it follows a heads-up on Tuesday from Broadcasting President Dave Lougee. G3 came the same day USA Today consolidated regional financial work for its circulation department, reducing the number of well-paid controllers to six, from 17 positions. Overall, as many as 50 jobs were eliminated, my readers have told me.

The background graph
Gannett's Wisconsin papers are establishing a regional copy and design desk. Earlier, GCI consolidated customer service, photo toning, and other services at regional locations, where fewer people presumably can do the same (or more!) work. In its most extreme economizing step, Gannett is now eliminating scores of ad-production jobs at its newspapers, shifting that work to India under a contract with offshorer 2AdPro of Los Angeles.

What's next: Will the newspaper division open regional art departments to produce graphics for its papers? Don't forget: clustering may lie ahead! Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

23 comments:

  1. Mr. Yesterday5/16/2008 12:44 PM

    As one who has worked at a non-clustered GCI property, let me ask this:

    As Gannett consolidates, streamlines, clusters, etc. will it start to look to sell off franchises that are NOT in a certain geographic group? And if yes, what GCI properties do people think might/may/perhaps be on the block?

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  2. Excellent questions, Mr. Yesterday! All: Does anyone have any advance intelligence on this?

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  3. Jeez. Why don't they just take the next step and replace every local Gannett paper with USA Today? Now THAT'S consolidation. Maybe I'm joking, but I wouldn't put it past them.

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  4. I would also like for the artists in Ad Production to speak up... What were steps that led up... What changes were made at your paper before the axe fell. SPEAK UP...

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  5. Know that TV news graphics are consolidated, are the print news graphics next? It wouldn't be that hard Gannett News Service already has a centralized news graphics department that the GCI papers use.

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  6. Typical stuff. The timing sucks of course. If these moves all appear legitimate, sensible, and good business, why didn't McCorky get them done under his rule?

    If done during the "fat" times, there would be less angst and anger. Now all of these fall at once...appearing to be bailing out.

    Now the entire workforce is worried about security. At the worse possible time.

    And the lack of upfront communication is what really sucks. HR has no role for the working person. They are an affront.

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  7. I know anon@9:58 was joking, but think about it. Consolidating all of GCI's newspapers into USAT with a local wrap is a marvelous idea. As GCI continues cutting into the bone, readers are flocking to its products and revenues continue to skyrocket. Clearly, this is the way to go. If success in Westchester has proven anything, it's that readers don't really want a truly local newspaper.

    Oh, wait ...

    From a strictly business standpoint, consolidation and layoffs make sense. When revenues fall, you have to trim from the expense side. To a point. We're how many years into this transformation and revenues continue to slide. At what point does GCI realize you can't cut your way to success? That's Economics 101. Dubow may say his transformation is in its infancy, but Gannett has been cutting and consolidating and clustering for a decade at this point. Local GCI journalists can produce all the great content they want, but if a plan's not in place to draw in readers, drive revenue and build market share, it's like being a passenger on the HMS Titanic. With Dubow being the mad violinist who keeps on playing even as the ship's sinking.

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  8. They have given up on communication with the newsroom about two years ago, and it was never really upfront before that. But at least they use to hold those yearly meetings with those stupid charts showing all the business numbers trying to trick the employees into thinking that they can make it through the hard times. The sad thing is they don't even bother holding those state of the union meetings anymore.

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  9. They have given up on communication with the newsroom about two years ago, and it was never really upfront before that. But at least they use to hold those yearly meetings with those stupid charts showing all the business numbers trying to trick the employees into thinking that they can make it through the hard times. The sad thing is they don't even bother holding those state of the union meetings anymore.

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  10. Are you kidding? Insults and eggs would be thrown. Dubow is the end of a long list of stupid CEO's who have been riding the gravy train for so long. I see nothing to correct myself on that comment.

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  11. Sorry, but its business. If they can make it work, keep the ratings up and keep viewers happy who are any of you to tell them they're wrong? Last I checked a publicly traded company had the responsibility of acting in the interest of their investors.

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  12. Yes, but you miss the million dollar point. Without good, talented, hard-working, energetic, dedicated employees, you have zero.

    The history is well known on Gannett. It is no mystery. The facts are known.

    The Regional Presidents had total control over budgets and expenses.
    They controlled the lives and careers of hundreds.

    It was never a level-playing field.
    Human resources always favored the employer and not the employee.

    The likes of Watson, Stier, Sherlock, and Collins...they won at any cost. SCJ probably was no saint either.

    The stockholders do not know of the toil behind the scenes.

    Their mission statement...was often a farce. And their silence, no comment, tells legions.

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  13. Every business, public or private, has a moral obligation to its hard-working employees.

    When companies make that their No. 1 priority - investing in their people and infrastructure - profits take care of themselves, and EVERYBODY wins. (Think Google.)

    Gannett is practicing the antithesis of that business model, and has been for the last 10 to 15 years. And the performance of the stock price over the last two years tells you all you need to know about how well its morally abhorrent plan is working.

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  14. As much as I feel for those laid off, a public company has NO moral (or financial) obligation to their employees. Companies have been laying workers off whenever the company management deems appropriate.

    In fact, a company is shirking its responsibility if it doesn't cut costs by reducing headcount if it can.

    HR isn't supposed to favor the employee - it's job is to manage the employee-employer relationship.

    Of course regional executives have control over budgets. Why shouldn't they?

    As for communication, companies rarely communicate the kinds of transformational plans that Gannett needs until they are ready to execute them.

    There are still 46,000 of us talented, hard working employees.

    everyone should expect that there will be more cuts and consolidation in any area that there can be, especially in places like information technology. Does every newspaper need to duplicate the same people and systems of every other newspaper?

    It doesn't make sense to have the level of duplication that Gannett has. While it sucks for those who get laid off, companies have been laying people off for decades and it doesn't make them the anti-Christ.

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  15. Anonymous @ 6:04 p.m. ...

    Your first sentence speaks volumes. And it's morally reprehensible. If that's what you truly believe, I will pray for you. Here's hoping you find peace, and the insight as to why that kind of thinking is wrong.

    People should always come first. Always.

    Like I said in my earlier post. When they do, profits take care of themselves.

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  16. anon 5/16 9:18 p.m.: Sounds like you may not have ever run your own business. A company does not have a moral obligation to maintain employees when it is losing money.

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  17. Companies are not obligated to cut headcount. They ARE obligated to cut costs. But should do so smartly. Do we really need so many high paid executives that add little value to the product? Is the skill level of reading the spreadsheets to evaluate a business's sales and expenses so rare and exclusive that it requires a full time person with the compensation equal to 10 people who can actually do some good for the product?? No. But who will question their value? Themselves? Shareholder have the right to question. Since most employees are shareholders, speak up. What are they going to do to you? Fire You?

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  18. Anonymous @ 6:04.. Jesus Lord, I hope you are not our Publisher! I will pray for you as well.

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  19. The following was sent to me as an e-mail, by an anonymous reader; on their behalf, I'm posting it here as a comment:

    Also to Anonymous @ 6:04 p.m. ...

    "As much as I feel for those laid off, a public company has NO moral (or financial) obligation to their employees."

    What a crock!  The plutocrats that run the company (and others, apparently) do need an occasional reminder that shareholders are not the only stakeholders in this enterprise.  Too often, the company neglects the valid interests of both its customers and its employees as part of its culture of cost control and excessive profit margins.

    If a company takes care of its employees, 99 times out of 100, the shareholders' interests will be protected as well.

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  20. To Anonymous at 6:06 a.m. ...

    Actually, I own my own business. We're doing very well, thank you. Every employee is quite happy. And our bottom line, well ... we can afford to take Thanksgiving week off and the last two weeks of each year. (In addition to our vacation weeks.)

    Oh yeah ... Zero turnover. Zero overtime. And our customer satisfaction: 100%

    The employee / customer centric model does work.

    I wish you well, my friend.

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  21. 5:55 may I come work for you? I like your philosophy and Totally agree. Companies do have moral obligations - at the very least to provide employees with the resources to succeed at their jobs.

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  22. From Anonymous @ 5:55 ...

    I established my business model after carefully studying those at UPS (free health care to all employees), Starbucks and Google, and reading the following books:

    -"True North" by Bill George
    - "Go Put Your Strengths to Work" by Marcus Buckingham
    - "Good to Great" by Jim Collins

    "True North" is a fantastic illustration of how employee-centric thinking, even in publicly traded companies, drives success and profitability.

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  23. To Anonymous 5/16/2008 6:04 PM:

    Gannett earned $1,055,612,000 last year, net. It's by no means a money-losing enterprise. Earnings fell by 9% vs. last year. It's a matter of public record, right there on the company's annual report.

    Last year -- again, according to the annual report -- GCI's stock fell 34%, vs. 30% for its peer group and 25% for the S&P Publishing Index.

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