Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday | Oct. 7 | Got news, or a question?

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59 comments:

  1. Don't be shy; comment!

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  2. I worked in the newspaper industry for 20 years before leaving to market a patent I received in 2006. I believe I have a solution to USA Today not being able to generate insert revenue. I sent letters to the Gannett Board of Directors, VP of Circulation and VP of Advertising over one year ago. None responded to my inquiries so I have takne the concept to another industry that has similar national distribution. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I might proced within the Gannert organization.

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  3. Self-proclaimed flack Paul Pendergrass is bringing his former Portfolio.com Jack Flack blogging persona to The New York Times starting tomorrow with a debut piece he described as an open letter to Henry Paulson.

    Mr. Pendergrass, a former communications VP at Coke, said his work at the Times will focus on watching the spin game as it plays out relative to the day's big business stories.

    "Sometimes [it will be about] watching the spinners and sometimes it's watching the journalists and usually it's going to be about the game between the two," Mr. Pendergrass said. "There's a lot of spin-watching in politics but not nearly as much in business, which is interesting to me because having worked inside and around corporations all my life, they usually choose their words pretty carefully, and a lot of times there is more meaning to be picked up in what seems like an otherwise sterile statement if you really look at it."

    He said the idea behind his work will be to take what readers see in the papers break it down and present it to them filtered through the eyes of a "working flack."

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  4. What the economic downturn allegedly means to the newspaper business:

    No economic turn around
    No Deliveries
    No Sales
    No Revenue
    More Advertising Bonuses
    More Layoffs

    Did I read that right?

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  5. 9:01. Yes, plus:
    No travel
    No supplies
    No overtime or time owed.
    Executive firings
    Many executive meetings
    New ideas (plenty, especially dumb revenue-generating that "don't cost anything")
    No new equipment
    Stock price collapse

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  6. September and quarterly results due at any time now: More expense reductions? (Can there be more?) More Staff reductions? (From a invetor standpoint, there need to be more especially in Virginia at Gannett where the place is bloated with drones and do-nothings). Advertisers are scared to death because their business is slow and slowing more. Advertising money spent on ads cannot be afforded now, and, they don't work very well anyway. Doesn't look promising. Anyone out there hearing anything about more upcoming lay offs? Maybe they'll wait to just before the holidays since they (Gannett) doesn't give a damn about their employees now or ever in thepast.

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  7. As part of my preparation for next wave of LAY-OFFS I've built my own "SEVERANCE PACKAGE", I've been buying Out of the Money PUT OPTIONS.

    The confluence of Global Credit Contraction, the natural migration of advertisers and readers to the internet, and a smattering of short-sighted authoritarian management policies that destroy the company's most valuable asset - it's employees morale and sense of having a common goal has made for a Perfect Storm of Investment Opportunity.

    Made more than 1 year's pay. Still might lose my house, but at least I'll have money for Campbell Soup and a Coleman stove for my tent.

    By the way, I'm not an officer, executive, or member of the board of directors. Just a grunt that that Production VP from the mid-west would probably look down on as much as he looks down on carriers.

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  8. Actually, you can buy an insurance policy or a credit default swap against your layoff, so you could have protection when you are called to human resources. Talk to your stock broker.

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  9. It's amazing that investors haven't dug into the bloated staff at McLean. They have a director for every subsection of every discipline. Most of these people couldn't hack it "in the field" so they were mercifully relocated to keep their so-called talent in the company. Look at Leslie Giallombardo as exhibit A -- groomed to be Nashville pub, WAAAY in over her head, then moved to Mclean to come up with brilliant revenue ideas. I hate seeing hard working employees suffering for this company's lack of vision and me-centered strategy, but I must confess, the implosion has been much more sudden and much more fulfilling than I could have possibly imagined. This is what happens when you continuously put cronies in position of power without thought given to their leadership aptitude.

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  10. 11:47 The biggest bloat in McLean is in the corporate Finance department. They have six, count 'em, six VP and above level executives. That does not count the two finance VP's in the newspaper division for a total of 8. At 300K a pop that is at least $2.4 million for executive number crunchers not counting company cars and country clubs. It looks like the folks that are making the rest of our life hell are not looking to get their own house in order.

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  11. Agreed. I am still having a very hard time believing these people didn't trim some folks up there after this latest round of cuts. It's just amazing. In economic terms, very few of these positions add any value to the products that the newspapers are trying to put out with reduced resources. I'd love to see a list of direct, objective contributions to bettering a newspaper or a process that any of these people have initiated or implemented. How many monkeys does it take to change a light bulb again?

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  12. Before making wild comments about people in finance, you might want to consider that a multi-state and multi-country business like Gannett has many different state tax rules to comply with. Add that into the federal tax work, the SEC requirements and other responsibilities and I hardly think these people could be called "monkeys."

    Maybe if some of you spent more time writing quality stories, instead of posting on blogs, maybe the company would be doing better.

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  13. On Friday, someone posted a rumor about Gannett taking our frozen pension and putting it in their piss-poor stock. Is there any relevance to this?

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  14. I doubt seriously any of the VPs mentioned above have anything to do with filing any taxes. GCI has a tax department for that. The mediocrity runs the gamut -- GG (the old school curmudgeon who should go the way of the "Larrys" to J-AW who is so out of touch when conducting newspaper audits that she repeatedly has to be filled in on even the most mundane and routine of practices.

    Again, not speaking of the worker bees who actually do the work -- and file the taxes, but the parasitic management who add no value and perform no purpose other than self preservation. This is representative of the exact pains that happen in an organism's evolutionary process: realization that is quickly going to go extinct, then pulling out all stops to ensure it's own survival, ultimately to no avail. I'd say that "monkeys" is quite a euphemism to describe many of these people.

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  15. The leaf-Chronicle has just been told that we are shutting down all production in the building effective November 30th that is 37 jobs on top of the 9 jobs from creative that are leaving on the same that was announced a few weeks ago. All jobs that are laid off will get 1 week per year worked. Printing operations will be taken over by the Tennessean.

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  16. This is the best blogs yet. Especially 11:36 LOL.

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  17. monkeys everywhere should be insulted!

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  18. Yeah, your right 1;59 monkeys, everywhere should be insulted. I just bet you that the person who wrote 'THEGANNETTBLOG SUCKS" is really insulted!

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  19. Even worse news coming:

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Advertising spending through 2009 could echo the record declines seen in 2001, with local ads expected to fare worse than national ads, an analyst said Tuesday.

    Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Wienkes sees companies cutting back on advertising across the board given that the investment bank's economists have trimmed their outlook for U.S. gross domestic product — a bellwether for ad spending. Struggling automakers, for example, are expected to continue to trim advertising.

    In a research note, he said local ad spending will see a steeper drop than national ads and advises investors to stay away for now from ad-related stocks. For 2009, he is forecasting that network television ads will fall 5 percent year-over-year, excluding the one-time lift enjoyed by NBC for Beijing Olympics coverage.

    Cable networks should see a 1 percent drop but local TV stations ads are seen falling by 17 percent. Excluding political ads, ad spending is expected to decline by 7 percent year-over-year.

    Ad spending declines for radio, outdoor, magazines and newspapers are expected to range between 5 percent and 10 percent.

    Wienkes prefers companies with more national ad exposure than local, such as Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc. over CBS Corp. and News Corp. He lowered his price targets by 11 percent on average across the group.

    He said national ad growth will slow down in the fourth quarter, but will be propped up by fairly stable profit trends for the top 10 sectors while the positioning of new products and market share fights will keep ad spending in some sectors stable.

    In morning trading, Disney shares slipped 44 cents to $27.82, while Viacom shares dipped 54 cents to $23. CBS shares fell 20 cents to $12.73, and News Corp. slid 11 cents to $10.69.

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  20. Every day that passes with less revenue, more debt and a collapsing stock price serves as a reminder that the newspapers in this chain can ill afford the unnecessary bureaucracy called Gannett headquarters. It's pretty bad when the papers and stations that are the heart and soul of the company have to lose workers in order to preserve the incompetent/misguided/overpaid Peter Principle types at HQ. There are absolutely no synergies between GCI papers and stations, no need to force them to remain in the same dysfunctional family run by absentee parents in Virginia. The papers/stations stand a better chance of survival on their own, and Gannett stockholders would be better off if the company packed it in, hired an investment adviser and sold everything to the highest bidder.

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  21. 2:12 Is this news? Give me a break.
    Besides, NOBODY has a clue what 2009 looks like....NOBODY. Not even the hotshot analysts at Goldman who forgot to warn of a total economic collapse.

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  22. 1:44 You comment is typical of the attitude of the self serving senior finance executives in this company. You over value the contributions of the senior finance executives but you minimize the contributions of all of the employees you are so anxious to cut at the operating units. You are a hypocrite. There is less money to count so we need fewer people with bloated salaries, country clubs and company cars needed to count it. It is ironic that you have the time to comment on this blog, but tell others that do so that they have too much time on their hands. Another example of you being a hypocrite.

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  23. 2:53 Maybe you are right, and so the billions of dollars in 401K and other investment accounts that follow your analyses of the market will respond to what you wrote. Goldman may be on its uppers and it indeed financial news when one of their leading advertising analysts makes predictions of what ad budgets will look like in 2009. At least he has talked to controllers of those monies. Have you?

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  24. Local ownership is the only model that works for newspapers in this day and age. It will soon become very inexpensive (more so than it already is) for individual buyers to snap up local properties here and there. Private ownership = no real Wall St. analysis of P/E ratios, etc. and more importantly, it equals a return to journalism and community watchdog reporting BEFORE profit at all costs.

    Throw out all the stops, o ye monkeys, put your cronies in positions of power throughout the company, cut the people who add value to newspapers, and try to permanently imprint your backward thinking philosophy of fitting a square peg into a .....well, no hole at all. But above all, know this: the time is nearly upon you when investors and stockholders and the public will see all, and the once-mighty will fall. Local owners will purge the last vestiges of inept management at the newspapers and embrace a new philosophy.

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  25. Where are all the staunch republican george w. bushies now that the economy is tanking........they are all wanting mccain acting like the last terrible 8 years didn't happen!! I was wondering if they could name one thing out of the eight years bush was in office..........name one good thing he did that he didn't screw the f**k up!?

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  26. I need to put my 401K in gold, but I discover I cannot do that under this damn silly plan. Anyone know anyone who can help.

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  27. no terror attack in U.S. since 9/11.

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  28. Yeah, no more terror attacks. I'm pretty sure that if you research the facts a little bit, you'll find that Barney Fife and other socialists/democrats in congress pushed hard to make housing available to everyone at any costs and know, as is usually the case, wealth redistribution saves their asses again.

    ..."Mr. Speaker, there is no crisis at Fannie Mae under the exceptional leadership of Franklin Raines....." Taken from the congressional record.

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  29. 3:11 I saw 7 financial experts on CNBC last night who were literally "speechless' when asked for their predictions of where the markets and the economy are going.
    NOBODY knows for certain.
    It is that scary.
    However, we can predict it will be a very tough 6 months. Even with all the sophisticated financial models on wall street, they cannot even gauge this mess.
    I can guarantee you though that readership in news in way up.

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  30. Over the last year some Gannett papers cut their Business sections and stuck a page or two of business at the back of the sports section. Now people need business news and they will not be picking up those papers.

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  31. Corporate in McLean is long overdue in cleaning house. You haven't a clue how many GCI staffers are sitting around doing crossword puzzles, talking on personal calls all day, playing computer games, or watching soaps on plasma tvs. You could be in and out of those revolving doors all day taking care of personal business - and no one gives a damn.

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  32. Isn't this the time of year we're asked to sign up for our health benefits?
    I haven't heard a word, has anyone else?
    I can only imagine what's going to happen to that cost this year.

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  33. Cramer just said that companies who cut back on advertising will do far worse than companies who invest at this time.
    He was talking about Hershey's announcement that they will increase ad spending by 20 percent this year.Guess we really dont know which way most companies will go.

    He recommended buying this stock.

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  34. The NJ Group wrote the book on bloated staffing. Just look at the layers of managers as well as the do-nothing managers that continually keep their positions. And they keep operating in the red...must have ties with someone somewhere...

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  35. 19 more days of 500 point losses on the Dow Jones, and we are down to zero. It's all over folks. GCI cannot sustain itself in this storm, and I don't know how long I am going to be able to feed the kids.

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  36. I never realized the economy was this fragile.

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  37. 6:48 that is particularly true at Asbury. Both a senior VP of Circulation and a VP of circulation. Then in HR, both a VP and a director. Makes no sense. None of the above are impressive.

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  38. To 6:48 It is very true at the Courier-Post. For example, in the 'advertising department' there is a classified manager who is unqualified beyond comprehension and a "manager" jsut under him who has forgotten more than he ever knew or will know. This is going on because the ad director is a complete disaster. Ad director appointed this guy (classified manager) with no qualifications. Someone have pictures or something? No one can figure out why the ad directgor is still there in that position. Also, there are a couple of ad sales zone managers who do nothing to contribute anything, but sit around the office all day (between personal phone calls, etc). What's up with all this???? And, three more staffers in the ad department have resigned. One was a very effective retail sales person another an ineffective sales rep and the last of the three was the guy who ran the online sales. Rome (err, Cherry Hill) is burning up while the butt head who is running the place is kept by Gannett. Go figure?????????

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  39. It would appear that this blog allows too much criticism of the NJ Group, but one would need to actually come to East Brunswick, Bridgewater or Asbury Park to see and experience the inefficiency and lack of talent. While much of the blame for the downfall rests with the inept advertising and production managers there is also a serious failure in the newsrooms.

    In each of these newsrooms you will find several excellent "eager beaver" reporters just out of college working for editors who cannot write coherent copy on any of the topics the readers care about. Indeed, these editors must depress the hell out of the cub reporters! Very soon, even the loyal readers (those who read the editorial page and the obits) will move on.

    And each day, we sit there wondering how some of the current management ever survived the cuts--and why so many really people were let go BEFORE they had a chance to quit.

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  40. 8:09 Couldn't agree more. Lot of good people were let go and losers were kept. Those kept were the ones that sucked up and told the publisher what he wanted to hear. HR is totally inept and wouldn't/couldn't help employees. Sad.

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  41. Anonymous said...
    The leaf-Chronicle has just been told that we are shutting down all production in the building effective November 30th that is 37 jobs on top of the 9 jobs from creative that are leaving on the same that was announced a few weeks ago. All jobs that are laid off will get 1 week per year worked. Printing operations will be taken over by the Tennessean.


    was this expected? is anyone else alarmed about this?

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  42. To: 4:55 PM

    Gannett has had a self-directed 401K where you can purchase whatever you want for years. Stop bitching about something when you haven't even done the research....

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  43. 6:48
    Talking about people having ties with who knows who...in Asbury, there's a few who still linger on like dingle-berries. One in particular is not a manager, but a supervisor in the production dept. He gets away with murder and truthfully I can't stand working with him any longer. I have my resume out there and hope to get away from him soon.

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  44. Hello 4;59 and others buying out the banks and other corporations isn't socialist enough for you under "W's" term? Everything this guy said he would never do as president he has done including nation building. Maybe you ought to do your homework and also find out the truth about 911 too. They are the foxes guarding the henhouse! Wake up you idiots! Before there is nothing left and we have to borrow everything from china. When will you people realize that we are borrowing everything from china because bush has bankrupt the country with his ilegitimate war. You ought wake the hell up fool!!!!!!Oh yeah by the way he, king georeg, called himself a conservative too!!!! thats the funniest part becuase he created the biggest part of goverment of homeland security and is still creating more levels with the bailout and has spent us into unbearable debt and still insists on the IRAQ war while our country is on the verge of crumbling like the world trade centers. What Bin laden couldn't do to us ............George is the real weapon of mass destruction he is doing more damage then the terrorists!!!!!!!!

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  45. Anon 11:44--The Gannett I (fortunately) left 2 years ago had a 401K plan that was difficult and miserable to self-administer, didn't offer many options, provided no practical advice to my situation to help make the decisions plus it didn't trade anywhere close to realtime. Maybe the person that you chastise had a similar poor experience? It was self-direction MAYBE but that was in the dark!

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  46. MORE How the other half lives...

    From LA Observed:

    Note to sources at the Los Angeles Times

    I've never felt the need to do this before, but it seems prudent to alert the Los Angeles Times staffers who help me stay informed about the inner workings of the paper. According to multiple sources at the Times, new publisher Eddy Hartenstein has been calling it "treason" for employees to share information with LA Observed. Now, it's easy to dismiss his rhetoric as beginner jitters — history has seen plenty of media publishers who naively try to muzzle the journalists who work for them, only to learn that it can't be done. (Never mind that it's antithetical to why the paper exists.) Before Hartenstein arrived in August, the Times gave up fretting about the newsroom memos we post here and started publishing them too, sometimes first. LA Observed is no longer blocked on employee computers at the LAT's Olympic printing plant (or at KTLA Channel 5) and the link to LA Observed was restored to the blogroll at the Times' local news blog after pointedly being dropped. (After all, Zell did decree no more censoring.)

    And yet, solid sources have let me know that current Times leadership is unhappy enough (or paranoid enough) about stuff getting out to consider action against staffers. I don't know if Hartenstein is thin-skinned enough to retaliate — especially given Sam Zell's famously relaxed rule book — but he is throwing around the t-word. So take precautions — use your personal email, our PO box, or pick up the phone — and don't presume they aren't watching. And be assured that I will continue to report accurately on the Times with your help and, as always, will never divulge my sources.

    I emailed Hartenstein and Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan about the treason comments a couple of days ago and have not heard back.

    Unrelated, let's hope: Tell Zell, the blog that claims it is written anonymously by a Times staffer, has only updated twice in the past month and has yet to mention this week's new wave of buyouts and threatened layoffs that socked the battered LAT newsroom in the gut. Sources tell me Times bosses have been mightily interested in discovering who writes Tell Zell and have a watch list of suspects -- but really, does the most troubled newspaper in the U.S. over the past couple of years have time to worry about stuff like that?

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  47. At one NJ newspaper, we have a "Stragetic" person in the advertising dept who cannot make a sales call alone. This person was given the position over others who are far more qualified. It has become the joke of the office now.

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  48. To 7:34 in NJ: I think I know who you are referring to and yes, you are right on all counts.

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  49. NJ we are sick of hearing from you and about you. Get your own blog. This is the most immature BS I've ever read. What are you people? 10 years old?

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  50. "We''? What did you hold a vote at your last book club meeting. Give me a break. NJ folks have as much right to gripe as anyone else does. I'm sick of hearing about voting irregularities in Florida, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be covered or that we should vote them off the island. Also, umm, hearing the relative woes of USAT employees is probably less relevant to most of us at smaller papers than hearing about papers of similiar size. And stop lumping everyone in Jersey together. The papers aren't all the same and the concerns brought up here aren't all the same and I doubt Jim is going to silence a state with 6 papers in it anytime soon.

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  51. Regarding the post about the big bloat in Finance...does anyone have a clue what they do? With SOX you need at least that many to get through the government red tape. And the thought they make more than $300k apiece, I bet they'd all jump for that salary. There is a wharped sense of the corporate bunch. Bloated? How about all the cuts? How about the reductions they've made. Give me a break. Shut up and complain somewhere else. "Making the rest of our life hell are not looking to get their own house in order." If you only had a clue.

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  52. From the POSTS related to Craig Dubow's "Silence", It amazes me this man is so weak-willed that he can't come clean with us.

    When he took over in July-2005 GCI was $72.00 Per Share, now it's $14.50 Per Share. GANNETT has LOST $13,110,100,100.00 on Craig Dubow's watch.

    I don't blame him for all of this loss, Hell no one saw the magnitude of the economic collapse, but for Christ's sake Craig step up to the plate (like those airline C.E.O.s did last spring when fuel was destroying their company's and they laid-off Thousand to survive) and take a 50-or-60% pay cut to demonstrate that ,like George Washington, your a leader who is in front of his troops in battle; not hidden in a bunker somewhere. That would get you a huge improvement in morale.

    If Dubow took a 50% pay cut he'd still make $70,000.00 PER WEEK. If he and the wife & kids can't get by on that, he should'nt be running a lemonade stand.

    I wish I could hear Dubow's and the Compensation Committee's DIRECT justification for paying him $145,000 PER WEEK fro the last 169 WEEKS while over the same 169 WEEKS GANNETT'S MARKET VALUE has DROPPED $77,570,000 PER WEEK.

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  53. 7:34 Sounds like Asheville's management. LOL

    I figure the Asheville paper will be sold soon and the hardest working and lowest paid people will survive. I am sad to say that years of service don't mean that much anymore unless you make minimum wage.

    So does anyone know when the new owner is going to post an ad for a Creative Director to run Advertising?

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  54. To borrow a line from Micheal Keaton in the movie GUNG HO regarding management's ability to think outside the box (and not like laywers & bean counters).

    "Quite frankly, I don't see, I don't get it, I'm not impressed."

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  55. 8:46 You say that Gracia, Gasho, Gavigan, Ehrman, Henn, Wimbush, (and probably some other Senior GCI finance VP's doing god know what) are all necessary and don't average at least 300k before perks? You are the one that is clueless. Get rid of any 3 of them and you have a million bucks. They are the ones that are raping and pillaging the rest of the company and yet nothing has changed for them. The hypocrisy of management is sickening.

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  56. 10:04.....DON'T monitor minute by minute or day by day changes in GCI Price. Looks at 6-month, 1-year, 3-year, 5-year, 10-year & 25-year trends. Goin down the slope of Mount Everest you always come upon small bumps & hills that go up briefly.....but the TREND is down. Look at our clients General Motors closed at $7.73; undjusted for inflation I think that's lower than the price in 1934. Ford close around $2.50 and its credit rating in ONE LEVEL above DEFAULT.

    DON'T INVEST in this MARKET. None like it since 1929-to-1933 !!

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  57. 949 Gasho hasn't worked at Gannett for years.

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  58. 8:12 A.M.: Sorry you are tired of hearing from and about the New Jersey Group! All things considered, you might request a copy of the Courier News or the Home News Tribune before being so callous. Both newspapers, along with the other four NJ papers, speak for themselves. They are amateurish efforts by minimally qualified management to keep these newspapers in print. Everyone can candidly admit that it would require a communal effort of the six NJ newspapers to create just one newspaper with any substance and quality.

    And why should the rest of Gannett care? Be honest! Most are being forced to create the same miserable examples of "newspapers" while being treated very poorly by publishers, editors, advertising managers, production managers, and HR people who simply would never be tolerated across the river in Manhattan.

    Good luck, brothers and sisters in the rank and file of Gannett nationwide.

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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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