An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
As a retired employee from Westchester, My heart goes out to all of those who lost their jobs. I do agree with what someone said in a blog the other day regarding the local HR Departments. They are waste of money.They most often refer me to call the -1-800 number at Corp or go online; very rarely I can deal with them. Gannett Executives wake up - You are wasting tons of $$$ paying folks like Syd Vernon and Minnie Stanley for telling retirees like me to go online or call Corporate for health and/or benefit questions.
I can related 10:23. Same thing with my local H/R dept., and I was "eliminated" in February. The local H/R depts. are busy preparing the letter, forms, etc. for all the people that get let go.
So much for the stock price bump from the layoffs. The stock closed Monday at $13.76 and after the short-lived run-up on Tuesday, it's down to $13.53 as of late morning Friday. Management's tired trick of cutting costs to pump up investors didn't work again. The Street wants to see growth, not shrinkage. On the bond side, GCI is still formally rated as junk. What an appropriate term in this case.
So HR tells you to call an 800 number, a service designed to provide the information you need. Yep that sounds awful. How dare they ask you to do that. I bet no other company in America has these kinds of services.
Let us commend Robin Pence. She was able to keep any predictions and rumors of the recent beheadings out of the media and off this blog. She is more of a master, make that mistress, of public relations than we first thought.
12:16 If that was Pence's goal, she failed miserably. These layoffs were forecast on this blog a full month or even more before they happened. Go back and read My Boss and you will see. Pence is a mistress of nothing and a feckless flack of dubious abilities who can't even get a press release straight.
I was at the Morristown Daily Record for 25 years, the last 10 as editorial page editor.I was dismissed in Feb.I concur with Mr. Hughes about the New Jersey newspapers disintegrating. The DR now has four reporters in the newsroom, or, excuse me, "Information Center." As others are mentioning, when you think "news" is unimportant, you get into trouble.At the DR, hard news became unimportant about four years ago. Key beats were abandoned, the rare investigative piece spiked and much attention paid to fluff weekly papers.Just why do people who run newsspapers not get the notion that people who read them do so because there is "news" in them. (Think Willie Sutton and banks).It is no mystery why circulation at the DR is falling off the table. The paper is no longer relevant and it's hard to see how that can change. Still, it's sad to see. The DR was never a "great" newspaper, but it was a pretty good one. CHEER: To those journalists who remain. JEER: To indifferent and incompetent management
About local HR departments. We should all realize that HR is now on site to help with layoffs and try to keep the company out of legal trouble, not to answer employee questions or in any way help with employee concerns. The HR department at my paper is terrible when it comes to providing information about employee benefits. In fact, you have to ride the HR head just to get some of the benefits that are widely published. That said, it's really good at assembling layoff packages and sending people packing. Corporate will not eliminate local HR departments because that is what they are now there for.
I went into my 401k today to transfer Gannett match and it was not there as usual this time of day in Phoenix. Has anyone else experienced this!!!!
1:10 if you'd bother to call the employee services number you'd get your question answered. Really, you will
1:10 Gannett should eliminate the local HR reps and hire a consultant to be in the building on the day of a layoff. The publisher's admin assistant or an admin at corporate could mail merge the layoff letters. In the age of computers, it's easy and not very time-consuming to produce personalized form letters.
10:23 I agree. Why pay full-time employees to act as the middlemen? A well-designed phone message with prompts and a direct connect to a customer service line would suffice. Other companies utilize consultants for layoffs.
Good story in Nuvo about the end of the Metromix pub in Indy. http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/goodbye-metromix/Content?oid=2278499
12:16 As recently as last week, there were accurate predictions on this blog about imminent, widespread layoffs. They proved correct, despite efforts by at least one reader to discredit them. Here, for example, was Anonymous@4:04 p.m. on June 14, referencing a comment earlier that day:"Where's the proof, 1:26? Either supply it, or stop with the crap about the sky falling."Also, if and when you are wrong, will you come back and admit it? Or will you pretend you never posted any of this? That's what happens here. People throw crap at the wall. If any of it sticks, they focus on how right they were. Jim is the master of this. But if it's wrong, then no one ever takes the fall or answers up for being wrong."That's why this blog has far less credibility than some want to believe."
Interesting folks posting today. Posters are underappreciated hard working folks but all HR reps are worthless. Interesting value system. I guess HR reps aren't employees with families, careers and bills either.
I think most HR folks get a very bad break here.
I left USAT on my own last fall. I'd like to say that the HR crew there was always very capable, helpful and professional. And they were nice people, too.
My paper doesn't even HAVE a dedicated HR person anymore. We have a floater who I think comes in a couple times a month, if that.
Not all HR reps are worthless. Gannett simply is overstaffed in some areas and understaffed in others, and it doesn't make sense. Why understaff the information center and affect the quality of the product?
4:32 So now it starts. The key paragraph in that story about a yanked USA Today story, as I read it, is that:"The story was repackaged from a Religion News Service piece and actually contained no original reporting." Well how could this possibly happen since everything _EVERYTHING _ in USA Today since its foundation is supposed to be original.What also hit me is they don't quite know yet what went wrong in this matter. Well, if they don't find out real soon, it's going to happen again and there will be some huge libel suit involved that time.
From the end of Pete DiPrimo's "Hoosier Hoopla" web site:Congratulations to Peegs.com and Jeff Rabjohns. Jeff will cover the Hoosiers for Peegs.com and it’s a great hire. Jeff, formerly of the Indianapolis Star, brings a ton of experience and contacts.It also gets Jeff far, far away from Gannett, the parent company of The Indy Star and a bunch of other newspapers, and that’s a good thing. Gannett officials treat employees like broken-down chairs. Journalistic quality isn’t a priority. Cutting people so upper management can get mega-million dollar bonuses and raises is.Jeff is at a much better place. Both he and Peegs.com will benefit.Posted by Pete DiPrimio at 10:14 PM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Google Buzz 1 comments: Anonymous said...I love the piece on "Gannett." The Indianapolis Star (just one of many papers owned by the group) is doomed. They took a conservative paper and turned it into the drivel you see now. Technology is already putting newspapers at risk but the Gannett group through their managment is pouring gasoline on the fire.
Jim: Your editor's antenna should be truly quivering about 4:32
Check out this story about Wisconsin-based printer, Quad/Graphics:http://www.jsonline.com/business/124488124.html
At the newspaper where I work, we found out yesterday that we also lost the front desk receptionist. That means that people who come in are greeted by an empty glass cage, with locked glass offices on either side. I guess they just have to stand around looking lost until someone happens to walk by.I don't know what will happen if someone calls our main switchboard number and isn't sure which extension they need.I suppose we haven't lost enough readers already...this should just about do it for the ones we have left.
5:16 Indeed. I've just spent the past 20 minutes reading multiple accounts of what happened with the Jews-can't-fly-Delta story that USAT briefly published Thursday night. Sure is a mess.At the heart of it is a Religion News Service story that is flat-out wrong -- according to Delta.The original Religion News Service story says in its first paragraph: "Jews and Israelis, or passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith, will not be able to fly Delta Air Lines flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta’s new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines."But Delta says in a statement responding to the story and ensuing controversy: "Delta does not operate service to Saudi Arabia and does not codeshare with any airline on flights to that country."That, in turn, makes USAT's explanation of what happened all the more odd.“I wouldn’t say the Religion News Service information was inaccurate,” Executive Editor Czet Czarniak told FishbowlDC. “We just felt the item required expanded reporting and lacked the appropriate sourcing for our standards. It would have been impossible to pull just the unsourced pieces so we made the decision to kill the entire thing until we could advance and verify the story."By then, of course, it was way too late: the original story and USAT's backpedaling had already ricocheted across the Web.
Also, in trying to clear up the confusion, USAT doesn't acknowledge its own role in the matter on its website. The paper replaced the original story with a post to its Faith & Reason blog. The first paragraph of that post says only:"Earlier today some Jewish and Christian readers in the blogosphere were fired up about stories that Delta Air Lines, in its new alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, might wind up enforcing a Saudi policy of not admitting Israelis and non-Islamic religious items like Bibles on their flights."
6:00 They are hopeless on this story. If you are an Arab (Palestinian) with an Israeli passport, you certainly can get into Saudi Arabia during the annual Haj pilgrimmage to Mecca that is open to all of the Muslim faith. There are, indeed, Arabs who travel with Israeli passports.
Since when does any U.S. flagged airline carry a Bible on its flights? They do not carry any unnecessary weight because it costs them fuel and therefore money.
does anyone know of a reasonable health insurance plan for the happily just unemployed?
Now USAT has just posted a 23-paragraph story that amounts of a sort of giant correction/clarification of the original 18-graph Religion News Service story. (Read the original in this FishbowlDC post.) In its new story, USAT says:"The news service provides stories to usatoday.com, which briefly posted the story Thursday before finding factual problems and removing it."For more on this, read:* USA Today explains spiked story* USA Today mysteriously yanks story* Delta responds to uproar concerning Jewish fliers
So much for Delta ads in USA Today.
Good for USA Today for trying to get it right. Most news organizations would just link to the explosive headline and enjoy the traffic. That's exactly what Drudge and Huffington did.It wasn't until USA Today wrote a revised, more accurate account that the mo balanced account emerged. In fact, Drudge linked to to the USA Today version later.Nothing wrong with trying to get a story right.
I don't have a dog in this fight, but my sympathy is with Delta. They are being dragged into something, and they don't deserve it. All they've done here is agree to an arrangement to sell tickets that would take someone (perhaps some of our growing Muslim population?) from the United States to Saudi Arabia. There are other agendas at work here, and some sap at USA Today bought into them.
6:40 I don't think you understand the sequence of events. USAT published the original, erroneous story. Its subsequent reporting -- which has been good -- was designed to correct the original errors and (hopefully) prevent them from spreading further.That's going to be tough, however. Just Google "Delta Jews" and you'll see what I mean.
Who the hell is screwing around with someone else's religion when they know absolutley nothing about what they are saying. How outrageous and insensitive. Even the correction is screwed up. Who did this? Robin?
Yes, posting the original item, which was naive since travel to many Arab countries is full of such restrictions, was a mistake.But so did Drudge and Huffington.Only USA Today, as far as I can see, at least tried to get it right once the viral genie had been unleashed. And did get it right.
I have traveled through the region there, including Arab countries and Saudi Arabia with no restrictions and no prohibitions. During Persian Gulf 1 and 2, we had thousands of U.S. soldiers including people of all faiths in the United States -- including Jews -- who went to Saudi Arabia.
p.s. And the GI's went to Saudi Arabia accompanied by military chaplains drawn from all faiths.
Any word on who was laid off at The Arizona Republic? I understand the Living section took a big hit.
I personally know a Jewish reporter who went to Saudi Arabia during Persian Gulf I. She had some trouble driving because of the local religious police, but got around that by associating with a photographer. The U.S. Army also had female truck drivers there. The U.S. Army wouldn't be able to go anywhere if it didn't have female truck trudrivers because it looks like they are at least half of the Army corps of truck drivers. We also sent Jewish doctors to Saudi Arabia, and I seem to recall the biggest action they saw was treating Saudis injured in a passenger jet that crashed.
Ah 12:43 you are soooo right. The higher ups don't get the concept of local coverage. Readers want the news now, not two days later. Now they can get it, but not in any of the GNJ papers thanks to the ultra early deadlines put in place to accommodate CCI. Now we hear that APP Ocean County coverage has a 9 pm deadline because they laid off so many pressmen there aren't enough people to run the presses they have. Way to keep your readers! And another body fell at the APP today. A photographer who had been on vacation arrived to work this (Friday) morning to find out he is now laid off.
The "saps" at Usat are the non journos running on line. They have technical skills but little to no actual journo experience. So crap like this happens. Worse; broad lack of news judgement and context. Its amateur hour 24/7.
As I understand it HR people are no longer HR people. They are recruiters (yes, people are being hired) and deal with non-benefit issues at several locations. Benefits questions go to service center or benefit center. And Syd, well, he's a genius.
6:40: It used to be that stories were written and facts were checked BEFORE they were put in the paper to avoid such an embarrassment. I see a lot of retractions in Gannett's future. It's only been three days since the last round of mass layoffs and here we are.
Jim, I am 1:26, referred to in an earlier post. Yep, I was ridiculed and asked for proof. I don't know what proof I could have produced but I knew the layoffs were coming. You asked me to email you. I'm not ready for that but I will post under the 1:26 moniker. Much still going on.
It may not be fashionable to feel empathy for the executioner, but the HR person who laid me and fellow journalists off two years ago was so traumatized that she sought counseling from her pastor. She was a very decent person put in a horrible position. On the other hand the publisher who ordered the cuts whistled his way to the golf course that day. Despite his self-declared evangelism, he could care less who got hurt. Bastard.
Any other Gannett papers running 50% off subscription sales? The Des Moines Register promoted the sale on its Twitter account this afternoon.http://www.desmoinesregister.com/72hour
12:43, 4 left in the DR newsroom? How many were let go this week? Can you share the initials of the 4 who are left?
6:40: It used to be that stories were written and facts were checked BEFORE they were put in the paper to avoid such an embarrassment. Yes, this was before "instant communication".No more.
How will they earn a bonus when we're all gone?
9:41, you were ridiculed for a reason. You were claiming you knew something, but you would not tell anyone the source of your information or how you knew it. Also, you never referred to a specific location. Eventually someone named a paper the day before all of this happened.I was hoping there would not be layoffs, not only because it would save jobs but also because it would put people like you in your place. Unfortunately, now we can count on people posting every 3-6 months about how the sky is falling.Even though you were proved somewhat correct, the fact remains you never posted any proof or a source. Thus, your information was not something to take at face value. In the future, provide a source or an explanation or even something remotely specific.
In the wake of this Delta-Jews story along with some some recent flaps involving Your Life, USA Today needs to reconsider slapping crap from outside groups into a publication that carries USA Today's brand. If they don't they are going to tarnish the USA Today brand and degrade its credibility by making it worthless. Brands have value -- read the annual report and you see an item called "goodwill" which represents the value of the brand. Each one of these flaps results in diminishing that "goodwill," and so lessens the value of Gannett. The lesson is clear: use only copy that we know is valid because we creaated it, and if you use outside copy, it must come from respected organizations with a credible track record.
After the Jack Kelley debacle, an elaborate effort was made to reduce the number of anonymously-sourced stories in USAT. Under the rules, which applied equally to staff and wire pieces, the Religion News Service story on Delta never would have been published to begin with unless its allegations had been backed up. It's a sad state of affairs when USAT is either backpedaling on the effort or has a staff that doesn't know or follow the rules. Way to go, Hillkirk.
10:07...nice timimng huh with a price increase about to happen a couple of weeks from now.Part 7 7:30 i believe...thanks. I heard there was some paper that divorced itself from Gannett a while ago so this must be it.Would love to see our paper do it but I fear it's too late anyway as we have all but turned in to a USA clone. Hard pressed to find stories from our own reporters anymore and that's caused loss of readership also. can't wait to see what happens when the price increase happens with our wafer thin daily editions.
3:46 am, do you understand the purpose of this blog? The information that is shared is often confidential at the time it is shared. People who have certain information, and believe that it should not be confidential, have an opportunity to share it ANONYMOUSLY on this blog. Information is often limited to a small group of people. Providing too many specifics could put an individual in unnecessary jeopardy.If an event plays out differently than it was originally reported, it's certainly not the fault of the person who risked something by offering a "heads up" to fellow employees. I reported information on my site ONLY when I was fairly sure that I was not the only person who had that knowledge. As difficult as it was to work for Gannett and see the dismantling of my site, I really did want to keep my job as long as I could. FYI, I was laid off in February and am now employed elsewhere, but I still care about friends I had at work. I am also fascinated at the glimpse of the inner workings of a once-great company that I can view here. I've never worked for a company that had, unwillingly, this kind of transparency. Thank you Gannett colleagues.
Jim: The google layoff spreadsheet says 81 for Bucyrus/MNCO, but that should be 8.
7 a.m. explains it very well.
7:25 Thank you. I've fixed that.
6:20 Exactly right. I suspect what happened here was you have someone from another section, let's say sports, who was put in charge of writing headlines and putting stories in papers. He routinely handles USA Today copy after the editors and perhaps managers hand it up to him, and AP stories. No problem. Now you have this third stream and he handles them the same, but doesn't have the background in the stories he's handling to know that something is queer because his background is all sports.
11:05, your guess is wrong, as are your facts. The Delta story did not appear in the paper. It was posted online almost directly from the wire. Whoever pulled it read it quickly in order to put a hed on it and perhaps attach a photo. The assumption (and one should never assume in journalism, as we know, or should) must have been that the story had been edited on its end by Religion News Service, when it hadn't.
11:46 I knew that. Anything posted only online these days is just as it was in the paper. Remember we are eroding the line between print and digital, and the scorn about this debacle falls on the USA Today brand.
p.s. 11:46 Your assumption about the editor who posted it believing it had been edited by Religion News Service is correct. We are now relying for a lot of online content on organizations like HealthDay, Religion News Service and Demand Media. I am in this business, and I will tell you I really don't know that much about them. That is not unusual in these Internet days where fly-by-night operations are everywhere on the Web. But should I put my trust in what they are putting out? I don't think so.
11:46 Read what Jim is saying about this story. He's a former editor and he's learned his craft from bitter memories of being burned from time to time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from your mistakes.
1:26 Moniker: I knew you weren't blowing smoke. It's easy to tell with the postings. I hope you know how much any information is appreciated. I will be looking for your posts. When is the shoe going to drop for the upper level execs and what is the criteria?
There's nothing wrong with learning from your mistakes, but must they be made so dramatically and at such cost to our credibility? This is USA TODAY, not some high school newspaper without an adviser. We need to expect the same amount of expertise from the online editors as we do from our print editors. Maybe even more, because no one is reading behind them before they push "publish to web."If online were held to the same standards as the newspaper, that mistake would never have happened. There were three glaring errors in the lede. Even without knowing that, there was enough missing from the story to know that something wasn't kosher, so to speak.
7 a.m., do you understand VALIDITY? Just running here and saying "Layoffs are coming! Soon!!!!" is not information. It's fear.I could be condescending like you and capitalize more random words. But clearly you don't understand the concept of credibility.
1:15 I'm not that harsh because I want Corporate and the powers that be to understand what is happening here to once-solid newspapers. These errors in online USA Today (and there have been others posted on this blog involving HealthDay) are pointing to a certain sloppiness that is showing up in USA Today. There also have been valid (IMHO) comments posted here about how bland and unexciting the newspaper is these days compared to the past.
Much sloppiness on line because no way should the kids tasks with these jobs have this much power and so little expertise or oversight. Perhaps Hillkirk can emerge from his batcave and kick some ass for a change and impose some accountability.
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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