Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mail | 'Corporate forbids us to launch an app'

In a debate about ownership of media, Anonymous@6:46 p.m. writes in favors of local ownership:

We would be providing what our customers wanted. Not what somebody in Phoenix could sell their advertisers, not some high school sports net that doesn't work.

We have people in our building today that have created popular iPad apps in their spare time. We have the technological know-how down here in Podunk to give our readers what they want. But instead, corporate forbids us to launch an app for our paper.

For god's sake -- that fact alone should point out how useless corporate is for us: They've dithered away years of revenue because they wanted one solution for all. We still have no app. The radio station does. The cable guys do. Hell, even the public television team put together a pledge app. And here we sit.

Would we have had to adjust to the realities of Craigslist and going to the web? Certainly. But we would have been able to retain our profits one year to grow, or tide-over our losses the next.

Instead, we've shoveled dumpsters of money from our community into places like Detroit, the poster child for walking away from a property. We've wasted the profits we've sent to Virginia on buying second-rate software companies and paying off second-rate executives.

We still have the passion to do a good job, but it's because we expect it of ourselves, of our coworkers and because our readers, web and print, expect it as well.

As always, other views are welcome. Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. Amen. We want to be innovative, as long as the innovation comes from the right people, in the right locations. The rest of you who think you might have a good idea can just hush up.

  2. Second-rate executives?
    You're way too kind.

  3. Yes!! Amen. How can you claim to be in the communications business and not have an app? Corporate is like a monkey on our back.

  4. There is the USAT app - but it's just for looking, not for touching.

    You damn, dirty apes over in USCP keep your poo-flinging fingers off.

  5. They make it so hard to succeed it is so frustrating. The don't listen to the people that know what they are doing but have bet the future on wet behind the ears boiler plate spewing newbies that don't have a clue. It is so sad.

  6. We're increasingly being asked by web users whether we have an app, or when we're going to have one. We have to give them an evasive, unsatisfying answer because no one would believe the real reason. Which is, as 6:46 says, "corporate forbids us to launch an app for our paper."

  7. At our paper we used to have a technology section (weekly edition), which was run by local staffers, one journalist in particular, and it was the greatest. Then we were forced to pull the plug on it and go with what was supplied by the corporate weenies. That one took up just one page, with about half of it filled by an outside coloumnist. It died a painful death a year or two after it was launched.
    We also used to create and host our own website, but was forced to first having it hosted by (if I am not mistaken) GMTI, a move that initially tripled our hosting fees. Then came the move to cookie cutter web layout, and we totally lost control of the whole thing. The site is now to a point where it is unusable. Too many ads and too many active objects makes the pages super slow, and using Flash Player for vid clips causes us to have IT upgrade the player on a weekly basis. At least Java leave their software alone for longer periods, but since all the media geeks are all in love with Apple and Adobe, we the wage slaves have to suffer.
    It is next to impossible to find any logic in the Web page setup, and don't even try to search for anything, unless it is classified ads or obits. You will be wasting time that you will never get back.
    We did just fine as a community paper, and faithfully sent all our profits to the glass building, letting them distribute the wealth, but their sticky fingers got involved in the process, and left us floundring in the wake. Are we still making a profit? Yes! Are we making as much as we did 5 years ago? No. Are we making as much as they want us to? Hell No! Nobody is making as much as they want, but they aren't helping the situation!
    We would do just fine if we didn't have to support the mother ship.

  8. 10:10 let's get specific, what are the names if the folks at corporate telling folks they can't use apps developed locally? Jim if you weren't so busy writing bias headlines you'd ask questions like this.

  9. He's too busy deleting the comments that ask those questions.

    He doesn't want specifics or accountability. He wants people to know they can come in, post rumors, and be secure in doing so.

  10. It's not the people involved, it's the policy. I won't paint a target on techies who get the job done. They can come forward on their own but I will not expose them to retribution.

    It's easy enough to prove this is the current policy - ask your online department how to download your site's app and see what they say.

    Or go to, search for Gannett and see the five results. The two apps that are there are from the Wisconsin group - from 2009. The USA Today app doesn't show on a Gannett search but does on a USA Today search.

    To the person who questioned that crazy cool idea to throw $20 mil at giving iPads to everyone - our leadership believes electronic to be our future. (another link at

    More than any stupid 'on the road' email or 'all within reach' commercial on CNBC - an audacious move like giving everyone an iPad could position Gannett as a forward thinking company. A company suitable for shareholder interest and one that attracts the talent that can drag us into the next paradigm.

    Would half of us eBay them? Possibly. Would some smarty suggest another furlough to pay for them? Probably. (That would be a great headline in WSJ.) It probably isn't even doable.

    But it's the type of grand idea that could inspire shareholders and staff - and we get damn few of those.

  11. Admit it. Without Jim you wouldn't know half of what was going on.

  12. 7:36 I think corporate is more like an albatross around our neck.

  13. You want to see a broken site? Look at Google News turns up same-day stories on the site that USAT's own search tool does not return. It's just laughable, but that's Gannett.

  14. Westchester is facing a potentially strong, market-changing threat from Newsday, which is poised to come in and take our food right off our plates. The TJN/corporate response ? We MAY speed up development of an app. Not definite, but maybe. So pathetic it's hard to know if you should laugh or cry.

  15. For several years we had a computer tech column produced in-house by a staffer who is savvy with both the Mac and PC platforms. His column generated many questions and much gratitude from the community. Then corporate said NO! Now we run those stupid "Kim Komando" features once in a while. Makes no sense at all!

  16. Gannett worker cog #2348012/19/2011 12:05 PM

    6:46 pm is so on target. The same thing happened with the moms sites, when the locally run Jersey Moms sites were sucked into the corporate "moms like me" cookie cutter design. Can anyone point to one Gannett innovation in recent times, except for the start up of USA Today, that was an industry leader? Instead the company comes up with these third and fourth rate knee jerk reactions like buying the Planet Discover search engine. (hey, the kids say it all the time, "I Planet Discovered Justin Bieber and found out....) Deal Chicken and now Passion Topics. (isn't that just warmed over Real News, Real Life?). At least with Career Builder, they lucked in to buying a decent property, but the flops out number the home runs.
    The worst thing is that corporate is so blind as to think the readers don't notice the downward effect of the corporate influence on their local paper. The readers, excuse me. the CUSTOMER notices more than corporate gives them credit for and does not think that Gannett has improved things since it bought their local paper. I hear this first hand in the field constantly and I've run out of ways to defend the actions from McLean.
    Now I will wait for the trolls to flame me and tell me to find a better job in this thriving economy, if i don't like working for Gannett. If that new job offer was under the tree, it would truly be a Happy Christmas! And spare me the pick-yourself up by the bootstraps lecture, I'll match my productivity against anyone's, so go back under your bridge, trolls.

  17. As someone who works in Digital, it always amuses and disheartens me to hear about how the local paper staff thinks everyone is out to get them. We're not part of some secret cult, content in the knowing that we're screwing over the little guy and rolling the money corporate is throwing at us.

    Quite the opposite.

    The truth is that we're often just as oppressed and tied up as you are. Did you want an app? We'd love you give you one! Corporate won't let us do that, either.

    That door swings both ways. The only reason you're even seeing second-rate stuff is because the 'powers that be' prefer to run something into the ground than approve anything that is too new or different from the status quo.

    I imagine it's a lot like what you're feeling.

    Of course, I could take a different approach and say that perhaps second-rate journalism isn't enough to keep subscribers around anymore, and that perhaps Gannett should jettison underperforming papers.

    But I won't.

  18. Why should subscribers pay for any content 12:35 PM when Digital people like you enable them to access to it ALL for free (for far too long) all while allowing print advertisers who once paid in dollars to reach them to do it for digital dimes.

    Of course, characters like you rarely admit the true costs of that strategy let alone how the funds that ultimately formed Digital came from newspaper profits, still do….even with content supported by “second-rate journalism.”


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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