Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 9-15 | Your News & Comments: Part 5

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33 comments:

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

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  2. Thanks for all that work restoring the lost posts. It gives us the ability to reassemble most discussions that were going on when the system went down.

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  3. I would be interested in reading a rough roadmap for the next 10 years of Gannett, particularly from the viewpoint of an average employee who manages to somehow stick around.

    Would this roadmap involve all operations being centralized into a small number of regional hubs over the next 2-3 years, and in turn those hubs being merged into four, three, two and then one central facility (Virginia?) by 2020?

    Think about all the things that have happened over the past few years you thought GCI would NEVER do, and keep in mind what it has shown that its priorities seem to be.

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  4. 12:17 -- If I'm still with the company in 10 years it will only be because the economy has continued to worsen. I'll be damned if I'll stay with this joke of an organization any longer than I have to.

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  5. Will Gannett be around in 10 years?

    http://read.bi/iGCyhR

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  6. Yesterday, 2:13 PM posted about the Marketwatch.com article in which Gannett is among several companies noted for borrowing so much that their market capitalization is lower than the amount of debt they have outstanding.

    Wanted to point out that this is true but you won't find it on marketwatch.com if you do a Google search because the article was updated with that information omitted. But the cache of the page is still available.

    This is the content from the original page:

    New defaults
    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. (NYSE:GCI) and department-store operator Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) , he pointed out.

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  7. On 5/13 a poster at 2:13 PM posted about a Marketwatch.com article in which Gannett is one of several companies noted for borrowing so much that their market capitalization is lower than the amount of debt they have outstanding.

    This is true but you won't find this portion of the story on marketwatch.com anymore because the article was updated to exclude it. So if you Google the story it won't show up but the original article is cached.

    The article headline is:
    Hedge-fund managers ponder Armageddon
    By Alistair Barr, MarketWatch
    LAS VEGAS (MarketWatch) — A collapse of the banking system, the demise of the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency, another oil shock, a new round of junk-bond defaults and a meltdown in Japan’s bond market were among the doomsday scenarios explored by hedge-fund managers at a conference in Las Vegas Thursday.

    (and this the part that mentions Gannett)...
    New defaults
    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. (NYSE:GCI) and department-store operator Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) , he pointed out.

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  8. Gannett will be around, but will slip from the Fortune 500 list and be a very different company than it is now. How different depends on what Maryam comes up with, and we are waiting.
    I think the biggest and most profitable newspapers will still have a print version, but maybe just on high-ad days. The returns on print ads still are greater than electronic.
    My bet is that long-form journalism will be the future. There's no way we can compete on short-form news flashes, and as TV over mobile devices catches on, I think we will give up on that. More interpretive, analytical, authoritative and opinionated stories are likely. Newspapers that continue to print will look pretty much like today.
    Specialty presses will proliferate, and the WSJ will keep a strong presence as a national paper, winning over the NYT. Sorry, but I don't see a future here for a printed USA Today, and its best bet is to go to the Web ASAP. Stores are going to take more control of their brands, and demand that opposing brands that don't support their image keep out, and store owners will want only industry leaders.

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  9. I wouldn't have written this a year ago, but I see either bankruptcy or debt reorganization in our near future. Either course would not be necessarily bad because it would force the current leadership into retirement. I think corporate is really struggling to make debt payments and unless this an historically great Christmas ad season where advertisers are turned away, they will not be able to deal with the first six months of 2012

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  10. Since we're reading tea leaves, why has USA Today gone to a new publishing system? Anyone want to hazard as guess as to what Newsgate means for the future?

    Implementing it couldn't have been cheap, and it hardly seems necessary when what we had was working fine and was actually a lot more conducive to good editing.

    The timing is also confounding, bringing in a new publishing system in the midst of all this other upheaval.

    My best guess is that its main purpose is to eliminate positions -- assuming anyone can locate where these unfortunates sit in order to fire them.

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  11. One could argue that Gannett is trying to cut costs now in anticipation of one-shot ad revenue that will come in during the presidential campaign next year. Get rid of as much staff as you can, take the extra ad dollars, continue to fiddle as Rome burns.

    I can't see Gannett being around in 2021, I honestly can't. Every move the company makes is to devour its own self. I mean, ex- or non-Gannett people, have you actually picked up a copy of your local paper lately? The NJ papers are so bad, it's mind-boggling. During the week the APP is like a step above a pamphlet. We all know that reporters have been told not to write stories beyond 12 inches of length, and boy does it show when you pick up the paper - the coverage of the towns is shallow, shallow, shallow. And the consumer sees all this.

    So, where's the strategy for survival, for innovation? There is none. I think it's clear that GCI is trying to squeeze as much blood from its stones before it either files for bankruptcy or starts to sell off assets at fire sale prices. That's my prediction.

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  12. Newsquest is an expensive remnant of someone's dream of GCI being an international organization. They had absolutely no idea what they were doing with this purchase and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It is profitable, but not saleable, so it lives as the family's strange uncle that no one can figure out what to do with.

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  13. 6:30 - But we've mostly given up on long-form journalism. It was one of the first things Gannett cut, and the company has either laid off or chased away many of the employees who were best at that. Does this mean Gannett is doomed? Or will it be able to get some of those folks back or survive by attracting the best young newshounds?

    I think you make very good points, which is why Gannett's moves to this point have been flabbergasting.

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  14. The strategy for survival is in these verticals that USAT is working on. There are several site ranking the top 500 internet sites, and USA Today gets on most of them, although with a slipping audience because of he crap they are putting out. Here's one:
    http://www.seomoz.org/top500
    and USA Today is 86th. If porn sites are included, USA Today comes in at the 400's. The strategy is to get the placement up. To do that, you have to increase quality (note the NYT England's Guardian consistently ranks high on these lists), or increase the volume of hits. That's what the verticals are for.

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  15. The current model calls for continued downsizing. Which is what Newsgate permits: centralizing key content such as graphics, which allows the elimination of many local positions. I'm sure it's gonna allow even more consolidation on the production end. Moving to a web only solution, though, will eventually allow corporate to really accelerate the slash in staffing. It can eliminate thousands of employees if the product is just web based. Once digital revenue accelerates, you'll see more Detroit style business models. Fewer print days. You can slash circulation, press production people and reporters and editors as the fixed costs associated with a paper product evaporate. The problem is corporate thinks "content seekers" and advertisers buy into the current dillted and dumbed down products as they destroy the quality of the newspapers while the company makes that transition. Rather than chinese water torture employees and readers, why not just jump in with both feet? And why not just go with paywalls like the wsj and ny times?

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  16. Journalism as I know it is the reason for Gannetts demise. Why? Nobody! Well hardly anyone will pay big bucks for journalists. Why? Because Jim can make 10,000 bucks a year doing his version where he used to make ten times that. The cost of Usatoday and getting it to consumers is too high. That is the problem with newspaper companies unless they have different revenue streams they are gone.

    Advertising is now everywhere not just papers and network tv. The only way to make it is with Kaplan or other non journalism businesses. Yet we complain about anything that effects journalism people.

    Ten years. Hubs for everything but local content and that will be niche. Maybe local govt and sports. People get rest of news elsewhere so why fight the fact. Cut everything else and buy new businesses not in journalism. It is the only hope.

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  17. Conceptually, I understand how verticals could work. But Usa Today's don't. Your Life is poorly conceived and has lousy content I could have gotten from Better Homes and Gardens years ago. This isn't the kind of stuff to target young or old readers. Who comes up with the crap on that site? Its no wonder they can't sell any ads to make it a profitable venture.

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  18. If you want to know what USA Today is doing with this new economy, just look at how Jim is running this blog. Everytime someone reads this blog is cents in Jim's bank, thanks to the advertising. If the audience increases, his reliance on donations to keep going will diminish. Frankly, it surprised me but it worked last quarter when he broken even for the first time. In other words, his business model is working.

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  19. 9:49 You are right, and wrong. The Huffington Post shows what you can do with cost-free content, but the money she got from the merger with AOL created a backlash which doesn't help her future. Content drives the audience. If you don't believe that, just look at these unbelievable porn and dating sites. There's good quality, and the success of the NYT and Guardian shows that is rewarded by readership. There's poor quality, and the porn sites show the popularity of that. USA Today is trying to find a middle-ground and what I worry about is that they will degrade the property so much that it won't be a credential anyone left in this business will respect. Reporters working for the supermarket tabloids make a lot of money, but they don't have any future getting a job at serious journalism papers.

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  20. Yesterday there were many posts about the impending layoffs.Is there any new information out there concerning this?
    There were posts about a June "massacre",
    whats behind that ?

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  21. As far as the future of smaller, local papers goes, I am surprised no one here has picked up on this Gannett experiment in Florida:
    http://www.netnewscheck.com/article/2011/05/11/11234/gannett-tests-hyperlocal-model-in-tampa
    Looks to me as if they are preparing for the day of mobile TV delivery (which is almost here) and setting up local sites through TV stations that will aim at dominating the local news market. If hyperlocal with local TV works, I can see this model used everywhere in the U.S.A.

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  22. The main headine on the Your Life front right now: "One year later, will you eat Gulf"

    Isn't anyone minding the store?

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  23. 10:50 AM -- that was mentioned here a few days ago but it was during the time when this blog went down...

    Posted by Chucky to Gannett Blog at 5/12/2011 10:26 AM

    If greed "is alive and well" why is Gannett playing catch-up in Tampa Bay? WTSP changed its on-air handle last year, the station is adding hyperlocal pages to its website, yet WTSP is floundering in its own back yard.

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  24. Niche, niche, niche publications are the future. The old newspaper model of our early careers just won't cut it. People can get news faster elsewhere and it's more timely. Print tried to be everything to everyone and it just didn't work. Yes, I think long form journalism will save some publications and web sites, but not Gannett's because the long-form story has been about as welcome at Gannett over the last twenty years as herpes in a sorority.

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  25. 10:06: "USA Today is trying to find a middle-ground and what I worry about is that they will degrade the property so much that it won't be a credential anyone left in this business will respect."

    Too late, my friend. Ten or 15 years ago, when real journalists were running it, USA Today was a place to aspire to. Today, it has Hunke, Hillkirk, Weiss and a bunch of vice presidents trying to fool readers and advertisers into thinking the online "content" is fresh and unique. It's neither, and anyone who spends five minutes on the site knows it.

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  26. What I found telling of the true situation at USA Today was Gracia's shucking and jiving over year-over-year ad pages in USA Today:
    "Douglas Arthur - Evercore Partners Inc.
    And then finally, do you have a number on USA TODAY ad pages year-over-year?
    Gracia Martore

    You know, Doug, we probably are not going to be giving out ad page numbers because they really don't reflect the totality of the platforms that USA TODAY has. USA TODAY is not just a print product, it is a combination of print, web, mobile, iPad, a lot of different devices. And so I think we will, in the future, just be reporting on their total results rather than giving out just pages, which is only one part of their distribution."

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  27. Anon@1050: Gannett owns WTSP-TV in Tampa Bay. The article you mention includes a table with the top 5 Tampa Bay news sites by market share: Bay News 9 (local cable), tampabay.com (St. Pete Times), TBO.com (WFLA-TV/Tampa Tribune), MyFoxTampaBay (WTVT), ABC Action News (WFTS). Based on that ranking Gannett and WTSP have a long way to go.

    Anon@1256: Thanks for giving me props. I embedded the link in my original post but the Blogger outage erased the link.

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  28. 4:39 How are they doing these local sites with thinned out staffs at the TV station? It strikes me there is no one left to do the basic additional reporting. In other words, is this just a lot of hot air, or is it real?

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  29. If you look at the new hyper-local sites at WTSP, you will see some fresh content, a lot of old posts and most of it done by staffers. TV stations struggle even more than newspapers with hyper-local because their staffs are smaller, and they lack both the tradition and infrastructure to gather large quantities or local-local information. "Build it and they will come" does not work. There is no excuse for a decent local paper not to win the hyper-local battle on the Web.

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  30. 7:12 Thanks I looked at the site. Agree, it is a very weak effort.

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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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