An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
For Part 2 of this comment thread, please go here.
Not sure I agree with those in Part 2 who said the key to coming out alive is to strengthen the printed newspaper. No one doubts the value of good content, but relying on the printed newspaper as the delivery method of such content is short-sided. Circulation is down because content is lacking but also because people just don't want to pay for the printed paper so long as they can get the same content online for free. And, that isn't even considering the relative ease of reading online content compared to the printed product. I pay for a subscription to the WSJ, which gives me both the printed paper at home and access to its website. I never read the paper, preferring the website, because the content is more interactive. Along with the article, I get access to photo galleries, interactive maps, videos, etc. that cannot be included in the printed paper. The user experience online, with the same content, is better than the printed paper. This reality is not going to fade away but will only become more pronounced as the next generation of readers comes of age. Anyone under 40 these days (generalization I know) would prefer to get their content online for the reasons mentioned above. With the addition of tablet readers only beginning, that isn't going to change. To say that Gannett, or any company, should reinforce its aging platforms rather than forge a path online is short-sided. Keeping the long-term business in mind, newspapers have to move away from the printed product if they will survive. The question then becomes how to fund it? Advertisers like Google and Facebook have a far more effective approach to reaching segmented blocks of customers, something newspapers most likely can't replicate simply because their product doesn't allow for it. Good content is key to keeping an audience, and without a doubt, Gannett has sacrificed that component in the name of keeping its stock price as high as possible. That will, and already has, hurt the company. But, to think the printed paper is the way out of the woods is obtuse. That kind of thinking is killing newspaper companies by a thousand cuts.
We still have the problem of financing a newspaper chain with paltry digital revenues. Yes, the digital revenues are increasing, but they were only $165.8 million in the last quarter. You can't run a newspaper chain with that amount of money, and without print.I think print newspapers are going the way of Yellow Pages. Yes, there is still a company that puts Yellow Pages volumes on my doorstep, but I don't keep it because it is easier to use the Internet and I get more information that way.1:21 says he gets the WSJ online edition for the extra features that come with the Internet. That IMO is where we are failing our readers. USA Today used to have all these fun facts and was renowned for its info-graphics. Yet that has not been transferred to the digital product. Look at today's NYT. They give you 12 pictures of the Egyptian demonstrations to leaf through, but USAT has only one from the AP. We have to become more creative to survive in this new world, and I don't see it in the transformation has it has progressed so far. P.S. I think our failure to deal with the Internet is because all of management is drawn from the dead-tree product.
Gannett does everything on the cheap, and nothing proves that more than a look at its papers and Web sites.The papers are shallow, and the Web sites follow suite, as well as being technically unreliable.I was quite surprised last evening when I checked in on The Journal News Web site and found that there was NO WEATHER PHOTO. There was a cutline where the photo was supposed to be, but no photom in the middle of a big winter storm.This is a small point, but a typical scenario. Fewer people, smaller investment, higher price, less news. What a formula for success!
At 1:20 p.m. Central GCI trades intraday at $16.07 per stub -- the first time GCI breaks $16 since Dec. 8, 2010. We are going to top $20 in 2011, and then $16 is going to look cheap.Disclosure: I dislike the company, which fired me, but am long the stock. I have no trouble holding conflicting ideas in my head, unlike others on this bulletin board.
What the heck is going on with the stock price today? It's up almost 6%.
1:55 - excellent points. In fact, in December when the first big storm of the season hit, the Journal News did have a photo on the homepage. But it was a generic file photo of a highway department truck unloading sand and this was a good 8-10 hours into the storm!
Thanks for the intelligent discussion about the future of newspapers. This is what Jim's blog does best.One poster above says he subscribes to the Wall Street Journal so he can have access to its online content. What he's really saying is that he values the WSJ's content enough to pay for it. The content is the issue there, not the method by which that content is delivered.My complaint with Gannett is that it seems to have forsaken its primary purpose (the production of high-quality, balanced information)to focus on new delivery methods. It'd be like Coca Cola letting the taste of its drink turn putrid as it focused on creation of containers that, say, disappear after use.The content should be the thing at GCI, but it is being taken for granted by caretakers who obviously lack a deep understanding of the business they oversee. When you consider information to be a commodity, you quickly realize that those who have continued to invest heavily in gathering and editing information are the companies that will succeed and prosper in the new world. The WSJ, NY Times, Washington Post and others lead that list, as has been pointed out many times on this blog. Those who traded quick bucks for lower quality work are destined to sink to the bottom of the barrell, weighed down by a loss of credility, an information company's most valuable holding.GCI leadership has wasted millions tilting at the internet windmill. It has emasculated many of its key news outlets by cutting the high quality talent it so desperately needs to succeed in the long run. All in the name of quick-hit, short-term profit bumps. Apparently, there is no long-term, cohesive strategic plan for this company. Those of us who work there know how we're called on to run from one side of our ship to other in response to this or that corporate order. Two weeks later, the directions change. Two months later, another misguided directive floats down. A steady, reliable, predictable focus on quality like that at the Times or Post would confound current GCI leaders. What's amazing is that the string of failures by GCI management continues, unchecked and unquestioned by an otherwise distinguished board has either tuned out or is being misled.
"Thanks for the intelligent discussion about the future of newspapers. This is what Jim's blog does best."You're nuts. The discussion in this thread and most others shows why many people here were dropped from Gannett. They have no understanding of the past, present, or future of newspapers.
i don't understand why some ppl come here to bash Jim and his blog...they obviously check it religiously, so the only thing I can gather is it must be serving their purpose to keep being miserable ppl....
People are saying The Daily is the wave of the future, but it debuted today and if you have an iPad check it out: It's ugly, clumsy, there's no organization at all. This is what we've been waiting for? USAT's iPad app on other hand is pretty elegant. The content obviously is shallower, but as far as ease of use, USAT wins by a mile.
NEW YORK (AP) -- A daily newspaper designed by News Corp. exclusively for Apple's iPad is available for $40 annually, comparable to what some big-city publishers charge monthly to deliver their print editions.The digital newspaper, called The Daily, debuted Wednesday in Apple Inc.'s App Store. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch unveiled it in New York after weeks of anticipation.The Daily is the latest example of how media companies are trying to mine the iPad's popularity for new streams of revenue. Last month, a company backed by The New York Times Co., The Washington Post Co. and USA Today publisher Gannett Co. launched Ongo, a website that, for $7 a month, pulls together stories from various outlets in one place and lays them out in a clean, ad-free format.
3:16, the answer is that you and other stupid people come here and try to sound like you know what you are talking about when you clearly don't.
What's the carnage in the NJ newsrooms? How many reporters left at the CN, THNT and DR after today's layoff notices?
Whoever keeps asking about the NJ layoffs, stop! Already known are the numbers. Out of 99 newsroom employees at the three papers, only 53 are being retained. Since this blog doesn't list names, that's all your likely to find out. However, the latest is that Flax is laying off the folks in Parsippany right now, and Grzella has just walked in from the parking lot at East Brunswick, presumably to do the same.It's hard to imagine how they could have done this with any more cruelty or lack of humanity.
@3:55...i don't come here to talk, i come here to see what's going on...i choose not to live by the saying, "ignorance is bliss"...if you're happy with ignorance, then don't push it on the rest of us...
I disagree with 3:32. The display of the Daily is revolutionary. It is more like a magazine than a newspaper, and the graphics blow the opposition away. It reminds me more of a tabloid than a full-sheet newspaper, but it's clear the display was a novel one made for computers and not borrowed from print. It has a weather page that puts USA Today to shame. It is truly spectacular on an Ipad. A wonderful product, and Murdoch is going to make a forune off it.
I agree with 5:17. And to 3:32: are you serious? I've seen both. The Daily wins hands down.
There's no organization to the Daily. It breaks from newspapers by not having stupid heads saying this is the Life Section, or this is the Sports section. It didn't bother me because you know where you are from the graphics. After seeing Murdoch's journalism with the NY Post and the News of the World, it surprised me how good it is.
The APP on the ipad is wonderful and other newspapers must move forward on it. It's the future.
Look at it this way.If news sources were rated like bonds, the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post and some others would be rated AAA. They would be the gold standard.As noted in an earlier post, GCI would be in the BBB or CCC area. Raters would be quick to note Gannett's plunging quality and inablity to be innovate effectively, ala what Murdock is doing with The Daily.The Patch is spreading like wildfire and others are making significant progress. Meanwhile, GCI's short-term profiteering continues to diminish its long-term value.
Let's also put it this way. Before, I knew several folks all across the various strata who loved, for example, the Reno Gazette-Journal. It was original, focused, interesting. Now? NO ONE, all different orientations among that same, well, demographic buys it. And going to the Web site is only a freak show; an amateur could design better. I advise, don't blame Reno... this a template from on-high for your "LOCAL" paper. Dismiss this if one must, but I've seen it. Content is awful. Even the ads are not managed. I don't wish this company ill... it's just a sad thing to see, steered by complete jerks.
Let's assume the future does lie in digital. What has happened during the layoffs? Reporters have been tossed overboard. What will get people to read the web product? Good stories (and if the stories include video, it had better be some good video. Not some of the never-run-a-camera and edited-stuff-before-quality that I've seen on Gannett sites.) When you've only got a handful of reporters left, they can't possibly cover all the local stories that need covering. Seeing a city council meeting story in print/on-the-web 2 days after the story thoroughly covered by the local radio station doesn't cut it.
Great journalism and great photo images always works. You can get the advertising and sell the subscription. The ipad is the first step into the future. The ipad really puts a stake through the print product.
GCI won't get to the optimal Digital Platform first -- Rupert is the leader and innovator -- but GCI will get there. The transition out of print is well underway at GCI and despite bumping and feeling its way into the Digital Age, GCI will get there. Broadcast will continue to pump out revenue and GCI looks undervalued to me.
Wear Black to Work on Friday Feb. 4 to show support for those who lost their jobs in NJ. Or are we too effin' frightened to even do that?
The challenge in the digital age will be, and already is, generating enough revenue to run a good newsroom. Newspapers will never generate the revenue and profits they once did. Those days are gone. So, how does Gannett, or other media companies, restructure the company to provide good content online with substantially fewer resources? Unfortunately, the answer isn't out there yet, but when one is found, it will certainly mean fewer employees. The layoffs and dark vacancies are just the first step in getting down to that smaller workforce. Gannett didn't make the decision to lay people off because it is forward thinking and is looking for a viable path into the future. It did it to keep profits up. Whatever the new media companies are that make it in the future, and Gannett could be one, but might not be, they will operate with very lean staffing and far fewer resources to travel, to buy gear, to offer salaries, etc. Good content might be worth $150 a year to some people. If you are the WSJ, or the NYT, you can probably get enough people around the world to pay $150 a year that you can build the shell of a digital operation. But, if you're a community newspaper with 25,000 people in the area willing to pay that same $150, there just isn't enough money to operate a newsroom. What is the answer? I don't know. Neither does Gannett. Unfortunately.
The web is video-focused, not word. The Daily is just the latest - and revoluntionary -- product in that vein. You can't be a "great writer" and expect that the digital world will embrace you. Learn how to shoot and edit video, narrate in short concise sentences and write in the same vein and you will have a job in the 21st century news-gathering world. If not, you won't.
You want names? Among those gone at the Home News Tribune columnist Rick Malwitz, sports columnist Paul Franklin, editor Michelle Kuhn who had a world of experience in the Middlesex Market, replaced by someone from outside the market. Heaven help the survivors.
4:26, you are too ignorant to get the facts. You just come here to have gossip spoon-fed to you.6:45, you said Middlesex. Heh, heh.
Newspapers lost the revenue when classifieds went on line free.
TVNewsCheck tips us to the latest embarrassment from Gannett: WGRZ in Buffalo was forced to apologize for outing a domestic violence victim in a news story. The faux pas got out on-air but not online.
Also gone at the HNT in NJ - photog Joe McLaughlin, reporters Bob Makin, Mary Ann Bourbeau, Tom Baldwin, Lalita Aloor.
Gannett's response to the competition for classified ads was to make the print so small you needed a microscope to read it.It's an example of GCI's short-term thinking on long-term issues. The small type thing cut paper costs modestly for a short time. The publisher who thought that one up was promoted for cutting costs. Probably got a Bobby "Cutter" Collins-sized bonus. The cost of the cut, however, far exceeded the savings. It was a hugely competitive marketplace at the time and Gannett showed its disdain for its readers by making it virtually impossible to read the classified type.Another example of GCI focusing on short-term solutions to huge, strategically important challenges.The classified thing showed that Gannett addresses issues only from its perspective. Soon, even GCI will realize that consumers have options and most value high quality work that serves them well on their terms.
Would someone please gather demographics on the NJ casulties? It just might add to the numbers we've already gathered that suggest old, expensive employees were targeted by GCI.
Baldwin, Franklin, Malwitz and McLaughlin are in their 60's. a bunch of old "expensive" guys.
Who's gone from the CN?
The ads in The Daily are already better than USA TODAY on the iPad, and this is day 1.Sadly, I think that USA TODAY has run into another problem.
In terms of digital, Gannett is bringing a buggy whip to a code writing party.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I'm having trouble getting The Daily app to work; it's very slow. But I'll try again later.
THe ax fell hard on the old timers at the DR.
For all those who have been let go at the CN and HNT (including myself), there is a special place in hell for Gannett's CEOs, executives and GM's! Their day will come too. Unfortunately when their day comes, we won't be around to see it. We will have moved on with our lives and won't care. Gannett loves to give out these paper quarterly awards. Its a "show". They are meaningless. I received several over my 20 years, and here I am today...laid off, no severance, nothing!
At the CN, it was one reporter and two photogs. They kept just enough old guys at both papers to cover their butts.
If you don't have an Ipad, you can see an early model of the Daily via Itunes on your computer. Clock on the Daily web site and it will automatically bring up the Itunes on your computer. If you don't have Itunes, you are not tuned it. It's free and you can download that first. Yes, it is a slow way of doing it.
p.s. IMO, you have got to see it. It is stunning.
4:05 please share how you have handled the same reduction with more compassion? If you had to reduce staff and you wanted folks with both traditional skills and strong digital socialmedia skills how would you do it so it was both effective and compassionate?
For an octogenarian print guy, Murdoch outdid himself with the Daily. I cannot believe anyone with a background in print had anything to do with this. It is as if they turned over the paper to designers and the art department. It clearly aims for a youth audience.
10:04 I am sure this was a horrible day for the people who had to break the bad news to so many people. If you are one of them, I feel for you -- you were just the messenger. I think the inhumane part was that people had to re-apply and be interviewed. I doubt that was necessary, as I am sure you know every staffer and their capabilities. I suspect that you could have made the decision without that step, and completed the process long ago. I imagine the waiting was excrutiating for people anxious to hear their fate. A tip from Nike: Just do it.
No specific #s from the DR?
Not sold on The Daily. Oddly, there is no business news. It seems an attempt to take on USA Today, but it seems forced.Kind of pretty, but clumsy and I cannot imagine why anyone would pay for it, although .99 cents a week might be deceptively easy to pay I suppose.I have no horse in this race but the USA Today app seems way better.
Concerning the comments about TJN's lack of storm coverage ... They are wrong. LoHud had live content all Tuesday night and Wednesday starting at 6 am and all through the day. CoverItLive was used to great effect and a larger web display. There's some disconnect with those comments.
11:14 - CinDee, thanks for checking in. Sorry to wake you.
Oh- Sorry Rory. But seriously dude, "Live content all Tuesday night"? Posting one "update" at 11pm and then nothing till next morning isn't exactly what you allude to. Did you drink the grape or cherry today?
As the bodies fall at the C-N, the HNT and the DR, so will the circulation. Cutting back on local reporting, excuse me, THE PRODUCT, is not the way to win new readers and advertisers or to keep the old ones. It is certainly not the way to build a business. It is the people who continually make these bone head decisions at the top who should be held responsible by the stock holders, many of whom are current and former employees through the 401K program. How many current and ex-Gannett employee shareholders can we put together to a voting block to stop the continuing destruction of this company? I floated that idea a year or two a go on the blog and the silence was deafening. There will be a proxy coming out later this year and I'd urge all Gannett shareholders to vote against the who ever is up on the current board of directors as a protest. They have FAILED in their fiduciary duty to both the company and the stockholders. The stock has plummeted from where it was, prior to the recession. A short term, one day, $7 per share price bump is not going to begin to make up for what we have lost in value. Vote your proxy. Make your discontent heard where it counts. It's time for the mice to roar.
Geez. You say something positive about a Gannett site and the haters want 24/7 coverage out of a shop decimated by layoffs. Who's Rory?
Some names today from the Daily Record, like everyone else, they canned enough kids to make it look good. Youngsters include Jake Remaly, Meghan Ryan, Mike Cummings to go along with long-time employees Mark Kitchin, Frank Dileo, Sandy Seegers, Bill Westhoven, Ellen Wilkowe and Fred Snowflack. Several seasoned vets opted not to reapply.
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.
Subscribe in a reader