Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Appleton | Wisconsin shifts to regional top editor

Another group of Gannett papers is shifting to a more regional approach in newsroom management. The following is from a memo Publisher Genia Lovett of The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisc., sent today to employees of Wisconsin newspapers. GCI has 10 papers in the state, ranging in weekday circulation from 8,259 at the Stevens Point Journal to 43,278 at the Green Bay Press-Gazette as of March 31. Here are excerpts from the memo:

I am pleased to announce two changes in Gannett Wisconsin Media’s content operation that will help us best serve our customers. Effective immediately, Dan Flannery takes on the new role of Regional Executive Editor for Gannett Wisconsin Media, leading group-wide content initiatives and digital strategies. At the same time, Green Bay Press-Gazette Executive Editor John Dye will take on the added leadership role for our news recruitment and training efforts.

As regional executive editor, Dan will be the leader for planning and developing content across Gannett Wisconsin Media locations while maintaining Gannett’s high standards of ethics and integrity. He will:
  • Work with the editors across Gannett Wisconsin to efficiently and effectively plan collaborative content generation with focus on big-issue, major-impact stories that offer the ability to localize in most or all markets.
  • Create the Gannett Wisconsin Investigative/Watchdog team and direct its work.
  • Direct statewide planned event coverage and statewide breaking news coverage.
  • Oversee Wisconsin digital growth strategy initiatives that will allow local staffs to focus on content generation.
  • Continue to lead the day-to-day information center operation of the Post-Crescent.
In addition to his Green Bay responsibilities, John will lead our recruitment initiatives for talented journalists and improve our news training. John’s skills and relationships will be a great resource for all our content operations. Direct hiring and managing of local personnel will still reside with the local leadership.

As executive editor and managing editor, Dan has been at the forefront of expanding Gannett Wisconsin's enterprise efforts and digital efforts, including the "State of Drinking" effort in 2008, ground-breaking digital and live-streamed coverage of the Steven Avery homicide trial in 2007, development of the "Varsity" high school sports coverage brand, breaking-news coverage of the 2007 multiple homicides in Crandon, and more.

Dan has also created stronger bonds between GWM properties, which led to impressive group-wide coverage of the Madison protests in February and March, plus more group-wide enterprise efforts this year.

Earlier: In June 2009, single editor named to oversee 10 Ohio dailies.


  1. Whatever...Gannett should get into the bread-selling biz because they're TOAST.

  2. I don't know whether I'm more surprised this happened or whether there aren't more comments on this.
    Wisconsin must be running scared.
    You couldn't make a decision more likely to fracture the relationships in that group.
    The working relationships in Wisconsin were damaged a long time ago when Gannett first decided to put the group headquarters in Appleton, and then let Andrew Oppmann run all over everyone there.
    Flannery was the default choice when Oppmann left because a new publisher was coming in at the same time and Gannett didn't want to see too much transition at the top, but he wouldn't be anyone's first choice in an open competition for the top job.
    The rest of the group editors are going to subvert this before it gets off the ground. They detest Appleton, and they have no respect for Flannery, a guy who got the job just by sticking around in the same spot long enough.
    Give Flannery credit, at least. Apparently he parlayed the success of his staff that's not half bad at some tasks - he has a strong ME and a good breaking news and digital staff - into a promotion.
    And maybe he's the guy for digital - he's on Facebook more than my kids.
    My prediction is a lot of good top and midlevel people will be out of there over the next year or two.
    Too bad. Wisconsin actually does well in market penetration and some cool online efforts.
    Yet another sign of the disconnect between corporate and the working ranks.

  3. He oversaw State of Drinking? Maybe someone should tell that to the people he laid off who actually did the work. What a joke.

  4. 2:51 a.m. If you're one of those Flannery laid off, consider yourself lucky.

    Oversee digital initiatives? Take a look at most of his staff. In his biggest round of layoffs yet, Flannery got rid of the bulk of the reporters and photographers who had any digital skills, including every 20-something in the room.

    Work with editors across the state? That’s a good one. As a previous poster mentioned, the group detests Appleton. Flannery and his smug attitude are exactly the reason why.

    Will be a leader who directs statewide coverage? Good luck. As a previous poster mentioned, he spends most of his time with his feet kicked up in his office, plugging performances with his “band” and browsing the web.

    To be fair, Appleton has some strong very digital staff. Flannery rides on their coattails and should be kissing the ground they walk on because he has done nothing to deserve what comes off as a promotion.

    I can think of at least three editors in Gannet Wisconsin who would have been deserving, effective hires for this spot. I only hope Genia is creating a “do or die” career test for Flannery.

  5. Dan Flannery is supposed to get people to work, and work together, and incorporate digital. HAHAHA. John Dye I love you but don't recruit people into anything run by "DF."

  6. Recruitment and Training? Really?

  7. If you want to blame anyone for who gets laid off, blame the lifer jackwagons in charge of the union. For years they have been exclusively concerned with protecting the old-timers and have thrown every other issue away.

  8. And led the charge in the lawsuit against the WIAA. Went 0-2 on that one.

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  10. The higher your move up the Big G food chain, the tighter the grip on your soul. These people will do and say anything to hang on to their jobs.

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  13. The little Ohio papers have tried and failed miserably at this "centralized" concept of one all-powerful Oz editor with a team of reporters writing enterprise and investigative "passion" stories with topics important to "all the markets."

    Sounds really good, doesn't it?

    Simply put - no dice. It hasn't worked. It NEVER works. Pipe dream.

  14. This decision, and the comments it spurred, mainly are cause for sadness, but hopefully they're also a starting point for Gannett Wisconsin's top leadership to take stock of what it's done, is doing and will do.
    The first poster is right that too many of the group's decisions are Appleton-centric. There's a natural competition between Appleton and Green Bay, but Green Bay is the flagship no matter how you slice it. Decisions years ago by top executives to put the group headquarters in Appleton might have made sense had leadership not consistently devalued Green Bay.
    The people who did the greatest damage to the group's relationships, Ellen Liefeld and Andrew Oppmann, are thankfully gone from Gannett, but their actions created wounds still not healed.
    This latest decision just compounds the previous bad decisions.
    There are plenty of talented people in Appleton, and it's true as noted the ME is strong and the digital staff works well across sites.
    There's not enough to justify creating a regional executive editor when none of the candidates are strong enough.
    Dan Flannery has personality problems, and the fact that most of the posts here probably came within point to it. My experience mirrors what I read. He's smug, inflexible and more interested in his own advancement than the greater good. If you've ever heard him talk, you know that no matter the topic, it always comes back to him. The other sites don't respect him, and I question if his own people do, either.
    John Dye has some admirable qualities. He's a newsman, unlike Flannery, with actual news reporting experience. He is a good recruiter and cares deeply about the company. But he never let go of the slights he suffered under Oppmann, and his unwillingness to propose group initiatives or lead them have cost him.
    I can tell you the sense of dismay at the top and midlevel editor ranks throughout the rest of Gannett Wisconsin is dangerously high. Nobody wants to work under this system, nobody wants to be subjected to meetings with Flannery that are all about Flannery as all interactions with Flannery are.
    If we lose good people, especially at the midlevel, because of this decision as was predicted in another post, it's going to be a damn shame it was for a guy who routinely bashes his peers (we know you're doing it to us behind our back if you're doing it about others in front of us), the publisher who just promoted him and most of all the company.
    I really hope this doesn't turn into the mess I think it will. I really hope we don't lose the midlevel people I think we will. I really hope someone will reevalute the disconnect mentioned earlier and seek out more opinions before making these sorts of very damaging decisions.

  15. Normally, I'd say this is a horrible idea. But since the Gannett Executive editor's I know have almost no impact on the actual newsroom happenings, it's probably not such a bad thing. Less money going to executives who sit in meetings all day and then write reports about them.

  16. Blaming Flannery for various departures is off-base. If you've seen co-workers/friends at all the papers laid off and you have a opportunity to go somewhere with stability and perhaps better pay, why hang around? Some people will and just wait for their day their asked to turn in the ID. Others will look and find other opportunities.

    Accusations that Flannery didn't share credit on work is bogus. He is the most share-the-credit manager I've ever been associated with in my 40 years of work.

    Considering the edicts that come down from corporate, space limitations and declining revenue (which limits one's ability to get new equipment and hire more people), he has done a remarkable job of making sure that a good product is turned out on a daily basis.

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  18. Saying Flannery is a leader or inspiring is a joke. The earlier poster was right that he became EE by default, has personality problems and doesn't work well with the other properties. He's lucky he has had (but is losing) some competent staff under him.
    And with the economy down, maybe the rest of the GW papers will be able to get his head-scratching columns on his cottage and new boat - while their pay is being cut. Time for Genia to move out.


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