Thursday, September 29, 2011

Urgent: GCI launches new print, distrib operation; Publishing Services to employ 10K of GCI's workers

The newly created Gannett Publishing Services will combine all production and distribution for the U.S. community newspaper division, USA Today, and Gannett Offset, Corporate just announced.

It is the latest effort to rein in expenses by consolidating jobs. The move will result in the immediate loss of fewer than 20 jobs, mostly at the management level, according to an FAQ distributed today to employees. Another approximately 100 jobs will be eliminated once the unit is up and running. Overall, Publishing Services will employ about 10,000 of GCI's approximately 33,000 employees.

"We will continue to look at efficiencies on an ongoing basis, which may lead to further job eliminations down the road,'' the FAQ says.

Evan Ray, a senior executive in the newspaper division, will run Publishing Services, according to the FAQ, as well as a letter distributed to employees. Ray has been senior vice president over finance and operations for the division since June 2008, when the division was reorganized under President Bob Dickey.

Interestingly and somewhat curiously, Ray will report to two people: Dickey, and USAT General Manager Susie Ellwood. Given the employee size of Publishing Services, Ellwood has become that much more influential across the entire company. She was promoted to her USAT job, the paper's No. 2 position, in June.

In part, the letter says: "Gannett Publishing Services will be responsible for managing Gannett's domestic network of printing operations, product distribution, consumer sales and service and contractual outsourcing of printing. The unit will also market its imaging, ad production, printing, packaging, distribution capability and consumer sales and service to third parties."

Ray's background
Prior to his promotion to SVP, Ray was chief financial officer of Phoenix Newspapers Inc. from 2000, and a group controller since 1991. Earlier, Ray was director of finance for the Reno Gazette-Journal from 1991; was vice president of finance for The Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock from 1984; and was controller for the Tallahassee Democrat from 1979. He graduated from Florida University with a B.S. in accounting.

I believe Ray and Ellwood worked at the Little Rock paper during the same late-1980s time period.

Related: Here's the FAQ, and here's the letter to employees.

51 comments:

  1. Rein in, not reign in.

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  2. Ryan in, not Ryan out. Unfortunately.

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  3. Jim, was this the big announcement?

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  4. 4:00 Yes, I assume so.

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  5. Time to start working on another web width reduction?

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  6. There were layoffs that accompanied this change. I'm just not sure of the size or scope.

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  7. My guess is that this is the announcement that everyone has been waiting on. It's Thursday and this just impacted about 1/3 of Gannett employees.

    Lots of redundancy in the field. I'm sure the initial job reduction announcement is just the beginning. Just in time for the holidays!

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  8. The president of our site was eliminated today (Minneapolis Offset Printing facility).

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  9. This is so complex the haters haven't jumped in because they don't understand it. Jim you said your source gave this to you days ago. So where is the indepth story?

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  10. Fascinating reorganization being announced today. I'd like them to put my deck chair near the rail in case I decide to jump.

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  11. All of print production and circulation in one division. I wonder if they are planning to sell it.

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  12. 4:22 When did I say that?

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  13. Is there a substantial aspect of this company that is not run by a bean counter? Sheesh.

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  14. 4:22 here Jim. 1:50 today on the top string.

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  15. 4:22 I believe you misread my comment; here's what I wrote:

    "I've just been told one piece of news that may be announced today. It's not about furloughs, or any broad layoffs. Unfortunately, I can't say more because I will get a source in trouble. Sorry."

    I received that information TODAY -- not days ago.

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  16. It appears Corporate jet has been in the air today and perhaps yesterday, too, as individuals are notified of promotions/demotions/layoffs in this restructuring of the company's printing and distribution operations.

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  17. In Louisville, the VP of Circulation was let go today. I think that guy has more than a dozen President rings.

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  18. 6:11 Jim once again you got it wrong. Three site visits. Don't facts mean anything to you? Do you just order a latte and make shit up?

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  19. 5:59 Jim pretty bad source. Biggest story all year and your source had it wrong. Great source. I don't think you have to worry about outting the source.

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  20. I think this deck chair looked better over there. Every day Gannett is shufflin'.

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  21. The whisking in and out of Gracia and her posse today was a waste of time, money and resources. They could have bypassed our site. We wouldn't have missed them.

    The only perk from the visit was our building wide spruce up. Too bad the staff wasn't worthy of the facelift before this visit.

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  22. Packaging these two entities together (so it could be sold, presses and all) tells me one thing for sure:

    For Gannett, this is the beginning of the end for print.

    I wonder if all the peeps that just got jobs in the Duh-sign centers have figured this out yet?

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  23. Lets review, shall we. We now have two divisions: Circulation and Production that will no longer report to each publisher at all the Gannett papers. Who still reports to the publisher? Let's see what is left: Advertising, Distribution (maybe), Finance (being consolidated), Marketing (what is left at a few sites) and newsroom (also parts being consolidated) and IT (in the works of being consolidated?) Think everyone should be able to read the writing on the wall. VPs are being eliminated or moved to a hub and it appears so will the remaining publishers. HR has already been consolidated. Really not much left. Lots of empty building going up for sale.

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  24. This is what was posted on 9/27/2011. Why no follow up on this? This poster was on the mark:

    9/27/2011 10:32 AM
    Anonymous said...

    Their are more than just layoffs on the way, The meetings at Gannett HQ that have been on going for over a month is not just to put a layoff plan in place. It is much bigger than that, much bigger.
    My source is as reliable as it gets.

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  25. Looks like corporate (or at least the plane) was in Tallahassee earlier today and might still be in Ft. Myers.

    Wonder why 7:13 wants to rip on Jim so bad... that information is easily obtained using public information.

    Anyone else wondering what that org chart in Gannett Publishing Services (GPS) is going to look like? Will the remaining newspapers that actually have a press be rolled into what was Gannett Offset?

    What about USAT production?

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  26. Many more things to be coming down the pike. I remember a poster on the other Gannett employee site that posted that none of us would recognize the Gannett as we know it in a couple years. He said the plan was for everything to go online and the print product would be dead. Going to see if I can find some of his post from a few years ago. He was with corporate and everything he has said has so far come true.

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  27. While I can not speak for every GCI property, I can say with no reservations the ones I have worked at instill a culture of not lying, but hiding, the truth from the staff. Regardless of department, of level of education / experience, managers have for more than a decade been taught to not disclose information to the staff without prior approval from either a Vice President or a Publisher.

    And, sadly, most of the people in these roles are not comfortable telling the rank and file staff what they know, in fear of revolts and potential workplace violence.

    Why? It's simple. The staff that is kept in the dark does what they're told. Without open comment.

    What is not seen or heard, are the comments made among friends and in small groups. The mistrust. The seething anger. The fear.

    These are the things, and emotions, that make the staff uptight and ultimately leads to both an unhappy staff and mistakes, which further compounds the problems because mistakes are not tolerated.

    When I assumed a management role, I too did this. For about a month. Then I realized that nothing good came from keeping people in the dark. I started telling my staff what I could, when I could, without approvals from above. While I did hide somethings, what was hidden was speculative. The truth, for my staff, was laid out as soon as it was concrete enough to talk about it. And did I get "counseled."

    Often. Loudly. Heated. But, in the end, I would do it again and will not begrudge anyone who speaks out or asks a question. We're newspaper people -- we ask questions. It's in our DNA. And, when mistakes happen, you look to the cause of the mistake, not the person -- and fix the root cause. Otherwise, you just make unhappy people even more unhappy.

    Each Gannett manager has the ability, and the talent, to break the cycle of non-information and dis-information. They just have to decide, themselves, if they want to do this and face the wrath of the executive branch or gain the trust and loyalty of the people who work with them.

    The choice is really quite simple.

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  28. As part of the change, Times President and Publisher Pete Zanmiller will serve as the GPS unit's south regional vice president. A new publisher for The Times has not been named yet.

    Zanmiller was involved in the consolidation planning since it began in August. He said there were no preconceived notions of the plan’s outcome at the beginning and didn’t know he’d head the unit until the very end.



    Let the games (names) begin!

    What a tough job that's going to be... they're going to get rid of all of the circulation and production management personnel left and have everyone report to Pete.

    And wait a minute. Does this portend that Gannett now has the ability to spin off an entire division of the company at some point?

    A division with 10,000 employees.

    This division would include all circulation and production and the newspapers would contract with this firm any production or non-content functions. Other newspapers - even those not owned by Gannett - could do the same.

    People working for this new company - now called Gannett Publishing Services, but could be called anything - would no longer be carried as employees by Gannett the "content" company.

    They're dismantling the company, and getting rid of the cost side that is dragging down the earnings of the content side.

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  29. 10:10 - that makes sense.

    Now, it's all within reach.

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  30. Gannett was my home, my family, for a long time (more than one-half of my life). Along the way, I was fortunate enough to have managers who didn't grow up in the GCI culture, and they taught me to do what was right -- not what was easiest, but what was right.

    Many OC members will not do the same because of fear, loyalty, blindness or just because doing what's right isn't easy. It's harder. Much harder.

    But, in the end, I do believe that doing what is right is the mark of a leader and not a manager. Perhaps, just perhaps, I was lucky enough to inspire one other newspaper staffer in my travels -- that would be truly the most rewarding part of my long GCI career.

    And, if the Gods are willing, perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to inspire again. And to hear the startup chimes of the presses. And to hear the non-stop-never-ending tick tock of the clock. And, after the startup chimes are over, give a thumbs up to the press foreman for good copy. Perhaps, even, to be in a press hall when the presses have gone silent from the night's run and the only sounds around are those of the beast groaning from its night's labor.

    Now, that's a good day's work. A satisfying day's work.

    Yes, perhaps, one day soon.

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  31. @4:22: I have to wonder what this means for publishers in the company. Once everything is consolidated, are they really necessary? I think people are nervous.

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  32. Gee, ya think? Time to put on our thinking caps!

    They're dismantling the company, and getting rid of the cost side that is dragging down the earnings of the content side.

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  33. 10:10: That makes perfect sense. Where the stupidity is in all of this is print is where all their profit comes from. Oh wait, you'd have to have a brain to figure that out.

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  34. 10:34: What, exactly, is the earnings of the content side?

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  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  36. Jim, 4:22 here (for real)

    My comment is not in response to anything you said. Just my own observation that if they are combining print production and circulation for the whole company into one division, that is probably the first step to selling that all off.

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  37. 11:32, Nobody is arguing that point but who would buy it? That is the question.

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  38. 10,000 employees with giant bulls-eyes on their backs. Between Gannett community newspapers and partnerships, I'd hate to be in USA Today production or circulation right now.

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  39. 11:39, you've got that right. Not too many people are sleeping tonight, I'm sure.

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  40. 11:34

    Many would invest in a printing operation that could throw off lots of cash.

    The future was announced today.

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  41. So nice to see the company make a major announcement about its future and the future of so many workers on a major Jewish holiday when a lot of people were not working. So much for diversity.

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  42. @7:46am

    Please don't pull the PC card. Every day of the year would be booked if we had to bow down to every race/religion/creed's days off.

    Besides, this is Gannett...you KNOW you're expected to check your email on holidays, for no extra compensation. ;-)

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  43. Gannett tortures employees like a sadist tortures flies. They make major announcements and pull off a wing by stating an immediate small number of workers will be released. Then... out comes the swatter. I wouldn't be surprised if this new entity is 25% smaller in 6 months.

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  44. 9:42, I agree, my money is on PCF taking over the majority of the distribution operations in the future thus the elimination of almost all circ employees, only enough will be kept at each property to handle local issues with PCF or whatever third party company is contracted.

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  45. Can someone explain what this means? What jobs will be done offsite? Who willlikely lose thers? Does this mean printing is done offsite? Basically everything but news content and ad sales?

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  46. 9:39 take your hood off next tine you post a message. They wouldnt have made the changasinine Easter or Christmas. It was a major blunder.

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  47. Here is a quote from a poster which echos what many of you are saying "My comment is not in response to anything you said. Just my own observation that if they are combining print production and circulation for the whole company into one division, that is probably the first step to selling that all off."


    However, what you are mainly overlooking is that in order to sell something, it first has to be worth something.... There is not a corporation or entity in this world that would have any use for a print & production company. The ones in the business are trying to downsize themselves. Print media and print in general (other than actual books) is a dying industry. Finally Gannett should have done this 30 years ago. Again, just another reaction to economy and technology that has passed them by. This is what I believe now to be truly the beginning of the end.

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  48. 11:32PM, if Gannett sells off print, they might as well close up shop. Digital and Tv doesn't bring in the big money, print does.

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  49. 9:46, if Gannett sells off print it may be to become a TV/digital company. Nobody should assume Gannett is attached to what we currently know them as.

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  50. This has been in the works for much longer than stated. Evan began looking at this as soon as he went to McLean and now the race is own to reduce iron and staffing in these areas as fast as humanly possible. In the not to distant future, this will all be done third party with only a few employees in more a QC/Negotiation role.

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  51. They don't get it. You don't fly corporate jets when you consolidate and furlough employees. Cost $130,000 a month just to store a Corporate Jet. And that doesn't include destination fees, maintenance, crew and mechanics and fueling. Upstairs Downstairs from the 1%.

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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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