Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week Jan. 24-30 | Your News & Comments: Part 3

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52 comments:

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

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  2. Some great observations in this posting on Henry M. Freeman's reign of terror as Journal News EE:

    http://realitybitesback.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-is-henry-freeman-smiling.html

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  3. What great observations are we supposed to see there? It's the standard stuff: Circulation fell, staffing dropped. We see the requisite swipe at the appearance of the Web site.

    There's nothing new there. Why are you implying there is? People will not read anything there they haven't read before.

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  4. I posted this earlier and it just flatly disappeared but here's an abbreviated version:

    Isn't that $2 billion + interest stock buy back somewhat responsible for all of the excessive slashing and reorganizations?

    While corporations who have large cash reserves routinely use temporarily "borrowed" money for stock buybacks, why would a company go out and borrow money it doesn't have on hand to buy back its own stock? That's what Gannett did a couple of years ago, just before the big stock slump. The act of buying stock (strengthening the stock if actual cash on hand is used) and not having the cash on hand is akin to a person taking out a loan, getting cash for their money at the bank, then running each crisp greenback through a paper shredder.

    I am curious as to which GMC committee members and board of directors members sold stock between the announcement of the buyback and the actual buyback ... prior to the stock's crash.

    Certainly, there would still have been trimming if the stock buyback didn't occur, but I suspect that the cuts would have been much less severe.

    Just imagine the content Gannett sites could have created with that $2 billion plus interest?

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  5. The point seems to be that the calamity at the Journal News is extreme even for Gannett standards. Clearly Freeman's incompetence is a huge reason for that as we have read in the many other observations by those who were at the Journal News the same time he was. I would say "worked" but that would imply he also worked. He didn't. And that is the point.

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  6. I'm not a reflexive naysayer at all, but I can't possibly imagine why I would pay for someone to deliver any of these titles. First, the pool is ridiculously small and doesn't quite understand one's media "diet" for lack of a better word. You might want NYT and Slate, throw in Rochester's paper if you happen to actually live there and like local news, but how is that worth $$$ to me? I can't click on three sites on my own? I'm not going to care about schools in Alaska or Tennessee, for obvious reasons...It just doesn't strike me as something worth any of my money. Hulu Plus or Netflix makes more sense when no one can afford a moment's distraction thanks to stuff like furloughs and layoffs, but I digress....

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  7. Erf, that was for the Ongo discussion! Will repost there!

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

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  9. Yahoo will be appearing at the Asbury Park Press again today. YAHOOOOOOO laying off people and partnering with Gannett?

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  10. Is there any insight or news concerning this
    week's 2010 financial summary.
    The revenues should reach record lows or am I missing something ?
    It seems this should be the news of the week
    and no one is even bringing it up.

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  11. @8:38 a.m.: yeah, strangely quiet about any "hard" news. When is the report, Jan. 31?
    Also, what's up with talk of Feb. 4 layoffs--are those only for the consolidated NJ papers? Where's My Boss when you need him/her?

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  12. re 12:13 a.m. - It certainly is amazing, isn't it? The corporate idiots who engineered this stock snafu - Dubow, Martore, etc - have all seen their compensation increase, their retirement accounts fatten and their arrogance not only tolerated, but cheered by the Board of Directors.

    GANNETT'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS DOES NOT WORK FOR THE STOCKHOLDER....Get that Wall Street? THE GANNETT BOARD OF DIRECTORS IS OUT FOR ITSELF AND THE EXECUTIVE SUITE.

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  13. I haven't seen it here before, so sorry if it's a repeat, but the Publisher in Springfield, Mo., announced yesterday via e-mail a new "Voluntary Unpaid Vacation Program", where individuals can take 5 unpaid days off in the months of February and March, on top of the forced week of furloughs that have already hit.

    It's all voluntary for now, but surely won't remain that way once no one takes the offer. I can't imagine anyone, already mad about the furlough, would willingly ask for more.

    Is Springfield the only location that got that bit of news yesterday?

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  14. 10:18 a.m....WTF? Unpaid vacation? Is that new terminology for furlough? Boy, those Gannett dogs sure are clever!

    Let us know if anyone "volunteers" for this. I've gotta feeling a lack of response could bring second quarter furloughs your way.

    Stay in touch!

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  15. 10:18, we sometimes get offered a chance to cut our schedules back in summer. It's voluntary, and you can cut back to 32 hours a week as long as your supervisor approves. This doesn't happen every year, and I haven't seen it since the furloughs started hitting. They actually do get a few takers on the summer bit, though.

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  16. A voluntary unpaid vacation? Wow. What a benefit. How generous is that?

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  17. The APP is going nuts with the Yahoo thing. Yahoo posters all over the place, they even changed the color of the spotlights in the lobby to purple. I should have been a doctor.

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  18. It is quite clear Gannett in New Jersey is selling its soul to the Internet. How many years do you give the DR HNT CN printed products. Eighteen months? One year? July 4th? The fix-is-in "job interviews" are not about writing ability but how steady can you hold a video camera. The whole process of choosing editors was a sham. JJC? Give me a break.

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  19. "Voluntary unpaid vacation" is this year's mystery meat. Next year, I hear they are looking at "Involuntary Sick Days."

    Maybe these geniuses would be better off trying to fix the company and our market position rather than coming up with new ways to screw the employees.

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  21. Demand Media's very successful (so far) IPO today at one point valued the content farm at $1.5 billion vs. Gannett's recent $3.6 billion market valuation. Extremely depressing.

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  22. You would be surprised how popular voluntary unpaid leaves of absence can be in some markets. I worked at a Gannett site in a western market, and some staffers couldn't sign up fast enough. One took a month to work as a fishing guide; others had spouses with $$ and just took the time off (summer being most popular, of course). One fellow had some savings and just decided to treat himself to the time. The bosses were managing their budget shortfalls with these voluntary leaves, but the people who took them were really happy to do so.

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  24. Why do you find Demand Media's net worth "extremely depressing?'' Gannett had the opportunity to do the same thing. It has a Gannnett News Service that could have been used as a distribution network. And it has more than a century of clips from which to draw material. It could have done what Demand Media did, and it could have cashed in on the idea as Demand Media is doing. That Gannnett didn't do it shows the shortcomings of the current generation of leaders who are clueless of what they are doing, have no vision for the future the media faces, and refuse to think out of the box or show any glimmer of imagination.

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  25. 7:38 and 9:07 Confirming that, yes, Q4 and full-year 2010 financial results are due Monday morning before markets open. I'm also surprised no one has brought this up to discuss.

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  26. 10:18 here. I could see people using the unpaid vacation time in the summer, assuming their financial position could handle it.

    But to spring it without any further explanation on a group that already is dealing with a week of non-voluntary furloughs this quarter is pretty bold, IMO.

    So it sounds like Springfield is the only place where the "Voluntary Unpaid Vacation Program" has come up?

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  27. Greatest Demand Media hits:
    http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/media/dumbest-how-to-content-demand-media/19601052/

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  28. Per the posts about 2010 financial reports
    coming out on Monday.It seems no one is concerned.
    I would think that layoffs are of more concern
    than furloughs. If you don't have a job any longer, why care about furloughs ?
    The furlough plans would change dramatically
    if 1000's are no longer on the payroll.

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  29. Old news I suppose:

    Gannett to partner with Yahoo on local advertising
    Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, is partnering with Yahoo Inc. to sell local online advertising. It's a deal that could help Gannett boost revenue as its traditional print business declines.

    The Associated Press
    MCLEAN, Va. —
    Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, is partnering with Yahoo Inc. to sell local online advertising. It's a deal that could help Gannett boost revenue as its traditional print business declines.

    Gannett said that all of its newspapers and seven of its 23 TV stations will help sell Yahoo ad inventory in their local markets. Gannett and Yahoo will share the revenue, though specific financial terms were not disclosed.

    Yahoo has already put together a consortium of roughly 800 newspapers to sell online ad space to local businesses. Major publishers such as McClatchy Co., owner of The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee and The Miami Herald, have signed on since the consortium launched in 2006. The program gives Yahoo a huge sales team in local markets and gives newspapers a bigger online audience to promise advertisers as well the technology to target ads to certain demographics.

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  30. How Gannett is now saving money.

    We will be implementing the following cost savings idea on Monday, February 7th. "Each employee can empty their own waste baskets, including recycling items each day or as necessary". We received this idea from two xxxxxxxxxxxx employees, each will receive a $50 gift card to an advertiser of their choice. This will free up our maintenance staff to vacuum and complete other cleaning duties on a regular basis.

    Garbage receptacles and recycling containers will be placed throughout the building so that all employees can dispose of their own garbage. There will be gray containers for garbage and blue containers for recyclables (they will be marked appropriately). We will have fresh trash liners available to employees in these areas as well.

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  31. Anyone notice we seem to be getting the breakthrough promotional story of the week in USA Today. For example, today's USA Today story on Old Spice:
    "CINCINNATI — Last year's advertising sensation will soon make its 2011 debut, as Old Spice's suave, shirtless star returns in round three of his commercials for the Procter & Gamble brand."

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  32. OK, so you have to lose a week's pay and/or reapply for your job, even if you have stellar performance reviews, take out your own garbage, honestly, freelancing is so much better. All those talented folks reading this, just go. It's better on this side. You rise and fall on your own merits, grit and perseverance. Feels like an honest days work, which I never felt much at Gannett. Definitely on the big stories, like 9-11, sure, but there were also days like the ones where you had to count how many people of color were quoted in each story (really!) or saw colleagues fired under trumped up concerns about their performance.

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  33. MNCO was offered the opportunity to take unpaid vacation time last year. I don't know of anyone who accepted the offer; I didn't hear much discussion about it at all, beyond "WTF?". Nothing's been proposed for 2011 at this point. Maybe they offer it at different properties at different times to see where it's successful. Unpaid furloughs are enough for me, thank you.

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  34. So 2:27 emptying your own small bag of trash, something you do at home, is a bad thing? It's probably a long walk to that trash bin. I'd rather have a cleaner work area than have someone empty my trash. Boy the bashers are out in droves today. Respect and Dignity

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  35. If you are over 40 stay till they let you go. Don't quit unless you have another job.

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  36. That's hilarious, 2:27.

    Next, may I suggest this pilot program for Crystal Palace: each floor is to be equipped with vacuums for cleaning carpets; mops for washing the marble floors; and brooms, buckets, and toilet wands for cleaning the bathrooms. If employees do well with those procedures, we can move on and ask that they furnish their own toilet paper, soap, and paper towels for bathroom use.

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  37. 4:37 I am not being paid to take out the garbage, and don't see why it should now become part of my job description. If you want to put garbage removal on your resume to tell future employers what you did at Gannett, feel free.

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  38. Empty your own trash to save money. Have to pay for those Crystal Palace bonus checks somehow.

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  39. So APP get's the grand Yahoo launch. They'll fail like all other sites before them. It would be funny if we didn't have to layoff people to pay for all those stupid posters.

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  40. Another loss in the Gannett TV division: Jill Becker is retiring after 30 years in Atlanta TV news, including 23 years at 11 Alive (WXIA).

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  41. Do we know who is staying in the newsrooms of the CN, THNT and APP? Besides everyone wearing all black on 2-4-11, anything else planned?

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  42. On a different thread there was a discussion about whether or not Google would be interested in buying Gannett. An argument against is that Google is not in the content creation business. But Google is in the advertising business. Would they be interested in accessing the ad relationships Gannett has in its local markets? Just a thought.

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  43. Anyone notice the cartoon on page 14 in February's edition of Editor and Publisher?

    As I was reading the caption, I thought to myself, "Damn, sounds like Gannett". Then I saw the name tag.

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  44. Here's a link to E&P

    http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/0d662be7#/0d662be7/14

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  45. Just one question...Can I come in on my unpaid vacation day to empty my trash?

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  46. 7:12 Why would they do that? Google has cut itself a great deal where everyone else does the heavy lifting, and they reap the benefits. A wonderful business model as it is. Everyone else in the world publishes content, but Google makes it possible to find out where it is through a very good search engine that allows Google to collect a portion of the money from prioritizing the search results and running ads. They have made themselves filthy rich from doing this, so why change? If I were Google, I certainly would not change one thing.

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  48. jack williams has been protected by gracia martore. metromix is a waste of money and losing $9mm a year. quadrantone is going to be shut down...another williams neisenholtz failure. cozi??? anyone remember that big jack-o investment? planet discover jack? high school sports? classified ventures? Yahoo partnership...Jack...Paid content paywall? Jack-o anything to say for yourself? who is protecting this person?

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  49. Employees emptying their own trash cans to save money. Seriously? At what site? What’s next, Roomba’s and Scooba’s replacing janitors?

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  50. I don't mind emptying my own trash; just as long as management realizes that it will be done on time that could be better spent on what they pay me to do.

    On the other hand, as long as it takes for my computer to boot up when I come in, I can either take out the trash or fall asleep from boredome.

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  51. my boss, you out there anywhere?

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  52. if you go over to the right of the page, my boss is talking under the "Layoff" tab...

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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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