An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
For Part 4 of this comment thread, please go here.
Why is it never mentioned that we could cut our newsprint costs in half by buying direct from the mills instead of going through Gannett supply and the 100 percent markup they tag on. Gannett supply should be abolished.
In response to the post about the sales director leaving to Yahoo. That is a blessing to Gannett, people like him/her were the reason they were failing.There I said it
It is early morning here in Vegas and the new leadership at PointRoll is still partying hard and gambling away in the casino. This is going to be some "sales conference"!!!
Anonymous said... westchester site will close at end of year downsizeing coming. layoff and furlough is what the company is doing to cut cost and a nutshell wakeup people take the blindfoil off.
Let's hear more about this Gannett Supply thing.What is this? Is this another instance of corporate sucking the community papers for all they're worth?What the heck is this?
While the PointRoll management team is partying in Las Vegas this week, PointRoll employees are sending their resumes out in droves. Conshy is a ghost town. No one here, and no one working at all.After everyone heard about the multi-million dollar bonuses that this management is guaranteed, everyone decided that enough is enough. A lot of people planning on leaving.
11:14 tale a business lesson for gosh sake. Whether newsprint costs one dollar or one thousand a roll, the money still belongs to the company. It's an accounting issue. Grow up and educate yourself, No wonder we are in tough shape with folks like this who don't know the first thing about taxes, expenses or funding. Kim you were a Business Reporter correct? Educate the readers about how corporations work.
spot on for the gannett supply comment. if nothing else, the central purchasing / coordination of newsprint and setting a firm price to be used throughout the budget year helps, not hurts the local newspapers. imagine if each business unit had to deal with the whims of the newsprint manufacturers and the every changing market price for paper. if you think the monthly expense drill is tough now, imagine what it would be without having the most costly resource - aside from people - fluctuate from month to month.and, the money does stay within the company, and if anything, it gets treated almost like a windfall if the increases don't happen.
Why exactly is Gannett Supply still functioning? It also seems overstaffed. 5:46am raises a good point.
So maybe MyBoss or another plugged-in CPer with good intentions could let us know about (as predicted on this blog) the apparent beginning of the exit strategy to essentially shut down what was once GCI's hands-down most profitable print product? Notice this board hasn't had anything posted about this yet.
No, the reason for the chain structure of newspapers was that centralized purchasing would lower the costs for the individual newspapers across-the-board. Some might pay more for the delivery of their newsprint based on the distance from the paper plant, but others would pay less. It would even out with a centralized purchasing system. Now there are only two major newsprint manufacturers left, it may make less sense. But in its time, centralized purchasing helped newspapers linked to the chains bury the independents.
The savings 5:46 suggests appears extremely too high.In fact, newsprint pricing through Gannett Supply was, contrary to what 3:22 writes, surprisingly not that different from what other non-Gannett papers - large and small - paid thru buying groups, brokers and or mills. Now, how Gannett accounted for newsprint supplies and costs per ton for outside print work was different which did add higher costs. Though similar to what others shared, Gannett papers may pay a bit more, but Gannett profits on it as a whole.One piece most don’t know is GS also sourced Chinese newsprint – wouldn’t readers and advertisers love to know that one – to force lower prices from North America’s mills.The bottom line...Gannett won’t surrender newsprint buying, but with everything else you buy, if you’re not trying to negotiate better pricing than what GS gets, you should as we saved a lot.
There's no need for snide comments, 2:49 p.m. Not everyone knows everything about everything, although you seem to think you do.We're all familiar with the savings of bulk buying, but not everyone knows of the existence or purpose of the Gannett supply dept. or whatever it's called.What Gannett seems to have an overabundance of is the distrust of its employees. Maybe that's why people jump the gun and assume corporate is dealing a stacked deck.Corporate and the ass-kissing lackeys it sends to its sites are so without credibility that their every move should be suspect.
4:08 you've made my point thank you. The folks of whim you speak have no clue how thus works but they have no problem voicing an uninformed opinion about something that no nothing about. Rather than ask or educate themselves they simply spew venom. Thank you for making my point. Much appreciated.
I'd like to address the newsprint/Gannett Supply issue. When I worked for Gannett the markup for budgeting purposes for newsprint real cost vs budgeted at the local site was about 23%. While it would be nice if the centralized unit didn't have such high overhead, to suggest it was marking the cost up 100% to the community papers is not accurate.
Sharks in the water...rumored that there's a conference call tomorrow P.M. hosted by Dubow, Martore, Dickey with USCP publishers. Hmmmmmmm???? Dubow announces retirement?? (I'd think not since Dickey is on the call - I would thank the retirement announcement would include all divisions, not?) More layoffs? Q2 furloughs? Come to Jesus meeting due to poor January actuals and February projections? New buddget targets (cuts) assignment? No matter what the purpose, these calls usually don't bring good news. Just sayin'.
@5:25: So when the publisher is on furlough (as ours is this week) who sits in on those calls? Who's second-in-command at a site?Friday afternoons are usually the best time to drop bad news you don't want people to see/hear/analyze immediately. Seen it lots of times from local governments and businesses.
I'm not sure why a company would want to ruin its own reputation. That is the puzzling part of all of this. But that's what you get when every person who willingly and unwillingly leaves tells everyone they know why.
Some interesting recent USA Today history reported at Poynter.org today under the subhead "News organizations must support risk-taking":The same night that Talking Points Memo was running its election night app, the team at USA Today was in the midst of a crisis with theirs. They had failed to properly cache their site, causing the database server to crash, said Josh Hatch, who at the time was USA Today's interactives director.It was a simple problem, but hard to figure out with all the traffic coming in. And like the other news developers, it was up to his team, not a systems administrator, to get it back up. They didn't sort it out until the middle of the night, long after users would have wanted to come to the site for real-time election results.In the aftermath, he said, the group was more or less disbanded. Some of the team moved to other parts of the company, and a couple of them (including him) found other jobs."My understanding," Hatch said, "was that IT basically said this is why this can't happen and we think this [the interactives team] shouldn't exist anymore." (I reached out to a top editor and the executive over IT at USA Today to confirm Hatch's account, but I didn't hear back.)"It was a bad mistake," Hatch said. "But it also, in my mind, was a learning opportunity, and I think the wrong lesson was applied in the aftermath. I think the lesson was, 'You just can't risk it.' I think the right lesson was, 'This is the right thing; we just need to have the right resources.' "http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/119853/key-departures-point-to-4-factors-critical-to-the-future-of-programming-and-journalism/
One of the most damaging legacies of the Jack Kelley scandal at USAT was this: People were afraid to make mistakes, which meant risk-taking wasn't encouraged. When I was there, layers and layers of managers had to sign off on new initiatives -- adding days, weeks, even months, to delivery dates. This included some of the most mundane projects, too.Fortunately, this appears to be changing as a result of the new, flatter management structure after last fall's reorganization.
Well, yeah Jim. We can understand that the not-exactly-Best-and-Brightest managers who tend to climb high at GCI would have this knee-jerk reaction to the Jack K. scandal. But it doesn't explain the overall bland, innovation-challenged approach to the product throughout most of the USAT lifetime. Frankly, the entire newspaper has always read like it was written, line-edited and signed off by this unimpressive committee of writers and editors who value 'safe' over 'compelling.' Any wonder the WSJ -- which commands 'compelling' content -- is beating the pants off USAT now.
A lawsuit waiting to happen?The layoffs in Cincinnati yesterday appeared to be targeting older employees with health issues: A breast cancer survivor, a hearing impaired man with other health issues, an employee with mild Tourette's, a senior manager who had heart issues last year. They are all 45 or above and most in their fifties. They were people who carried about the product. Unlike the private layoff news of the last four rounds, these layoffs were done in full view of the rest of the newsroom. One employee was handed a box to put her belongings in. Another received his notification in the middle of the newsroom when he showed up for his shift. Another came in, learned the news and left with the comment, "Dead Man Walking." What a sad day. Carol Washburn was nowhere to be found and her second in command hid in her office while those awful scenes were playing out. Many commented on the choice for layoffs, noting the health issues of many of those who were let go. I imagine one could understand the layoffs if the company was losing money. It is not. It's making money. One cannot continue to cut the product and expect people not to notice. Editing errors in print and online are common and frustrating for readers. Now, with online production slashed it is only going to get worse.What new humiliations face those who might lose their jobs today in the LIC?
Ok......so the 100 percent markup comment on newsprint by gannett supply was out out line....still....if, as was suggested, 23 percent is more realistic, be it 23 percent per roll or per metric ton, with the amount of newsprint used across the company, thats A LOT of money.
@6:21 a.m.: My sympathy to everyone in Cincy. There's no good way to handle layoffs, but the scenes you described seem, in lawyer-speak, egregious. I go to work with a sense of dread these days.
In case you haven't noticed yet, but we are in the middle of a big inflationary cycle. No matter what the (phony) government statistics say, look at your grocery bills compared to two years ago, and you will see it. Corporate forecast the dramatic increase in newsprint prices last year. There are now just two manufacturers of newsprint, and we are confronting a monopoly. Ironic isn't it for a newspaper chain that has enjoyed a monopoly over local ad markets for years.
Geez ,enough with the cost of paper already,it's a non-factor here with all the layoffs going on.Still we have not heard from west group ,does that mean the Laura group is protected once again!And weeklies ,even though small in local numbers ,they add up to a sizable group as a whole.Are they laying off as well?Being a weekly Gannettoid,I am concerned as our revenue has fallen drastically in comparison to last years numbers,yet no layoffs yet.Anyone know of anything?
The rising cost of newsprint is hardly a non-factor connected to the rounds of layoffs we are seeing. Indeed, there is a direct connection as corporate is trying to reduce payroll costs to keep up with the increased production costs.
@8:06am.....in no way am I defending Gannett Supply, but the 23% markup was metric ton, and the additional revenue gleaned from the papers was utilized to invest in newsprint tracking systems like Abinet, handle transportation and storage, negotiate with the mills, and then pay the staff at Gannett Supply. No doubt they are abundantly staffed, but everyone has to make themselves relevant in order to keep their jobs......
Employee costs far outweigh cost of paper.The paper cost is a fixed number and the increase in cost,although something to be considered is not as substantial.I.E.If you are spending ,as an example ,$100,000.00 for paper and the price increasesby a very large 8%,the additional cost is $8,000,not large in comparison to one employee cost of $50,000.
Jim, this markup/Gannett Supply conversation is by now getting very old and boring. Could you just create another link for that so those folks can go there and bore each other to death?
Newsprint We can look at all those savings the past three years. They are printing so many less papers. Go up on the price get more revenue and loose newsprint cost. Its worked like a charm. the advertisers may not quite understand but we seem to be working very short term.
The Washburn behavior in Cincy is typical. Expect worse things to come. As for this:"Still we have not heard from west group,does that mean the Laura group is protected once again!"Seriously, folks. Beyond the bad sentence structure and punctuation, if you don't follow what's going on in the company any better than this, it is very sad that you feel compelled to comment.Laura doesn't even HAVE the West group any more. It is now John Zidich with all boundaries recreated.And among those papers that were the West group, count how many PUBLISHERS alone are gone. (Reno, Palm Springs, Springfield, Ft. Collins....)
9:26 Geez, you don't want to talk about newsprint increases, Jim regrets asking us to talk about Lara Logan, and others don't want us to talk about lavish subsidies given USA Today employees. So what do you want to talk about?
6:21 How many newsroom jobs in total were cut in Cincy? Overall, how many jobs have been cut at the paper during the past week?
The issue isn't newsprint cost, its the cost of maintaining another corporate entity - Gannett Supply. Just as the community papers absorb costs related to USAT and the Crystal Palace, they also are asked to support the costs of Gannett Supply. The idea that by "centralizing" certain functions you can create efficiencies that result in cost savings is nice in theory, but lacking in practice. Consider the labor arbitrage in many of these sites that have centralized compared to places where jobs have been lost to consolidation - the math just doesn't work. I'm overstating the obvious but the bigger savings are to be gained at Gannett Supply and the Crystal Palace; and they're all scared someone (like stockholders) will figure it out and the jig will be up
Can we get some clarity on the structure of the West Group? Reno not replacing publisher?
Indeed, publisher candidates have been interviewing for the Reno job; there was one visiting during the past week, I believe.
How we dealt with newsprint costs is directly related to GPC costs or any other centralized system.While some sites see cost reductions, some sites will see higher costs. A prepress person in Reno is not making what one is in Cherry Hill or Ft. Myers. But GPC cost is allocated back evenly to the sites, based on whatever metric is being used for allocation. Currently, it may be percent of newsprint tonnage used per site, vs. the whole company. You may have been paying $11 an hour for your artist, but you're going to pay $15 now. Phoenix might have paid $22, so they're lovin' paying $15.This isn't just a cost issue, it's also a revenue issue - if you knew what we were getting for Time-Warner ads before corporate claimed them for themselves, it would make you barf. Sure, we've got more ads now... but the pci rate is embarrassing.
Question then: how much revenue does Gannett Supply or Corporate produce? Consider it rhetorical as we know the answer is zero. So they in effect exist to bleed money out of the papers, cutting them to the bone, while continually rewarding themselves. One must conclude they are at least good at what they exist for.
Gannett to pay employees $1,163 in profit sharing check..oh wait my bad not Gannett.http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2011/02/18/25936/star_tribune_earnings_up_debt_down_employee_profit-sharing
As with the November layoffs, it appears management once more won't be disclosing any of this in memos at individual worksites. That's certainly one way of limiting public disclosure.
If it were not for Gannett Supply, there would be someone at each site assigned to the tasks of lining up newsprint deliveries, etc. That's 100 or so employees. So Gannett Supply is more efficient. No, it doesn't make money. It saves money. It's one of the advantages of being a chain of newspapers and when there was more than two newsprint producers, Gannett was such a big buyer it could dictate prices. Today, it cannot.
Gannett supply is run by wet behind the ears incompetents that don't have a clue about the business or how to negotiate. It is almost hard to not find prices lower then they negotiate and every project needs to ad a few weeks in order to deal with Gannett Supply induced delays. What a joke.
Please. Make. Gannett. Supply. Posts. End. Now.
I believe the publisher's group conference call may be going on right now.
Regarding the publisher position, what does it matter anymore? These days, whoever they get is just going to be another gold-plated rubber stamp; a Mutual Admiration Society. Otherwise, they won't get a job at Gannett; the company today, contrary to its original construct ages ago, is fearful of ideas -- and God forbid flexibility and innovation.
Another person leaving Gannett Digital. I think that makes 5-6 in the last 2 weeks. Anyone concerned about this?
12 total for Louisville..... so far....
Nothing of interest came from the reported publishers call?
4:15 I'm all eyes and ears on that one, too.
Enjoy the weekend Gannettoids.Too bad that when you wake up Monday morningnothing will have changed and you will stillbe wondering if this is your last week.Why put up with the stress they impose upon you,just so that their bottom line improves.Get the hell out like so many of us FORMERGannett employees.Damn, you would think it is the last job in the world.
Yeah that was me with the "Dead Man walking," lol. I didn't know what else to say, really. It was pretty surreal.I wish I could describe the looks on people's faces as they watched it play out. "Sad and shocked" just doesn't do it justice. But "Dead Man walking" describes it pretty well too. Kind of a "Man that really sucks but at the same time, I'm glad it isn't me" sort of deal.It is a jarring experience for one to have, to feel "glad it's you and not me" about somebody you've known for years, sweated with, laughed with, swore at, and all the rest that goes with being in a newsroom. I do not envy them. I have been in those shoes.As for me, I now put a #30# on my fifteen years and change of loyal service to Gannett. Regrets? No, not really.
According to one of my readers, the nationwide human-resources consolidation In the works for months now is starting to look like a train wreck -- in the short term, at least. HR department folks: What can you tell us about the software glitches and other bugs?
4:46 - The Crystal Palace GCI corporate employees (or should I say fixtures or potted plants?) believe their jobs are the ONLY ones in the world!
If you'll allow a little self indulgence:OMG,how great is it to be a reporter, even a Gannett reporter, in Wisconsin right now. We're covering real news that impacts almost everyone we talk to and not the fluff that Gannett tries to make us right under the heading of "real life; real news." We've got protests, demonstrations and countless buses filled with people heading to the capital from every part of the state. Everyone we talk to is angry and everyone has a strong opinion. It has re-energized our ghost town of a newsroom. We're writing real stories with real impact. Next week, everyone will go back to worrying about the layoffs we know are coming and working for a company that doesn't care, but this week we're all remembering why we wanted to be reporters.
You people are the most pathetic losers on earth, this person's oblivion and sense of entitlement makes me want to barf. Who is "they" --those evil people who are destroying the newspaper industry and trying to hurt all of the honest workers. I agree wholeheartedly with the last two sentences however. Why don't you take some control over your life and get the fuck out if you hate it so much. Stop blaming someone else for your poor choice of a career and industry."Enjoy the weekend Gannettoids.Too bad that when you wake up Monday morningnothing will have changed and you will stillbe wondering if this is your last week.Why put up with the stress they impose upon you,just so that their bottom line improves.Get the hell out like so many of us FORMERGannett employees.Damn, you would think it is the last job in the world."
5:53 "according to one of your readers" so what specifically isn't working Jim? Let's get specific. You've made a statement so give us the facts "your reader" provided. Oh that's right they didn't but that doesn't matter right? You could have written, "How is the HR restructure going?" but that's not what you do.The software you know nothing about is being tested and folks are in training to use it. There are no glutches. But don't let facts get in the way. oh that's right facts are unimportant on the blog.
Westchester - to stay or not to stay ? that is the question?Will it be closed by years end?Apparently, during corporates inspection and interviews of the employees last week, the contact info of the more valuable employees was collected by the Corporate interviewers for "future retention"The word is that corporate was less then impressed with the management of this site and really disliked the recurring stories of micro managing and scare tactics used on it's sales staff. One of the sales staff was asked why the entire sales team was still in the building and not on the road.I urge my remaining friends who still work there to seek greener pastures. It is amazing what it feels like to finally be free.
I smell troll!
I hate to be the realist here and feel for everyone who has lost and will lose their jobs. And as much as I appreciate quality journalism, I'm not going to read anything in a printed paper. If I'm not going to read it, my boss isn't going to pay to advertise in it. Without his money, there's no paper. Sad state on the affairs of the world? Yes? But them's the facts.If it's not online and searchable via Google, I don't care. Don't have time to. I'm too busy working my 50-60 hours a week trying to keep the job I was lucky enough to get after I was laid off by Gannett.Take heed. All the jobs are going away unless you're online. And even then, they'll hire freelancers to write most of it, steal it from bloggers and give them no cut, or just buy wire. There's plenty of freelancers out there now and they work cheap. Especially since they can't make over X or they'll lose their unemployment benefits.If you still work there and think you're lucky to make it through this round, you're a darn fool. You're going at the end of next quarter. Or the one after that.
Re. Kind of a "Man that really sucks but at the same time, I'm glad it isn't me" sort of deal.Good for you getting out with your dignity attached. But if this blog has demonstrated anything, the lucky ones are those who ARE getting out, not staying. In my department, of the dozen and a half who were let go, most found a better place to be before too long. Those that are still there are miserable and scared.
7:21 I'm hearing a different story -- and I know the source, someone who's been 100% accurate in the past. (I do not know who you, however.)
Jim 8:13 I don't care what you are hearing. Two points; your source is dead wrong and two you couched the question in a biased manner. There is no balance with you. Gannett leaderships true failure is not repsonding to your half truths and out right lies. The blog trolls post blatant lies and you embrace them like a starving man on a free ham. This post was do wrong I had to challenge you and your so called source. From here on in when you use a lie to stir up your lemmings, I'm calling you out. The HR project is not in trouble. The testing is on schedule. The beta testing starts shortly. That is not s project in trouble. And your response "That's not what I'm hearing!" great journalism. By the way we met we have met. If you thought hard, you'd remember.
Well Jim he has a point. You are the guy who told the world USAT is up for sale! That was very wrong. I know you are going to say wait and see but you will be waiting a long time. See Ms my boss has no idea what is going on outside digital so when she posts about print she is just posting gossip.
Heh 7:53 you really got this one ass backwards. I think there is a reason you are "free"
7:56 could you list those companies where they found the better jobs? Just asking. Why is it that the lemming trolls always talk about those high paying better jobs but NEVER identify them? Just asking.
numerous positions in Rochester not being filled. copy editors and reporters under stress..........
I am what most of you would refer to as a Troll but I think Copy Editors were and are the unsung heroes of the publishing business. Thanks for all you do.
Will the cheerleader rah rahs with the Gannett flags please march to Wisconsin they could use your optimism.
9:59 At the risk of stating the obvious, just because I believe my source's information doesn't mean you can't believe yours.
10:06 I did not tell the world USAT is up for sale; that was from frequent poster My Boss. In fact, on at least two occasions, I cautioned that any speculation about USAT was just that: speculation.Here's what I wrote Feb. 9 in a comment:
"Note to all: I have no way of verifying, confirming or fact-checking these reports about USAT. Treat them with extreme caution and skepticism; that's what I'm doing."And here's what I wrote Feb. 14:"Repeating what I've said before: For now, these USAT rumors remain just that, rumors. Although Corporate apparently has yet to issue a statement today on this latest round of speculation, its silence doesn't necessarily represent indirect confirmation. As a matter of policy, companies usually don't comment on rumors unless they are moving stock prices."
Interesting info. So ... let's cut to the chase. What's the ETA as to when the Journal News will close?
11:02AM - Gannett Supply has less than 10 employees.
OK, I finally had to respond to 2/18/11 6:18 AM, "A lawsuit waiting to happen?"As the "employee with mild Tourette's" who was let go, I just want to state flatly that my Tourette's has never been the least bit of a disability for me, and it has never affected my ability to do any job well. It would be equally ridiculous for The Cincinnati Enquirer to fire me for that as it would be for me to sue over it. I will not speak for the others in that post and their age and/or health problems. But the idea of a lawsuit from me over the Tourette's is laughable.There are many terribly unfair and sad things about all of these layoffs, but my having Tourette's is, at best, merely an interesting footnote.Best to all of you out there, many of whom will be having a much tougher go than I. -- Bruce
10:16, 7:56 here:OK, so you need me to giftwrap for you an exit plan and tie it up with a nice ribbon? Really? Since you assert the dismissive "lemming trolls" remark with your inquiry, I can only conclude that you're a GCI "leader" in the CP trying to spread doubt among the rank-and-file that there are no other career options other than lining the pockets of Dubow and Co. Otherwise, you're just a 'stuck in purgatory' GCI employee who honestly has no clue as to how exactly the modern-day professional can take advantage of today's social media/communications technologies to market themselves in this economic environment. Ever heard of LinkedIn? Twitter? E-mail? They're all tools you can use to sell 'you' instead of slaving away in fear for the next six months or so just to provide Craig with a better retirement than he deserves.No, 10:16, I'm not going to name actual companies here where my talented colleagues and I have moved on to. Unless you live in our geographic region, what's the point? Here's what I can say: They moved on (not immediately, but within a reasonable amount of time) to trade associations, PR firms, newsletter companies, etc. Or they got professional licenses in industries far outside of the industry of media. Or they freelanced and did just fine and enjoyed being their own boss. Each one I've gotten with has universally said the same thing: Leaving GCI wasn't the end. It was the beginning of something far, far better.Hope this isn't too difficult to comprehend, 10:16.As for everyone else here, hang in there and good luck. Get your own gameplan going because the only one at GCI who "has your back" now is you!
I like how the lemming trolls here follow up disproved rumors with ... more rumors! Way to go, lemming trolls!Jim, your defense of the USA Today rumors is not a strong one. You're saying none of it could be verified, yet you allowed the speculation to run rampant here.It's also good to see someone questioned the business reporting credentials of "Kim" again.
12:31 The only speculation that ran rampant here was skepticism that anyone would want to buy USA Today.
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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