An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
For Part 2 of this comment thread, please go here.
Wonder what today's shopper.,,. I mean paper looks like
In reading this article, it only serves as a reminder of what's really wrong with GCI, how it seems to absolutely worship at the altar of mediocrity -- uninspired, tone-deaf writing and bland, cookie-cutter presentation, all of which is "showcased" in a national newspaper -- while another national newspaper just 20 miles of the CP routinely produces writing like this:http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lives-twisted-together/2011/05/05/AFbrcqTG_story.html
Are the problems at Gannett company specific? Or is it just symptomatic of the decline of the newspaper business? I mean, are the New York Times mastheads and Washington Post suffering the same downward spiral of job cuts, lower value to customers, falling morale, falling sales, more job cuts?
9:38 To find stories like that you have to leave the office. GCI reporters don't do that anymore because it costs money.
10:03 The L.A. Times is in bankruptcy, yet still produces what I find to be compelling stories. The NYT has managed to battle through a higher debt level than GCI without diminishing quality so much. Both the NYT and WPO have had layoffs, yet produce top quality news. So I think it's all GCI. When is the last time we boasted about a blockbuster?
True, 1O:03, but let's face it: Even in the "glory" days, doing this kind of amazing feature simple never was 'the Gannett way.' Certainly not within the pages of its allegedly great national newspaper, where even the sections that should showcase the very best writing that the paper can produce (Life and Sports) are actually the most tone-deaf, voiceless, bland excuses for editorial packages that read more like a reporter's notes than an actual exercise in writing.This Wash Post story is more than simply about 'getting out of the office.' It demonstrates an entirely different level of culture, journalistic instinct and intelligence.
No newspaper covers American Idol like USA TOday does.
10:11 I disagree with you. I think there were times a decade ago when USA Today produced some very clever and very articulate copy. I do agree with the above observations about the blandness of today's editions.
Dave Lougee at KARE11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul this morning. Dunno what news if any he brought.
Jim: Linda Cunningham, anlongtime Gannett editor now at a Gatehouse paper, is getting the hell out (her choice - she is the right age and can walk away!): http://www.rrstar.com/carousel/x447601523/Linda-Grist-Cunningham-retires-from-Rockford-Register-Star
11:00 am: Those moments were few and far in between. The vast majority of USAT writing is and always has been devoid of the same kind of voice and attention to storytelling that makes the Wash Post, WSJ and even smaller players' newspapers a pure pleasure to read. It's either the editors there are far, far more focused on cramming 15 quoted sources in a 40-inch feature. Or the writers aren't skilled enough to pull of the kind of writing you'll still see in those other mentioned newspaper. Let's face it: GCI embraces mediocrity. It's part of their 'brand.'
Any papers out there with mid-30s circulation or less still have an exec. editor AND a managing editor?Please list your paper, if you do.
The company wrongly targeted multiple top editors at small papers who did multiple jobs to include administration, web posting, editorial writing, assignment management and more. The larger newspapers remain top heavy in newsroom ratios of over 65K salaries who do not actually produce content to front-line producer salaries, it seems..
Gannett is sucks and be so cheap money can't afford to raise? that is so stupid!!!! i hope the company bankruptcy soon!!!
1:29, sadly, we can afford raises. But not for you. Or me. The money saved by not giving raises, going into a second quarter in a row of furloughs and, of course, layoff and eliminations must go toward the millions accumulated and dispensed in bonuses to Craig, Gracia, Bob and others in high leadership.But thank you for your continued hard work and serve to our readers and advertisers. It's all within reach!
12:16 PM, Oshkosh, Wisc. Northwestern. M-Sat 14,642, Sun 19,895, in a town of 63,701.WTF.
Lookie: The NYT has found the recipe for financial success. The NYT has reached a break-even point a month after installing a paywall:http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2011/05/11/nytimes-web-site-approaches-breakeven-says-citi/?mod=yahoobarrons
12:16, the executive editor is the General Manager and Executive Editor in Oshkosh. The publisher's job was eliminated, so the editor really isn't doing news very much any more.
Pruning at Usa Today to commence near end of 2nd quarter. Get ready for bloodshed among highly compensated ranks.
Remember Deal Chicken? It's been how many weeks that we have been talking about it. But outside of Pheonix, who has it up? Not many I can see. www.dealchicken.com has sites and click on those still hatching. Now compare to other chains, like Scripps, who have a their unique deal sites up and operating at each of their papers. So do other papers I looked at in a spot check. So why the delay with GCI? It's what Saridakis talked about troubles making decisions. There's a lot of talk about doing things, a lot of planning, lot of meetings and even some announcements. But nothing gets done. Strange.
4:12 Yes, pruning at USA Today will be painful, but who gets pruned? Will it be the new corps of people running the verticals that are Hunke's legacy and favorites, or will it be the workhorse managers who have been around for years and are responsible for keeping the trains running each day? That will make this a truly historic battle.
1:56 -- who writes the editorials at Oshkosh?
All is not well in Hubland. In Jersey, papers have gone out more than an hour late. We're told it's the same in Nashville, but who knows? APP hub is supposed to be staffed at 26, but only 18 hired. Migration to CCI Newsgate of weeklies of 4 Jersey papers has been postponed for "several weeks."
The worst thing They could do is thin the already thin reporting ranks at Usat. Which/ means anyone who is good/competent/is a goner.pretty soon, only editors will be here.
Some suggestions for USAT (kept the list to 10, but could have easy made that 100):1. Stop with the slogans and catch phrases already. Verticals? Really? Way too much time spent coming up with crap like "3G" -- remember that fiasco? Slogans aren't going to fix several years of problems.2. Pay more attention and reward the people who have the real scoop (many veterans who are in the trenches) on why we're slipping and less attention to the folks who are packaged neatly or have nice smiles but bring little to the table. Eye candy in any form will cause decay.3. Make liars more accountable and stop blurring the line between deceit and genuine optimism.4. Cease hiring (and promoting) people who aren't at least moderately interested in newspapers or don't have a grasp of the English language. Geez, we have folks here who can't even write their own self evaluations. I am serious. We have tech people who have no clue about journalism. Worse, we have several managers whose credentials don't compare favorably to some of the people who were driven out of here.5. Make good, original design more fashionable again.6. Respect deadlines, which doesn't mean rushing a project at the 11th hour.7. Gosh, get some sense of urgency on the website. How many times are we going to get beat on major breaking news?8. Stop wasting resources on nonsense news or repackaged stuff that hundreds of other papers and websites have.9. Distribute work more evenly. Way too many people getting dumped on daily while others are making a career out of being slackers.10. This goes out to anyone above the mid-management level. Fess up to the mistakes you've made in the last few years. People might actually respect you for it if it's genuine. Could even improve spirits if the troops can believe you all aren't just self-centered, insecure, scared managers who hide behind titles and smoke screens.
7:55 very well said. Excellent suggestions from someone who clearly knows the USAToday workings.
Get rid of the CD's at USAT. What few are left aren't needed. Useless, useless.
The irony does not escape me that I have to read the New York Times to learn of Google lobbying for driverless cars in my home state, Nevada, while the "local" Gannett paper has not a peep.If it did, I didn't see it, Page 1, all that "local focus."Back when I was a loyal employee, steeped in commitment,I would feel welcome to walk into the editor's office and point out a missed story.Toward the end, as quality began to be usurped by mediocrity, that "welcome" feeling was gone indeed, Gannett had gutted all institutional memory and social dynamics from the place.When the old editor retired and a new one was installed, the likeliest reaction I would be afforded at daring to knock on the office door, now closed, my having spent all my life in most aspects of newspapers (advertising, news and production, all), would be "Who do you think YOU are?"I told myself that that guy was just insecure. I know who I am, and what I do, and I'm good at it. He eventually left and another guy came in, a much more decent chap with a good sense of humor, but by this time I had given up the whole "we're all in this together" deal.Indeed, I noticed the newer people didn't even make an attempt to ask any questions, let alone socialize. In whatever department, when new people came on board, they were rarely any longer introduced to anyone. The humanity was gone.And now this is what Gannett is, in its entirety. I had local sites were largely free agents back then. At least here: Lots of talented, literate, newspaper-oriented people in whatever department one chose to look at.criminal.I found myself working with people who called an apostrophe "that doohickey thing." It seemed as if no one could spell. It seemed as if no one even read the paper in print (or later online) which put food on their table at home.Some talent still survives, I notice, like a cool shower in the lamestream Mojave. But Gannett is doomed. You can't sell advertising if you have no readers because you have no content.
9:34 here. Sorry for the gaffes in syntax. I posted my working file, not the finished. I hope the point stands nonetheless.
Heh 9:34 your writing style gives you away. Trust me no one in the newsroom is shedding any tears that you left. Doohickey thing out!
If you don't like the new GANNETT you can leave
Gannett is sucks and be so cheap money can't afford to raise? that is so stupid!!!! i hope the company bankruptcy soon!!!5/11/2011 1:29 PMDude, you sound like some speaking in a bad Japanese karate movie.
7:55 couldnt agree with you more. Great post.
I worked at Corporate and traveled to many sites and there is a cold and stark sadness in each building. However a warmth, fight and heart amongst employees.Newspapers strength is localness of community and the local relationship. Without staff to write and cover what is important to readers -- local relevant content and ads in print and online ....Gannett is doomed. Corporate touts local relationships as a strength and key differentiator from competitors and yet cripples local properties with understaffed teams to perform miracles
7:55 -- yes, awesome post about what should be done, but never will be done, at USA TODAY under the current clueless leadership. As for USATODAY.com, it baffles me that an enterprise that rightfully sees its future as being online has refused -- over and over again -- to hand key responsibilities for the website to competent, experienced journalists. Instead, it's been entrusted to kids, far too many of whom have little to no talent, yet still exude a fascinating sense of privilege and entitlement. (Thanks, Chet and Dave!)
I don't know who 9:34 is, but I miss him or her. All the points made in that post are valid.
10:16, the champion of Gannett. My name is Craig. Craig Ayres-Sevier. I don't post here much, if rarely, but I'm not given away. I thought it a better way of communication. How 'bout yours, "anonymous." Anyone can read my stuff. No one shedding tears, nice and juvenile. At least I have a writing style that even asses can recognize. But that's my name. Don't know how to post it here. A visit rare, not to into learning how. I even got flack at Gannett for my hyphenated name. I will check out the options and post my name in the future. I know who I am. I don't see the option to POST MY NAME.
There. I have a name. All posts will henceforth be assigned. I'm not anonymous. I, Craig Sevier, never had the motive to be "anonymous." I just didn't realize there was that option. And that's the culture of Gannett, isn't it: anonymity and drama. And lots of people out of work, and lots of deceit.
Not ironic then that Gannett would never hire me to write. Style. Recognized even from tippy top which once petitioned critique. Are you one of those guys who never looked into personnel files and wondered why I had been there so long, awards given by the editorial staff, the current version you claim to to glad of such absence? Think what you will, but you're not thinking. You're just rude.
Put down the pipe, Craig. That morning shift at Starbucks comes quicker than you remember.
What an idiot. I have no pipe. Just more stupid shit. No response to being insulted, as if all that is OK. But this is how they think, no questions, assumptions convenient. It reaches all the way to the top, to what they themselves answer to. Icons. Talismans. Memes.These days that suffices as a qualification for people in media and the staff they oversee.I call it deceit. And finally my name is attached to that accusation.As others should. I know who I am. I am sick of this.
Lookin' at this guy's "writing style" converse to my own, I believed he was an OK guy. Really the only decent guy juggling corporate and locality. I don't care much about circumstance, I look at eyes. Yeh, I'm that much of a "hippie." Even sans any pipe in my life. Yet in any case there is a difference between pom-poms and deceit. Isn't there. Or not.
You are one weird dude.
"Newspapers strength is localness of community and the local relationship. Without staff to write and cover what is important to readers -- local relevant content and ads in print and online ....Gannett is doomed."11:46, I agree. It doesn't sound like the people at corporate have any idea which employees at the sites are involved in their communities or what advertising dollars are coming in because of established relationships. When employees are cut and relationships severed, the advertising dollars will stop coming in. Community members aren't stupid. They know this company is surviving on layoffs and fuloughs, not circulation dollars. Without the relationships, they will spend their money elsewhere.
Incorrect report upstream. Lougee in Minneapolis/St. Paul at KARE11 today not yesterday.
Welcome back! My publishing software platform, Blogger, suffered a major outage over the past 24 hours, limiting access to commenting on millions of blogs worldwide. Blogger took down some of our posts, but says they will be restored.
When we were so rudely interrupted, we were getting information on the latest layoffs. It was just getting hot, so we need to catch up on what has happened in the last day.
Newsroom employees in Louisville were informed Thursday of a perpetual wage freeze except for "a very small" number of exceptional employees based on merit. The understanding is that the more profitable the paper, the more will be available for raises. Salaries can be adjusted quarterly now instead of having to wait for an annual review. This apparently is the new protocol for all of USCP except Detroit. No specifics whatsoever about how much we're talking about for raises. Nothing was put in writing or officially announced. Sounds like GCI is trying force out employees without having to lay them off (and thus avoid their unemployment taxes going up), while retaining some ability to keep the most valuable people. Or, they're freezing wages and dangling a tiny, vague carrot to keep everyone from phoning it in. (treating employees like they're stupid, just as they do with readers and advertisers...)
Jim, consider switching to wordpress
Graphics slaughtered in Palm Springs.
From a Marketwatch.com piece last night:Steven Tananbaum, chief investment officer of credit at distressed-debt firm GoldenTree Asset Management, sees more defaults in the high-yield, or junk, bond market.“We’re making new product that’s going to default. We’re gonna make more,” he said, while predicting that returns in the high-yield market may be lackluster over the next three to five years. “Right now it looks good, because default rates are low.”However, some companies have been borrowing so much that their market capitalization is lower than the amount of debt they have outstanding, according to the GoldenTree manager.This is the case with Del Monte, publisher Gannett Co. and department-store operator Macy’s Inc., he pointed out.
The end is nigh:http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/05/christian-radio-network-guarantees-that-judgment-day-will-arrive-may-21/1?csp=obinsite
2:40 Yes, soon we will have stories on Elvis sightings. There used to be standards, etc., etc...
@Jim: Now that Blogger is working again, how about a write-thru on the furloughs, pay freezes, job cuts? Has anyone hinted at dollar figures for the cuts? Targets handed down by corporate or regional management? Maybe a big-picture look will allow it to emerge.
Does any one know what people like managers make in bonuses. Maybe would could hear from some former managers? So they take furloughs does the bonuses make up this money plus?
As a former advertising manager,I received a $1000.00 bonus if the department made revenue goal per month. This happened frequently until the bottom fell out.I have been gone for about a year and a half. The ad inches at that site is down at least 50%. I am sure there have not been any bonus amounts paid to sale reps either ,who received additional commission for being over goal,or anyone else for that matter. I am just wondering when the site will close comepletely.
$2.500 a quarter plus a % of the over.
Didn't like having GannettBlog down for 2 days? Missed out on checking in for info, snarky comments, and predictions from MyBoss? How about showing your appreciation by throwing a 5-spot Jim's way to help keep this blog available to us as a resource. A whole lot of small donations here and there add up.
6:55, I'd rather throw it Jim's way than to you, Debow. It's a thorn in your side, ain't it?
2:40 That is certainly a new low. We are now at supermarket tabloid levels of journalism as they are obviously out for any clicks they can get by whatever means they can get them. I can hear Frank Gannett rolling over.
Thank you, 6:55. And 6:58? I believe you are actually in agreement with 6:55.
$1500 when your sales team made goal. If made your quarter and extra $1500. Total of $24000 a year could be made by managers of sales teams that were on fire. However in this economy we know this is not happening often.
What is the smallest (in pages) newspaper you all have seen?
Jim, have you checked with your sources? Big cuts/layoffs coming.
Sites are planning layoffs in the range fo 15% of staff in June.
6:58 here. Of course!
Too scared to comment too early, I knew yesterday, but 9:15 and 9:17 are correct. Evidently layoffs were planned for July, moved up to June. No numbers given. Expense reductions as well. For some, that's more in the layoffs as who has anything left to cut but staff.
More newshole cuts are likely, as if papers are not small enough.
Has anyone seen the new memo released in the last few days for the new corporate CFO detailing more finance consolidations in the near future. Payroll savings = poor morale + errors + frustrated customers = fewer customers + less revenue.
Graphics slaughtered in Palm Springs.5/13/2011 1:58 PMCan you elaborate?
You are right 9:35. The customers are becoming more upset as each period passes with more errors, another rep, another processs that makes their dealings with the company more difficult and no sign of improvement. GCI is praying deal chicken is the saving grace this year.
Graphics in Palm Springs is where we left off when the system went down, and I was looking for details. It touched off a protest that Palm Springs is among the most profitable newspapers in the chain, bringing in 40 percent profits and almost $40 million in 2008. That also got blitzed, and has yet to be restored.
Does Kate Marymont still even exist? The silence from the office of the vice president/news is deafening.
It looks to me as if we are missing all posts from noon Wednesday until the system went down. I remember reading some other discussions I now don't see. I guess it doesn't matter, except makes for disjointed discussions and impossible to track things back to an original post.
10:07 I've now found and republished nearly 60 comments lost during the recent Blogger software platform outage.You'll find a couple dozen under this post about layoffs at the Asheville Citizen-Times. And there are about three dozen more under this Real Time Comments post.Sorry about all the confusion.
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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