Friday, June 03, 2011

May 30-June 5 | Your News & Comments: Part 4

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51 comments:

  1. For Part 3 of this comment thread, please go here.

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  2. Not even USA Today mentions Deal Chicken. (USAT seems have some deal with Living Social).
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-06-03-juice-in-the-city_n.htm

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  3. More very bad Obama-nomics news ,this cannot
    help the mindset in Gannettville upper management.
    I guess,if I were still a Gannettoid,without a plan B, I would be even more ready for the unemployment checks.

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  4. "Most anyone who has worked at a newspaper has highly transferable and sought-after skills. It takes a bit of hustle and a new way of looking at your life, but you can build a freelance business without a lot of cash investment.

    In fact, if you still work for a Gannett paper, you should already be laying the foundation for this."

    A-men, bro. I cannot stress enough the need to set your own table WHILE you have a job with Gannett. If you wait until the pink slip comes, you'll need months to get a viable income going. If you build it up gradually while working for Gannett, you should have everything ready to go by the time you're shown the door. I had considerable advance notice of my last day, and my clients had that day circled on their calendars to load up my plate with very lucrative work. It not only kept me from needing to tap into savings to keep the mortgage payments going and the lights on, but I ended up making far, far more than I did at GCI and actually saved a bundle before one of my clients hired me fulltime. (While still allowing me to keep my other non-competing clients to this day.)

    Lesson learned: Get busy workin' (for yourself) or get busy dyin' (at Gannett).

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  5. It just seems so self defeating. I mentioned in an earlier post how "dreadful" the "A" section of the Arizona Republic has become. Last Wednesday's edition was a full, whopping 12 pages of mostly coin and fat reducing ads. (I know, these ads pay the bills.) I guess I wouldn't mind the ads so much if the Republic would just put something to read along side of them. Please! Arizona Republic, this section looks like a printed version of a swap meet!

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  6. Haven't heard anything about the design hubs lately. Anyone have an update? Are they working?

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  7. I see Media General will be announcing layoffs next week.

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  8. Here is a job listing for Maryam's first hire. VP Corporate Marketing reporting into SVP CMO Gannett.

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  9. On the Media General layoffs, you see the rumor is the cuts this time will hit Florida hard, but won't involve "boots on the street." The Miami Herald isn't looking very healthy these days. I went to Central America on vacation once, and found locals regarded that paper as the voice of the Carribean.

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  10. From today's Washington Post:

    "A group of former publishers, executives and editors of the Tribune Co. and Times Mirror Co. filed a lawsuit yesterday against major shareholders who benefited from the $8.2 billion takeover of the media conglomerate.

    The group is seeking to recover $109 million in retirement benefits that were stripped after the company that publishes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the buyout, which had enriched some shareholders.

    The buyout deal in 2007 'lined the pockets of certain Tribune insiders and controlling shareholders with billions of dollars' while rendering Tribune insolvent, or nearly so, according to a copy of one of the lawsuits. "

    Maybe some Gannettoids should consider a similar lawsuit???

    Full story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/former-tribune-times-mirror-executives-editors-sue-shareholders/2011/06/02/AGypOVHH_story.html

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  11. Austin American Statesman wants to buy out 167 workers: http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/austin-american-statesman-buyout-offer-goes-to-167-1514770.html

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  12. Interesting Bloomberg story on Groupon. If they can't make money with Groupon lauded as the most wonderful thing to come down the pipe since Columbus stumbled across this continent, one has to wonder how much $$$ Gannett can make with Deal Chicken.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-03/groupon-s-540-million-in-losses-may-leave-investors-leery-of-share-sale.html

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  13. 12:30 Oh, you can make a lot of money on this will-o'-the wisp. But just do the back of the envelope calculations and you can see that after you pay the salesman his commission (he also gets a minimal salary) plus discount the overhead costs of putting together the email campaign or sending someone out to knock on doors, the profit is not that great. Then you have the store owners who are flooded with customers from hither and yon after the deals close, but then see an immediate drought afterwards and wake up to see they aren't getting any return customers for all their work because it is too far for the customers to drive, and some of their regulars aren't coming back because the last time they were there they couldn't find a space in the parking lot.

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  14. And Groupon claims it now has 83 million subscribers.

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  15. I think Deal Chicken has caused all sorts of headaches and heartburn in the sales department at the Arizona Republic. But that is just my opinion.

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  16. GANNETT moves so slow on any new initiative, you have to wonder if it might have been better to just buy a coupon site already established. Deal Chicken is a slow simmering bird.

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  17. 9:34: Enough already with the horn tooting you come on here and do on a regular basis. You have a successful consulting business (I believe you by the way, even if you don't say who you are), and that is good. I'm happy for you. Truly, I am. But, your ego messaging on this blog thinly disguised as offers of help (or warnings)for others, has worn old.

    I too left Gannett and today make far more money than I ever would have as a top editor in the company. I'm proud of my success and I am very grateful that I worked hard to get on a different path. But, I don't come on here every single week (nearly every day) and tell people how great I am. I could. But, what good would it do?

    Many people in Gannett are looking for alternatives right now. And they should be. I wish them the best of luck. There is no one single path to take. You are doing well in consulting, I am doing well in real estate development. I have a friend who left Gannett to start an ice cream shop. There are many paths, and not a single one is right for everyone, as you tend to imply in your posts. But, one thing that is certain is those people who haven't found a way out yet don't need the constant reminder that you're so successful and your vague and non-specific "advice" about how to do it themselves. "Start getting clients now" is your advice, which frankly is not worth much to someone who doesn't have as much business sense as they do communication/marketing/writing skills. If you want to help them, offer a way to contact you and help coach them (even if anonymously) to a successful consulting career. Be a mentor. Write a newsletter that people can read to help them on their way. Do something besides just tell everyone how great you are.

    People don't need to be reminded that they aren't finding the success you did when they come here to read about their company, which you are no longer a part of. It doesn't help them one bit, even if does help inflate your ego and make you feel big.

    I won't ask you to reveal your name, or your company or say you're a fraud. But, I will say there are many former Gannetters who have found the same level of success as you (and much, much more) who don't come on here and rub it in everyone's face. They have more class than that.

    So, please, for the sake of the people you claim to want to "help," give it a rest already.

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  18. I see a great deal of comment elsewhere about what the appointment of a woman as the first editor of The New York Times may mean for women in journalism.

    Maybe she can start by mentoring our own female vice president/news who seems to be a non-factor as Gannett's journalism is eviscerated by the bean-counters.

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  19. 1:55: Thanks for the post. That needed to be said.

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  20. We could actually use more straight talk like that of 9:34's. Many Gannett workers, especially lifers, are holding on to the belief or hope that they will be able to hang on for the 5, 10 or 15 years until their retirement, when they'll be lucky to survive the next layoff. Gannett is not providing career-change counseling, nor is it contributing to skill-development training for anyone who wants it. At-risk workers (that is, anyone over 40) need the occasional splash of cold water and words of encouragement from those like 9:34. They have to know that a long and miserable bout of unemployment isn't the only fate that awaits them, and that if they get a head start, they will have a better chance of landing on their feet.

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  21. Slow clap, 1:55. I see you manage to puff your own chest while accusing another of doing the same.

    It's not the same person every time talking about the reality of leaving GCI, going out on your own and actually doing better. Dunno why you'd make that assumption.

    As for me (yes, I'm 9:34), I only send out this advice (yes, it is advice as opposed to self ego-stroking) after I've read three or four postings to the effect of, "I just got (or am going to be) laid off. I'm (insert age here) years old. How am I ever going to get another job at this age? Woe is me ..."

    My sole intent is to get them to think about getting jobs, not a job. It requires a complete change of mindset for people who have had one employer for XX amount of years, because at first it seems a bit unconventional. I seek to present it as a bit different, but a model that can work. Especially in today's age in which virtually no company holds any loyalty to employees, and the prospects of using more contractual workers who can be hired on and off as business demand rises and falls conveys more and more appeal today.

    Otherwise, gee, I guess you nailed it on the head. I'm actually just interested in stroking my own ego as opposed to offering an alternative that can help people here who have reached a state of stunted hopelessness.

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  22. No, 2:28, those working at GCI are all fully aware, and have made conclusions on their options.

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  23. Thank you, 2:28. You stated better than I (in less words) what my intent was with the 9:34 post.

    As to where to find these leads/clients, which 1:55 alluded to as actual 'helpful' advice, that really depends upon your particular skill. But clearly anyone with skills in writing, photography, design, marketing, etc. is certainly capable (I hope) of finding online resources that regularly come up with these kinds of leads. You may have to pay (a small charge) for the ones that offer 'real' jobs as opposed to the low-paying dreck you see on CraigsList. But that money is tax deductible and pays for itself, really, if you're good at taking advantage of the service.

    And, that said, even within the CraigsLists of the world, an occasional actual legit job gets posted every day or two.

    Also: Think globally, not locally. It doesn't matter, in most cases, where you are geographically for 99.99 percent of these jobs. It's a virtual world now, folks.

    I beg of your forgiveness, 1:55, if this comes across as more ego puffing from the likes of moi.

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  25. What's boring is reprocessing press releases into news "stories," Web posts, tweets and blog roundup fodder. What's boring is waiting for you boss to work with you on meaningful journalism but is too busy in meetings and putting out inane fires. What's boring is taking photos of kids playing, people at festivals and, yes, cleavage shots for Metromix.

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  26. 9:42 Yes, the Republic looks thin on display ads. Are there no retail salesmen left?

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  27. Gee 2:50, please share with the rest of us these great online resources that will allow a person to make enough money consulting to do better than they are today. You're like one of those infomercial people selling a "get rich scheme" for $49.99. The only difference between them and you is they actually send you a binder full of information instead of always referring to these great places online where we can all access the pent up wealth waiting for us in a global market.

    Please, share the links (even if it will cost us a small sum) that will help us do that. The only specific information you provide is Craigslist. I won't take the time or the finesse to call out your ego stroking like previous posters have, but I certainly agree with them.

    P.S. If any of you think that there are current Gannett employees who are unhappy in their jobs and need the "splash of cold water" to jolt them into reality about how bad their company is, you are obtuse. Those people know, they don't need to be constantly reminded and they are looking for ways out. If there are others who happy in the company, or are happy trying to wait it out, then that is their choice and they too don't need the constant "splash of cold water."

    I agree with the poster who said you say these things more to make yourself feel good about getting out than you are trying to make those who remain feel motivated.

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  28. 1:55 here. To you 9:34, I guess we can agree to disagree. I know there is just more than one person who has posted here about life after Gannett. And that is fine. But, your posts, which are clearly identifiable by the same story "I built up my business while I was employed with Gannett, then when the time came to leave, I had enough clients in tow to make even more money now that I was. And, no, I won't tell you who I am or who my company is and I don't care what that makes you think of me."

    You post some version of this story every week, sometimes a number of times each week. Anyone who reads this blog has seen your story again and again again. They don't need to be reminded every week about how you made it big post-Gannett.

    I am just saying people who are left need motivation and that doesn't come by splashing cold water on them, as one poster said, and it doesn't come by constantly reminding them of your success, no matter what your intention may be. If you have resources online that can offer people some avenues out of Gannett, why not share them? Why be so vague?

    That is my point. Take it or leave it... And, I think I know which one you will choose. I'm done with this thread. Good luck everyone.

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  29. Readers don't come to this blog for job advice. They don't come here for investment advice. And they don't come here to be lectured about how their time is almost up, or the hour of judgement is near. They come to get the inside skinny on what's going on in their company, and occasionally to respond to the outrage of the day with rants or raves. If you have any intelligence or views on how GCI operates, those views are more than welcome. This blog has a readership of anyone in the news business from the operating centers to the delivery trucks. But if you've been part of this business and you've moved on, good luck to you and please find a blog that caters to your new interests. We are all fully aware of our fate, thank you, and know perhaps better than anyone in American business today what we are likely to be doing in the future.
    Thanks, and thanks.

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  31. I'm not 9:34, but am astounded at how he/she has been verbally stoned by a few unappreciative people, however frustrated they might be. Those of us who are now thriving outside of Gannett have offering a helping hand, mainly in the form of advice, because many on this blog have expressed a desire for the advice that some seem to deplore. Because of the rolling nature of the blog, those pleas for help and our responses go into archive. I wish Jim would start a standing career counseling tab that can be accessed by those in need and willing to help. I've listed some very specific second career options for reporters, but don't want to post it over and over. No one's trying to insult anyone. No one's trying to tell you what you already know. Some of us were freed from the gulag and are here to help our former cellmates. That's all.

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  33. 5:23 Gulag? No one makes any of us stay. If you hate it get another job. People are doing it every day. Gulag! Hiw dramatic!

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  34. Whatever 6:18 (and 4:32 and 4:15 and all others 'piling on' here for no apparent reason): You didn't sit down and define terms for what this blog is for. You don't dictate who comes here for what. 5:23 and the other posters are just trying to help with an alternate perspective here for folks who -- judging from the sheer sense of pending doom that gets posted here -- apparently could use it. If that bothers you, skip to the next post.

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  35. I repeat 6:51 ....... Gulag$? How insensitive to people that have truly suffered. What's next Nazi comments? Get real.

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  36. 6/03/2011 12:49 PM
    Plus, Deal Chicken has the expense of the person(s) that write the long creative descriptions on the Deal Chicken pages (yes, a direct rip off of the Groupon model). According to a NYTimes article Groupon pays roughly 400 people an average annual salary of $37,000. http://bit.ly/jKukQ8

    Then there are expenses for producing and posting each deal online each day, sending out daily emails, fulfillment and processing of payments for each purchase made, etc. Marketing ads and materials will be provided for all the sites so that expense is minimal but any promotional costs are extra. And getting the 15,000 to 25,000 opt-ins needed in each market before the launch will be very time consuming and not an easy task. Maybe Gannett will promote Chicken Deal on the SuperBowl game next year like Groupon did. (Haha).

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  37. 8:46 I am with you, and I see this almost as a Ponzi scheme. Brighter minds than me need to wake up at the Arizona Republic and realize that all this effort isn't producing much income, and salesmen see that and won't work there if they have to sell the Chicken. I have nothing to do with sales, but I what I know about it is a peculiar craft. If the salesman sees the prospect of a huge deal, they will work like hell to sell it, regardless if they get it or not. And they won't tell you afterwards really how they did it, except to recite a spiel you can memorize and give you a general idea. It's part of the secrets of the craft of selling and they want to stay crafty about how they operate because they don't want you as a competitor. But they look at the Chicken and say they don't want any part of it because their returns are clearly going to be minimal and incremental. There's no prospect of the Big Deal. That is a long way of explaining why I see these Arizona Republic sales jobs listed on Career Builder because no salesman worth his salt wants anything to do with this. For God's sake, wake up. This chicken thingy is killing you, and you will never become another Groupon, which may -- or may not -- be worth $21 billion in market value. The Chicken just doesn't have the national reach, and Groupon is already there. Geez. Sorry rambling rant.

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  38. 6/03/2011 3:52 PM
    9:42 Yes, the Republic looks thin on display ads. Are there no retail salesmen left?

    You must have not noticed the previous posts on this blog from Republic sales reps who noted they take long lunches, go shopping at the malls and leave early, with little concern for sales.

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  39. Craig Sevier6/03/2011 9:21 PM

    Here's what I witnessed at the Reno site.

    Worthless sales managers. Not all! Just the really good ones were few. At least they stood out to me.

    Yet they all had a great group of enthusiastic salespeople who busted ass trying to meet goals with less and less support. Fact. Not many days would pass when a woman rep, say, would be returning from the bathroom with a moist face.

    These folks, they received no support from their "leaders," their supposed advocates. It was all about them, these ladder climbers -- not the people selling ads.

    While many fell short of their impossible goals, one individual was denied her bonus for coming up five dollars short in hundreds of thousands of dollar goal. That's what she told me. She quit five minutes later.

    In Gannettland, inept management seems be the standard which devalues those who take the job seriously and those who just need another Xanax.

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  40. 8:46 How did the Republic's advertising director let this get started. Surely he understands sales and how they work.
    I'm sure they presented this as just sending out e-mails, and responding to those who hit reply and e-mail back. But anyone with his head on knows that people do not respond to unsolicited commercial e-mails en masse. I never respond to e-mail solicitations, and just delete them.
    They do produce some leads, but then you have to call up and make sure there's a legitimate business operating there, and they can handle the crowds who will come in. Then the salesman can visit and sign them up.
    But putting that e-mail list together isn't easy, and someone has to be diverted to do that. The salesman in the middle of negotiating a display ad sale has to drop what he's doing to go sell the ad, and when he returns, his display ad lead has gone cold. Etc. etc.
    We have the same thing going on in our newsrooms where people who have no knowledge of how journalism really is produced are being sent in to do our jobs. But in truth, they cannot do it, because they have not been trained to do it properly. The same with sales. I couldn't do that job and have no business anywhere near it because I don't understand it.
    Then we see in circulation someone from above has dictated that press runs need to be cutback to save money, which means distributors don't have enough papers to put on the racks. I don't know what the right number of papers is, but they do for each store because that is their business. And once you don't have papers available, people stop looking.
    This whole place is falling apart, and it's because someone with a bright idea from above says "let's do it," and they blast ahead regardless without even contemplating the consquences. And they wonder why revenues are declining.

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  41. Gulag? Not even. More like Devil's Island. Or Alcatraz.

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  42. The thing that I dislike most about this deal chicken initiative is that they are putting the digital reps against the retail/print reps. The retail reps have all of the contacts/accounts/relationships already and the digital folks are looked at as the enemy of the company because they are calling "their accounts" to sell deal chicken. So not only do the digital folks have to deal with Groupon and Living Social, they have to deal with the Gannett print reps sabotaging the new relationship with the deal chicken reps. It creates internal conflict and accounts see this. Bad for the company. I feel bad for the "deal chicken" reps.

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  43. 9:50 You see a similar reaction in at USA Today where they are moving in marketing people to oversee news copy. News is truly a bottomless pit, and there is no real agreement over what it is. But it is clear what it isn't, and marketing people don't see it that way. They see news driving sales if only we concentrated on putting out stories that appeal to the 18-35 big spending age bracket. The marketing people now are isolated doing nothing, and it's currently a standoff. But you are seeing some of the repercussions in stories appearing in USA Today that truly have no real news value. You cannot manage news and you will kill yourself trying.

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  44. What they should have done with Deal Chicken is establish it as a separate organization under corporate. That would have required investment, but if Deal Chicken is so great, they would know that quickly. Instead they look at the USA Today tradition, which was assembled with staff siphoned from the newspapers until it produced enough money to hire its own staff. But some of the subsidies from the paper remain, particularly printing cost. USA Today struggled for a while, but it clearly was heading to success. But now they are stuck. They can't sell it because buyers see a large part of the costs of running it are hidden.

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  45. Anyone know anything about the mysterious departure of the VP of Finance & Operations in Louisville? Heard from someone that the bomb was dropped right before day end.

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  46. The Blob strikes when it's least expected.

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  47. How is it that I am seeing Groupon and Living Social ads on a Gannett blog site?! Sorry Gannet but the ship sailed long ago.

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  49. This shift to digital is subtly sucking the economic value out of everything in this company.

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  50. Chris Apel, vp of finance in louisville was just laid off. Word is finance functions are being consolidated in indianapolis

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  51. 3:39 That is correct, although it happened on Friday. I'm told that Apel and the publisher had been at odds for a while.

    Worth noting: Apel's duties included press and production. It was on his watch that Louisville's press failed on Kentucky Derby weekend 2010.

    It is true that some finance work is being consolidated. I do not know whether that extends to such high ranks and VPs, however.

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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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