Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 9-15 | Your News & Comments: Part 2

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65 comments:

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

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  2. "Not to ignore layoffs, furloughs elsewhere in the company, but things are really collapsing at USA Today."

    That's what happens when you throw a wrench into a well-oiled machine.

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  4. There was something said last week I believe about price raises for some G papers. Is there any more on this or was it just hot air?

    Our paper just had some upty up editor pat his back on how good they handled the Osama died fairy tale. Like doing their job was something extraordinary.

    And today, Tuesday, they come out with a paper that is only 30 pages in total. Are you kidding me? Of course that's before taking into account all the ad space. And at least 2 articles that was in the USA Today...yesterday. Keep cutting content...keep losing readers. With all the degrees paper people are supposed to have I keep wondering why no one sees this and corrects it.

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  5. xxx no one believes she had anything to do with these events xxxx
    Not true. I believe she had something to do with these events, and so does My Boss.

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  6. Significant price increases are coming. You can take that to the bank.

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  7. "Wilkes vs. Rudd was affecting ongoing projects so something had to give."

    I don't know anything about Wilks' abilities, but putting a guy with his track record next to Boy Wonder, I would think Davis would come up lacking -- especially since he is a buzzword-spewing idiot himself. I wonder if the terms of the BNQT purchase specify some form of "welfare" employment for Davis? God knows he couldn't make serious coin anywhere outside Gannett.

    Now, if only Wilks would take his buddy Lee Jones with him. After all, they live on the same street...

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  8. Is anyone still wondering why Moon left? He was no angel, but at least he had enough integrity left to bail rather than totally unwind USAT as Martore wanted.

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  9. Care to guess which USA Today "content manager" is now known as Marie Antoinette throughout the building?

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  10. The big business news today is Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 billion in the expectation the purchase will broaden Microsoft's reach. So why doesn't GCI do a purchase and expand its reach? Why is corporate so determined to manage the decline of this company, and not its success and expansion?

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  11. Gosh, I'd love to play, but first, please define content manager. Is that what editors were called pre-Transformation?

    Second, is she called Marie Antoinette because she's blithely unaware of the chaos around her and spends without a care in the world? Or is it because she's also headed for the guillotine?

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  12. Because she loves her cake, methinks.

    We are so poor, we do not even have a language! Just this stupid accent!

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  13. Just an observer, but it is highly doubtful that someone here just a month or so (Maryam), would know enough to try to "oust" Wilks.

    She may have sensed there was no there there, but too soon to take that kind of action, which could really backfire.

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  14. Just saw this breaking news on our Web site.

    "Police are investigating the shooting death early Saturday morning of a 23-year-old man."

    Oh, wait, it's three days old.

    I hope no one wonders why we're irrelevant.

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  15. It has to be Heather Frank. While we eat cake, she and her staff enjoy filet mignon at the Ritz.

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  16. The big business news today is Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 billion in the expectation the purchase will broaden Microsoft's reach. So why doesn't GCI do a purchase and expand its reach? Why is corporate so determined to manage the decline of this company, and not its success and expansion?
    5/10/2011 10:09 AM

    It's because they have no money and no access to any money.... they are completely leveraged in a massive amount of debt for their size (even though they are paying it off). Despite what people may think about paying Dubow and top executives millions that is actually peanuts in the scheme of things... Gannett only had a little less than $200 million cash on hand at the end of 2010 (don't know what it is now) but for a company its size its proportionately very small only about 3% of total revenue a healthy growing company has a minimum of 20% of revenue (which would be over 1 billion in Gannett's case) or more. All Gannett can afford is these nickel and dime companies that they keep buying for a couple million here and there hoping that one will become the next big thing.... kinda like an investor trying to become rich buying penny stocks.....can it happen yes, is it probable or likely...NO

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  17. Heather Frank brought women's lifestyle issues to USA Today. Before she came, there was only desert. She inserted women's lifestyle issues into USA Today coverage.

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  18. 11:59 As of March 27, GCI had $142 million in cash and cash equivalents, down from $183 million at Dec. 26.

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  19. 12:07 You're kidding, right?

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  20. So if we can't borrow and we don't have sufficient money, what is the future of this company but a slow, steady and continuing decline?

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  21. @12:07 PM: No, she brought different packaging and thinking about the integration between edit and advertising. The coverage was already there, without the label.

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  22. So if we can't borrow and we don't have sufficient money, what is the future of this company but a slow, steady and continuing decline?
    5/10/2011 12:31 PM

    That is exactly correct....I do find it interesting that the stock is still trading in the 14s and 15s..this companies value is really much less than that....but the stock is what the stock is.....as revenue continues to decline into perpetuity I believe you will see the stock trading much like Lee and McClatchy and even GCI not so long ago when they were almost facing backruptcy but were able to renegotiate their debt with their creditors had that not happened they would have filed for bankruptcy, interesting though if that cycle repeats again (and more than likely will) the lenders gave in last time because they believed that Gannett had a future...you can bet that will not happen again, the lenders will call in the debt and basically foreclose on the company.

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  23. 12:31 The company can, indeed, borrow more money through existing loan agreements and, possibly, through bond offerings. The question is: at what cost?

    Revenue, meanwhile, will continue to be a challenge. At this point, Wall Street media stock analysts forecast that revenue will decline during quarters two (where we are now), three and four, compared to a year ago.

    For the full year, they estimate revenues at $5.32 billion, down from $5.44 billion in 2010. Earnings per share for the year are expected to fall 10%, to $2.20, from 2010.

    Meanwhile, their current forecast for 2012 is a bit better: for the year, a revenue increase of 2.4%, to $5.45 billion. However, EPS are forecast to grow even more: $2.39, up 11.6%.

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  24. 12:45 Are you sure they can borrow from the bond market? Look at what happened to Lee last week. They couldn't float their new bonds and now are in a whole world of hurt. As we are certainly all aware, newspaper companies are not in favor on Wall Street these days, and people who have money are not fools about putting their money in something likely to fail. If the market sentiment favored us, I could see Gannett making a Microsoft-type gamble and buying something else in the technology area like a Skype. But I don't think the market is there for us anymore.

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  25. The assets claimed by GCI are vastly inflated. For example, what is the value of a used press these days beyond scrap metal?

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  26. GCI is not offering products that people want to buy. It's that simple.

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  28. 12:31 The company can, indeed, borrow more money through existing loan agreements and, possibly, through bond offerings. The question is: at what cost?

    Revenue, meanwhile, will continue to be a challenge. At this point, Wall Street media stock analysts forecast that revenue will decline during quarters two (where we are now), three and four, compared to a year ago.

    For the full year, they estimate revenues at $5.32 billion, down from $5.44 billion in 2010. Earnings per share for the year are expected to fall 10%, to $2.20, from 2010.

    Meanwhile, their current forecast for 2012 is a bit better: for the year, a revenue increase of 2.4%, to $5.45 billion. However, EPS are forecast to grow even more: $2.39, up 11.6%.
    5/10/2011 12:45 PM

    Jim - I read analysts all the time and the thing about them is that they aren't very good at predicting anything more than a couple of quarters in the future... Of course better predicitions come when the company is doing better now than last year. Also common sense has to come into play....ok, GCI's revenue make take a small dip this year (I actually at the end of the year it will be much greater), but to actually believe that revenue will increase in 2012 just doesn't make any sense at all..Sure the Presidential will play into revenue but its a one time thing and at best will only offset gains lost in 2011 if they are lucky. A company that continues to loose revenue and constantly blame the economy is destined to failure, they are looking to blame anyone and everyone but themselves. Also 1:48pm is completely correct. GCI could not float ANY bonds at this point, their credit rating is in junk and bonds are different than loans from creditors. Bonds you sell and you have to sell the fact that at some point a company will be able to repay them and pay the interest on the outstanding bonds it requires an extra level of confidence than a bank giving a loan (which they aren't doing for GCI either) and with revenues declining and the poor credit rating a bond offer would be impossible.

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  29. sorry about some of the syntax and grammatical in the previous post but I was typing and thinking fast.

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  30. If you want to know the future of GCI, look at what has happened to Kodak. Here's a company that once held a monopoly on high quality film and two decades ago traded in the 70's. It still exists today, but film is gone and it is trying to continue as a company making printers and digital cameras. When technology overtakes your core business, you are finished.

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  31. It would be hard for a reasonable person to imagine GCI's revenue to still be above $5 billion at the end of 2012....what you also have to recognize is that as revenue declines and nothing is done to prevent or slow the decline (GCI case exactly) then declines accelerate as the business collapses in on itself. There becomes a tipping point (which GCI hasn't reached yet) but soon, revenue will decline to point where cash flow will be substantially impacted and further cuts in employees will not be possible (as a certain amount of people are required just to keep operations in place) unless entire properties are shut down. Which in turn accelerates the decline in revenue. The unknown is when this will happen with GCI but assuredly it will happen and Gannett will become a required study in MBA programs of how a once viable and thriving company disappeared completely from existence solely on their inability to adjust to changing environments.

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  32. Interesting read in the NYTimes from the Columbia J School report, released today.

    "Journalists need to rethink their relationship with advertisers"
    It's not what you might think. Worth a read.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/business/media/10adco.html?_r=1

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  33. Interesting read in the NYTimes from the Columbia J School report, released today.

    "Journalists need to rethink their relationship with advertisers"
    It's not what you might think. Worth a read.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/business/media/10adco.html?_r=1
    5/10/2011 3:01 PM

    Interesting but a stupid article....first off I'm not a journalist but in advertising sales and the problem with newspapers is...

    1) Newspapers are outdated
    2) Journalism is the single most important part of a newspaper if excellent journalism doesn't exist how are we supposed to sell anything.
    3) Web companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) have a completely different business model that has NOTHING to do with jounalism, albeit advertising dollars they receive is based on readership on the sites (regardless of what the site is).
    4) TV, Web companies all understand the value of the reader, newspapers forgo the reader to apease the advertiser...

    Nobody really wants to read, watch ads, but will if they are positioned and relevant to what interests the reader. Newspapers think they can have a bunch of ads that they readers would love to look at in turn maybe read an article, they got it all backwards, unfortunately it too late to turn the ship around.

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  34. The esteemed Columbia J school : from NYTimes today goes on:

    "But it is an outgrowth of academia’s growing interest in the economic foundations of journalism at a time when those foundations appear unstable. Columbia and some other journalism schools, for instance, now offer courses on the economics of journalism.

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  35. 3:13 makes some good points, including the fact that good journalism drives the future for newspapers. Good journalism is not reporting on what a report says, and it is not telling me what I already heard on the evening news last night. It is original reporting and interesting. It is something I didn't know, or something I didn't quite realize about something I knew. It requires getting out on the street and beating the bushes. It does not require sitting in an office and contemplating about how USA Today can bring together a bitterly divided United States.

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  36. 3:13 i dont agree with you. Many people go to newspaper websites to get "news". On a daily basis, i visit NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, and my local paper websites. I also frequent CNN.com, abcnews.com and time.com

    I do this to "get the news". Most people still care about the news and look to journalists to deliver it. I value my local newspaper website...but I have a good paper in my town. Not all newspapers are created equal. That much is for sure.
    But journalism has a future in this country...a big one...its just moving to digital.
    What this report shows is that with the new model comes a need of understanding more about the economics. That can be argued of course.

    One thing is for sure, without millions of dollars in ad dollars, there is NO money for travel to cover news stories, no money to hire reporters, no money for editors, no money for journalism.

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  37. More furloughs tk.

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  38. I'm a graduate of a newsroom, not an operating center, and that Columbia J. school report pisses me off. I don't need to know what is going on in advertising, and frankly don't have the time to know. My day is spent chasing stories. Yes, I agree with what that story says and that people reading Vanity Fair are looking at the ads. But I am not writing for Vanity Fair, and there's precious little I can do for people who buy newspapers to clip coupons. What am I supposed to do to get on the good side of these readers? Write stories about scissors?
    I think we are best off with a wall between the two of us: the advertising department does their thing for their part of the the paper, I do my part for mine. I sold magazines door-to-door as a teenager but I am not a salesman and I don't particularly want to be seen as a strong advocate for anything, whether it is mid-winter sales, a new shopping mall, or the local corrupt politician.

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  39. I have always wondered why newspapers don't have a church and state dictate like magazines. At magazines , there are two chiefs of equal power: a Publisher (brings in the revenue) and an Editor in Chief (the integrity of the writing and reporting). If newspapers had this model, there would be less issues with integrity of journalism. With the newspaper business the Publisher oversees both revenue and edit which seems completely wrong.

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  40. 3:13 i dont agree with you. Many people go to newspaper websites to get "news". On a daily basis, i visit NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, and my local paper websites. I also frequent CNN.com, abcnews.com and time.com

    I do this to "get the news". Most people still care about the news and look to journalists to deliver it. I value my local newspaper website...but I have a good paper in my town. Not all newspapers are created equal. That much is for sure.
    But journalism has a future in this country...a big one...its just moving to digital.
    What this report shows is that with the new model comes a need of understanding more about the economics. That can be argued of course.

    One thing is for sure, without millions of dollars in ad dollars, there is NO money for travel to cover news stories, no money to hire reporters, no money for editors, no money for journalism.
    5/10/2011 3:23 PM

    Again let me remind you that I am in advertising sales (20+ years now) and you are making the argument that you can't have news and travel without advertising dollars, etc. Yes that is true (which came first the chicken or the egg argument) but you are missing the point entirely, let me explain it to you this way. What if a TV network ran nothing but reruns of old TV shows all of the time or shows from other networks, could they charge top dollar for their advertising.....NO. Now what if I am a premier network and have top rated shows consistently and new content can I charge more for my advertising...YES. Well TV Shows on TV are the stories and investigative journalism of newspapers and if it isn't top notch you can't sell advertising. And I don't know why you would say that I am against journalists....they are the single most important part of the paper, I think you need to reread my post. And to make my final point (again been doing this for over 20 years) in the "old" days when newspapers were doing well and the stories were better and circulation was decent, selling advertising was like taking candy from a baby, because advertisers wanted to be in our newspaper, they got results, it worked for them, we didn't have to explain with fancy facts and figures (and then it still comes up short for most). The newspapers lost their way because of "inferior programing" no fault of the journalist but of the "captain" of the sinking ship.

    I've always gone by this motto the best products ALWAYS sell themselves, sales people sell the rest. Gannett's just lost all of their "best" products.

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  41. 3:38 I understand. Got it. You are right that the product must lead. However, maybe, just maybe....consumers just don't want the printed paper anymore. The NYT article was about the economics of digital. The Columbia report was about DIGITAL.
    So that is my focus. And people consume digital VERY differently than they do print. If you read the whole report, there are some bigger points to be made about ads and edit online. . Journalism and the desire for news is bigger than ever....that was my point.

    Columbia is simply stating that as the model has changed, maybe some of our approach should too. Not agreeing. But interesting debate.

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  42. 3:38 Good job. You are absolutely right on mark. The best products always sell themselves.

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  43. 3:38 I understand. Got it. You are right that the product must lead. However, maybe, just maybe....consumers just don't want the printed paper anymore. The NYT article was about the economics of digital. The Columbia report was about DIGITAL.
    So that is my focus. And people consume digital VERY differently than they do print. If you read the whole report, there are some bigger points to be made about ads and edit online. . Journalism and the desire for news is bigger than ever....that was my point.

    Columbia is simply stating that as the model has changed, maybe some of our approach should too. Not agreeing. But interesting debate.
    5/10/2011 3:47 PM

    Wow, you seem to be really challenged with reading comprehension. My first point was that newspapers are outdated, I am fully aware and on board with digital and quite frankly if the "newspaper companies" were truly forward thinking, they would be giving Ipads away for free or either extremely discounted prices in turn for a paid online subscription - like cell phone companies do with cell and smart phones (of course Gannett can't afford that now - too late) but I digress..my point is that bottom line if you have NO content you have NO advertising.... Publications exist with nothing but advertising in them...they are called flyers and inserts.

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  44. NYTimes is an excellent product. But their ad revenues are down substantially and they hinge on financial survival.

    So much for the theory build it and they will come.

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  45. Weighing in here: the problem is proliferation of news sources, aggregation, and greater access for readers (free internet). Building a great product is always important but it's no longer enough.

    Sadly.

    Conversly, building a crappy product guarantees no readers. Unless you are the darling of aggregation :HuffPo. Then you sell for millions.

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  46. Note just went out at the Arizona Republic. Furloughs for everyone, except union positions. Not just those making $80,000 or more. Don't know if this is across the board for USCP or just the Arizona Republic. Also don't know if it includes KPNX (but I think it does since the memo went to "Everyone at PNI."

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  47. Note just went out at the Arizona Republic. Furloughs for everyone, except union positions. Not just those making $80,000 or more. Don't know if this is across the board for USCP or just the Arizona Republic. Also don't know if it includes KPNX (but I think it does since the memo went to "Everyone at PNI."
    5/10/2011 4:32 PM

    KPNX is part of Gannett Broadcasting not PNI (Phoenix Newspapers Inc.) which is under the USCP, so they would not have gotten that email.

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  48. 3:47 "consumers just don't want the printed paper anymore." There are reasons for that, and when there's reasons, the wrong ones can be fixed. As a carrier I know people will still read the paper if there is a paper to read. My total local paper today had 30 pages...total. And how much of that were ads and stories that appeared elsewhere days before. The Bin Laden "killing" once again proves when there is a real story, local or especially nationally, they go to the paper for the story. Sadly today there isn't much for them to find usually, by the paper's choice.

    I agree paper readership is lessening, but only because the paper industry is willing it so. Higher prices for less product, product culled from other sources..how stupid do papers think people are?

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  49. The "Marie Antoinette" alluded to earlier has to be Susan Weiss. I've heard her called that for both reasons. Everyone expects she will be fired soon, and she is deliberately deaf to the problems among USA Today's staff. She moans endlessly about her own silly problems (long days, boo hoo! JOIN THE CLUB!) while they staff struggles to put out the paper despite her disregard and mismanagement. She has been heard saying, "If we're only going to be around for a year, why can't you people have a better attitude?" Why don't you complainers shove some cake in those open mouths of yours!?!

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  50. The age of the "printed" newspaper is over, but what the newspapers failed to capitalize was transitioning their business over to a digital newspaper, where over time as the printed version became unnecessary the digital takes its place. I know people are going to say.....well isn't that what they are doing now?? NO quite the opposite. Newspaper companies were under the impression that the printed newspaper would always exist and made no plans of what would happen if it didn't. So much of their livelihood was based on circ revenue advertising revenue, etc. that they didn't see or imagine the day that a printed paper would cease to exist. What they should of done that is different than now, is
    1) Newspapers should have transitioned to a free publication early on (talking about 40 years ago) which would have boosted circulation through the roof - and advertising dollars would flow at unbelievable levels, allowing for growth purchase opportunities not buying more newspapers.
    2) When digital first emerged they should have offered a full blow digital edition equal to the print edition (not a half ass effort)
    3) As digital increased and print decreased should have dropped advertising costs on the print side - instead of gouging the customer to hang on to their revenue stream.
    4) The amount of employees required would have shrunk but thats ok because as the business changed it would have been a natural transition - instead of cutting people just to maintain a profit level.
    5) Closed properties that were just making it or breaking even instead of holding onto such a to heavy expense model.
    6) Advertisers and readers would have understood this business model and seen Gannett as an innovator and leader not a copycat and a follower.
    7) Gannett's revenues still may still have been similar as they are today but had they had a true business plan in place would be operating with about 50 stations and 10 newspapers and one website that would be uniquely adaptable to a local and national market, their employee count would be under 10,000, stock trading above 60 and Gannett would have been seen as a Disney or News Corporation, instead of the pathetic shell of an "age gone by corporation" spiraling into oblivion.

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  52. Susan weiss is one of the few people trying to keep things from falling apart.

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  53. If you look at GCI's finances; while they are still paying down their long term debt, they are now doing so at a reduced pace. That is a first indicator of potential problems & as their revenue continues the downward spiral the repayment of debt will become a serious issue with this company, I would estimate that GCI is about 18 to 24 months to the tipping point where paying down principal becomes extremely difficult if not impossible and will only be able to make interest payments. The money owed on their revolving line of credit has increased by $3 million from Q1 to Q2, not that it is a huge number but an indicator of weakend cash flow.

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  54. You have to love dudes like 5:01. They have all the answers nut never amount to anything in their careers. Why is that? Just wondering.

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  55. You have to love dudes like 5:01. They have all the answers nut never amount to anything in their careers. Why is that? Just wondering.
    5/10/2011 8:46 PM

    Huh, that is a meaningless comment, you don't know me or what I do or where I work.. and what does "nut never" mean?

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  56. Nut n Never. Candy bar or Craig& Gracia?

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  57. We are two years away from a meltdown that will include a brief respite from worry as we surge digitally.

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  58. If you believe in karma, then you might realize that what USAT so carelessly did to the lives and careers of many former employees -- longtime, loyal, competent employees -- won't go unnoticed by the universe.

    This might sound crazy, but until USAT rights some horrible wrongs, or at least apologizes to certain individuals, I expect further deterioration across the board, coming in various forms. I wouldn't doubt if it even flows over into the personal lives of some people who played a role in some real awful stuff.

    There were too many injustices done to too many people since moving into this glorious building. The escalation of wrongdoing in recent years will last for a very long time unless certain people really examine themselves and their (big and small) parts in the acts of cruelty that had little to do with the recession and more to do with greed and personal feelings.

    Too many people in key positions have themselves convinced that what was done had to be done. It didn't -- not in every case. Some of the things that went down were just downright vengeful.

    Too many powerful people, some who have since moved on, handled things dishonestly. Time to fess up past and present managers.

    From HR to the various departments to the newsroom, USAT is floundering in bad karma that it created through deceit and trusting the wrong people to do the right things.

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  59. Nice sentiment, but too many injustices and too many apologies to make. Too much insecurity to change. Too chicken to contest the b.s. from & Hunke and the gang. This is the new world order. People pretend to be in charge. And they keep hiring unqualified managers for oddly defined positions. Sheer madness.

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  60. How leadership evolved; hillkirk. Paulson. Jurgensen. Mazzerella. That little dude who wrote the bj neuharth book they bought on the sly to boost sales.

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

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  62. The little dude is peter pritchard,and he wrote mcpaper, you moron.

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  63. Let's not forget Ron martini

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  64. Susan Weiss may be clueless, but she has far more savvy than fellow managers. Marie Antoinette is Heather frank, crazed,all powerful, mean and out of touch.

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  65. Let them eat furloughs. Gracia, you fools.

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