Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 13-19 | Your News & Comments: Part 6

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  1. How those "verticals" working out for you?

    Yup, you're going to the USAT Drive On blog to read that a car is the most exciting place to have sex. Brought to you by Trojan. Acoompanied by an awesome infographic.

    At least I didn't have to endure that pink screen flood that accompanies Life stories.

  2. 6:32 Strictly speaking, a blog might be part of a vertical, but I'm not sure it's a vertical all by itself.

  3. Can anyone explain why it's necessary for Hunke to hire Ellwood as a general manager? That's HIS job! Adding another layer of exec compensation at a time when rank and file employees are losing their jobs smacks of such hypocracy. I'm hoping Ellwood's arrival represents the transition to Hunke's imminent departure. He has failed and its time for him to go. And moving right along, what has Dickey done to improve USCP? He too has failed and its time for HIM to go. Both should be replaced by veteran newsies who understand that content is our product. We need leaders who restore the quality of that content so that we have something readers and advertisers want on whatever platform.

    Why aren't senior level execs held accountable but everyone else is fair game for layoffs, no raises, or paltry raises? Why are salary and bonus increases standard practice for a group that isn't growing revenues?

    None of these supposed leaders should benefit financially because they've raised net income by firing employees. A monkey can do that and all we'd have to provide them as a reward are bananas!

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

  5. Rumor has it Michael Mannes (sp.?) recommended the Groupon business model over six years ago? WTF?!!
    Another example of how this company's leadership is an impediment to innovation and growth. Clueless, spineless, greedy, and self-serving are words that best describe Gannett's current leadership. That about sums up why this company's downward spiral won't end until someone takes a huge broom to sweep out the entire executive tier and start over. Dubow has failed and must go and Martore should not be CEO. I've heard some say she was a great CFO but wielded too much power over the product because Dubow abdicated his responsibility to protect the business model fundamentals. Lougee, I guess he can stay. Hunke, Dickey, you're out! The new Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer should be given two years to produce results and if not, bye-bye to you too. Jack Williams, what's he produced of any real value? Horning and Mayman are OK but there's an argument to be made that Horning is too political and won't stand-up to some of the crap that's been hoisted on employees endangering the talent we have and Gannett's ability to attract talent.

    Out with the old and ineffective, in with the new and promise of possibility. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking these bold steps to put real leaders in place of these pretenders.

  6. 9:46am, because those are the positions which decide who gets salary increases, furloughs, lay offs and pay cuts. You don't think they'd cut their own would you?

  7. P.S. And, oh yes, is Heather still looking like a ton of bricks is about to fall on her head?

  8. The GroupOn business model is very suspect, and I doubt it lasts. So if Michael Maness recommended it (which I doubt), then we dodged a bullet there.

  9. To 10:55am, Maness' recommendation is on tape, apparently at one of those innovation presentations, and it was John Zidich who shot it down.

    Whether or not the Groupon model will succeed or fail has nothing to do with how this leadership talks innovation but fails to recognize it when its inches from their faces. We used to own the local relationships with readers and advertisers that has since Groupon cultivated. And if the Groupon model is so suspect then why the hell would Gannett roll out Deal Chicken? You can't sit on both sides of the argument, unless you're one of those Gannett leaders skilled at this type of doublespeak when confronted with evidence of could have, should have.

  10. Here's the thing, if G A N N E T T had launched a similar business model six years ago, we would have been one of the first, if not the first. It would have more than likely been successful, and G A N N E T T would have been seen as a leader in something, rather than playing catchup as we seem to do so often. And that would have been much more effective at branding the company, versus an expensive and not very visible branding campaign.

  11. The article topic 6:32 a.m. brings up illustrates why Gannett is falling. Those subjects might bring a few chuckles, but they aren't great for building and maintaining a brand.

    Yet many people within Gannett think those topics are great, and anyone who disagrees is somehow behind the times. People here could have and should have resisted this watering down, but they did not. They wanted their jobs to be easier, so they embraced these types of negative changes.

    Now they are changing their tune, but it is too late. The bad decisions should have been opposed long before this. People didn't do it because they didn't want their jobs to be hard.

  12. 11:15 Have you listened to that tape? Or have you simply been told the tape exists?

  13. Isn't the VP of Finance the 4th VP to leave under Garson's leadership.
    1. VP of Production - this may have been part of the global OC restructure.
    2. VP of IT about 2 years ago.
    3. VP of Advertising a few months ago.
    4. VP of Finance.

  14. Did they actually help USA today?

  15. Gannett isn't the only newspaper company dealing with declining revenues. According to Romenesko, the Boston Herald has offered buyouts to the entire staff.
    It would be nice if Gannett offered buyouts instead of the deplorable Transitional Pay charade.

  16. It's common knowledge that Zidich did shoot down the Groupon like idea. He said they couldn't sell advertising with it so he killed the idea.

  17. 3:09 Absolute nonsense and the most foul tripe I've seen posted here for a long time. Zidich is the publisher of the newspaper that is the only paper in the Gannett chain to currently be promoting the Groupon clone, Deal Chicken. I can well understand why someone might want to correct the record at this point, given the collapse of retail ads in Phoenix, but Zidich's support of Groupon has been one reason it is being pressed on other papers that are rightly reluctant about it.

  18. Here we have the story of two companies with stagnant revenue, fossilizing assets and an absence of future vision from within. One company, JC Penney, goes out and hires Ron Johnson, the architect of the Apple stores, as its CEO. The other company, Gannett (fill in blank)...

  19. Why don't individual newsrooms unionize? Is there anything to lose? Can mid-managers be part of a union? Real questions. Really curious.

  20. Of course Zidich wants to clone Groupon once it is outrageously successful and everyone up to and including Google has wanted to buy it.

    But would he or any of those who are left at the top of Gannett have been in favor of creating it from scratch? Heck no. It was outside their paradigm of selling Sunday print ads. How many times have I sat in meetings, listened to great innovative ideas, and then someone finally says, "But how is that going to sell print ads?"

    And at that point, all brain activity ceased.

    Of course now they at least say "But how is that going to sell print and online ads?" But it is the same.

    Further, one poster said "they would have launched it, they would have been first, it would have been successful...."

    Correction, please. If Gannett had launched it, it wouldn't have been successful.

    I actually did something very similar to Groupon at one Gannett paper 7 or 8 years ago. It was very successful and popular. But the Adv VP killed it as soon as he/she (no hints here) grew bored with it and got back to only focusing on selling Sunday print ads.

    Gannett cannot innovate. When we did innovate, the machine killed the innovation. The company is set up to discourage innovation and avoids hiring or promoting innovators. Those who truly could innovate fled years ago.

    This will not change. Your ship is sinking. Stop thinking all that water is just a leaky toilet....

  21. This company has continued its long streak of outsourcing, laying off, and terminating its hardest-working people (many of whom were longtime employees). Then, these ex-employees find other jobs in the same communities.

    Does anyone think these ex-employees want to foster a business relationship with Gannett, or tell their new colleagues to do so? HELL NO.

    And that's how you lose your community support.

  22. 4:43 I'm reminded of Corporate's response in 1995, when I proposed setting up The Idaho Statesman's first website.

    We got as far as designing a couple of pages, and getting a local company -- Micron Technology -- to host the site.

    We picked a theme appropriate for the market: Outdoor tourism, such as white water rafting, skiing, camping, fishing, etc. I figured we could upload all of our stories on the subjects.

    But I don't recall much enthusiasm for the idea at Corporate. And I believe we were told to do it with "available resources," which is a great way to kill an idea when there's no R&D in the local budget.

    This was right around the time that Jack Williams (now head of Digital Ventures) joined Gannett. Maybe I asked too soon; he may not have been in a position to OK projects like the one I proposed.

  23. 4:48: That statement is more true than Corporate realizes. It is not only about the bottom line. Relationships build successful business. In the end, Gannett will be the big loser. Perception is everything.

  24. 5:41 Jim never forget Sue Clark Johnson's famous statement, "the Internet is a dirt highway to nowhere!" great insight Mrs. Johnson

  25. 3:18 you are Wrong. The meeting was held in Phoenix and Zidich killed it. You can revise history all you want.

  26. 4:43 PM Agree completely. Gannett would NEVER have been successful with a Groupon type program if Gannett was the first to launch it. When was the last time Gannett launched anything innovative that was successful and maintained (with investment and resources applied to it)? Probably USATODAY and Gannett would never do that these days (invest in a project that lost money for five years). Gannett is not about innovation -- it is about money -- quick, easy and NOW. If it takes more than a few months, needs resources, etc. you can kiss teh prject goodbye. Look how long Gannett took to launch websites for the freaking papers, for God's sake. Last at the gate. Ridiculous! With Sue Clark Johnson having that famous quote (7:15 PM) it is no wonder. And Jack Williams did nothing to make that happen either. His focus was always on the verticals (where the money is). I have absolutely no problem believing that Maness presented the Groupon concept and that Zidich poo-pooed it. It's always much easier to follow someone else's successful business model than to take risks and LEAD with your own.

  27. Not changing fast enough. Dubow will resign before bottom falls this year. 2012 will, indeed, bring an end to it all.

  28. Sue Clark-Jackson wasn't that wrong. For the newspaper industry, the Internet has not been a plus.

    It can't be ignored, of course, and Gannett gets millions of hits collectively. But financially, a disastrous dirt road that might eventually end in a dead end for Gannett.

  29. Clueless Wonder6/19/2011 3:33 PM

    I liked Sue. She actually even talked to me. Went to the same coffee shop on weekends. She had some issues just like any other exec. But she was the last HUMAN publisher in Reno, the last one who knew who cared about staff in whatever constraint. Said "hi."

    And I could write things critical of her domain, and get compliments from her.

    Then I watched her hair turn white in a year.

    This other ilk comes along, and I am banned from making educated points for which the paper itself would give me awards not sought.

    Today? Most people don't get it. It was really upsetting that some assumptive persons could read my posts living 25 years there otherwise.

    Just negative crap. Yeh, I'm not pretending it doesn't matter, that quick trigger. It's just another insult.

    Jim's blog is an indictment of all those people who think that if have enough name-calling they have enough morality.

  30. Clueless Wonder6/19/2011 3:41 PM

    I am not "accomplished," nor made, never made, claims to it. It's sad thing. Yet no one here on this blog, whether nor genuine and even corporate these posts at some least, some, no one seems to notice that the whole describes a failed company focused on egos and it workers getting screwed.

  31. Clueless Wonder6/19/2011 3:45 PM

    I'd just just like to see how not. Because I am really, really, really dumb -- and wondering why I don't replace my namesake (Craig) in a heartbeat.

  32. 7:19 Not revising history at all. Proof of what I say is that Phoenix is still running Deal Chicken, when you insist that Zidich killed it. Obviously, he didn't, did he?

  33. heh 3:33 her hair turned white in a year because she stopped dyeing it you nimrod!!!!


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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