Saturday, June 25, 2011

A smile is just a frown -- turned upside down!

"I hope that after you absorb the information about the RIFs, you will re-read the strategic objectives and feel good about the direction in which we are headed." 

-- Publisher Leslie Hurst of The Clarion-Ledger, in a memo to employees of the Jackson, Miss., paper about an imminent reduction in force. The paper has cut an estimated 10 jobs this quarter.

Related: We're tracking Tuesday's layoffs in this read-only spreadsheet, which shows all job cuts during the current quarter.


  1. Well, I for one just feel ducky about all this. Just like a flock of ducks in a thunderstorm and driving rainstorm, we are having the time of our life. How nice someone high up expresses such warm feelings about us that way. I think must be feeling the warm glow from the Peking Duck she had for dinner last night.

  2. Anyone wish to tell us what these strategic goals posted in the offices are all about?

  3. You have got to be kidding.

  4. The whole company has gone nuts. seriously.

    All these strategic plans are about a world that doesn't exist -- shared content, reader-based information, national content from a tiny washington-based reporting hub (Content One and USA TODAY can barely fill USA TODAY let alone service Gannett), amateurish "verticals" that a 15-year-old could design and leverage more strongly, partnerships with advertisers (they lose respect for Gannett when such deals are proffered), doing more with less, hyperlocal even as they get rid of local reporters -- etc. etc. etc.

    Not one top executive stands up and says wait a minute. For the Des Moines Register to get rid of its agriculture reporter in Washington shows a complete lack of backbone.

    This company really has given in to a needless panic. Sure, we need to trim and get smarter. But not like this.

    The End of Gannett based on empty buzzwords coined by people who have never succeeded at anything.

  5. Can anyone hold my hair as i gag?

  6. Anyone in Jackson ask for a definitioon of "reader based information?" My guess is that it is stories that readers want to read. Well, yes, I would like to have a newspaper that contains stories I would like to read. But I would much rather have a newspaper that contains stories involving local news developments i didn't know until I picked up the paper.

  7. the "strategic" goals are nebulous ambiguities like: increase readership, increase revenue, increase brand equity. When she was in Lafayette they printed this stupidity on a little cards for everyone to carry around. Then they would randomly ask someone for strategic objective number three and smugly smile while you dug for the card.

  8. @10:14 at my site, "reader based information" means the reader submits some lame press release or "community journalism."

  9. 10:28 Wow, that's positively anal. If she's involved in a regime that does that, she's a control freak. It's the same thing as the Field of Dreams idea of "build it and they will come." Sure it worked in the movie, but I have never seen it work in business. Just wishing something to be true doesn't work, does it?

  10. I don't want to be nasty, but I traveled to Moscow under the Soviet regime, and it was filled with posters plastered on the walls that my Russian interpreter translated as "Everyday Life is Getting Better," and "We'll Execute the Plan of the Great Works."

  11. Leslie. Another thing about Gannett I won't miss.

    When she was in Lansing, she sympathized with a worker overheard to say "I have no money" by giving him a garbage bag full of Perrier bottles he could recycle. "Every little bit helps," she told him magnanimously. (Actually, the guy had money in the bank, just not in his pocket. Lucky for him, because the 10 cent deposits weren't going to do much and there were no pay raises in sight.)

    When she rented an apartment, she had it written into her lease that "the help" were not allowed to speak to her. She pretty much expected the same of her employees.

    Yes, it's geniuses like this who have brought Gannett to where it is today.

    The ship is sinking and they didn't order enough lifeboats to save everyone. Get away as fast as you can.

  12. Wow. What a moron. I mean, there are morons here, including Jim, but this woman is way worse than all of you.

    Here's a time when you should attack.

  13. Leslie Hurst will feel good about it because she will get more bonuses for letting people go. Plus, she's got a pretty good buzz from the expensive wine she drank before she wrote that memo.

  14. The Clarion-Ledger's strategic goals for 2011 are as follows:

    1. Increase market share and advertising revenues through creative solutions for advertisers to reach The Clarion-Ledger Media Group's budgeted goals.

    2. Increase revenue share of The Clarion-Ledger Media Group's web and mobile sites to 30% of overall revenues with laser-like sales focus to enhance advertiser understanding of digital platforms.

    3. Be competition obsessed. Know our competitors as well as they know us and be able to articulate to advertisers and potential advertisers why The Clarion-Ledger Media Group's family of products delivers unparalleled ROI.

    4. Deliver content in the Sunday Clarion-Ledger to drive Sunday growth in key advertiser zip codes and defined audience segments - including boomers, families, professional women and the affluent.

    5. Execute watchdog journalism that holds government accountable. Empower and compel readers to engage in a collaborative, positive conversation to right community wrongs.

    6. Redesign the core product - adding storytelling, entertainment and personality profiles - to balance the often heavy news prevalent in a state capital.

    7. Develop deeper relationships with advertisers, emphasizing the power of collaboration and partnerships as a critical ingredient to success in connecting them with their best customers.

    8. Reconnect with our readers, advertisers and our communities, demonstrating that we haven't lost our community heart.

    9. Develop new revenue streams through strategic partnerships that expand our business footprint through production, distribution and delivery joint ventures with third parties.

    10. Ensure accountability among the staff to ensure that we're all working toward the same goals and that every employee understands his role in the success of the organization.

  15. 1:44 AM Wow, it all sounds so wonderful. I know I am inspired. #8 was especially warming. Har-har-har! We haven't lost our community heart! Of course, you have.

  16. What's laughable about those goals, as they pertain to news, is that she has cut so many positions there are no reporters left to write the stories and "connect" with the readers or help enhance the Sunday paper. Saturday and Sunday, the front-page story about governor and lt. governor debates, was written by The Associated Press. The C-L legislative writer quit and Hurst froze the position. Now isn't that something, a capital city newspaper, a statewide newspaper, without a legislative reporter! Nice. She cut the Lafayette Advertiser newsroom in half in about 3 years and she's well on the way to doing the same in Jackson. Cut, Cut, Cut. Larry Whitaker, the worst publisher in C-L history, was nicknamed the chainsaw because of all the cuts he made, but Hurst might outdo him before she's done. What a terrible 1-2 punch they have unleashed on what used to be a pretty good newspaper and now has an AP centerpiece about a gubernatorial debate. The debate was on the Coast and the C-L's editoral page editor moderated it but the C-L didn't have a reporter there covering it! That's how far they've fallen.

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  18. I immediately question any list of objectives with exactly 10 numbered items. (Ditto for 25, 50, etc.)

    Also, what in the world does Hurst's item No. 10 mean:

    "10. Ensure accountability among the staff to ensure that we're all working toward the same goals and that every employee understands his role in the success of the organization."

    Does this involve issuing the little pocket cards that 10:28 described in Lafayette, La.?

    "Then," 10:28 says, "they would randomly ask someone for strategic objective number three and smugly smile while you dug for the card."

    If that's really true, we've uncovered a new low in Gannett management practices.

  19. 6:40 Exactly. Orwellian.

  20. I think Gannett's strategy might be less Orwell and more Underpants Gnome.

  21. The above is happening at multiple sites.... Corporate is force feeding this B.S,

  22. If you look at the sites' operational plans over the past 20 years or so, except for the numbers they all read pretty much the same. (Insert new initiative where former new initiative existing in the plan. (The previous initiative, of course, failed because GCI wouldn't pony up the necessary dollars to make it work as designed.)

  23. 2:58, What other sites are having to send out this memo and why?

  24. As a director in Lafayette, I not only had to learn her strategic goals, but be able to recite them on command without help from cards. We had some awful publishers over the years, but she was by far the worst, and that's saying a lot.

  25. She's big on putting up signs and posters with objectives and strategies. She's done it at every newspaper she's been. I Bet their the same old objectives too. The only sign that the people at the Clarion Ledger should pay attention to is the exit sign.

  26. Leslie,
    I hope you read this. Questions: How many of us left at the C/L joined you for your silly little coffee get-together? Right.
    Where were YOU when the hammer came down...again?! Poor, clueless Agnew was left twisting in the wind trying to choke out the party line to us after more were let go.
    Jim is right to ask about your #10. Here's what it means, Jim. It's horsesh*t! Ensure staff accountability?! Really?! She wouldn't know 3 of the few left if she tripped over them.
    The woman can't account for anything.
    She is the PERFECT example of how sh*t floats to the top.


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