Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oct. 24-30 | Your News & Comments: Part 2

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51 comments:

  1. This is confirmed: There are 4th quarter furloughs going on for those in the $90G and above club. Our EE is on furlough this week, apparently.

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  2. 11:37 Very interesting. I'm sure all the operating committee members are thrilled to see their payroll dollars lining Dubow's going-away pocket. Way to boost morale!

    Furloughs of higher-paid employees took place in the second quarter. But the savings were so small, Corporate didn't bother disclosing them in the quarterly report to the SEC.

    More of those were ordered in the third quarter. We won't know whether Corporate is disclosing a dollar savings figure until the quarterly report is filed with the SEC in the next week or so.

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  3. @11:37 PM - Either you have the dollar requirement incorrect OR its not happening at all sites. I am above that pay $$ and no furlough for me.

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  4. Everyone agrees that the third quarter losses of 8.5% were the largest yet.
    So,what has Gannett done in the past quarters when there have been losses not nearly as large?
    Layoffs!
    So what is the different this time,and why shouldn't layoffs be expected to also be the largest round yet?

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  5. Jim:
    Have you called any shareholders for comment on Dubow's going away package, Martone's package? Do they have any comment -- even without their names -- on how the company is being run? Would be very curious to hear, since their opinion, and the opinions of Wall Street bean counters, seems to be the only ones that matter.

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  6. Another media company checking in ...

    http://www.jsonline.com/business/journal-communications-reports-sharply-lower-profits-132521228.html

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  7. 10:16 I have not contacted any of the major shareholders, and would not expect them to offer a comment.

    However, many, many shareholders are already on record as opposing Gannett's executive pay policy.

    Last spring, in the first such shareholder advisory vote, 40.8 million shares -- about 20% of all -- were cast against the company's executive pay policy, Corporate disclosed in a regulatory filing. That proportion might not sound high, but it's very rare for big shareholders like pension funds to vote against management at all.

    In contrast, at the New York Times Co., just 5,760 shares -- less than 1% -- were voted against the executive pay policy vs. 766,466 in favor. Nearly 21,000 shares were counted as "broker non-vote." There were no abstentions.

    Underscoring their displeasure, GCI shareholders also opposed the re-election of members of the board of directors who sat on the executive compensation committee -- the panel that decides how much to pay top officers, including CEO Gracia Martore.

    GCI shareholders also voted to hold these advisory votes annually. So, management is on notice that they may face opposition this coming spring.

    Here's my original post on the subject.

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  8. Not trying to be a broken record but I think "Collusion" is the key question here.

    How cozy does the executive compensation committee get with those they oversee?

    Clarification - Did Martore (in her previous position) have a voice in deciding how much her then superior Dubow got in compensation and benefits? That would seem odd.....obviously she'd want to please him and guide the board members to the preferred decision.

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  9. 10:21 Those guys in Milwaukee are insufferable with their self importance and bluster, but like the rest of the newspaper industry, they are failing...and have done layoffs...not the big shots, just regular workers as they resize for the new era of low online and digital returns.

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  10. That new Newspaper Association campaign is hilarious. Smarter is sexy...talking about how you can learn about what happened at the county board and city council meetings. Maybe once upon a time but the way newspapers have been gutted, there's no one left to cover those meetings. Plus, does a county board meeting really fit under the new "We're doing passion topics" push (ie Real Life, Real News...Renamed).

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  11. A reader who has been accurate in the past now tells me that, yes, there will be another round of unpaid furloughs in the first quarter of next year. These will be at least for U.S. newspaper workers. I do not know whether other divisions will be affected, too, however.

    These would be the fifth round of unpaid furloughs across a broad swath of Gannett's workforce. And it would be the fourth Q1 furlough in a row since 2009, suggesting that Corporate is now stuck in an early-year furlough cycle.

    The reader also confirms that certain higher-paid newspaper employees are being furloughed in the current quarter. I don't know the salary range at which these furloughs are effective.

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  12. heh 11:37 folks had until the end of October to take their third quarter furlough. You are wrong. There is no fourth quarter furlough.And I do know that October is in the fourth quarter.

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  13. 12:39 The Martin Agency did repetitious Got Milk and annoying Geico gekko. Some consider them brilliant. Both the NAA sexy crap and the Newseum spend millions annually on that agency. They must get assigned the dregs of the Martin staff, because what is produced is really a joke. Does anyone know who Gannet hired for their campaign?

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  14. If I described my job I would probably just show you one of those posters of monkeys at typewriters. Well this monkey has officially had it. The recent changes to the sales format are the most idiotic and uninformed decisions possible. Our ceos are completely out of touch. I'm sick of working for millionaires who try to cap my lousy 20k a year paycheck while adding to theirs by laying off my friends. I'm quitting in two weeks and I think a lot of people at our call center plan to do the same. There are lots of call centers nearby hiring.

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  15. So quit, 3:31. No one is stopping you. Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

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  16. 4:17, that was a real asshole thing to say.

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

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  18. 4:17 and 6:30 (same person) when did you become so cold hearted?
    Feel sorry for haters like you.

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  19. Folks, John is right. The "don't let the door hit you on your way out" is the very attitude that permeates Gannett management all the way down to the line level. Anytime you beg to differ with some policy or program shoved down our throats by Gannett and swallowed whole by brainwashed, cowardly managers, that's the kind of response you get. It's like Libya under Gadhafi, Syria under Assad. There's no tolerance for dissent, even constructive dissent. Read what Peter Drucker and Tom Peters have had to say about squeaky wheel types. They get it. Gannett never did.

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  20. 7:22 that is great! Jim should put your words on its own post. Its like Libya under Gadhafi...no one is allowed to disagree with management or they are punished...as in laid off.

    Can you imagine how different it must be to work at Google, Apple or a real tech company where ideas rule the day?

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  21. Already done 4:17. Got an interview tomorrow. Have fun going down with the ship. To anyone else left, hope you find your own life raft.

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  22. Milwaukee doesn't do too bad - they've got more Pullet Surprises the last couple years than The Nation's Newspaper - too bad nobody in Milwaukee County can read.

    A couple of awesome shooters tell the stories a thousand words at a time.

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

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  24. Jim-

    The CNY group in Elmira and Binghamton are selling books about the historic flood in September that wrecked the area. I saw the ad on the Star Gazette site, they are selling for $24.95. I saw no note that the proceeds went to the victims. Personally this is sickening if they are profiting off it, but like I said I saw no mention of the proceeds being donated. This is something you should look into further.

    Your friend in CNY

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  25. No reason at all to bash others on this blog. No matter what your position or salary is, we all have been stressed working for our once was a great company. The blog is for information other's may not be in the loop about.. I am in the loop and the only thing I can say is start looking, not much great news heading our way. Have some compassion for other's, life is hard enough when you work for Gannett

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  26. Jim, regarding furloughs. Those taking furloughs this month are holdovers from the third quarter. OC level execs were given July through October to take the furlough. As far as next year is concerned, two furloughs are in the preliminary budget for all employees. Where we end up is anybody's guess. We will know soon.

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  27. All the smiles in the world, or the heroic up-from-nowhere life story, or getting rid of the blue ball, or the upbeat meetings at newspaper sites and USA Today meetings, or the hope for a fresh start and a new outlook, will all mean absolutely nothing if Gracia Martore orders First Quarter furloughs again.

    There comes a time when the company has to survive or die on what it produces and what it delivers, not on how much it can cut.

    More furloughs should be nonstarters. Put that energy into sales and creativity.

    This is her first big test. I'll be surprised if a company-wide furlough is ordered. And very saddened. The whole company is watching.

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  28. 11:42's comments are correct, Jim. We've been asked to put the furloughs in the first and second quarters. Also, each site (depending upon revenue) was given a payroll reduction number, but no specific instructions on how or when to implement. An important caution: This is very, very early in the budget process. The budget will likely not be real until mid-January, or even later, if the last two years are our guide.

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  29. From the top of the site:

    "An independent journal about Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition"

    Has the part about digital transition always been up there?

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  30. 11:42 writes: "Two furloughs are in the preliminary budget for all employees.''

    Is that all employees in the U.S. newspaper division, or all employees across the company?

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  31. I'm wondering if the furloughs affect the new GPS division.

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  32. 12:10 You're the first person to ask me about that.

    Answer: No; I added that text in late August.

    However, I've always viewed this site as a window on the broader news industry. In this blog's "about" I say:

    "I write daily about the digital transition of the news industry via USA Today's owner: the Gannett Co., the nation's biggest newspaper publisher."

    This blog's readership has always included lots of people without a direct stake in Gannett. For example, in my ongoing "Where do you work?" survey in the green sidebar, 11% of the 2,628 respondents say they've never worked for Gannett.

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  33. Does anybody have details on furloughs for the Digital division and subsidiaries? Or are we exempt again?

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  34. It is so sad how this supposed marketing solutions company cant even manage its internal communications. Look how far ahead we are on this blog with knowledge of more furloughs which will surely come. Gracia, start being less opaque and the need for this forum will diminish.

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  35. Sounds like Clear Channel is following Gannett's road to profitability.

    http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/98162/clear-channel-reduction-in-force-begins

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  36. So, did anyone get laid off in Cincinnati this week?

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  37. Based on meeting in Appleton, WI on Tuesday - update on move to Design Center looks like April/May. Stop doing some things that we have been doing (like what? Question not answered. Apparently depends on results of passion topics survey that is going to take place). Goal is to do daily enterprise-like stories. What will happen to staffing upon move to Des Moines? Answer was: working on that.

    Now...for the passion topics survey - is this a survey of current users of the product or is the survey being taken among non-users to see what stories would get them to read the paper?

    When these changes are made, is the only promotion of it going to be promo ads in the paper or will there be advertising of the revamped paper in other media to attract new users to the paper/website?

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  38. Not Gannett but interesting anyway: St. Pete insider blog details cuts, gives names: http://www.localshops1.com/members/blog_view.asp?id=744592&tag=andrew+delong

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  39. 2:44 p.m. What do you expect from a company that just placed a former FCC chairperson on its board of directors? The one who helped pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that allowed Clear Channel to monopolize the airwaves and fire everyone in the name of "competition"

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  40. 3:35 Sad. The publisher makes about $500K a year (after the 5 percent cut). They were still more generous that Gannett, but even a paper as good at the St. Pete Times (and whose sort-of competition across the bay is the mostly awful Tampa Tribune) is sucking wind. That's part of why Poynter has gone downhill as well. I can't wait to follow Romenesko to his new site, because all of the others who post under his auspices don't have great judgment. Bottom line is that the newspaper industry slide will continue to accelerate in 2012. Downsizing to match new reality of crappy revenue from online/digital. Sad.

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  41. 4:31, that explains a lot. Clear Channel's "business model" is similar to the maddening cookie cutter style of Gannett's current captains. Where can I get information dealing with their backgrounds? Because they sure don't have actual journalism of much measure in their blood - just piffle and bonuses.

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  42. 3:30, I was wondering that myself. Did it happen, or is it just another false rumor that circulates here?

    Also, I thought someone in Wilmington was going to blow the lid off comp time/OT violations any day now. What happened there? Or is that just a rumor, too?

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  43. Another critique of Craig Dubow's exit strategy: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/newspaper_companies_as_emblems.php

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  44. 4:16 I just don't know how to answer you, except who died and made you king enough to call someone an asshole. Sounds like it takes one to know one.

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  45. 3:30 wonders if there have been any layoffs in Cincinnati. If so, we can only pray it's Washburn. She's driven more good people out of the newspaper business than the invention of television.

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  46. Wow this furlough news is awful- And that story about the Elmira paper selling a book on the Flood of 2011 to boost up their misery.

    Jim will you look into this? I think it does warrant it. Anyone else hear of this?

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  47. I fear this winter will be a repeat 2008-09: December layoffs followed by Q1 furloughs.

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  48. Jim, 11:42 from last night here. I don't know if the furloughs include other divisions, I do know they are across USCP. Again, nothing is final but layoffs are being budgeted too. Not sure if Gracia has given approval for these.

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  49. If you look back over the past few years, layoffs seem to come in waves. Unfortunately, there's usually a large, crashing wave in November ...

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  50. http://michiganmessenger.com/53507/for-one-former-reporter-occupy-movement-is-personal

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  51. So no layoffs in Cincinnati, I assume. And there's been no news about Wilmington, so I assume that effort fizzled.

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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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