He made this hyperbolic announcement in December 2008 to a Wall Street audience about a then-new initiative: "It will, I believe, upend the traditional thinking about content in our industry both in how we gather it, and how we sell it."
And there was this: "It also will allow us to develop and gather information much more efficiently by eliminating duplication and allowing our local entities to focus on what's important -- a deep, rich local report. It is the logical next step from our local Information Center initiatives, creating a national head to the local content gathering bodies."
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Until last month, that is, when Connell abruptly retired, and ContentOne was split into three parts. The reporting and editing part -- in other words, the old GNS -- was sent packing to USA Today, where Executive Editor Chet Czarniak was put in charge. And now (drumroll, please) it's been reborn as . . . the Gannett News Network!
All this is according to a recent Czarniak memo to the troops, announcing details of an expanding investigative project into federal highway project overruns.
So, after much committee meeting; brainstorming and bonuses paid all around, Gannett News Service became ContentOne only to be renamed Gannett News Network. (Right now, I picture CMO Maryam Banikarim rolling her eyes and updating her resume.)
In his memo, Czarniak also drops an oh-by-the-way paragraph about the Des Moines Register's decision last week to lay off its widely read agriculture reporter. Philip Brasher, you'll recall, was the paper's lone D.C. reporter on a beat of critical importance to the newspaper.
Referencing "Des Moines support," Cznariak writes: "The Gannett D.C. Bureau is working with Des Moines Register Executive Editor Rick Green to ensure Washington-based coverage of issues and lawmakers important to Iowa in light of a recent staff cutback by Des Moines. A communication plan is in place currently and firm staffing plans are expected to be resolved in July."