Friday, April 01, 2011

March 28-April 3 | Your News & Comments: Part 5

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50 comments:

  1. For Part 4 of this comment thread, please go here.

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  2. Jim raised a good question a couple of days ago, which I haven't seen answered on this blog. That is what are the metrics we are supposed to use to judge whether this branding campaign is working? I'm still not sure of the philosophy behind this campaign, but fear it means that Gannett is in the future going to push the corporate brand at the expense of local newspapers and TV stations. It opens the door to other national campaigns conceived to raise revenues, which won't necessarily accrue to the local papers and stations, but be accounted in corporate's pockets. I think we are seeing some of this in the new Life features being attached to USA Today. Look at the ads they are attracting, and you will see lines of products -- vitamin pills, feel-good wellness programs, etc -- that we haven't seen before. The question I have is whether this new revenue from the downscale market will come only at the expense of upscale marketers who don't want to be associated with these groups in any way. If the branding campaign results in USA Today getting the reputation of supermarket tabloids, it could turn out to be a very costly mistake.

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  3. http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2011-03-31-ceo-pay-2010.htm

    USAT article yesterday on CEO pay and how shareholders are getting more say.

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  4. In response to previous blog post about the sales force "double dipping".

    This practice is generally not allowed on the print side anymore. But is still in full force on the digital side. For two reasons (and corporate knows this is happening).

    1. The profit margin on digital is staggering. The company can absorb the costs of paying out two individuals on the same revenue.

    2. The digital USCP digital sales force is for the most part totally ineffective. This however is not how it's SUPPOSED to be. So. Instead of tackling the problem; the powers that be (re: Gracia) ignore it and look through the numbers with their rose colored glasses (this of course is the very root of the problem for all the issues this company has).

    Basically. Everyone is ignoring the giant elephant stomping around the room. Because if they're making commissions they must be selling right?

    So we have a group of people who don't bring in much money (and sometimes less than they actually get paid out). And another group who, for all intents and purposes bring in a paycheck for them (re: your standard print sales rep).

    This is how it is at most of the larger sites with their own digital sales forces.

    Typical Gannett.

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  5. 7:36AM, this is exactly what happened at my site. Print reps supporting digital reps.

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  6. Worth repeating. Print revenue is 70 percent of Gannett income, Digital is 30 percent. True of the entire industry. Print dollars. Digital dimes.

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  7. 7:54 We know that, but corporate is looking in the lack of effort needed to bring in digital dimes, and concluding that it is wasteful to continue with the traditional back shop and truck distribution network. Take a look at 7:36 and you see the impact on advertising shops. Corporate has had wet dreams for years about reducing labor costs of producing newspapers, and now it is tantalizingly close. Do they make the full leap and go digital now, or wait and see?

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  8. Friday after the new quarter begins usually
    brings signs of layoffs.Are there reports of closed door meetings and unusual manager conferences etc.,as in times past?
    Or are there scheduled meetings for next week?

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  9. @8:11- I think 7:36 is saying the exact opposite. Gannett has failed to develop a cohesive digital sales strategy. The fact that PRINT still has to hold up digital is proof positive that this company has no idea how to make pure digital dollars.

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  10. Maryam to the rescue! Let's wait and see how she realigns sales to grow revenue. NOBODY is walking away from print totally (not a single publisher in the print biz) at least not yet. Why? PRINT ads make a lot of money for these companies. It's changing....but the economics of digital are NOT THERE yet.

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  11. 8:27 I agree with you. Corporate has no idea how to turn these digital dimes into dollars. But you glimpse the gleam of greed in their eyes with 7:36's observation that "The profit margin on digital is staggering. The company can absorb the costs of paying out two individuals on the same revenue." They also see how the Huffington Post, which doesn't pay its contributors, sold for $320 million to AOL when GCI is drawing absolutely no interest from investment banks when it tries to sell some of its properties, or looks into the idea of floating USAToday as a separate property.

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  12. On the Fort Collins Coloradoan website there is a story about their new publisher. Here is a link:
    http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20110401/BUSINESS/104010337/New-publisher-named-Coloradoan?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

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  13. Worth repeating. Print revenue is 70 percent of Gannett income, Digital is 30 percent. True of the entire industry. Print dollars. Digital dimes.
    4/01/2011 7:54 AM

    If this was true GCI's digital revenue would be about $1.5 Billion and it's more in the $400 million range (excluding the double counting of careerbuilder and Classified Ventures).

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  14. Why would any advertiser pay such high prices for print ads when they can get digital for pennies? That is the true issue in the print vs digital investments. Advertisers ONLY pay premiums if its a HUGE value....like the SuperBowl. Otherwise, the dimes of digital are way too enticing.

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  15. Digital media is learning how to charge more. There are a lot of web publishers who are learning to charge almost as much for digital as print. Publishers need to get bold in pricing their value.

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  16. Stacey Martin, currently our VP of Operations and IT Director for the South Group, has been named Director/Enterprise NewsGate Practice for the Gannett Information Technology Department. She will form, lead and manage the technology team that will provide Enterprise NewsGate application management and support for all customers across the Gannett organization. This is a key leadership role needed for the overall success of this significant project. Stacey and her family will be relocating to the DC area.

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  17. We will miss Stacey locally, but are thankful we have someone so competent leading the charge on an application that is central to our success as a multi-media news operation.

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  18. Carolyn Wasburn told news staff yesterday there will be furloughs in the second quarter for those making more than $80,000. There is some concern about calling them furloughs or vacations because she claims a privacy issue if folks not making as much see the over $80,000 group taking time off. So no one certain what they'll call them but there are plenty of folks at that level or more who will have another week off this quarter.

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  19. Stacey Martin, currently our VP of Operations and IT Director for the South Group, has been named Director/Enterprise NewsGate Practice for the Gannett Information Technology Department. She will form, lead and manage the technology team that will provide Enterprise NewsGate application management and support for all customers across the Gannett organization. This is a key leadership role needed for the overall success of this significant project. Stacey and her family will be relocating to the DC area.
    4/01/2011 9:32 AM

    She may be a great person, but can only be as effective as the tools given her.... Gannett is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to technology and is sinking deeper. I can't imagine someone of her caliber even stays with Gannett more than likely she will be exiting soon.....

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  20. Stacey Martin is definitely one of the good ones.

    I agree @9:48. She needs the tools. Unfortunately, the 'tools' she's getting are from the Corporate toolbox.

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  21. The trend is declining print dollars and growing digital dimes. The market rewards growth. We better learn how to collect digital dimes or the executive driven massacre will continue ...and eventually will reach executives too.

    We have a local digital sales problem and are getting crushed by those who do it better. Interesting accounting may help some hide but the bottom line will not lie. Even Gracia benefits in the shell game when digital numbers look better in the short term.

    We continue to hope for a product that sells itself again. Not going to happen. We have to win in selling and deliver tangible value for a change. There is no "right to win" in a digital market. We have to earn it each and every day.

    The Yahoo numbers will be telling for us. It is a big bet as we are introducing our advertisers to non-Gannett advertising. If we can't sell it and others do, someone will pay. Nowhere to hide on that one, not for long anyway. Even the board may have to act and Yahoo happened on Gracia's watch.

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  22. 9:47 am says: "There is some concern about calling them furloughs or vacations because she [Carolyn Washburn] claims a privacy issue if folks not making as much see the over $80,000 group taking time off."

    This is odd because when furloughs were first introduced, there were explicit rules to be followed, including a very specific out of office email message, and a change to the voicemail message.
    Unless these $80K-plus people are being told to be cagey in their voicemails to make it appear that they're just on vacation, anyone who sends them an email during their week (Sunday through Saturday) is going to figure it out.
    After all, if someone needs a response during that furlough week, and was not told that the individual was unavailable, there's a problem.
    If the manager DOES respond, it's not a furlough. Can't have it both ways.
    Am I missing something?

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  23. eMarketer reports total newspaper print revenue at $22B and digital at $3B for 2010.
    It does predict tapering off of print declines.
    Digital has a LONG way to go to match Print revenues.
    Don't predict the death of print , based on these numbers.
    Print revenue is still king.

    http://www.emarketer.com/blog/index.php/gains-online-magazine-newspaper-ad-spending-offset-print-losses

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  24. 9:47 at my site they are anal about furloughs, as in we have to say we're on furlough in our e-mail out-of-office and our voicemail. So it would be difficult to pretend someone is on vacation versus a furlough. Plus how could you collect unemployment for that week if you said you were on vacation? So tough beans about the privacy issue.

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  25. Stacey is a great person. Hope she is well compensated for her loss of the VP title.

    Is it truly a Gannett-wide position responsible for USA Today and Broadcast too or is it just another USCP COE by another name?

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  26. Corporate's position is founded in the belief that only they have the answer for turning digital dimes into dollars, so they are not particularly interested in hearing about this from underlings or they would have asked. This goes for digital as well as other site. They are not letting anyone in on their secret strategy for winning on the Web. It has worked for them in the past doing it this way, and they are going to do it this way with digital, too.

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  27. Why turn the digital dimes into dollars to run presses and put gasoline in trucks when you could just pocket the dimes?

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  28. So I guess today isn't as bad as everyone feared? No new layoffs or furloughs for the little guy? Or maybe corporate is just giving us a false sense of security for April Fools!

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  29. Stacey Martin is indeed one of the "good guys." Her roots are in journalism (copy editor), then rose through the ranks of production and IT to be one of the true miracle workers of Gannett. She will truly be missed in Nashville.

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  30. I didn't really care for Stacey when I worked for her. She tends toward favortism. Whatever her favorite does is OK. Her IT staff in Nashville dwindled down to next to nothing and continues to shrink. Mostly because of the management staff she put in place (although half of that team left, as well). She just about wrecked the IT portion of her staff in Nashville. I take that back. Not "just about." She broke that staff.

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  31. So, if I make 79K, I'll be making more than a furlough 80ker.Score.

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  32. Most of Tech Serv Left Nashville, Don't see why the just done get rid of the Manager in that area, and contract that work out..

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  33. 9:59 is right. Because of the strict rules associated with furloughs, it will be practically impossible for those high-paid employees to lay low. We encountered this a couple of years ago when people making $90K or more had to take two furloughs. They called it vacation. But we weren't allowed to contact them during their "vacation." Our property had a lot of overpaid workers (many of whom have since been laid off in various rounds of cuts), and that furlough period shined light on who they were. This time, it will be even easier to spot those high earners because the rest of us aren't subject to the furloughs. So much for those workers' privacy. Way to go, Gannett.

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  34. The local paper's centerpiece today is on the governor touting the cleanup of a nearby river. The caption said 20 to 30 protesters were there, while the story said 50.

    Am I too nit-picky to think someone should have caught that? As a reader, how can I believe any facts this paper prints, if they can't get something so simple as numbers right?

    This is the second time in a week they've made the same gaffe.

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  35. The local paper's centerpiece today is on the governor touting the cleanup of a nearby river. The caption said 20 to 30 protesters were there, while the story said 50.

    Am I too nit-picky to think someone should have caught that? As a reader, how can I believe any facts this paper prints, if they can't get something so simple as numbers right?

    This is the second time in a week they've made the same gaffe.
    4/01/2011 2:32 PM

    Dude, nobody knows what you are talking about unless you mention what paper you are reading. Hello!!!!!

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  36. At our property, the directors are the only ones taking furlough this go round. We know they make over 80k. The others making 80k+ are not effected....yet!

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  37. I don't hit the $80,000 threshold, but am going to take a week off to pretend I do.

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  38. I disagree, 2:39. I'm sure a lot of people know exactly too well what 2:32 is talking about without having to name the paper.

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  39. CEO pay soars while workers' pay stalls

    hmmm, no Gannett references. How odd.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2011-03-31-ceo-pay-2010.htm

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  40. "Dude" at 2:39, is your post a joke? Why would it matter what newspaper it is? We're all in the same boat as far as credibility, or lack of it, goes.

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  41. "Dude" at 2:39, is your post a joke? Why would it matter what newspaper it is? We're all in the same boat as far as credibility, or lack of it, goes.
    4/01/2011 3:40 PM

    It matters so that we can see it for ourselves you F'nut.

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  42. is the $80,000 considered before or after you take off all the weeks pay from furloughs?

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  43. 2:39 -- If you google the key words, the first hit is http://oshkoshhub.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110401/APC0101/104010626/Fox-River-cleanup-lowers-PCB-level-in-fish

    It's correct here, but let's believe that it was not in the Post-Crescent (?). And yes, it's embarrassing and something that some editor should have fixed for the all dead tree readers.

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  44. Any journalist who hasn't visited the Newsosauar site to see Mutter's Tuesday post should do so. Scary stuff for all Gannettoids, whether happy Gannettoids or not. Scary stuff. Bottom line: You make too much.

    http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/

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  45. 6;08 Absolutely. Look at the Huffington Post, which gives contributors nothing for what they are publishing on this site. USA Today is already using Demand Media's el-Cheapo stories in its travel section, and I can see the use of this wire service expanding to others. Most readers don't read the entire paper anyway.

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  46. Business wants their ads placed so they touch stories, because they know that is the way readers will see them. But they don't dictate whether this should be next to a $10 Demand Media story, or that produced by GCI staffers.

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  47. There is actually disappointment that furloughs didn't come. How sad is that? People are so tired and overworked they are disappointed they don't get a week of without pay. Way to go G A N N E T T. Way to break people.

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  48. Interesting, 6:06 p.m. Not sure what the oshkoshhub is, but they still have it wrong online somewhere else, as evidenced here.
    http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011104010626

    Their sister paper to the north, Appleton Post-Crescent, got it right online, at least. Not sure about print, but I bet the numbers matched up there, as well.

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  49. Demand Media is now a $2 billion company, based on its stock price which has soared since it went public. So don't scoff at these low-cost competitors.
    As an aside, I should also note this was a market Gannett could have captured, using its vast morgue. Recycling timeless stories is very lucrative in this market.

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  50. Another market Gannett could have captured three years ago is group-buying. Groupon's sales reps aren't in your local town; they're in Chicago. We have the contacts with local businesses, but they're eating our lunch. And now they're worth $6 billion. Just like Blockbuster and Netflix. The big guy eventually chokes himself with corporate inertia.

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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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