Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Layoffs hit the TV division, too; details, please!

[Cutting staff? Screenshot of WBIR-TV's website in Knoxville, Tenn.]

Gannett's 23 TV stations are eliminating jobs in a new wave of layoffs that apparently mirrors the cuts just enacted at the company's newspaper division, Gannett Blog readers tell me. I'm now looking for more details about the scale of this reduction, including the targeted number of jobs to be eliminated, and the date when this campaign began. (See my questions, below.)

Here's one of the latest notes I've received: "Gannett broadcasting is 'restructuring' its broadcast operations. I know this for a fact; I was re-organized right out of a job at the Knoxville, Tenn., station. Master control at all the TV stations is being centralized in either Jacksonville, Fla. (NBC and ABC), or Greensboro, N.C. (CBS). Graphics is being centralized in Denver -- and graphic artists have been laid off at all the stations, with the 10 largest stations retaining one artist. All the news graphics will done by the news producers and reporters via an automated graphics system (can anyone say, lots of typos?)

"At my former station, at least 13 people (out of 130) have been laid off, including my boss. He was in charge of programming, new media and commercial production. All of us in commercial production were laid off: Two were turned into 'backpack' client-services producers and moved into sales. They are being managed by a GSM who doesn't think quality is important. ('Everyone just watches it on YouTube or their phone, so quality isn't important.' She actually said that to me! Gee, then why is everyone buying those HD, plasma-screen monitors? Don't you think they want to see pretty pictures?)

"So, my friend, newspapers aren't the only ones feeling the pain. The TV guys are taking it on the chin, as well."

Did broadcasting division President Dave Lougee (left) notify employees in a memo? (If so, can you shoot it my way?) Or did he follow newspaper division chief Bob Dickey's example, and leave the dirty work to individual station managers? Please post replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Earlier: Layoffs at WLBZ-TV. Plus: Graphics group a 'clusterfuck'


  1. Question: What does "master control" mean?

  2. Master Control is the master video and audio switcher for the station. It's like a DJ at a radio station. In the last 15 or so years the job changed from switching between satellite, tape, and studio to satellite, video server, and studio but I think they still need employees to do it in case something goes wrong, or in case they need to get into or out of a program unscheduled.

    There is a (former) Clear Channel station in my town that had its master control facility a few hours away in another city. It was not fun for them when it rained. Without knowing much about the technical details, my first thought is that moving master control to Jacksonville could be disastrous during hurricane season.

  3. Lougee is an empty suit just like the other Broadcast executives before him...Ogden...Dubow.

  4. is that pronounced LOO-gie??

    second you on hurricane season, 4:59. once again big g's out of touch with reality.

  5. No such luck on a memo...dirty work was left up to the GM's at WCSH in Portland, and WLBZ in Bangor.

  6. I just wanted to say, as a "print'' person, that I am so sorry for our TV peers who lost jobs in these cuts, and for those left standing who probably have the same sinking feeling in their gut that newspaper folks have that this is only the beginning. I wish you strength and hope as you redirect your careers.

  7. I'll second that, 8:37 ... I was "stationed," pardon the pun, at a Gannett TV station at the time I took my USAT buyout, and a couple of months later I heard from folks there that the cutting and consolidating (graphics, for instance) had begun. Particularly nefarious, according to my station sources, was the sudden letting go of two veteran female secretarial/reception staffers of long standing there -- just "BOOM! Goodbye," is how I was told it went down.
    Fear and loathing aren't confined to the print shops ...

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

  9. Gannett owns TV stations in 4 different time zones. It's incredibly dumb to put the KARE11 (Minneapolis) master control in Jacksonville or the WUSA9 (Washington DC) master control in Greensboro.

    Why is it incredibly dumb? Football season starts this weekend, which means separate network feeds for different parts of the country.

  10. Jax laid off 3 Friday. 2 creative services and 1 in engineering. Rumor has it there are more to come soon.

  11. WBIR axed 3 more people last week. This time it was those who were 55 and older and had been with the company over 10 years. Several qualified, several turned in the paperwork, but only 3 were chosen. Supposedly, all the stations have to lay off a few workers.

    Those who remain... all are afraid of more layoffs, all wish Scripps Networks would buy us, and ALL are looking for new jobs and telling people not to bother to apply at WBIR.


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