Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week Dec. 20-26 | Your News & Comments: Part 1

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  1. Blog-wise, we're now entering two s-l-o-o-o-w holiday weeks through the end of the year.

  2. Well then, it's time to write you a little Christmas Card, James.

    You do more for the "infomunnity" than the "infomunnity" does for the community that watches and reads what we do.

    We try like hell, with what we have, to get the information out there to the people that still care about our products.
    May people still care. Many people want to have something they can call 'my paper', my "news show"
    And now, "my website".

    We want to make a good product. We want to be proud of what we make. Sometimes we can..Sometimes there is enough time, and enough people available to get out there and do it.

    Most of the time there isn't. And we don't do it.
    It's not like we didn't try.

    It's was just more important to post on Mom's like Me, that 3 minutes of boiling nipples is the best. And that sometimes babies wake up in the middle of the night. And speaking of nipples. the Metromix pages must be updated BEFORE we know that South Korea is being barked at by North Korea, again.

    MY Christmas card to you is just a simple thanks.
    For being there, and fair, and square.
    A Big thanks from the "infomunnity"

    Thank you Jim..

    ( I am not a writer so no grammar jokes please)

  3. Gannett Digital12/20/2010 7:25 AM

    Well, looks like WSJ finally broke the story...Internet Ads have taken over Newspaper advertisements as measured by spend. $25.8 billions spent in online advertising vs. the $22.8mm spent in newspapers. I wonder what is taking Gannett so long to hire a Chief Digital Officer.

    It is scary to think that it has been over 8 months since Mr. Saridakis resigned from that post and Gannett still has not filled this critical position. This should be priority #1 for Gracia Martore as the COO of this dump.

    We all know journalism is ciritical, but newspapers are DEAD. The printed medium is dying and digital is the fastest growing medium today, yet Gannett dones not have anyone leading us into the future (actually, the present!).

    There were many of us who were excited when Crig Dubow announced the position of CDO in January of 2008. We were even more excited that someone like Saridakis would join Gannett. Now he is gone and we are hearing that all his colleagues from Pointroll are leaving too. He and his team are innovators and should have been embraced by the Board and the leadership team. It is now almost three years since the introduction of a CDO and we have not progressed.

    Something is wrong here. Seriously wrong. Digital advertising is exceeding newspaper and Gannett still has a blind eye toward it.

    I cannot imagine these leaders deserve any bonus, especially Martore and Dubow.

  4. How many Gannetttoids are having a great Christmas week ?
    The office, during Christmas week, used to be a very festive place with lots of baked goodies and treats and ..most important lots and lots
    of good cheer and high spirits! A great time,
    a great place to work,life was good !!
    It was like 3 or 4 days or a family gathering.
    That was 2007 .Now ,it is like a funeral,with everyone wondering when the last days will be ..
    or who will be gone next or will the doors be closed altogether.
    Merry Christmas to all !!!
    May the last one employed please lock the door and turn off the lights .Happy fricken New Year !!

  5. 7:25 is on the mark. Gannett is leaving money lying on the ground by not going after digital more aggressively. I am life-long print and am wedded to the dead-tree product. But I see the handwriting on the wall. By the time corporate wakes up, it will be too late and they will be left in the dust. This is a company that prides itself on its business acumen. Corporate needs to look at itself and ask why no one wants to come to work for them in a six-figure job as CDO.

  6. Any word on who will be the Lafayette, La., publisher? Or could there be a consolidation of publisher duties among several papers?

  7. To all the pro-digital folks. Wake up call! The problem is, we charge too damn much for it!

    Check out what we're charging for Yahoo, Careerbuilder, Cars.com and you'll see why we can't sell it.

  8. Game-changing digital people do not want to work here - it's that simple. The word is out on Gannett, Gannett Digital, and our inept management team.

  9. The "print product" is fading only because it is being made to fade by the very same people who relied on it's being in the first place. Nothing says a good newspaper cannot coexist with the internet age. Did newspapers die with the telegraph, radio, or television as predicted? NO. papers can survive if there are people who care and know how to keep up a product people want...and people still want it...just not as is for the cost asked for.

  10. Gannett Digital will be non-existent in 6 months. There is no one to lead them.

  11. Our city's Gannett paper looks terrible.
    Very poor design - perhaps, as someone said above, that's "by design" to kill it off sooner?
    And all the kiddie freelancers they use to take photos aren't in the same league as the tiny number of staffers remaining. Nothing makes me turn the page more than a lame photo with the lead story.

  12. Gannett Retail Advertising Group dba Franchise Xpress in Chicago, under worthless leadership, has finally closed up shop. Happy Holidays!

  13. Gannett Digital has fallen apart. No leadership, no one cares, and no one shows up anymore. You couldn't pay anyone millions a year to take on that job. It is sad to see that this division is truly on the brink of failure.

    Btw, I heard we are selling MomsLikeMe to CafeMom. Can anyone confirm that rumor?

  14. There was talk of a Moms Like Me deal before, although I can't recall the name of the purported acquirer.

  15. Standing in line at Michael's craft store, a heavy print advertiser for as long as I can remember, and saw this sign posted at the register:
    "Sign up for Michael's e-mails to learn about sales and specials, as we will no longer be advertising in any newspapers."
    Sad to see.

  16. How many people were still working at Gannett Retail Group that were laid off? Was it the whole group?

  17. I'd like to take a moment and sum up this thread:

    Gannett Digital-Useless
    Momslikeme.com-Even more useless
    Franchise express-anyone? Yep. Useless

    Michaels-probably going out of business and can't afford to advertise.

  18. 6:10 -- Your post speaks to one of the problems with online advertising. Retailers with high name recognition can advertise on their own Web sites a lot cheaper than on the Web sites of others.

    It's also extremely cheap and effective to use e-mail lists. I would bet Amazon.com's traffic is higher than that of most major newspapers. So, all they have to do is train people to go to their own site.

    Local businesses will have more trouble with this, but even they can cut back on advertising once they train people to visit their own sites.

  19. I heard Gracia Martore wants to shut down MomsLikeMe.

  20. 8:32 PM Yes, that's why Gannett and newspapers overall are losing huge revenues. The big retailers like Macy's, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc. have drastically reduced their media dollars from newspapers and into continuing to develop their own e-commerce websites, email lists, Facebook pages, etc. Plus, they have to compete against huge e-commerce websites like Amazon for consumer dollars. That, combined with the recession, makes for a very negative outlook for newspapers.

  21. 8:32 and 9:35... Next time you go to Home Depot, or Taco Bell or anywhere really, look at your receipt. Brilliant pieces of marketing they are. "Enter now for your chance to win $1,000" Just log on to their website, enter your e-mail address and POOF! You will automatically be on their e-mail list that they didn't have to pay for. It targets their customers directly as you obviously shop at their store. They will e-mail you advertisements daily at zero cost to them, get you to browse the site and maybe buy something. They don't need an ad rep or agency or advertising budget on a par with print advertising. Think about it. Bye-bye newspapers.....30

  22. Minnesota not impressed. I hope he is not here long.

  23. gannett was late to the online dance and its no surprise that digital revenue is not where we would all like it to be. this is not because gannett hasnt been aggressive with their sales efforts; believe me they've beat the digital drum to death. some of the fore mentioned posts are spot on, there is no reason for advertisers to spend their digital dollars with us when there are so many other viable and less expensive options. unlike the monopoly that our print product held for years and years, cyberspace belongs to everyone.. the newspaper was more or less an inbox for gannett to rape and victimize advertisers who really had few options on the print landscape when newspapers were on top of the food chain. im not saying there were no other options, but when it came down to reaching the most number of people, nothing else came close.. so lets suppose gannett does figure how to sell digital, would that be enough? not really. dollar for dollar, advertisers will never pay the same premium rates for online as they spend on our newspapers. there is no new money generated from gannett's digital portfolio, only reallocated revenue. gannett's business model for online is built out of necessity to remain relevant more than a genuine desire to fulfill a gap in the marketplace. monetization only works if you have a product that someone needs.. our websites are just as bad as what our newspapers have become with a shrinking newshole gobbled up by wall-to-wall advertising.. so whats next? ive got a few ideas ill save for another time

    so whats the answer? ... i love the internet as much as the next person, but

  24. I read earlier this week the comment on the Palm Springs publisher Mark Winkler who bought a multi-million dollar house after laying off several Desert Sun employees in the name of re-structuring. Is anyone surprised? After all he had to fund his new director of advertising Sara Weaver who is rumored to make close to $200K per year! The previous ad director got kicked to the ground as scapegoat for the last publishers failures, watch out Sara, from what I hear from Denver Winkler would do the same.

  25. I heard Gracia Martore is really impressed with MomsLikeMe. And since I'm posting anonymously, you can rest assured that it's true. Right, 9:07 PM?

  26. 4:02- good point. But there is rampant speculation that both digital and print Moms are going bye-bye (one way or another). While comments like "Gracia doesn't like Moms" are completely useless and serve no real purpose. The actions of USCP management and recent, obvious direction from the crystal palace say much.

    I'm no My Boss, but my guess would be that it's gone by the end of Q1.

  27. On Michael's dropping news ads: I shop there frequently and that has been posted in my local store for quite a long while--I'd guess at least a year. Long enough, anyway, that I no longer am even aware of it. I do get their ads in my e-mail and like that fine, as I can print out as many coupons as I wish, if I wish. But the print ad still arrives every Sunday in my (non-Gannett) local paper.

  28. 12/20/2010 7:05PM asked - How many people were still working at Gannett Retail Group that were laid off? Was it the whole group?

    At Franchise Xpress the entire group was laid off, Jim Lipson the VP of the department was fired a few weeks ago and the 3 remaining staff were let go yesterday. Even though it was a small division they brought in cash for ALL the Gannett newspapers that local ad reps were getting.
    My question to the powers to be a the Crystal Palace did you have to wreck these peoples holidays by closing them down before Christmas?

  29. Requiring us to work through Franchise Express rather than our local (former) advertiser cost us more in community good will and actual dollars than any (read zero) franchise-related advertising that came our way. Thanks for nothing.

  30. 10:43AM who made you work through Franchise Xpress, we were always allowed to sell to local franchises, any revenue brought in by Franchise Xpress was just extra cash in our pockets. I for one will miss working with the sales reps who were very professional and will miss the extra cash in my wallet. To those reps who were let go, hang in there and wishing you a happy holiday.

  31. Franchise Xpress (Gannett Retail Advertising Group) was a strong division several years ago. It was allowed to fall apart, especially over the last two years. Very poor management, poor vision, like a boat set adrift with no one steering. This past year we were set up to fail under an even weaker plan. Our group was told we were part of the NST (national sales team), but were never included in their functions or plans. The last 3 in Chicago were let go yesterday. 2 of the 3 combined for over 20 years of service to Gannett. What a great Christmas present.

  32. 11:55AM From the sound of things the 3 people let go were doomed to fail, and that lays solely on the heads a lousy management team. But what do expect since overall Gannett is run by a bunch of people who don't have any idea on how to run the company in the changing times. Good luck to and those laid off in the coming days.

  33. Points for our next CEO:
    -Is the life cycle of a corporation enhanced or hurt when all the CEOs come from within.
    -When journalism is our business (or maybe it's not the focus anymore), should our CEO have credentials that show a hand in decisions leading to heralded work? Have they been in the battle carry a video camera or laptop?
    -Or is plain old business acumen all you need to lead Gannett.
    -Do our leaders profess an appreciation for those on the sometime dangerous front lines of getting and publishing information for the public.
    -A CEO valuing diversity would have a diverse inner circle. Does the current CEO keep diverse company inside and out of the box.
    Advice for current leadership, take the risk and the time to get to know more personally on the front lines. During site visits, walk around without a posse and ask how things are going.

  34. 12:02,your talking about doing real work, won't happen,THEY DON'T CARE,
    but they STILL do get that pay

  35. Until more than 50% of our revenue stream comes from circulation we're in the advertsing business. Not a concept I expect my friends in the newsroom to grasp anytime soon.

  36. Since when do the local sales reps get franchise express money? In any event it's sad to see folks loose their jobs this time of year, but it has zero impact on my numbers.

  37. @4:44 PM, are you suggesting that any of the current upper echelon demonstrate "plain old business acumen"? If so, can you tell me when they did so? I must have been out on furlough that week and missed it.

  38. Randy Lovely sent out a memo today at the Arizona Republic announcing that Tracy Collins will head up the design center in Phoenix when it goes live in May. He currently oversees the Republic's design, graphics, photo and copy desks. No word yet on how this will impact those departments at the Republic.

  39. 1. Gannett is buying CafeMom for several hundred million dollars and will be closing down MomsLikeMe and removing the local newspaper MLM advocates.

    2. Major executive will be leaving Gannett in Q1 2011. Rumors have been focused on Dubow, but looks like Mr. Hunke will be announcing his "retirement".

    3. Pointroll will name Sandy Dondici (current head of operations) as the new CEO of the company to replace Jason Tafler. Mr. Dondici has already interviewed with Mrs. Martore.

    4. Large budget miss within GannettLocal and Yahoo Partnership has caused a downward revision in budget for 2011 and will require large layoff's across USCP local sales team.

    5. Furloughs will be announced shortly for selected areas. Bonus payouts have been reduced significantly for 2010. Most bonus eligible employees with see upwards of a 40% reduction in payout.

  40. I'm replying to 12:02 & ditto on your reply, that's the problem it never happened

  41. I can't imagine that Martore would "retire" Hunke after less than 2 years on the job. Won't that be a huge signal that USAT is in a massive meltdown? Who is left to replace him? Susie Ellwood?

  42. Thank you My Boss. I work in Gannett Digital and you are absolutely correct, MomsLikeMe is closing down and Gannett is buying CafeMom for a lot of money.

  43. Hunke upends the entire internal structure of USA Today and then leaves. Terrific.

  44. 1. A CafeMom deal would be a shame because it would mean Gannett was unable to home-grow its own moms start-up.

    Here's what CafeMom says on its website:

    Launched in late 2006, CafeMom is the #1 site on the internet for moms and the premier strategic marketing partner to brands that want to reach moms in a rapidly changing digital environment.

    As the #1 media property for moms, CafeMom reaches 6.7MM unique visitors per month on cafemom.com (comscore, May 2010) and 18MM+ unique visitors per month on CafeMom Plus (comscore, May 2010), a boutique network of sites that reach moms and parents. CafeMom also delivers engagement with more than 100MM pageviews and tens of millions of minutes of time spent per month on CafeMom.com.

    2. Hunke appears to be around 57 or 58 years old. Also, if he were to retire, he would be wise to wait until late February. That is because the board of directors awarded him 74,000 stock options early this year as part of a series of grants to top executives. The options vest in four equal installments, starting Feb. 24, 2011. If Hunke's still employed on that date, he could exercise 18,500. But the strike price is $15, so GCI shares would need to be still trading above that amount for them to have any value. They closed today at $15.18.

    Of course, the board could always speed up vesting on all his options as part of a retirement/severance package.

  45. I don't know how well Reno managing editor Mark Lundahl was known corp-wide, but I'm sad to say he died this morning after a sudden illness.


  46. My Boss -- How can that be? Dubow and Martore just sent me an e-mail thanking for my efforts and telling me how strong the company is. They wouldn't lie would they?

  47. @My Boss: any word on the MomsLikeMe monthly print magazines (still a strong product at my paper) after the sale? We still have newsroom jobs dedicated to that product.
    As always, thanks for chiming in.

  48. Someone must be pretending to be My Boss. The last post has a bunch of errors.

  49. 12:16 I can't speak for any errors, however:

    There IS something odd about that "My Boss" post. Unlike in previous posts, the signature on this one isn't hotlinked back to Corporate's homepage -- which has been My Boss' custom in the past.

    So, readers beware. We may be getting spoofed.

  50. For Part 2 of this comment thread, please go here.


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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