Friday, August 12, 2011

Aug. 8-14 | Your News & Comments: Part 5

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  1. For your media-related amusement: The suddenly hot Twitter feed Conde Elevator has gone viral this week. The site about idle chatter overheard in the elevators at the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and other magazines, now has nearly 60,000 followers.

    Too bad there isn't a Gannett Elevator.

  2. And just as quickly: It's dead. There's a cautionary lesson here for employees tweeting about their employer

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  5. Wish there was a LIKE button for the 6:27 post. Michael Kane would be SUCH an improvement and might make something happen, if anyone still can. But the cuts would have to include all the Dickey entourage.

  6. Kane is lead the division the way it should be led.

  7. Who ever thinks Kane is their savior is delusional. He has "cut to the bone" Lemire running the entire east group finance now. And that man is the reason why the News Journal is the emaciated wreck it is today.

  8. It seems that all of the division President's and many of the Publisher's are all cut from the same cloth. They all cut everything because they don't know how to run a business that can create and sustain top line revenue growth without gimicks. Quit cutting and make a few sales calls! Maybe you can hear what is really going on in the world!

  9. Why is Gannett-owned WUSA9 a deserved fourth in Washington DC? Read this lead pargraph from the original version of an actual 9NewsNow story ...

    An emergency hearing was held Wednesday in Prince Frederick County Circuit Court for a cemetery facing foreclosure. The Southern Memorial Gardens in Dunkirk has been banned by the state from proceeding with burials, but one family is refusing to let their loved one be buried anywhere else.

    "Prince Frederick County" does not exist in Maryland. Calvert County Circuit Court is hearing the case. Because the WUSA9 website has no provision to report mistakes online, I had to call 9NewsNow to tell the newsroom about it.

    And people wonder why Gannett has a poor reputation!

  10. There is more consolidation coming for advertising and marketing. The writing is on the wall there. Wondering if anyone has heard details about USAT production layoffs?


    August 11, 2011

    (EVERETT, WA) -- The Herald newspaper of Everett has announced that 17 full or part time employees will lose their jobs, and some 150 independent contractors currently delivering the paper will be affected starting October 1

    Quote from the article:

    In a company memo Gannett division president Bob Dickey said,” National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends.”

    Full ARTICLE can be seen at under the August 11, 2011 layoffs

  12. Few questions:

    - Does anyone think an ad director is above going to see clients?

    - If your site is getting a visit from corporate - what cleanup/improvements are being made prior to that visit?

    - how is deal chicken going at your site?

  13. 6:26 and 6:27, more childish commentary. Hopefully this will get the ax.

    @11:17, the Everett Herald is owned by the Washington Post Company.

  14. 11:21 Ad directors and Publishers need to be on calls. It is complete BS if they aren't going out.

  15. Lol, The Gloucester County Times is hiring everyone!

  16. 7:29, what's this all about?

  17. The GCT is a terrible daily in south Jersey that has somehow managed to trundle along for the past decade. I'm just laughing bitterly about the poor, fresh-out-of-J-school schlub who is right now jumping at that job.

  18. Somehow the Fl Today situation has been overlooked because it is on a separate thread.
    I think we need to bring it here so that all knows what happened.How many were layed off ?
    Details please.

  19. Only in this bizarre greed-driven corporate media mentality would a profit margin in "the low teens" ever be considered a bad thing.

    But it is what it is. The fact that NONE of these newspapers are actually losing money seems irrelevant. They just are not making as much profit as they used to make.

    Rather than biting the bullet and accepting a smaller profit margin in the short-term while the predictably up and down cycles of the economy take their course - Gannett and other media companies panicked in late 2008 and cut expenses. Over and over.

    And no one ever gains profitability through expense-cutting. Because the more people and news pages you cut, the less quality and value your product has, and the fewer people buy and advertise in it.

    And those cuts and drop in content quality are hard to reverse once times return to normal (which they will).

    Readers don't forget rate hikes with eight-page daily papers.

    6:17 pm said the shortfall is revenue, and that is exactly correct. What should have happened was that MORE attention and resources be put in quality of product.

    But that ship has sailed and sunk.

  20. I was thinking about yesterday's USAT meeting. It was so obvious that the majority of unhappy folks work in the newsroom. This is no slam. I wonder what you want? You work for one if the top publications in the country, you have a five day publishing cycle, you make an above average salary and you cover great stories. So what specifically is the beef? It's not the old days when print was king, or after 30 years you have to be part of Gannett? Yes people are leaving. They are adults making adult decisions. If you wanted to leave you would but you haven't. So without attacking someone in leadership or a co worker, what is the issue, what do you want? Let's get a real dialog going. A women asked a question yesterday; "what are you going ti do to improve our morale?" ok without being silly and saying get rid of do and so, what do you want?

  21. Nice to see the Cincinnati Enquirer pandering to the lowest common demoninator. Great job cropping the foto from the Keith Urban gallery to highlight Jennifer Jones' breasts and put them front and center on the newspaper's home page. Wonderful. When are you going to start a topless page 3 girl?

  22. Regarding 8:38: Anyone who thinks Lemire was the driving force behind layoffs clearly has no idea how anything works, and their opinion is essentially useless.

  23. 10:23 - they want to believe in something. They want to believe this management team knows what it's doing. They want their work to be valued. They want to stop seeing their co-workers walk out the door because they've given up hope.

    They want to believe in the vision that is shoved down their throats everyday. They want someone to ask their opinion. They want to know what our highly paid executives have actually accomplished. They want to look forward to coming to work everyday.

    They want to believe in the future of the brand. Right now...they do not.

  24. 10:23 - there are plenty of unhappy people OUTSIDE of the newsroom. Trust me.

  25. @11:21. Amen, and well said. What employees really want is SO simple. The discord is NOT just on the editorial side. It runs rampant on all sides now. I cannot believe 10:23 doesn't "get it". He/she must be fresh out of college, all dough eyed.

  26. 8:49 p.m. You are correct, although Michael Kane was more polished and restrained than Crotchfelt.

  27. It's not just the newsroom. The firing of Ed Cassidy in marketing is one example of people who showed up on this blog in record numbers in total disgust. These were not newsroom types. These were sales people, marketing folks, corporate people, across the board.

    Ed's staff now reports to Robin Pence. So what this really demonstrates is that no matter how great you are at your job, you can be fired at any time.

    Hunke, yes there is a morale issue. Firing Cassidy made it worst.

    What part of this don't you get? People cannot be motivated to do an outstanding job if they think it doesn't matter. They will be fired anyway.

  28. Unlike Crotchfelt, Michael Kane was seasoned enough to designate a company spokesperson rather than handle that task himself.

  29. The longer Kane allows Gannett's "finest" to stay, the less stock I'd place in him to turn the newpaper division around as those intolerable characters have harmed, not helped, this company.

  30. Thursday's USA Today meeting was a huge step in the right direction.

    There was vision (perhaps over-reaching, but a vision nonetheless); there was a smart repositioning of our digital products; and most of all the people in charge seemed (finally!), to know what they were doing! Pros, not rehashed Gannett non-speak drones.

    Interesting too that the two verticals discussed (Travel and Sports), were well along in concept and planning. Whether they succeed or not, you could at least see the plan.

    This in contrast to the utter aimlessness of the Your Life and other verticals, which seem to be just a bunch of former AOLers reshuffling existing content with no sense of future, excitement or what could be done.

    Night and day, and interesting that no one from the Your Life leadership was even there.

    As for morale, it's mainly lack of raises, furloughs, people leaving (Blake Morison is a big and symbolic loss), and overwork. Pursuing visions are great, and the applause was refreshing at the end. But the fact is that the drones of the organization are doing too much with too few people. That's why the question about morale.

  31. New people now report to Robin Pence? But didn't the Blog have postings saying she was going to be fired??

    Maybe we shouldn't trust everything posted here. Or most things posted here.

  32. newsrooms aren't the only people unhappy. working for a branch of digital, i went from an 8 hour-only, no responsibility outside of work position, and accepted a higher position that required not only more technical experience, but more responsibility, including every other week on-call and 3am-6am maintenance windows. For my efforts, i was paid less than $5,000 year more, but forced to work almost twice as much. I now hold a similar position a few hundred miles away, for a company in a non-floundering industry, for a salary that is literally DOUBLE. and not to pile on, but even the benefits are better.

    oh, and no furloughs here either, after having been furloughed 4 times in less than 3 years at Gannett

  33. 1:05 when was the last USAT furlough and hiw many have there been in the last three years. Trying to compare to USCP.

  34. There have been three weeks of furloughs at USA TODAY over last few years (none this year, though, and raises HAVE finally resumed after a three-year hiatus).

  35. Just got done visiting GannettLocals Blog. Read "Where’s My Hover-board?!" The writer went on-and-on about drivel for 80% of the article before trying (unsuccessfully) to make a point that mattered to a potential client. I think B.R. ghost wrote the thing.

    Gannettlocal is supposed to help "small and medium" sized businesses with their local marketing.

    If Gannettlocal approaches their sales strategy and pitch to potential clients the way they write their blog the client will kick them out. "Get to the freakin' point!.....I've got work to do"

  36. One of the things that I don't like about the benefits survey is that they do not define such things a company targets. I say no to things that refer to "company targets" unless I know what those targets are and whether those targets are site by site or company wide. I have some control over how my site does. I have no control how the company does as a whole.

    If Cragigy gets a bonus, does that mean that the company as a whole did worse because there was less money to distribute to the shareholders?

    Is the target a 90% margin? Who defines the standard? Do I trust management to set a reasonable standard? No way in hell.

  37. 1:33 and what companayla paying you double and has better benefs? Oh that's right we never say because big bad Gannett might get you. Of course you failed to say if you hadn't taken that promotion, gotten new responsibilities, your new company wouldn't have hired you for double the money and better benefits. YeP I can see how you were treated poorly.

  38. 1:09, why did you say that? Do you feel the same about the content of your G A N N E T T newspaper or other news source?

  39. Anon 8/12/2011 - 1:10 AM said:

    "@11:17, the Everett Herald is owned by the Washington Post Company."

    RESPONSE: Tell us all something, we don't already know! Although the Blogs main topic is Gannett, other news as it pertains to newspapers is mixed in as well! Even a few death notices are mentioned every now and then.

  40. Most of what is said here has some truth to it. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Liberties are sometimes taken with the facts but almost always there is a trail to truth....if you follow it closely.

  41. @2:08

    I work for Staples Corporate now. Not selling printer cartridges either. Please don't get the notion that everyone who abandons a sinking ship is a failure, just because others are too afraid to look elsewhere. I have nothing to fear from Gannett. What will they do to me? Run a lead story about me on Sunday that no one will read??

    Why I left Gannett: Last August, when they attempted to roll that DOG of a site redesign out, it crashed spectacularly. We were spending 80 hour work weeks on it, for a measly $40,000/year salary. In comparison, as a military vet, I was making just as much money to go to college for only 20 credit hours. Just a little insulting, but it gets better. The "promotion" was only $5K/year, but the responsibilities were much more involved than that. I went from 8 hrs/day with no on-call, to 80 hour weeks, with 3am-6am maintenance windows. On-call didn't matter anyway, because we were all on conference calls every Friday, nervously watching site traffic coming in for football games, crashing everything.

    Cut forward to February, when things were cleared up. We got a few handshakes and thank yous, but that was it. The stock didn't go up, and we didn't get raises because the company didn't have the money. But they DID have the money to pay for 2 contractors to come in (at a combined $160/hr) to work on for us, clearing us up to work on our other 3(now long-neglected) customers. And when their contract runs out? The workload shifts right back to Gannett employees, with no raise. Because there's no money for that. After they just spent 10 months paying 2 people EIGHT TIMES what you make, to do a 1/4 of your job.

    I'm sorry, but that's demoralizing to anyone. Or should be if you're smart enough to see everyone being furloughed while others make 6 figures as contractors.

    In 5 years, Gannett will not exist in its current form. Digital or USAT or both will be spun off.

    In my opinion, GMTI should be spun off. Web-hosting brings in big money in the Internet 2.0 Economy, but only when you're charging for your services. If GMTI had sent a bill for keeping that TURD afloat last fall, they would have had to close their doors, the bill would have been in the millions for man-hours and services rendered.

    Good luck to all of you still on the deck of the Titanic...just remember, the sinking starts slowly, but once the ship takes on enough water, you'll all be wearing life jackets and waiting to be plucked from the cold waters of Unemployment soon enough.

  42. 8/12/2011 1:09 PM It was Ed Cassidy (USA Today) who was fired and now his staff reports to Robin Pence (Gannett). Does anybody else see where this is going?

  43. Others here are saying that many people other than in news are unhappy. well, yeah. at the cherry hill nj courier post there many unhappy people in advertising because of the terrible management and the "group" (clique) that have been left hanging on for years who have no clue about anything except wasting time setting up little drinking parties at some local bars. The problem is this "group" of second level managers/supervisors who are anything but. sickening. No, it is not just the newsroom.

  44. To 10:23 a.m.

    Now, I don't work for USAT, so I can't address the morale in that newsroom. But, I can address what's going on in mine.

    What's really got us in the dumps is this:

    We can't do the job we're supposed to be doing with the staffing we have. We are wholly unable to watchdog and be the eyes and ears of the community that depends on us for news and information because we don't have enough bodies in the room.

    We are journalists, we are "the press." We are members of the only profession important enough to be protected by name in the U.S. Constitution. When there are insufficient numbers of us to keep on top of everyday developments in our municipalities, we fail at our jobs. We don't want to fail, but the structure of our company sets us up to do so.

    We miss stories. Then, we're pilloried by the higher-ups for not catching wind of what's happening in East Bumble until it's long over when it's been West Bumble we were told is the affluent "key community" we need to devote our resources and time to.

    Down is up and up is down and we have always been at war with Eastasia. It's News 2000; Real Life, Real News; First Five Graphs; Moments of Life; Tight and Bright; Charticles; and "fewer words means more readers."

    We aren't given the tools to do our jobs. They want us to be digital Jesus, but won't give us smart phones, or Ipads or the tools to be fully mobile journalists. You want me to Tweet? Great. I'll Tweet, I'll Facebook all over the place...but I'll be dammned if I'm going to buy my own Iphone and pay my own damn data fees to increase your bottom line. These are tools as important now as pens and paper, yet you won't provide them to us.

    We haven't gotten raises in three years. We get unpaid furloughs while the upper echelons of management get multi-million dollar bonuses. We sit next to the empty chairs of our laid-off colleagues and the tombstone piles of notebooks and press releases and FOIL'd documents littering their empty desks. Our cavernous cubicle farms echo with emptiness, especially when a managing editor pops out from their hole to holler "Channel 6 has this story, why the hell don't we? Get it up on the web NOW!" Then, all the minor editors eyes light with panic when they frantically seek a victim to blame for the miss.

    It's a culture of fear, of derision and blame.

    We don't have enough copy editors. You're lucky if your work gets a single read before it's posted online and set for print. But, God forbid you made a stupid typo...because Christ knows, every single one of those will show up as a ding in your evaluation.

    The more I write here, the more my bile rises. I have to stop.

    This is just a superficial scratch at the surface of what's wrong.

    You ask what is it we want?

    Not what we've got.

  45. 5:37, that was beautifully written. And yes, my bile rose reading it too!

  46. And don't forget the joys of mainstreaming. Yeah, that worked well.

  47. 5:37 Gannett talks a big game about content but they clearly care more about VPs/SVPs/executives than people to develop great journalism...or as they call it "content".

    Great news sources will survive any platform changes or consumer shifts.
    Good journalism will win profits for their owners.
    Shitty ones will not.

    Gannett has a huge opportunity. STOP hiring BS executives and start caring about journalism again. Gannett was once a great company. Not anymore.

  48. How about this. Write the stories you can, protect the first amendment all you want, accept that you aren't going to do everything for everyone and just shut up. That would be a pleasant addition, or is it edition?

  49. No, 7:12 p.m., 5:37 has it right, not you. Nice try, but some of us can't give that little.

  50. 7:12

    Did you fall on your head? The First Amendment protects me, I don't protect it.

    When G A N N E T T achieves what appears to be its goal of having Information Centers full of "journalists" who write the stories they can, "protect the first amendment" all they want, accept that they aren't going to do everything for everyone and just shut up, that's when the last paying customer will ditch the fish wrapper and its digital equivalents right in the toilet where they belong.

  51. 5:30 in Cherry Hill - You have to learn to do what we do in the NJ Group (mainly APP) Just sit back and keep quiet. Incompetence rules. Threats and more threats. There is no wonder that half of the advertising staffs are looking for other jobs. Is it going to bring in more revenue - NO. Build morale - no. The S--- rolls from the top. Ask for an accounting of how many reps are out on medical or other leave. STRESS.

  52. What's wrong with USA Today. Well, where to begin. Let's take Your Life as an example. Now here's an original idea of peddling stories on drugs that drug manufacturers will love and spend their advertising budgets promoting. But are we all really that sick? We certainly have scared the elderly and poor into believing so. Just look at the Medicare and Medicaid budgets. Mention cancer these days, and I immediately feel for lumps in my breast. We now have a huge new market of neutraceuticals which promises to include drugs in food to make you feel good. Well, hell, I've decided I feel fine and I don't need this daily dose of misery that I'm getting in Your Life. For God's sake, stories on drug trials in a national newspaper?

  53. = terrible product that dies not work. Gannett should not waste another dime trying to revive that struggling dog of a website. Pathetic. Funny thing is (well, it's not funny, really), we said it would not work and no one would listen.

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  55. 10:38 must be on drugs, no pun intended, reporting clinical trial results is a standard part of medical reporting. Amy Harmon/NYT won a Pulitzer reporting features in this vein. It's how doctors, FDA and Wall Street keep score on pharmaceuticals, as anyone who has half a clue knows. Your Life is a desperate bid to get away from this kind of serious beat reporting and into fluff lifestyle reporting, if anything.

    Morale at USAT is in decline for reasons stretching back to Jack Kelly debacle, but mostly involve the exodus of both talented and merely good folks; layoffs, furloughs, tiny news hole, reduction in quality/vision/competency/ambitions of the enterprise and drumbeat of inadequate resources to pursue travel, rich media and database opportunities. That's all. We were hired to beat the WSJ and now the goal is just getting something out that won't embarrass us too much. A lot of good people put up with a lot of silly crap every day just to hit that mark.


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