Friday, December 10, 2010

Iowa City | In mystery, general manager resigns

Looks like West Group President Laura Hollingsworth has swung her ax again -- this time, at the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The chopping block
The paper's general manager, Dan Brown, has resigned, the paper disclosed in spare, four-paragraph story yesterday that doesn't include the usual fond farewells bestowed on executives departing under good graces. Brown had been GM since July 2009; he joined the paper in 1991.

Hollingsworth, who also is publisher of The Des Moines Register, told a staff meeting that she hoped to name a new GM "soon,'' the paper says.

As head of the West Group, Hollingsworth oversees more than a dozen other newspapers, including The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif. In September, Sun Publisher Richard Ramhoff left his job, also without warning; his departure got the four-paragraph treatment, too.

The Press-Citizen's circulation is 10,129 Monday through Friday, and 12,396 on Saturday. It does not publish Sunday.

Text of Press-Citizen story
General Manager Dan Brown has resigned from Press-Citizen Media.

That announcement was made to Press-Citizen staff at a meeting Wednesday by Gannett Co. West Group President Laura Hollingsworth. She said she hopes to name a new general manager soon. Hollingsworth, who is president and publisher of The Des Moines Register, oversees the Press-Citizen as well as more than a dozen other newspapers.

Brown joined the Press-Citizen in 1991 as an advertising account executive. He served in several positions during his time at the Press-Citizen, including marketing director and advertising/marketing director. He was named general manager in July 2009.

Executive editor Jim Lewers will be responsible for Press-Citizen operations until a new general manager is named.


  1. Wow, that's a loss. Dan Brown is a brilliant guy. All the best to you in the future, Dan.

  2. This is a loss, as Dan was a rare breed: Thoughtful, unafraid to speak his mind (FYI, this may be what got him on Laura's bad side) and deeply connected to the Press-Citizen. He loves the paper and loves the town.

    Sadly, the division between the Top 31 sites and the Non-Top 31 sites (that's the unfortunate and insulting label that the beancounters put on the group of smaller community locations) has truly become a matter of the haves and have-nots. Many of the NT-31s, including the P-C, are being scaled back to the barest of bare-bone operations: No press of their own, little or no creative, no Finance resources, no IT or HR resources, no Marketing resources. Just News and Sales. So, when the mandate comes to cut another 1% or 2% this period or quarter, these GMs have very few places to go for money without firing people (and, trust me, the NT-31s are very, very bare bones). Our company has decided, but not announced, that NT-31s don't make enough money to fret all that much about. Sure, they make decent ROI, but in the end, what Dan brought in for a year's work wouldn't cover the above-salary bonus we pay to Bob. So why bother spending time or resources with them? As a result, we're scaling them down to "flying gas cans," as Jim once said in a previous post. With the introduction of the Design Centers, these sites won't be more than storefront operations, feeding digital and print content and ads to centralized centers for production.

    Think about this: If you were to sell the P-C now to someone, what would you have to give them? Really, nothing more than a small list of Iowa City staffers, a subscriber list and a nameplate, as all other assets are outsources, consolidated and merged.

    Couple all of this with the recent announcement that the P-C was selling its building and likely moving into cheap rental space and you have true believers like Dan dying on the outside as well as the inside.

    Dan will land on his feet, though. He's brilliant and creative. I wish we could have kept him because, as we transform to whatever we become, we need more like him.

  3. 20 years with the same paper. Promoted through the ranks. Probably very intertwined in the community. If he couldn't cut it as GM (which I doubt) the person who put him there should be examined for their judgment. But that won't happen. Yet another loss of a long-time employee and veteran newspaper person. Now what? A new GM with no local ties. No advertiser relationships. No "in" with the community shakers and movers. It seems the typical formula for Gannett's demise.

  4. You got it, 2:23 p.m. Too bad Gannett seems incapable of getting it!

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

  6. man, that was soooooooom cold butted news story. The ice cycles fairly dripped from the words! Poor guy. Well, that's what you get for speaking your mind in Gannett.

  7. I wish Dan well. He was as committed to Gannett as anyone I know, until about two months ago. Up until then he kept trying, but in the end the good ones can't make it work. I don't know who made this decision, Dan or someone further up the food chain. What I can tell you is that if it was Dan, it came after a gut-wrenching couple of years. And if the call came from elsewhere it's a shame.

  8. Jim Hopkins by the numbers:

    0: Papers Jim has managed.

    0: Papers Jim has edited.

    0: Employees Jim has supervised.

  9. Dan was one of the good guys indeed - a really loss to GCI


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."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.