An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
For Part 2 of this comment thread, please go here.
I think I see why this blog works for GCI where and there are no other successful ones for other companies, and that's because there used to be a journalistic ethic enforced in new hires who either were drawn from other newspapers or from grad schools. The ethic was drilled into you so much that something like Heather and the gaols stands out because it is such an anomaly to what we are used to seeing. You can see this in what Your Life is covering, as opposed to the other sections. Other newspapers have a more diverse population without the common backgrounds, and so Heather would not necessarily stand out as much there and postings on a blog about her activities would not have the same interest. Not to say Heather couldn't learn the Gannett operating center ethic and eventually be forced into that way of thinking by the pressure of the crowd.
A lot of people on the board that complain about certain things or certain folks are called haters. Lets think about why this may have happened. First and foremost we have our top executives and other corporate staffers significantly increasing their personal compensation while eliminating the jobs, laying off, and cutting the pay of most everyone else. You have a slew of poorly thought out and horribly managed corporate edicts and projects that are being inflicted on us. You have the company cutting the marketing budgets of the business units, where the money is made, while spending a significant amount of money funding a new logo and a new corporate branding campaign that will yield us nothing. In short we see the company being run buy self absorbed, incompetent, and out of touch leaders that are killing this company that we once loved and it hurts. That is why we hate.
Where is the brave executive who chooses NOT to take a bonus? I remember Craig Moon doing this one year. Has anyone else?Honestly, can you imagine the respect that person would gain?Disappointing.
Heather's issues have more to do with an ill defined mission and poor work ethic. Users come to usa today for news. It may be soft entertainment news, but it gets eyeballs. Lot of them. Heather and her team want to reinvent the wheel that readers don't want to roll with. Neither do advertisers. Meanwhile, she continues to build an unnecessary management structure unable or unwilling to get their hands dirty. The mission and the team needs an overhaul, not additional managers.
10:44 In order to "do" soft entertainment news, you have to know what it is. That is the mistake with Heather. She is from marketing, and trained to spot emerging trends, economic themes and future consumer interests that we can tailor advertising campaigns to meet. The news side of the operation isn't preoccupied with the future or what is coming as much as what just happened and why. It is a completely difference mindset, and I don't know what fool (Hunke?) didn't see this from the start.
As long as Hunke approves the payroll, they will keep growing. That is the other aspect of this, when you think of it, because manipulating news is a bottomless task.
12:53 wrote: "The news side of the operation isn't preoccupied with the future or what is coming as much as what just happened and why."That's generally true, but my recollection is that Gannett has for some time pushed its papers and TV stations to report on new trends and always spin the news forward. I think I recall people saying of USAT: "It's USA Today, or USA Tomorrow -- but never USA Yesterday."
Web hed of the day: Photos: As tempertures heats up, crowds gather at water parks
Jim is right about identifying trends. But Your Life seems to be identifying trends Better Homes and Gardens did in 1980. Recipes? Women's "issues"? Please. There are plenty of places for that. Refocus on what works for Life. Readers will come. Advertisers will follow. Digging further into a failing strategy is a waste of time and readers and does nothing to enhance the brand. Our new Marketing CHief should know this from Marketing 101.
Anyone see our new CMO's "On the Road" e-mail?
@2:56: yeah, it came, I saw, I deleted.
2:56 I did. I think it is a great first step in addressing one of our big concerns, "What the heck is going on around the company?" I hope we get plenty more of these and it expands to other departments and initiatives. It's time this communication company communicated with its employees. Nice first issue Maryam. I'm sure the Haters will pick it apart because heaven forbid an executive should try something like this, but I'm not one of them.
We used to have the Gannetter for this. I want our new chief marketing officer focusing on marketing the brand. Did she visit all NBC stations when she worked there? If that's the case she has 100 more gannets owned properties to go. No wonder there is no money for reporter travel.
They did something similar to Reno Magazine. "Nope, it's to now be about 'upscale' women." Only. They even gave us a name for this fictional, study-group-created woman -- "Linda."Artists were told to design ads with "Linda" in mind, a complete stereotype. Management was, of course, "excited" by this New Idea. The artists just shook their heads.Right there, that "excited" arrogance dismissed the larger market as if Reno is comprised only of the minority wealthy who get sloshed at wine tastings.People noticed that change as well; they told me about it, not realizing that just because my input at "the paper" was soon not meaning much in those matters or any others.The only upside for all its elite snobbery? A featured, on-the-cover Upscale Woman was -- with an expensive dress and perfect hair and makeup -- arrested for DUI while she graced the current issue.How upscale is that?
2:56,No harm in what she sent, but it struck me as extremely self-serving and self-promotional. I mean she's been here like 15 minutes. Is she trying to take some credit for these programs by extension? Did someone write it for her and just stick her head on it? I also agree with what was said earlier...I want my CMO focusing on brand-building and not trite internal communications that may only serve her own good.
I'm surprised she didn't include the new Gannett branding campaign in her e-mail. Oh yeah, that's right....she was hired AFTER the campaign broke. I don't blame her for not taking responsibility.
2:56 Many of us would be interested in seeing CMO Maryam Banikarim's on-the-road e-mail. As always, I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least we know she's still on the job and plugging ahead. Something is telling me some big changes coming soon.
So she's survived Robin's sabotage efforts?
4:34 What's the evidence for your saying Pence is trying to sabotage anything?
Robin was responsible for the disastrous branding campaign that now comes under the jurisdiction of Maryam, just as Robin's office does. That campaign (I saw it again on TV this morning, so it is still going on) is complicating Maryam's efforts to come up with a new theme. You can't have one company, two messages. Someone has to win, someone has to lose.
I told Outlook to send everything from corporate to junk after I was updated on Mr. Dubow's back surgery.
Typical of this company's executives to be more concerned about how their own power is diminished or increased than the general welfare and future of Gannett. It is in the interests of no one to set up a regular command structure because everyone would then realize how little these execs really do, and now redundant are their jobs.
Ok let's see. What have we accomplished to help market Gannett to more advertisers and readers?1. Speaker series2. email Maryam....figure out how to build a brand that is of value to readers and advertisers and generates income. That's it. CMO. Market something to someone who can buy.
Robin makes Dickey look ridiculous lifting quotes from another press release, and somehow the branding campaign she put together is still financed and running. So is this woman really a screwup who should have been long gone, or is she a real power in this company structure who needs to be accomodted? I would love to know who authorized Saleh to pay for that TV ad.
1:18 xxx I think I recall people saying of USAT: "It's USA Today, or USA Tomorrow -- but never USA Yesterday." xxxPerhaps it used to be that way, and it took a lot of effort to make it appear that way. But look at USA Today today and you clearly see we are no longer trying to push the stories forward. They are pushing out so much stuff that they have run stories three our four days old. I have pointed some of these out in previous posts.By the way, that was one hell of a slogan and branding campaign. I wish we had something like that today to stir and rally the masses.
Anybody know where Fisch from the Journal News limped off too?? I just found out he was let go. Did he land somewhere?
3:08PM You are correct, there is no money for reporters to travel. It's being spend on flying the Barbie Twins and friends to sites for dog & pony shows.
9:45 said "In short we see the company being run buy self absorbed, incompetent, and out of touch leaders that are killing this company that we once loved and it hurts. That is why we hate."
As someone with more than 20 years left in my working life I am frustrated seeing what this company is doing to itself. Many have worked here for far longer than I and I see so many good workers & people just beat down. No one even cares. Piece by piece the place is being pulled apart, the full collapse is certain if something doesn't change rapidly.
5:27 You know which hospital?
8:26 nails it. No one gives a shit among managers at Usa Today, where the tone is set by John Hillkirk. Not sure what he does outside of editor meetings, but its surprising to see him anytime he is in the newsroom. Its like watching a mortician. He is not engaged, he holds no one accountable for their mistakes or incompetence. Page 1 is a joke, from soft cover stories to items that belong elsewhere in the paper. He doesn't seem to care about anything except what the beancounters and marketing whizzes have to say. The entire operation is crying for a leader, a motivator and a morale builder. Show some leadership, John. Prove you are worthy of the job.
10:16; I am not at USA today but the issues you describe are at the community pubs across the org. The issues are about to get worse with the next round of cuts. Upper management needs to hold a mirror up - are they doing all thu can to help? At what point will someone say the problem would be fixed with better management!Why does a publisher (any other positions?) need a company car? Don't they make big bucks. Use that lease money to hire someone and drive your own car if you really care. What other luxuries could we eliminate?
I must concur with the poster's comments on Hillkirk. A nice guy, but someone clearly out of his element. But who do you replace him with? Someone on his leadership team? Heather Frank? God help us. No solution here.
10:59, the cars can be written off as a business expense. What's worse is the working capital leaving the community papers and eventually into craig dubow's greasy pockets. High double digit profit margins would be better used for bolstering local news ops.
Heather Frank? HaahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhhhahahahahaahhHaahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhhhahahahahaahh.
I am sure Hillkirk doesn't see it that way at all. From his view, management knew all of his negatives when they promoted him to this post, and no one in management has told him what he doing is wrong. So why screw with success? If this is what they want, that's what they will get.Some truly weird things have happened in this company, and there's no other explanation than this is the way they want it.
Whatever anyone thinks of Hillkirk, he's here to stay. It takes something really horrendous to get corporate to do something about someone in the club who is doing wrong, and then they take an action like Paulson and shift him to the Newseum. I think anyone who worked for Paulson would tell you what a real know-nothing screw-up he was, and yet nothing happened for a long time. Looks to me the FF was much quicker in concluding he is an empty suit, and shoved him aside even though he has a job. Today, look at the case of Robin or Hunke, who I think have done major damage to this institution and its public face and yet they still report work each day. We have a public relations officer who won't talk to reporters like Jim even though that is supposedly her job, and Hunke who has piled up screw-up ontop of screw-up.Now we have the situation where Ellwood is moving in as deputy publisher, but probably will be the real publisher of USA Today. So what does Hunke's workload look like between now and his retirement date?
Full lifetime employment for Jim, too, as all these GCI activities are producing the most interesting blog I've found on the Web.
5:46 I'm fairly confident that Ken Paulson left the top USA Today editor's job for Freedom Forum voluntarily. The great mystery continues to be this: What happened at the foundation? Paulson was clearly Founder Al Neuharth's favorite to succeed Charles Overby as the next CEO. Then, just 18 months in: poof; Paulson was gone. Why? Even Freedom Forum insiders were surprised, according to what I've been told.
6:13 I don't know if we are disagreeing. I think Paulson was an empty suit and there was absolutely no there, there. I can still see that vacant s---eating grin when I say this. I also got no explanation for why the sudden switch at the FF, but maybe it was because he was a nothing there as well.
Let's face it, the quality of the paper began declining in the era of Karen 3g Jurgensen. Paulson was a short termer who didn't like to work all that much. Hillkirk may have waltzed into the job simply by being there. But that has long been the problem with gannets thinking. This is why dubow is ceo. Problem is, this inbred brilliance, which breeds its own cronyism, no longer works.
6:23 That branding campaign was part of the changes Robin was promising for Gannett. From her March statement on the branding campaign "Our new identity program signifies change and expresses our shared vision, mission and image while providing flexibility for our individual businesses to continue to build upon their own distinct and highly-respected brands."
5:27 that's showing them!!!! Grow up
5:27 is being sardonic. I'm sure he/she didn't set all corporate e-mail to go to the trash bin after getting the terrific news about Craig Dubow's back surgery.That e-mail is only notable because it was the first indication to many of us that the head of Gannett is a smug, self-satisfied and seriously out-of-touch egoist. So we can't say we weren't warned, now can we?
I don't know if she's smug or has a big ego, but if this is what she's going to be doing for the next few months, she is definitely out of touch. Shouldnt she be doing deals to bring in more revenue?
9:07 Her job is to find ways to bundle the tangled web of Gannett corporate assetts to bring in more revenue. Yes she has an ego. Of course it's going to be huge.But if she gets something done, I'm willing to let it be.The email is good that it at least provides SOME communication from the top to the workers. BUT the amount of time it took and the distraction from more relevant initiatives is typical of big corporate executives.
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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