Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mail | 'I am a laid-off, loyal . . . ex-Gannetter'

In a comment, Anonymous@5:32 writes:

I have in my career worked at several companies, and loyalty is always the No. 1 path to success. I don't care how talented someone is or how much I need to fill a position, if they don't demonstrate an excellent attitude and strong loyalty, I don't hire them. At any level.

It's the way of the world. It's how you build an excellent team. Since moving on from Gannett (not by choice) nearly a year ago, I've joined another company and have built yet another excellent team.

Did I always realize these things? No. A newsroom is the worst possible background for learning what it takes to succeed in business. What's considered "right" there is often "wrong" everywhere else. It took me a while to learn, let me tell you.

Am I sorry for the years I spent in a newsroom? Heck no. It was a great career. But I'm glad I grew up and moved on. What I learned in the "real" world away from the newsroom also made it possible to be a better friend, wife, mom and much more. Truly, no one should spend their whole life in a newsroom.

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. My question for this 5:32 poster:

    You say you were loyal. And then you got laid off.

    Doesn't that contradict your statement that "loyalty is always the No. 1 path to success?"

  2. My question: Why keep letting people post the same bullshit tale, Jim?

    It's not even original after a while. The people who make this stuff up always claim they are running a successful company that hires all sorts of people. Yet they never name the company or say what it does.

    What's there to be afraid of? After all, if they have left Gannett, what can Gannett do?

    These stories are all bullshit. All of them. No company name = myth.

  3. So in other words, pictures or it didn't happen? Seriously, that's a lame standard of proof.

  4. 7:24, I know you won't understand this, but here goes.

    The odds of starting a business and having it succeed are not high, even in a strong economy. So most of these stories are likely not to be true.

    Another problem: Many people here are just not skilled. What are they offering a customer base? That would be easier to answer if anyone provided more than vague stories about what they do.

    But if you want to buy into all of these tales, go to it. I'll keep responding the same way.

  5. 7:12: I agree with you completely about the same guy who always comes in with the "I have 10 employees, six figures in the bank, and all it took was some hard work" guy.

    This story seems a little different -- she didn't start her own biz, just found work elsewhere (at the manager level, presumably) and has something original to say about her newspaper experience.

    Jim asks about loyalty being number one -- I think that just goes for the snark and misses the far more interesting point. I'd like to know more about those things that seem "right" in the newsroom but are "wrong" everywhere else. That could be an interesting conversation to have, and useful for people moving on to other careers.

  6. I'm not Anonymous 5:32, but I had a career in journalism, left to try another field 20 or so years ago and came back to journalism. One of things I found out is that in the other field I entered, they did not appreciate my skepticism, my cynicism, my "devil's advocate" way of approaching projects which serves me well as a journalist. They wanted yes-men. I wasn't one and I'm not one.

  7. This woman didn't start a company. She writes: "I've joined another company."

    Also, as to the relative success/failure rate of business start-ups, here's something I wrote when I covered entrepreneurs for USA Today:

    New companies don't fail as often — or as fast — as thought. Instead, 67% of new ventures are successful after four years, says a study that contradicts the widely held belief that 90% of start-ups fail in year one.

    The study of 12,185 companies found that 17% were wrongly considered failures because they had closed. Instead, owners deemed them successful, and closed them after retiring or selling them, says Brian Headd, a U.S. Small Business Administration economist. He says many would-be entrepreneurs are scared by the 90% failure number, and that the new research could encourage would-be entrepreneurs at a critical time.

  8. 7:53 trust me, we didn't appreciate your attitude either but we had to put up with it.

  9. Jim, you give credit to the person for being vague. If she had bothered to say what she does, it would make more sense.

    Maybe she doesn't run the company, but she claims to have some role in building an "excellent" team, which implies not only the ability to hire, but also the ability to red-light "non-loyal" hires. (We're left to speculate on this goddess's version of "non-loyal.)

    Anyway, it's bullshit, so it's a waste of time debating it. And as 7:45 mentions, someone else has come in over and over with these tales, so they have lost credibility.

  10. Be loyal to a person, not to a company. No company is loyal to you.

  11. 8:55 Posters who fear giving too many details here are no different than you, who posts anonymously.

    You ask for something that you aren't willing to offer either.

  12. Jim, the bottom line is you allow these bullshit tales to continue. Now you are featuring them.

    Don't try to change the subject to conceal your lack of moderation.

    Your argument is as sleepy as Rip Van Winkle. It's a recycled ploy that gives people the green light to make up anything. After all, you claim they have to remain anonymous, and they certainly can't post any details that might give them away. Never mind that they no longer work for Gannett, or so they claim.

  13. "I have in my career worked at several companies, and loyalty is always the No. 1 path to success. I don't care how talented someone is or how much I need to fill a position, if they don't demonstrate an excellent attitude and strong loyalty, I don't hire them. At any level."

    Outdated advice. Today, good companies know agitators and independent thinkers spur innovation and are their best asset.

  14. Re: 11:22

    Loyalty is still the number 1 path to success in Gannett. Agitators and independent thinkers are feared and shunned by this company. That's one of the problems with Gannett.

  15. Jim at 7:03:
    It worked while there were good people running things. Things aren't what they used to be, to say the least. I've sent you some details privately, not for publication, but to address some questions.

    And 11:22:
    You just keep putting on your resume that you are an agitator. I'll bet the phone is ringing off the hook with job offers. I know what I would do with it.

  16. I've received 12:04's e-mail. She has provided her name and LinkedIn profile, including the name of the previous Gannett site where she was laid off, and the name of her new employer.

    Now, to be sure, just because this poster is the real deal doesn't mean everyone claiming life after Gannett is good-to-better. Still, I give these post-Gannett posters more credibility than some readers (11:03, for one) are willing to grant them.

    Bottom line: As always, readers here are adults, and can take away what they choose -- and don't choose -- to believe.

  17. 8:35--you obviously are a yes man who can't or won't think for himself.

  18. Jim, I'm generally a supporter but quoting figures from a story you wrote in February 2003 about entrepreneurs is weak.

    When those figures are from a study of business failures over four years prior to 2003, the relevance to today is even more distant.

    You wouldn't (and shouldn't) let anyone in the company get away with using ten-year-old data as justification, especially regarding business failures considering the economy in the last decade. Yes, it's a minor quibble but providing the best information should be the goal - not the easiest information.

    All of which is not germane to the discussion, and in my personal experience some people do have great experiences after they leave here.

    But just as some people want to call bullshit on this woman's story, the journalist in me has to speak up when my detector tingles.

  19. Jim, if you take LinkedIn profiles at face value, then there's not much more to say.

    No details provided means no credibility, especially when these are fantastic tales from the start.

    I know that you and others who haven't worked in a while want to create alternate realities. That's your choice, but when you start trying to pass them off here, prepare to be ripped.

  20. I'm 12:04 and the original poster. I provided Jim all details of my positions at Gannett as well as before and current. He is aware of who I am and I have communicated with him in the past.

    He kindly didn't share them since my current employer is a private company and they prefer privacy. I'm sure that's true for many of us leaving Gannett; we've had it with large corporate mentality and are seeking a different approach.

    But it's time to ask: Are you a corporate poster (I know they're really out there) or someone with serious denial issues? Why in the world would you think there are no good jobs out there? There are; they're just hard to find. Especially for someone like me in my late 50s.

    But if anyone is still following this post, I do want to encourage all those who have been let go by Gannett and who are about to be: There's plenty of hope. And just one warning: Once you do land fairly well and things calm down, expect a little "PTSD." Be aware of the symptoms and don't laugh this off; we've been through a lot emotionally.

    What I fail to understand is why anyone here would want to add to someone else's angst. We should be here to build each other up.

  21. 10:33, I also would prefer not to give private details. But I am not claiming what you and others here do on a fairly frequent basis, always without verification. You expect that we all should simply believe those claims. Not gonna happen. That is the difference here. Snarky comments like Jims at 10:54 will not change this. Pretending you do not understand this point will not change this. Any time someone posts the fictional tale of starting a wildly successful business and does not provide any details, I will challenge it every time I see it. This will not change. No details = no credibility.

  22. 10:33
    The nay sayers who are still at Gannett truly believe that there cannot possibly be life after Gannett.
    That must be why they constantly try to reput any postings of success stories.
    They are so dependent on Gannett being the only possible job opportunity.
    Those of us with the courage to develope ourselves outside of Gannett is just not imaginable in their mindset .It must be sad to be so entrenched in the Gannett way,that there is nothing possible other than Gannett.

  23. Hard to understand the skepticism of people who move on from Gannett and land on their feet in better shape. Happened to me, too. Understand that reporters, editors and ad salespeople have highly developed networking and social skills and know a lot of people who can help them in their next careers. Anyone who commanded any respect at all could be a treasured hire. It just comes down to working your network and selling yourself.

  24. Absolutely agree with these posts! 2:45 has missed all the points, including that this person doesn't say she started a business at all. But what if she had? Hardly impossible. I've started a couple myself through the years. I agree that journalism prepares you well for many things. 2:45 is either a "plant" or a truly uninspired person. Too bad. But I tend to think it's a "plant" because he'd be a poor reporter, since he keeps getting the facts all wrong : )

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

  26. 11:03 is a corporate writer (I know him personally). Next time someone post's that they have been laid off, remember whomever questions their credibility is probably the person who fired them in the first place. HR and Corporate are all over Jim's blog. Jim keep giving us the truth.

  27. Chris Fruitrich12/18/2011 1:27 AM

    Interesting topic, loyalty.
    I always felt loyal to my employer when I was working at a community newspaper in the 70s and 80s and felt a lot of loyalty in return. There was even a sense of loyalty coming and going from USA Today when I arrived there in the mid-80s. Then things started to shift and at mid-USAT career one of my bosses said to me in a one-on-one meeting that my feelings for the institution was really not important. Her words:
    "We don't expect your loyalty and you should not expect loyalty from us!" or words very close to that.
    Huh ... From then on I felt a lot of loyalty toward my fellow toilers, but never again for the company that employed me for 34 years.


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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