Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bulletin: CEO Dubow earned $4.7 million last year; includes $1.5M bonus after he ordered mass layoffs

Gannett paid Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow $4.7 million last year, a sharp increase over the $3.1 million he took home in 2008, the company just disclosed in a regulatory filing. Dubow's 2009 pay included an all-cash bonus of $1.5 million, the filing shows, and came after he engineered record layoffs and other cost cutting across the company.

Gracia Martore, promoted last month to president and chief operating officer, got $4 million as chief financial officer -- more than doubling her $1.4 million in 2008. Her 2009 bonus: $950,000, this morning's filing shows.

The figures, disclosed in the annual shareholder's proxy report, came after Gannett shed more than 6,000 jobs during the year through cuts that included a broad layoff in July. The company also imposed two rounds of furloughs and a one-year wage freeze for employees in the U.S. newspaper division and elsewhere. Combined, those moves helped drive Gannett's stock to yesterday's close of $16.78 from a 2009 low of $1.85.

Martore's big pay increase was foreshadowed last month by a 50% boost in stock options granted to her by the board of directors over what she got a year ago. That followed the board's decision earlier in the month to promote her to president and COO -- a reward for her role as the prime architect of the cost-cutting drive that pulled the company from the brink of bankruptcy.

The company also disclosed annual pay for three other top executives in the document's summary compensation table:
  • Bob Dickey, president of the U.S. newspaper division: $1.9 million, including a $410,000 bonus
  • David Hunke, publisher of USA Today: $1.9 million; bonus: $355,000
  • Chris Saridakis, the chief digital officer: $1.3 million; bonus: $330,000
With her promotion last month, Martore got a $250,000 raise in her annual base pay, to $950,000, effective this year, Gannett disclosed at the time.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

66 comments:

  1. And some of that $4.7 mil was made off my work. For which I was paid 11% less than the year before, if you include 10 days of furloughs and a 6% pay cut. Thanks, Craig and co. Really makes us peons feel great. Just one of the many reasons I left.

    Of course, my current CEO makes quite a lot off what I do as well, but the difference is this: at my new, non-Gannett job, I feel like the company actually cares about its employees.

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  2. It's certainly tone-deaf to be taking large bonuses when you're permenantly laying off more than 10% of the company.

    But never forget that the Board, by design and by law, is the creature of the shareholders. And from the shareholders perspective, Dubow and Martore saved Gannett in 2009. After the largest worldwide economic disruption in 75 years, bankruptcy was on the table in the early part of 2009. Possibly the employees think that would have been a better option --the stockholders, and their elected representatives on the Board, most certainly would not.

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  3. Bravo...Good for them. They all deserve their bonuses. Stop complaining. Look at the stock.

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  4. Thanks, Craig, Bob, et al for your immoral actions that send morale back into the dumpster here at Pacific & Southern!

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  5. Wake up, Wall Street. The top execs at GCI are raping this company. Look at the state of the community papers if you want to see the consequences of this unparalleled greed. There is no future for GCI, no matter what the stock indicates. Wait and see what the Q1 results show.

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  6. Executive bonuses at this time are way out of line, just as they were last year. Bonus? For what? For "rescuing" a company that they led to the brink of bankruptcy?

    I recall in the mid to late 1990s when my site was hiring hand over fist. At one point we had an editor for every three reporters! They had all these new slots to fill to conform to yet another cockamamie corporate program, which like all the others went no where.

    My point is that Gannnet has a long history of wasting money on useless programs and then recouping it from its employees.

    Executive incentives abound, but not for front-line workers. In Westchester a reporter can do the best job of all time and get a 2.5 percent raise. Or he/she can do nothing and get a 2 percent raise. (These figures are somewhat dated since raises of such magnitude are unheard of).

    Meanwhile, the products are weaker - saw a story that ran six days after the fact (time reference buried near the bottom) - and no one seems the least bit concerned.

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  7. So the only thing that matters, 10 a.m., is the stock price?

    Their reward for laying off 10% of the staff, thereby increasing the stock price, should be that they get to keep their jobs. They don't deserve big, fat bonuses on top of that.

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  8. I'm still wondering if he reads, and is proud of his company's news products. wondering the same for board members.

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  9. This news really warms the heart and makes me feel great about going to work so Dubow and Co. can get richer. Here's hoping for an even $5 million salary and $2 million bonus in 2010 for ya, Craig.

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  10. Saridakis gets a bonus even though the digital division showed a decline in revenues in the last quarter, compared with the previous quarter. Now they are not going to report quarterly digital revenues, we won't know for a year what this division is doing. Looks like a real loser to me.

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  11. Journalism 1960's: Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
    Corporate journalism 2010's: It's good to be King.

    After reading this post, I'll call in sick for tomorrow - with a legitimate reason.

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  12. Let them have their money now because they are going to rot in hell for eternity.

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  13. Those bonuses came on the backs of employees who were hit with 3.6 percent pay cuts and more if they earned over $90,000. They wonder why morale and their products are in the toliet.

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  14. 9:41 and 10 a.m.: It's true that managment deserves some credit for keeping the company from going into bankruptcy. The problem with bonuses like these -- both within Gannett and other companies -- is that they are ruining America. Stockholders and board members should have the brains to compare GCI stock not only against last year but against long-term trends.

    GCI stock is still way down from where it was five years ago. From that standpoint, Dubow, Martore and company are massive failures and they should be fired, not rewarded. Yes, it's impressive to build a stock from $1.85 to $16, but they're the ones who let it slip to $1.85.

    Even the ridiculously high paid NFL coaches are held more accountable than these clowns. When is the last time you saw a coach take his team from 14-2 one season to 3-13 the next and then get celebrated and sign a contract extension for improving to 6-10. It doesn't happen.

    The fact that you nearly kill a company and then bring the stock back to half what it was just a few years ago does not deserve a bonus. Don't forget that these folks actually made considerably more through stock options. In the long run, the company's downturn will end up profiting them.

    This is not a system that Americans should be satisfied with.

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  15. This sucks, the people in the trenches should be treated as well. I work for a Gannett paper, took 2 furloughs, and no raise, health insurance increases, and they make you feel like you should be grateful to have a job.
    Yes, I am middle management, but don't believe everything you hear, it is not a picnic, in the past year and a half I have lost over half of my staff, and guess who gets to cover, and I am not paid near what other middle management throughout Gannett is paid.

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  16. EXCELLENT post, 11:59am!
    You should consider becoming CEO; you have the proper reasoning.

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  17. Hey Jim:
    Go five pages further in the 14A and look at the tens of thousands of options Dubow and others have that will be undoubtedly expiring worthless in the next couple years because they're so far underwater:
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=84662&p=irol-SECText&TEXT=aHR0cDovL2NjYm4uMTBrd2l6YXJkLmNvbS94bWwvZmlsaW5nLnhtbD9yZXBvPXRlbmsmaXBhZ2U9Njg0MDgxNSZkb2M9MSZudW09NTA%3d

    I think I feel a tear welling up...no, that's just the spring pollen!

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  18. annual life insurance premiums paid by the Company for Mr. Dubow in the amount of $53,900 and for Ms. Martore in the amount of $30,500; (ii) a matching contribution of $7,350 to each NEO’s 401(k) account other than Mr. Saridakis who received a matching contribution of $12,250 to his 401(k) account; (iii) a Company contribution into Mr. Saridakis’s DCP account in the amount of $24,308 (for an explanation of this payment, see discussion of the Deferred Compensation Plan beginning on page 36); (iv) premiums paid by the Company for supplemental medical coverage; (v) Company-provided automobile, (vi) occasional personal use of Company aircraft; (vii) Company-provided lunch during working hours, as needed; (viii) legal and financial services; (ix) payment to Mr. Hunke in the amount of $250,000 to reimburse him for a loss incurred as a result of the sale of his former residence in connection with his relocation to USA TODAY headquarters following his promotion to President and Publisher of USA TODAY and a tax gross-up payment in the amount of $118,732 to Mr. Hunke in respect of that relocation benefit, each as provided under the Company’s relocation policy applicable to management employees generally; (x) Gannett Foundation grants to eligible charities recommended by each NEO of up to $15,000 annually; (xi) tax gross-up payments of $2,218 to Mr. Dickey in respect of his 2008 relocation benefit, as provided under the Company’s relocation policy applicable to management employees generally, and $1,348 to Mr. Dickey related to his attendance at an employee’s spouse’s funeral at which his wife accompanied him, as provided under the Company’s humanitarian trips policy applicable to management employees generally; and (xii) premiums paid by the Company for travel accident insurance, which for Mr. Dubow amounted to $30,380 in 2009. The NEOs also occasionally receive tickets to sporting events for personal use if the tickets are not needed for business use, for which the Company does not incur incremental costs.


    nothing like a free lunch on top of everything else....

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  19. Remember to withhold your votes for the the executive compensation committee. HARPER MAGNER MCFARLANE WILLIAMS. Purely symbolic since the fix is already in.

    Was not Craig out for a large portion of last year? Did this have any impact on his bonus? But then did having him in the office have any impact on the company?

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  20. 1:32 pm: Hunke's six-figure housing relocation benefit is similar to what Dickey got a year ago. These guys show terrible judgement in their personal real estate purchases.

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  21. Gee and my wages have been frozen for 2 years now!! Must be nice to know you are taking the food off others tables just to be able to pay your Maid to set yours!!!

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  22. Truly sickening. Truly vile. I can't wait for my 1 percent raise next February.

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  23. Check my reading, but it appears that bonuses were paid in cash again -- continuing last year's decision to no longer require that executives take at least 25% of their bonuses in company stock.

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  24. By my rough math the salary increase for the CEO amounts to about 35-40 salaries for journalists. Way to go Craig. And you weren't even working for part of the year.

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  25. @11:59

    "Even the ridiculously high paid NFL coaches are held more accountable than these clowns. When is the last time you saw a coach take his team from 14-2 one season to 3-13 the next and then get celebrated and sign a contract extension for improving to 6-10. It doesn't happen."

    Interesting comparison, so let's extend it. Please tell us which publicly traded newspaper company in the US "won the Super Bowl" in 2009, and by what metric?

    If you're going to fire the coach, it's because other coaches did better that year --which coaches did better in 2009 in the newspaper industry?

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  26. Dickey got paid for attending a funeral? Am I reading that correctly?

    Let's not forget that all these bonuses were "earned" in a year that the company applied for tax breaks (training grants and others) in Indy. Tax payers should be furious if those were approved for a company that apparently pays a top dog to attend a funeral, for God sakes.

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  27. How do you give a bonus to a guy who took half the year off?

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  28. This is the year that USA Today's hilariously phony circulation-padding comes home to roost.

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  29. Vile blood-sucking squids wrapped around the face of humanity.

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  30. RAT BASTARDS.....

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  31. Piss on their mother's graves.

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  32. I had a crappy day today. I tried really hard to get stuff done, but things kept happening (legitimate reasons) as to why I got very little accomplished. I was feeling genuinely bad about it, but nothing that prevented me today was on purpose. (I'm trying to make it clear I was *NOT* watching March Maddness -- I didnt even know it started today until someone told me yesterday).

    But I don't feel bad anymore. I get the concept that top dogs make top bucks -- thats just the way this stupid country works. But his compensation should have been capped at 2008 levels -- the same mine was.

    Basically, Dubow and Martore got a raise AT OUR EXPENSE.

    I'm floored. I really hope corporate still monitors this blog: DUBOW, YOU SUCK.

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  33. Just had a thought.....is it fair to classify his compensation as over a 50% raise?

    We may get a 1 or 2 percent raise for a good evaluation. So, on a 50k salary you'll earn an extra $1000.

    $3.1 million x 51.15% =$4.69 million.......

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  34. The bonuses were based entirely on the result of cost savings (cuts). NOTHING was done to enhance customer value. Lower staffing to cover stories, lower page counts, lower circuation, smaller newsholes, increased online ad rates based on search engine traffic, etc. etc ad infinitum. All these came on the backs of employees, readers and advertisers. Hey Wall Street, check out the Emporer's new wardrobe!

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  35. http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2010/02/09/memc-ceo-forgoes-bonus-money-will-go-to-retrain-workers/

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  36. All CEOs in American corporations are well paid and they treat you well because the companies are still making money. They have layoffs plans in their drawers in case the companies are not doing well. The only way for revenge is to move up the corporate ladder and become a CEO. Or you have the choice to move to another company that treat you well. But you will find they will dump you when the management want to keep their bonus. Complaint is useless and find your own ways to get out.

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  37. We are expected to do more and more and more with no salary increase, furloughs and elevated medical benefits expenses. And these clowns get rewarded. This company sucks. What are they doing to retain employees when the economy gets better and jobs are easier to get? What?

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  38. Basically, Dubow and Martore got a raise AT OUR EXPENSE.

    Damn skippy!

    Now old Bushy boy would call this the "trickle down effect". LOL! Yes, pissing down our backs and telling us it's raining.

    Or we could title it with Jim's words: There comes the Donner Party or as another poster so apply called them cannibals that eat their young!

    Wow, not even on the job for an extended period of time and getting a raise! Tomorrow I'll ask my boss if I can get a raise after a 4-month vacation! Let the party get started. LOL!

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  39. The bonuses were based entirely on the result of cost savings (cuts). NOTHING was done to enhance customer value.

    Yes, what a truthful statement. Eventually the well runs dry. Just a matter of time. But in the meantime the clique (Mafia?) needs to get their dollars.

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  40. Craig Dubow is a modern-day Steve Ross, late unlamented CEO of Time Warner. When a recession was going on in the early 1990s Ross received salary and stock options totaling $78 million while Time Warner was laying off 600 employees. Ross would be dead of cancer within two years yet the perception that he was a corporate titan masked the fact he was a greedy bastard.

    It is no coincidence that in news judgment and coverage Gannett mirrors Time Warner -- tailor content to fit US government policy. It is no coincidence that in corporate governance Gannett mirrors Time Warner -- enrich the CEO and his cronies while screwing the rank and file. Not surprisingly Gannett's audience and prestige has fallen as badly as that of CNN. Guess who owns CNN?

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  41. IF you still work for this godforsaken company at this point - and are mad and upset enough to say things like 'piss on their mother's graves'.....well, YOU are the problem.

    At this point it shouldn't surprise ANYONE, let alone current employees. Yes, the big shots didn't do a damn thing to contribute anything of value to the company other than slash jobs....but that's enough. The milquetoast board of directors - and now a bean counter is in charge - all signs that the Gannett apocalypse is near.

    Get out. Then you can just sit back and laugh as I am about the perils of the big G.

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  42. Come on Jim! You can criticize them for a lot but saying Dickey and Hunke have bad real estate judgment..please. Every person in America who owns a house saw their value go down by 20 to 40 percent. We understand you hate the fact they got large bonuses but please, show some journalistic perspective. I mean dude if Sparky didn't own a home, where would you be?

    Now if you want to ask a real question why did Dubow get a big bonus when he only worked less than half a year. Now that is a legit question.

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  43. If my relative died and I later read that one of the mourners accepted something in return for attending the funeral, I'd be so very offended.
    Does anyone have that humanitarian trip policy handy?

    Is this a joke?

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  44. Yes, they have raised the price of the stock by draining the company of value. Great for the short term, but a disaster in the long run.

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  45. 3:27 -- I think my football analogy works fine. In the NFL, coaches are regularly fired because they "didn't meet expectations" not because they didn't compare well to other coaches.

    Tony Dungy, Steve Mariuchi, Don Shula and numerous others have been ousted at times when they compared very favorably to other coaches in the league. They just didn't meet the expectations of ownership. Clearly, Gannett's expectations are low but that's part of the problem.

    If you're asking me what mainstream newspaper company won the Super Bowl last year, I guess I'd have to go with the New York Times Company. The Super Bowl winning team is not necessarily the most profitable, it's the won that put the best product on the field and, in that regard, Gannett would barely make the playoffs.

    When you look at the best papers in the country in terms of quality, Gannett may own one in the top five ... and that's questionable. The New York Tmes, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are clearly superior to USA Today, and I think it's arguable that the L.A. Times and a couple of the other big metros are better as well.

    When you're talking money, Gannett held up better, but only because they made massive cuts to the core product. Had they cut the "coaches" the profits would have been even more impressive.

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  46. I work for a Media News news paper(Dean Singleton,CEO). We went through staff cuts, pay cuts, furloughs, vacation cuts and more this last year, and morale couldn't get any lower. The company filed for bankruptcy to reorganize their huge debt, and the big shots got huge bonuses for getting the bankruptcy done ahead of schedule. The rank and file are sick to their stomach. I have to find another field, I'm so disgusted but things are tough out there.

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  47. 9:16 -- Sorry to hear that. I think Media News is one company that's even worse than Gannett. Not only do they seem to have similar policies, but they have even bigger financial struggles on top of them.

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  48. Marie Antoinette's head ended up on a pike. Not that I'm advocating violence. But, giving yourself fat bonuses while the company flounders is not sustainable.

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  49. "The emperor has NEW clothes!"

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  50. The worst thing about newspaper bankruptcies like MediaNews and Tribune, is that the lenders actually agree to let the guys who stuck them for BILLIONs keep control of the company.

    The Marie Antoinette analogy is quite appropriate. There is a ruling class, of which Gannett Directors and Corporate management are members, that will never be restrained from their excess unless their is an uprising. When bankers pat guys like Dean Singleton and Sam Zell on the back for losing their money, well, game over.

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  51. From a humanity point of view (is there such a thing in big business anymore?), I don't know how these execs and board members sleep at night. I couldn't in good conscience lay off so many employees and then keep a monsterous bonus that could help the company as well as the employees. When will the Boards start hiring execs that aren't greedy pigs and truly care about the employees and the product. It is possible to find people that actually care about doing the right thing AND can build a strong business. Execs need to roll up their sleeves and share the pain. I for one, will not buy products or stock from companies that behave in this manner.

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  52. 12:34 -- I agree with you. The trouble is our financial system is set up to reward companies for short-term gains, while there is little incentive to build a company that is sustainable for the long run.

    Letting GCI stock drop to under $2 a share last year was the result of major mismanagement, yet Dubow and company were rewarded for that gaffe because they were able to cash in hundreds of stock options worth eight times what they had to pay for them. In other words, we've created a system where the rich and powerful are rewarded even for their failures. It is far more lucrative, after all, to cash in 10,000 $2 options for $16 than to cash in 10,000 $35 options for $40.

    Some will say that management deserved those huge bonuses because it built the stock from $2 to $16, but that's bogus. Stock prices are still well below what they were when Dubow took over, so his regime has unquestionably weakened the company. Yes, he's in a tough business. No, there aren't easy solutions to the dilemma newspapers find themselves in. But that doesn't mean he should be rewarded because times are tough. We're not being rewarded.

    He should receive his base pay and suffer like all of his employees until he discovers a way to make the company thrive and grow beyond what it was when he took over. And -- as his managers are fond of saying -- if he doesn't like that, he should quit. After all, he's just lucky to have a job in this economy.

    Of course, he actually could quit because he has amassed a small fortune over the past five years, and it won't matter if he leaves the company in shambles. When you have $10 or $15 million in the bank, you never need to work again, and that's the game corporate America plays.

    As for humanity, it gets tricky. I, too, wonder how these guys sleep at night. But then I remember that I have clean water, a warm home and enough food to give my kids while there are many, many people in the world who dream of that sort of situation.

    Should I give up my comfortable -- albeit pitiful in contrast to Dubow's -- situation and send my money to those poorer than me. Some would argue, "Yes." And I'm not sure they're wrong.

    So, I think it's all perpective. Dubow, Martore and company no doubt believe they have earned the right to live like kings. And I'm sure they would look at giving up their vacation homes the same way we might look at giving up an expensive mountain bike that we use on the weekend. We also don't know what their bills are like. If they have mismanaged their personal lives as badly as they've mismanaged this company they might need a big portion of their paychecks just to keep afloat on all the bills they have.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm nto defending these folks as I think they're all conmen and conwomen, but it's easier to understand a situation when viewed from a different perspective.

    Hang in there everyone. We'll be OK!

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  53. Anon 1PM - Anon 12:34 here.......
    Here is my different perspective -- I strongly believe in capitalism and earning/keeping the fruits of ones labor - but not earning it by climbing over the bloodied bodies of my employees and to the ultimate detriment of my company. Each company has to decide what it wants to stand for as a Brand and corporate citizen. They need to hire leaders and employees with the same values. Gannett has made it very clear what their corporate culture and values are. Unfortunately, they are only one of many big businesses doing things in this way. I don't work for Gannett, or even know anyone that does (or did). I just find this all disgusting and reiterate, I will never by products or stock (or work for) a company that does business this way.

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  54. OK, so let me get this straight: Content is king and the future of the news biz.

    GCI lays off 6,000 people, mostly responsible for, well, content.

    Between Dubow, Martore and the other, GCI shelled out $5.28 million MORE last yr on salaries/bonuses.

    And someone can easily explain why it's better to spend $5.28 million more on these five clowns than on actual CONTENT?

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  55. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is an old story --

    But do stockholders read?

    So the company lays off all its geese, looses it golden egg layers but the CEO still makes money?

    One supposes that the vault probably had enough cash to pay the CEO bonus but that by now its empty.

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  56. Gannett, worst job ever. I live in squalor with no health insurance and a medical bankruptcy over my head thanks to Kool-Aid swilling Gannett flunkies. But ya know what? I'm happier. I miss writing, but Gannett cured me of journalism forever.

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  57. Still don't see anything in the proxy that tells shareholders and the board about the OT lawsuit filed in, I believe it was November last year. Seems they used to include that in a section called unresolved employee something-or-other. If you see it, please let me know where to look. If it's not there and should be, shame on Gannett.

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  58. Let it be known that I'm a capitalist, and I'm all for companies turning profits (ideally, large profits). But when I see CEOs like Craig Dubow making out like bandits -- while Gannett downsizes and lays off personnel -- it makes me sick.

    I hope Mr. Dubow sleeps well at night.

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  59. How much more will he make after dumping Honolulu and Detroit?

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  60. So Gannett sent all employees who own stock the proxy by work email but it was very coy and many people i know trashed it without reading it. I kept mine, forwarded it home and just now voted for proposal four which would stop the tax grossup that is part of the tricky ceo secret lucrative bonus pay that is killing so many companies. also voted against the 2010 omnibus exec compensation and against debow returning to the board. me and my 848 shares feel better.

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  61. Here's some interesting Hunke real estate details from the Bloomfield Township Assessor site http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/ :

    When Hunke moved to Detroit he paid $1.5 million for his home in Bloomfield Hills, MI (Parcel # C -19-24-377-003) in November 2005. He was actually able to sell the home in July, 2009 for $950,000 for a loss of $550k.

    I'm surprised that he was able to sell it in this really crappy economy and based on an earlier post detailing his USAT compensation that Gannett didn't cover the difference between purchase and sale price in full. I suppose his salary increase by taking over the helm at USAT probably covers that and then some.

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

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  63. It's great to be ex-Gannett. I'm a journalist again - in a smaller market with not nearly the pay as before, but I've fallen in love again with what we do. Reading this blog again (I gave it up for more than a year) is like a kick in a the gut. But it's a reminder of why I'm glad I'm gone. The focus in Gannett corporate is not on good journalism, and announcements like this only distract hard-working newsrooms from trying to get a paper out. Sure, these ëxecs" should be ashamed, but I gave up long ago thinking they'd ever really understand the importance of what we do.

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  64. This really upsets me, I cannot believe that the little guy has to go without pay and do furloughs several times to save the company money but then the company turns right around and gives it to the CEO's to live high on the hog! What is this world coming too! I am ashamed to be working for the company let alone disappointed in the company. And then to throw it in our face and print it all over the papoer! What the hell?

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  65. I cannot believe that he gets a big raise or bonus....regardless.... if Gannett feels the need to spend money......Fix up the offices they are delapidated and falling apart and obviously the heat has been turned off for several weeks to save money so we all freeze in our offices. This compnay is a joke that I work for!!! Worse company I have ever worked for in the Corporate world!

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  66. To Anonymous who posted at 10 a.m. 3/18/10, who correctly notes the dramatic share price increase over FY 2010. Yes, but it's largely an artifact of the market. Over the same period (May 2009 - March 2010): The Dow Industrials were up 2,600 points; Post/Newsweek was up 100 points; A.H. Belo quadrupled. I'm a capitalist and used to advise whiners to buy the stock but as Anonymous 3/18/10 10:30 a.m. rightly notes, there's no future in media stocks. And in the face of life-altering layoffs, this pay level is just wrong.

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