But yesterday's reorganization of the newspaper division sure doesn't look like a flattening of management to me. If anything, this may be division chief Bob Dickey's way of vanquishing rivals for the job he inherited in February, from now-retired Sue Clark-Johnson. And as a Gannett Blog reader said last night, the timing of this announcement is worrisome: It comes just three days before the close of the second quarter -- a period when earnings are likely to be just "awful."
Under Dickey's long-awaited reorganization, there are now four vs. five regional groups of uber-publishers reporting to him. In fact, Dickey (above) used the occasion to add two, new top positions to his division's staff:
Left behind in the dust: Denise "Poison" Ivey, 58, president of the Mid-South Group and publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. She leaves the company Jan. 1. Also: Babs "Dominatrix'' Henry, 55, publisher of The Indianapolis Star and chief of the Interstate Group. She's gone Aug. 1.
- Evan Ray, 54, becomes senior vice president/finance and operations. He was chief financial officer of Phoenix Newspapers and group controller of the former Pacific Group. (I worked with Ray in Little Rock when I was business-news editor at The Arkansas Gazette, and he was vice president of finance.)
- Michelle Krans, 46, becomes senior vice president/Strategy and Development. She had been publisher of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and vice president of the former Pacific Group.
Of those two, Henry's departure seemed especially welcome, based on the many comments on what might be called the Friday Afternoon Massacre. "This is the most joyous occasion for all of us in Indianapolis,'' one of my readers said, in far more colorful language I won't highlight here.
Henry (above) was certainly a Gannett lifer: She'd been with the company since 1974, when she started as a reporter at the Gazette-Journal in Reno, Nev.
So, what's next?
Once you get past personal invective, think about the more important stuff: What does this reorganization mean for the future of Gannett's most important and yet most troubled division -- and for the company as a whole? "I have to imagine," one reader said last night, "there is some strategic reason for doing this now, just before the end of Q2 and a couple weeks before the next earnings call -- which has got to be awful, based on all indicators around the country."
The comment continues: "All this ugly name-calling is wasted energy. I understand the impulse; I've worked for every kind of miserable Gannettoid you can name. But the whole industry is imploding because the money is draining away. Yes, the industry has been mostly complacent and technologically short-sighted for decades, but the audience has moved on and now it's too late to save what used to be journalism.
"Brace yourself for a future where local news is a big collection of whatever the websites can scour up for free, with a little sprinkling of 'investigative' reporting as a fig leaf. Most of the customers are no longer willing to pay for more. No amount of hand-wringing or name-calling is going to change that."
Earlier: In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett
Related: the Courier-Journal's story about Ivey; the Star's about Henry
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