Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14-20 | Your News & Comments: Part 1

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  1. Furlough is over. Back to work.

  2. Look at the Pew Institute report on the state of the industry, and you find that people are continuing to turn off newspapers.
    Among the findings: Forty percent of Americans read newspapers, in print or online, at least three times a week -- down from 52 percent in 2006.
    We're boring them to death, and they are responding by turning us off.

  3. Laid off a year ago. 60yo. no job in sight.

  4. 9:16 your take is interesting. You say "We are boring them to death." So you chose the easy rationale. How about people are tired of reading about yesterday's news and they chose to get immediate information online? What do you recommend print sites do to not bore them to death with yesterdays news? Now don't be emotional and call me a troll or nasty names. Tell us what you'd do if you were in charge to get folks who enjoy surfing the web and watching cable news to include a newspaper int ehir daily news habit. My generation reads papers, but my generation is slowly dying off. What would you do to get my kids to subscribe to a paper? I look forward to your cogent reply.

  5. How 'bout people are tired of reading:
    •How the local United Way campaign is going?
    •Who's helping to feed the local homeless?
    •Stories full of grammatical errors?
    •Whatever cause is dear to the executive editor?
    •Puff pieces on businesses that already advertise?

    I could go on, but I have 5 other people's jobs to get back to.

  6. any truth that daily record (NJ) axed publisher Joe Cavone?

  7. My cogent reply:_
    Yes, I chose the easy rationale. Here is the easy solution: give them news they want to read.
    12:01 beat me to the punch on this one, but I think one thing that has been a real turnoff has been the appearance of advertorials in the news section. They jump off the page to me, and I think average readers have the same reaction. We are insulting our readers' intelligence by doing this. We need to restore the separation between editorial and advertising departments and do it publicly. If readers think we have sold out, they will ignore us.
    Some other random thoughts:
    - We are not the first to have encountered the problem of reading yesterday's news today. We are all largely morning papers who have slipped into the error of reporting yesterday's news today. But remember afternoon newspapers used to have this very same problem, and found ways around it. You have to advance the story, pick an angle or take an attitude.
    - What happened to "news analysis" or "commentary" slugs in the news section? It doesn't do any good to echo what happened yesterday, so take a riff off it and explore a part of it and don't be afraid of putting a news analysis or commentary slug on it.
    _ One feature per paper per day. It's a newspaper, not a feature paper.
    _ Invite comment on stories and do not censor them, except for common decency. I find some of the comments in the NYTimes as interesting as the stories, and see the NYTimes recognizes this by highlighting some of the responses. Good idea. It gets readers involved and steers the discussion. The Washington Post just revamped its paper this week to do this as well.
    _ Get an attitude. Stories I read in our papers have been suffocated to death. We need to be cute and clever _ and yes, hip. Look at how Gawker covers yesterday's news.
    _ If you want to get the youth audience, you have to give them a reason to read newspapers. Ally Oop and Betty Boop doesn't do it, neither does Peanuts whose author is now long dead. I would revamp completely the furniture and dump the 20th Century cartoons. Look at the features the alternative papers in your communities carry. I like News of the Weird, which I think is 20 years old, or so.
    _ Find the best headline writer in the newsroom, and leave it to him or her. The NY Post has wonderful headlines, and they sell newspapers.

  8. Here's 2 ways you know you are working for a company that doesn't care about employees or the role of news in today's economic/audience climate.


    2. Creating a NEW position and paying well for it.

  9. Here is a nice letter to all Journal Register employees from the CEO

    I Promised – You Delivered – The Checks Are Cut
    By jxpaton


    Take a bow – you did it!

    Our goal was to hit $40M in profit in 2010. Well you did better than that – you hit more than $41M. Not bad for a bankrupt, beat up old newspaper company people had written off as dead in 2009.

    But we didn’t write ourselves off. We picked ourselves up and got working.

    We learned to harness both cloud and crowd. Using new tools and working the new news ecology we produced new digital products and revenue streams AND reduced costs. We focused on what we do best and linked to the rest.

    We learned how to put out out daily newspapers and websites using only free web tools. And the Ben Franklin Project was born. We established the ideaLab and you came up with more and better products.

    We put about 1,000 Flip cams in your hands and we now produce about 4,000 minutes of original local news video per week. Stay tuned for more on that next quarter – think JRC TV.

    You changed our culture and how we think. And we are a better Company for that.

    AIl of that change is reflected in our bottom-line.

    I promised you would all share in that profit, so look in your pay check tomorrow – you will all find an extra week’s pay. All, that is, except for our senior executives. They have a bonus plan and it’s enough already.

    I promised and you delivered. And I cannot thank you enough for your effort this past year.

    Together, with your help, we are transforming the Journal Register Company into a modern news media company. A transformation powered by its employees.

    Until next time, John.

  10. Check out the story today about the devaluation of the Chicago Times, LA Times, etc...MediaBistro is one source.

  11. Re: J. Cavone at DR in NJ. Higher levels seem to always be about to say they've "resigned" to save face ... he's gone by April ...

  12. Oops ... meant "able" not about!

  13. The devaluation of the Tribune properties is what I think this urgent need to establish a brand for Gannett is all about. It also explains the Banikarim appointment. I think Gracia is panicked that GCI is going to have to confess its value is far less than stated in the annual reports. Presses that had value five years ago are now worthless junk, and the properties are worth far less than stated. How much less? Look at the Tribune Co., now valued at $900 million when barely five years ago, one investor wanted to buy the L.A. Times alone for $2 billion. The recession and the Internet have really combined to eat away at the value of newspaper companies, and I think Gracia is desparate to find a way to puff up the value.

  14. On a local note, the Lansing State Journal's King Taco editor wrote a column on how Gannett has finally given them approval to get rid of the old press still located in the newspaper's basement. This is somewhat interesting because FOR YEARS Gannett would not approve removing that press despite the ill health effects it had on the building's inhabitants due to cost. King Taco's column indicated that the newspaper would be making money from the removal due to the high prices placed on scrap metal these days. Me thinks there are other reasons for its removal.

  15. King Taco? A pseudonym, right?

  16. Yes, I think Gracia has been inflating the costs of many properties, and it's all about to come home. There's also that little matter of a new federal law which makes it a crime to phony up company books, and Gracia is one of those who signs her name on the document that says all the figures used are accurate and correct.

  17. Hats off the Journal Register guy for sharing profits with worker bees. A true leader, that Mr. Paton. What a breath of fresh air.
    Newspapers would live longer if they went all local, boiling down national and international news to a page-two online guide.
    Create an intensely local news report that would also serve as a template for local online information. Why kind of local? Multi-layered packages based on a news peg but offering explanation, perspective and an opportunity to participate in an online conversation. Example? Do a graphic showing flood plains in your area. Explain how insurance companies deal with flood claims. Look at the history of floods in your area. Invite readers to ID flooded basements and other related at-home issues. Be proactive rather than waiting for a flood to hit, knowing television will own the crisis coverage stuff. Another example? Go deeply into the business of local schools, cities, counties, etc. By deeply, I mean way beyond weekly meetings. Find the impact sources affected by the government agencies and do stories from their perspective, not from the perspective of the officials. Do a report comparing public pay and benefits to private pay and benefits.
    The local government stuff, of course, is the new battleground in America's economic wars. Give it the coverage it deserves.
    Many editors decided to de-emphasize important First Amendment reporting years ago because marketers said it was boring. They were usually right back then because so much government coverage was poorly done. Many meeting stories were indecipherable.
    Done properly, government reporting can wake up a newspaper and its community.
    Boil sports down to photos, stats and comparison charts. Lots of analysis, background and interactive game-like stuff (quizzes about local heroes, teams, etc.). Keep game stories short. Make everyone on the sports staff a columnist and encourage to go out and talk to every DJ, Rotary Club and high school journalism class they can find.
    All-local newspapers with free obits have a much better chance of survival than those stuffed with out-of-date wire stories and paper-thin local.

  18. 1:36 sounds like the same stuffy, old, yesterday thinking. Been there done that. Circulation has been going down for years. But nice lecture if you are talking to a group of academics that have never had to make a payroll!

  19. 6:09 has some good ideas, and you see the politics in Wisconsin that is making local government a great story again. If we are getting value for money out of our schools, how come our students fall behind Finland and Canada in international comparisons of test scores?

  20. Anonymous said...
    any truth that daily record (NJ) axed publisher Joe Cavone?
    3/14/2011 12:59 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Re: J. Cavone at DR in NJ. Higher levels seem to always be about to say they've "resigned" to save face ... he's gone by April ...
    3/14/2011 3:15 PM

    I remember him at the APP, big blowhard. All hot air and no substance. Glad he's going, should have been sent packing years ago. Boob...

  21. I'm the poster of the 6:09 PM note and I am not old and I am not stuffy. Ah, how stereotypes can mislead.
    When I talk about local news, I mean well-researched, attractively presented information about things that matter to people where they live, play, worship and learn. Stenographic coverage of government meetings is not what I mean. That stuff is a waste of space.
    Nor am I talking about 1,000 word tomes that few people finish or understand. Length does not necessarily equal depth. "Charticles" are much better and extremely useful to readers on complex topics like healthcare and property taxes. Bright, creative presentation makes the difference.
    Unfortunately, too many newspaper owners have based their judgments on reader response to bad work. Few have shifted all resources on local and digital with an emphasis on high-quality presentation and useability. "No," readers say, "I will not spend two hours reading a 10-part series of stories on property tax reform." "See," marketers then say, "people aren't interested in government."
    Sadly, that approach, led by the likes of Gannett, have been used to justify huge layoffs of the very people capable of doing what needs to be done to extend the lives of newspapers.
    Gannett is renowned for using bad research to justify bad decisions that ultimately become self-fulfilling prophesies. Figuring out what it takes to create high quality products seems beyond GCI's grasp.

  22. Anonymous said... westchester site over 75 to 90 night drivers will lose there job in march no wonder why the moral is so low. smooch leadership to save the bottom line.

  23. Is the Journal Register bonus in addition to its 100% match on the 401k?

  24. cavone, a blowhard or not, has been a publisher for a while. must have been doing something right, despite being a Collins-era holdover ... in any case, why blow out the Westchester top dog and virtually escort him out of the building, yet allow Cavone a month or so to go on the farewell tour? something doesn't smell right. Donovan has his paw prints on this one ... what's the real story?

  25. Why are drivers losing their jobs at a location where the paper's printed off-site? Why are so many drivers being let go?

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

  27. To 6:09pm - well said. Love the ideas and suggestions on ways to make this business work. And that letter from the CEO, Journal Register to employees was simply uplifting. Imagine the morale and committment levels of these folks right now? Soaring for sure.

    Back to Gannett, call me crazy or naive or both but I'm starting to think they/we can do this. They've hired Banikarim to fix advertising and marketing, and the buzz its created on this blog alone suggests this could be a very smart move, ideas are flowing and time will tell.

    This transformation could be even more successful by appointing a CNO - chief news officer - to the gannett management commitee and give her/him the same senior vp status as the rest of that group. Someone who will fight for smart and engaging content that's relevent and hip. The fact that we don't have anyone on the gannett management committee with a real news/content background is unbelievablyfoolish.

    It's been a long while since many of us felt encouraged about this company. Yeah I know there are so many things wrong that aren't being touched but just for today the anticipation for positive change feels darn good.

  28. Your smoking something if you think corporate would go along with a CNO (chief news officer). If it hasn't occurred to you by now, this is a company designed to make money, not news.

  29. 3/14/2011 5:44 PM
    Anonymous said...

    Hats off the Journal Register guy for sharing profits with worker bees. A true leader, that Mr. Paton. What a breath of fresh air.

    Yes, if only all sites at Gannett could do this, can you imagine the morale boost this would create! Please, corporate, if you are reading this — read and learn!

  30. Agreed. You want employees to rally for you and get behind your cause?.... Full disclosure and transparency is big part of it

  31. 6:09 is right.
    A small group of former Gannettoids and I started a local newspaper right in the middle of Gannettland using basiclly the foundation 6:09 describes.Subscriptions are on the rise and companion shopper is thriving.


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