Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 20-26 | Your News & Comments: Part 10

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  1. By a show of initials, WHO was cut from the New Jersey papers? We already know about AT and JJC; WHO ELSE?

  2. How many reporters were laid off in NJ in this round, anyone know? You don't have to give names, just a number.

  3. The other day I re-read my post of 6/23 -- it's allowed in semi-retirement -- and found a mistake. I left the Home News Tribune in late 2002, not in 2001, A typo or a lapse indicating it is time to enter full retirement?

  4. I wonder if Gannett has any worries along these lines, given the descriptions of some managers in previous posts:

    Army worries about ‘toxic leaders’ in ranks

    The Army defined toxic leaders as commanders who put their own needs first, micro-managed subordinates, behaved in a mean-spirited manner or displayed poor decision making.

  5. Not too many toxics at Usa Today. Too many managers who don't know what they are doing though.

  6. Decimate staffing - check
    Destroy morale - check
    Shunned customers - check
    Create meaningless initiates - check
    Increase net worth for Board of Dir and GMC - check
    Alienate talented staff - check
    Despised outspoken visionaries - check
    Provide sub par customer service - check
    Lack of boldness - check

    Produce effective business model - OPPS

    Dumbo, Dick and Hunkie met 9 out of their 10 initiatives over the past two years so I vote to give them a bonus. Maybe that will entice them to retire and maybe the board will have no choice but to bring in a management team that is truly innovative and not self-serving.

    The board should also get a bonus. Their lack of interest in the employees is deplorable.

    The greed between the two groups serves them well as a team. Scratch my back and I will scratch your nuts/clit club.

    GREAT JOB Board of Dir and GMC. I can't wait until next year starts.

    In two years, Gannett will separate its business units and be sold off or closed.

  7. Hunke's role destroying what was left of the Usa Today brand is especially deplorable. Naming scores of unqualified vice presidents, an ill advised verticals strategy, sinking circulation and causing morale to plummet to all time lows and this guy gets fat bonuses and doesn't seem to give a shit about the product or his people. Thanks Dave.

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  15. On the Star-Ledger Web site, someone named matrixnj wrote the following a comment June 22 on a story about the New Jersey Gannett layoffs:
    "Gannett has been mismanaged for years and has continuously lost its customer base by making the papers more advertisement than news articles and because of web access. People are getting sick of the 24/7 IN YOUR FACE marketing.... it's just a matter of time before other consumers get turned off or revolt."
    What that says to me is that New Jersey residents are fully aware of what is going on inside GCI, and it is not just this blog.

  16. As a former Manager at Westchester, I understand they eliminated the cornerstone of the Accounting Departments, perhaps the most experience folks there: Carol Justic, Joe Cambareiri and Roberto Parente - What a shame !
    I guess they got rid of the old timers - who was the moron who made this decision - I worked with all three of these employees in the 80's and 90's. How stupid can Gannett be getting rid of great hard working talent?
    Outsourcing their jobs won't get the same quality and dedidication that these employees brought. I never forget that Roberto worked with me day and night as we moved our GL to Software Internantional and then Lawson.
    Who ever may this decision - you will regret it later - The best to Joe, Roberto and Carol.
    Trust me, Gannett will suffer.


    From the Editor: The real story behind funds Lee County pledged Gannett

    By Terry Eberle, executive editor (News-Press)

    It is always interesting to be on the other side of the news ... It is truly is refreshing when the tables are turned.

    On Tuesday, we made a very difficult decision to lay off 14 great people ... After the announcement came out, the focus of some television news coverage turned to public money that our parent company Gannett received to move some employees to our building in Fort Myers.

    Digital executives decided to invest in creating 35 jobs in Fort Myers.

    Securing a pledge of a $105,000 economic incentive from Lee County was key to bringing those jobs here.

    The incentives were to be used for startup costs like desks,computers, software, etc. None of the money has gone or will go for salaries.

    It's important to note that the newspaper and digital divisions are separate entities even though they share the same building.

    I like to use this example: Imagine that Ford had a manufacturing plant here and then Ford Credit did a national search, liked our great place, and moved jobs here. What if the economy softened and manufacturing had to lay off 100 people? Would this have anything to do with the credit branch?

    It would not.

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  19. 3:13, You forgot to mention the touching tribute to MacGregor.

    It is funny how they are justifying everything. The fact is they took money from local citizens in a BAD economy that they do not need. $105,000 is a drop in the bucket to Gannett but in a community in as bad of shape as SW Florida is they should be ashamed of taking it. Those funds would have been better spent on helping those that are homeless or hungry. The News Press is blocks away from some very poor communities where some children are lucky to eat 1 meal a day.

    The funds were NOT used to buy desks - I am sure they played with the numbers to make it look like they did but all they did was take cubicles from The News Press. They had/have plenty of unused ones because the mass amount of layoffs and eliminated jobs through attrition over the past few years. They did however buy some nice couches and TV's - wonder how the Lee County tax payers would like to know that. That move seems like it was to create a "cool" working environment for the new hires. Little do they know.

    They even recruited some of The News Press' best administrative help and when that happened those jobs were frozen at The News Press. Anyway you look at it G A N N E T T/The News Press has FEWER jobs in Fort Myers since accepting that money. You can say they are different companies/divisions but at the end of the day we all know The News Press is part of Gannett.

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  23. Just drove through the parking lot of the Journal News an hour ago. Now granted it is Sunday and it wasn't 4pm yet, but there were only FIVE cars in the parking lot. This includes the lot next to the loading dock and the aux. lots near the front entrance. FIVE CARS! I'm guessing one belonged to the security guard (if there still is one). Oh that's right- the brain-trust decided what the news would be in their 3pm meeting on Friday, so we don't need people to work weekends anymore.

  24. Word verification was....wait for it...."INFART".

  25. Craig Sevier6/26/2011 5:28 PM

    Side Note: That's the first thing they got rid of at the Reno site -- security. Sure, we were finally using badges to swipe (this was 2008, security being laid off), such badges I had proposed in 1993 to deaf ears. "What do you know?"

    The Reno site is in a very seedy part of town. Desperate druggies are fairly common; your intradepartmental badge won't help you.

    Right there, it was the first inkling of what value Gannett placed on their employees' welfare when human security, a basic precaution, was the first thing to be axed.

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  27. 4:14 PM Thanks for the excellent summary. You got it right and that pompous airbag Terry Eberle is full of crap. It's not like the Ford auto and credit branch scenario at all. Digital is intertwined in every area and a part of the News-Press organization big time. To think the public would buy that is an insult to the citizens of SW Florida. He should be selling swamp land!

  28. Fort Myers editor Eberle has his green eyshade on too tight: It’s not that Gannett has (necessarily) done wrong; its that by accepting government tax dollars to improve corporate profits, Gannett and the News-Press became egg-eaters in the government-handout henhouse they’re supposed to be watchdogs of.

    And, by waiting for days to respond to the coverage of three area TV stations, Eberle and the News-Press look like Weiner trying to belatedly explain his Twitter junk or John Edwards finally coming to grips with his Rielle big problem.

    Terry, if locally-based Chico’s accepted job-creation funds to improve its corporate profits as it fired workers in its area Soma stores, would you question it?

    If local green fuel-maker Algenol accepted a job-creation tax check to improve its production division profits while it terminated workers in its local labs, would you report it?

    If a competing media company accepted 105,000 government tax dollars to subsidize 35 corporate sales division jobs, and simultaneously laid off 14 workers at its local newspaper, would you editorialize your concern?

    If you would not, you’re not doing your job.

    If you would, you are hypocritical.

    The taint of accepting public funds for your corporate profits leaves you and Gannett to choose between these defects.

    That bad taste in your mouth comes from talking out of both sides of it.

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  30. Wow,Mr Eberle - that response is embarressing and I don't even work for Gannett anymore.

  31. Only 4 reporters left at DR in NJ...

  32. Gannett New Jersey state capital columnist Bob Ingle had a regular Friday segment with "The Jersey Guys" on New Jersey 101.5. That segment is no more -- "The Jersey Guys" were fired last week.

  33. cluck cluck

  34. From Richard Prince's "Journalisms" column:

    Gannett: We Keep Change in Journalists of Color Within 2%

    "Today, Gannett and NABJ's leadership discussed the company's diversity record and the impact of the layoffs on journalists of color," the National Association of Black Journalists said Thursday, two days after the Gannett Co. laid off about 700 employees.

    "Virgil Smith, Gannett's vice president of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, said the company does not release specific numbers about the ethnicity of its workforce. He reiterated the company's longstanding commitment to diversity.

    " "This was something we truly hoped to avoid,' said Smith. 'We track the impact [of layoffs] to make sure no group is adversely affected.'

    " 'We've been able to maintain our percentage of minorities and females across the entire enterprise since 2006. Historically, we have maintained our percentage of minority employees within one percent. On the journalism side, we have not lost more than 2 percent. Gannett has been and will continue to be an industry leader in diversity in our newsrooms and throughout the company,' Smith added.

    " 'NABJ and Gannett have shared a strong partnership over many years and have successfully worked together to promote and support diversity within the industry and at Gannett. We look forward to working with the company to find jobs and to address the needs of our displaced members and other journalists,' said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times."

  35. For me, The Home News hit its peak when Jonathan Friendly was running the newsroom. The paper never matched its level of enterprise reporting after he left. Then the ill-fated merger with the News Tribune happpened and the downward spiral started.

  36. Word is - in addition to the 5 Reporters laid off at the DR in NJ, 4 other people in Advertising/Sales were laid off as well!

    I think Management has them all on "Hush Arrest!"

    Damn shame! Must feel worse than being incarcerated at Riker's Island there!

  37. Sad reality is that I really don't care anymore.
    I am ready to be let go. I'm done, I'm crispy fried.
    Please just get rid of me.

  38. Crispy fried, yes.

    Playing the guess-who's-gonna-get-fired-next-month game is like a sudoku puzzle from hell.

    I keep waiting to get to the acceptance stage.

    But my dial is stuck stuck somewhere between "anger" and "can't sleep or the clowns will eat me."

  39. Newsrooms are being irrevocably destroyed across Gannett. They are not on the way to being destroyed, not bit by bit, no, they are all but gone. Gutted.

    If someone takes vacation and another is on a story there is literally no one to step in.

    Gannett executives keep saying there are "other" sources of stories and content.

    They are about to learn a hard lesson.

    Content - rich, exclusive, in-depth, thought-provoking, well-written, friendly, localized, human, impactful and meaningful -- is the coin of the realm.

    A newspaper, a website, a mobile device HAS to have content that is worthy. THAT's the killer app.

    People don't go to Facebook or eBay or Amazon or Twitter or Google or yes, The New York Effing Times because of the way those sites work or for ease of use. They go because the CONTENT is there.

    Shutting down the newsrooms (and that is what is happening, make no mistake. I've heard them say it), is a Gannett experiment. One that will have people shaking their heads in years to come, as in, what were they thinking?

    The attack on editorial and circulation is more than an attack on "print." It is an attack on the very product. The world doesn't need another website with AP news and crazed racist comments. But that is where the company is headed.

    And when Gannett does go away because "strategists" saw too many people instead of the potnetial of what those people could do, I fear the story will hardly be worth covering. Because the media, and our readers, will have moved on.

    This madness has to end.

  40. @12:14 - you nailed it. And the madness will end. But by then, there won't even be pieces left to pick up an put back together.

  41. I am posting this on the main thread on purpose. I just feel the need to say something in the larger forum regarding all the out-of-balance personal attacks that seem a little random.

    Repeatedly, Leslie Hurst comes under attack at a level others don't. Jim, where's your news peg here? She's not Mother Teresa and her name is often proceeded by the B-word around Gannett. But some crazy comments have been posted, and I don't understand the need to start these threads about her repeatedly while other particularly nasty people are rarely mentioned.

    I'm not a big fan of Ms. Hurst, certainly, but I feel the need to set the record straight on a couple things (and I'm only commenting here on things I know first hand):

    Leslie was moved to lead the Louisiana group by Mary Stier, who was not only her boss but her personal friend. It was a GIFT. No one was going to look good or further their career by sitting in Lansing through those years. It was falling apart as a result of the Michigan economy; not anyone's personal fault.

    She was hardly getting slapped on the wrist. She had been sent to Michigan because that was what worked to save her after the Boise sale. But then she was rescued by her boss shortly before her own (by choice) departure.

    Secondly, I also know for a fact that her personal politics have always been left of center. These rants about her being right-wing are ludicrous. (Not that there's anything wrong with that... but she isn't.)

    Things seem to be sinking to a new low here where individuals are mentioned. Time to think a little more like journalists, folks.

  42. Good post, 1:55, but ultimately it will fail.

    You're never going to get anywhere here by being nice and by expecting people here to be sensible. Won't work -- not now and not ever.

    I'd make some suggestions, but those would just get the post deleted.

  43. 2:04 - In Lansing, she overrode the editorial board's 5-1 vote to endorse a Democrat for Congressman and instead tried to force an endorsement for the Republican candidate. See Some left-of-center person there.

  44. I have no idea what 1:55 has been smoking, but Hurst is definitely not left or middle of the road in her politics, and her activities in Lansing, which 2:44 left lingering bitterness in the community towards the paper.
    Mind you, the Democratic candidate the editorial board wanted to endorse, James Marcinkowski, was a former CIA officer and local prosecutor who was furious at the Bush administration's involvement in the Valerie Plame exposure. He went to CIA school with Plame and felt her cover was blown deliberately because her husband Joe Wilson ridiculed President Bush's contention that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. You may recall this flap.
    This is not a conservative-liberal issue in the CIA as seen by the fact that Vincent Cannestrano, Reagan's point man in suppressing guerrilla movements in Central America, was on Marcinkowski's side on the Plame issue. Essentially CIA agents of all political stripes rallied to defend Plame because she was a fellow CIA agent they felt was wronged and their position was being undermined by what happened.
    Marcinkowski ran a very strong campaign to unseat the Republican incumbent, who came from a local homeowner association, and a bipartisan board used by the newspaper voted 5-1 to have the paper endorse Marcinkowski, who was known as a tough and effective prosecutor but a Democrat. His career in the CIA and work as a prosecutor certainly shows he's no leftist commie.
    Hurst interceded to block the endorsement, which if you read 2:04's link, resulted in resignations from this panel of local citizens drawn from business and other local interests. Lansing's business community also liked Marcinkowski and backed the editorial board's position strongly.
    The bottom line is that Hurst forced her right-wing views on the paper, and there was huge resentment. Yes, publishers can impose their views on the paper's editorial policy, but the paper chose the process of seeking outside input on election endorsements to avoid charges of bias. By taking the actions she did, Hurst declared she was biased, in the view of the local business community which advertises in her paper.
    I don't know what happened to force her exit, but I doubt it involved any gift as 1:55 says. It was quick, brutal and unexpected, and she left behind her a residual of bad taste and suspicion towards the paper that continues to exist today.
    I thought it was important to state the record in light of the misinformation in 1:55's post.
    Now look at these facts and judge for yourself. I think you will see why the Lansing community found her to be a very conservative and very partisan Republican.

  45. 1:55 wrote: "Leslie was moved to lead the Louisiana group by Mary Stier, who was not only her boss but her personal friend. It was a GIFT. No one was going to look good or further their career by sitting in Lansing through those years. It was falling apart as a result of the Michigan economy; not anyone's personal fault."

    I do not think it is your intention, but you are suggesting that Stier's decision was motivated more by what was good for Hurst, rather than what was good for Gannett's readers.

    In other words, just as the Lansing paper and its community needed strong leadership, Hurst was bailed out to save her career.

    Could you tell us more, please?

  46. From experience in Jackson, hurst came in knowing that her predecessor was the worst publisher in C-L history and that she had to clean up his messes while also trying to rehab her image as the un-communicative Ice Queen. The first month, she tried to meet staffers and showed some interest in what they were doing. After that, not so much. She is gone a lot because she also oversees Montgomery and Pensacola. But she's been around enough to freeze key open positions in advertising and the newsroom. She has also made an attempt to re-connect her office with some major advertisers that whitaker alienated w/ his pompousness.

  47. When will Susie Ellwood make her presence known at usa today? Or is she just waiting to slash and burn before sharing her warm fuzzy style with the rank and file?

  48. 1:55 AM was surely drinking heavily or smoking something but did provide a HUGE laugh! A transfer to Lafayette is a GIFT? I guess Ali Zoibi got that same "gift" when he was moved as publisher in Rochester to Lafayette, LA last year. The citizens in Lansing would have ran Hurst out of town if she had not left on her "own choice." Gannett knew that Lansing was doomed because of her actions and shipped her out.

    5:28 AM is the real deal, All the details tells what really went down.

  49. "Leslie was moved to lead the Louisiana group by Mary Stier, who was not only her boss but her personal friend. It was a GIFT. No one was going to look good or further their career by sitting in Lansing through those years. It was falling apart as a result of the Michigan economy; not anyone's personal fault."

    Funny, Hurst was moved because Lansing was falling apart as a result of the Michigan economy, it wasn't her fault. Why is it then that everyone else is held accountable at the various papers for the numbers when the economy is still bad? Sounds like it's time to do the shuffle.


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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