Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Phoenix | Republic-KPNX reorganizes newsroom

The Arizona Republic's top newsroom executive, Randy Lovely, sent the following memo to employees today:

From: Lovely, Randy
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 4:24 PM
To: Phx Info Center; KPNX-News; Phx OC Database Group
Subject: Information Center -- New Leadership appointments

Today, I’m pleased to announce the new leadership team for the combined Republic Media news operation. Also, at the end of this note is an update on how we will begin to build the entire Information Center in the weeks and months ahead.

As a reminder, this reorganization has one primary objective: to create a fully integrated news organization with the goal of providing top quality content for each of our platforms – The Arizona Republic, 12 News and azcentral.com. Our products will be better and stronger based on this new structure. In support of that objective, we will work together to enhance our abilities in the core areas of breaking news, watchdog reporting, storytelling and community leadership with a strong emphasis on innovation in the delivery of our content.

A 'Storytelling Team'
How about a "Sports Experience Team?" Those were some of the things that jumped out when I read the rest of the memo, which I've now posted in the comments section, below. (I posted it in three takes because it was so long.)


  1. First, I’m pleased to spotlight three individuals who have played a
    major role during the past two years as we have worked to define what
    success looks like for a fully integrated news organization,
    leveraging the combined power of The Arizona Republic, 12 News and

    Nicole Carroll: As Vice President/News and Executive Editor, Nicole
    becomes the key leader for both the Arizona Republic and
    azcentral.com. She will work with various content and publishing teams
    to guide the daily and long-term success of our print and digital
    desktop products.

    Mark Casey: As Vice President/News and News Director, Mark will
    continue to have strategic and operational oversight for all 12 News
    programming, while taking on leadership of several teams designed to
    enhance our broadcasts as well as provide content for all of our

    Mark Hiland: As General Manager/Content Innovation, Mark takes on a
    new role intended to push us forward digitally. In the weeks ahead, we
    will be posting a number of new positions – digital
    developers/designers, social media/engagement editors, content
    partnership coordinators, mobile platform curators, etc. – that will
    increase the number of employees we have working to place us squarely
    in the lead from a digital perspective. We’ll share more information
    in the coming weeks about those positions and how you can express
    interest. The goal in creating this new position and department is to
    create a larger commitment to innovation, especially in the mobile

    These are the department heads for the Information Center:

    Jerome Parra: Jerome will continue to serve as assistant news director
    reporting to Mark Casey, but also will take on supervision of a new
    Action Team made up of reporters, editors, and logistics coordinators
    all focused on positioning Republic Media as the go-to source for
    breaking news and detailed coverage of the important stories of the

    Sandra Kotzambasis: Sandra joined us last spring as we restructured
    the 12 News operation into three Broadcasting Teams to develop
    programming appropriate for mornings, EVB Live, and evenings/nights.
    As senior executive producer, Sandra will continue to oversee the
    three executive producers – Stacey Brachowski, Jill Hanks and Laura
    Slawny. She reports to Mark Casey.

    Keira Nothaft: Keira will lead the newly formed News Publishing Team
    as senior director. This group will focus on the daily operation and
    quality control for our news print and online products – the
    Republic’s Page One/Main and Valley & State sections and azcentral’s
    home page and news index. She will report to Nicole. As the desktop
    production becomes a more mainstreamed part of our organization, we
    decided to merge print and online production into four “publishing
    teams” – the features, sports and community publishing groups will be
    embedded in their various content groups while the news publishing
    group will be led by Keira. Each of the publishing groups will be
    comprised of online producers and copy editors who will work together
    now as publishing editors to tailor and perfect content for the
    appropriate platform. We’ll share more details on the exact structure
    of the publishing groups in the weeks ahead.

    Cherrill Crosby: As senior director, Cherrill will lead the News
    Watchdog Team, comprised of reporters, editors, TV journalists and
    online producers. Republic Media is committed to its role as the
    community’s watchdog, and Cherrill’s team will bring expertise and
    skill to this important function. Cherrill will report to Nicole.

  2. Laura Trujillo: As senior director, Laura will lead the Life and
    Business Team, including reporters and editors focused on lifestyle,
    things to do, health, economy and consumer topics. The business
    reporting team will continue its strong tradition of watchdog and
    consumer investigations under the leadership of associate director
    Kathy Tulumello, now working within the Life and Business center. This
    combined group will include a publishing center to ensure quality
    development of our related print sections and online channels. Laura
    reports to Nicole.

    Venita James: Venita receives a well-earned promotion to Community
    Watchdog Team director. This group of reporters and editors positioned
    in our suburban offices support our successful community strategy for
    print and online. Included within the Community Watchdog Team is the
    publishing team for print and online production. Venita will report to

    Josh Susong: Josh has demonstrated a keen ability to make stories
    better in his role as Page One Editor. His promotion to associate
    director of a newly formed Storytelling Team is well deserved. This
    small group of journalists will work to identify, craft and display
    our best stories for all platforms. Josh also will lead staff
    development efforts for the Information Center, working with Nicole to
    advance our skills in the creation of our major enterprise projects.

    Mark Faller: Mark will oversee the Sports Experience Team, reporting
    to Mark Hiland as we continue to explore ways to expand our coverage
    beyond game coverage to include the rich dialogue and engagement among
    sports fans. Mark, as sports director, also will supervise a
    publishing team, which will manage platform-specific content for
    print, television and digital platforms.

    Phil Boas: Phil expands from his role as editorial page editor to lead
    the Community Leadership Team. The group of columnists, writers,
    editors and online producers will work to develop opportunities to
    showcase the role Republic Media can play in tackling community
    challenges with content across all platforms. Phil will report to me.

    Tracy Collins: In addition to his role as the director of the West
    Group Design Studio, Tracy will work with our visual journalists from
    12 News and The Republic to shape an integrated Visuals Team to create
    strong documentary and video images for our array of products. As
    supervisor of the Visuals Team, Tracy will report to Mark Casey while
    reporting to me in his capacity as Design Studio director.

  3. In addition to these changes to the leadership team, I’m pleased to
    announce that Ken Western has accepted a new role as a
    business/economy columnist. As we all know, Ken is a great thinker,
    writer and editor. In this new role, which will begin next year, Ken
    will help add context and expertise to one of our most important
    franchise topics – Arizona’s economic recovery.

    Please join me in congratulating each of these talented journalists as
    we begin to reshape our news organization to serve our audiences
    across print, broadcast and digital products. These new roles will
    take effect in early 2012, and I’m asking everyone to remain focused
    on their current jobs while we work through the rest of the
    reorganization in the weeks ahead.

    Obviously, the short descriptions above only provide a broad overview
    of their individual responsibilities. In the coming weeks, I will work
    with each of these new department leaders to build out the full
    Information Center. We will share more details as they become
    available. It is not our intention to conduct a full-scale
    reapplication process – instead most positions will be appointments
    that leverage individual staff skills aligned to the strategic needs
    of the organization. That said, in some cases where new roles are
    being created, all employees will be given an opportunity to express

    I appreciate your patience while we work through this important
    transition. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach
    out to me.



  4. I would be surprised if Lovely wasn't a possible candidate to be USA Today's next top editor.

  5. Prepare to see a CTRL+C and CTRL+V of these News teams across other sites. This will not the the last you hear of them.

  6. There goes any hope of a broadcast spinoff.

  7. Cynicism aside, and knowing none of the personalities, that memo is positive and forward-looking compared to the gobbledygook everywhere else in Gannett.

  8. Why would you spin off broadcast? They're posting profits and have a great year of political advertising ahead of them.

  9. There's virtually no chance for spinning off the broadcast division. As Jim and others have pointed out the newspapers have been strip mined of any ability to sell off. Some of the newspaper sites are little more than call centers with reporters and editors reporting to work in rented cubicles in rented offices. Besides, the TV stations offer the most hope for increased revenue in 2012 (elections and Olympics), Gannett won't let that go.

    As for the Republic reorganization, it's not going to be a good thing. Most troubling is that the people who oversaw the paper's decline have been promoted to positions with greater responsibility. The stories missed or woefully under reported in the last year include the federal investigation of Fast & Furious, the ATF's botched gun smuggling operation into Mexico, building a new Indian casino in Glendale, very close to downtown Phoenix, (being handled by zones, it's a story with national implications), the Occupy protests in Phoenix and so on. This reorg is a living, breathing example of the "Peter Principle" and guarantees the papers slide into irrelevancy.

    We're still waiting for the other shoe to drop since there's no mention of how worker bees are going to be integrated into the news reporting stew. There are different pay scales and vacation policies in TV and the Republic. At some point that has to be addressed.

  10. Looks like a lot of work went into this elaborate plan up until the "These new roles will
    take effect in early 2012". Great, would that be January, March...? How would this effect those under these people or is the delay due to pending layoffs which have not been announced. How can such a plan, that's supposed to be so positive not have an effective date or is this just another plan that's just not going to be too effective.

  11. Could there have been a rush to announce this now, well ahead of the early 2012 effective date, because Randy Lovely has been working on it for months but is now under serious consideration for USA Today editor? He could have wanted to get this wound up before moving on. After all, there are two VPs who are in place to take over from him.

  12. I'd be stunned if corporate didn't expect some "efficiencies" from the merger of the Republic and KPNX newsrooms, so we should be watching for that shoe to drop. If the breaking news operation is consolidated, for example, shouldn't that mean that you no longer need the Republic and KPNX covering the same crimes and trials?

  13. The ideas are good, and many of the people involved are proven journalists and thinkers. But there are some weak links who will stop progress in its tracks. Lovely's loyalty to them is short-sighted and puzzling (diversity plays a role). This looks like a rearranging of the deck chairs, though any effort at remaining relevant should be applauded. I hope it goes well for them.

  14. I'm waiting for the same announcement from Lafayette. This is supposed to be bigger than the Berliner? I'm still hopeful that there is some great exciting news from Gannett out there other than a new ap. I'm staying tuned in.

  15. How can Phil Boas be in charge of all opinion in the newspaper when his father-in-law is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the most controversial figures in town? The paper has been silent editorially to this point on the latest Arpaio scandal involving his failure to investigate reports of sex crimes against children and calls for his resignation from Democratic and community leaders. The FBI is continuing to investigate abuse of power and other charges against Arapio, and the list of lawsuits and other problems is a long one. The paper's columnists also have been critical of Arpaio. Before, Ken Western handled those issues while Boas handled other issues because of this obvious conflict of interest. How does it work now?

  16. A "Storytelling Team" Yada yada yada !

  17. What a grand experiment. It'll be fascinating see how it plays out. A few examples:

    - Keira Nothaft, who has very traditional news judgment that may work for a newspaper but no background in online news judgment whatsoever is now in charge of the azcentral.com home page. She's so good at rejecting A1 stories that it'll be a jarring change for her to have to find dozens of stories to rotate through the home page each day.

    - Cherrill Crosby was in charge of watchdog reporting until being moved aside in a 2007 reorganization. Now, she's baaacccck. Let's see whether she can make it work this time. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has to be at the top of her list.

    - Jerome Parra, an assistant news editor with no newspaper background, is in charge of breaking news for TV, the website and the newspaper. Can he gain credibility with the newspaper reporters who'll be working for him? Can he assign and edit a newspaper story?

    - Mark Faller, the paper's sports editor, now is in charge of sports for television as well. Can he gain credibility with the KPNX sports staff, even though he has no background in TV? Can he write a script or produce a news segment?

    - Laura Trujillo has a background in news and features, but can she figure out business, too? She hardly seems like the kind of person who follows the Wall St. Journal and Fortune.

    - Tracy Collins somehow is going to juggle the photo and video staffs of the newspaper and television station while running one of Gannett's four design centers. Is any other design center director doing double duty like this? I doubt it, because the design center alone is a huge job.

    What challenges. What an adventure to come.

  18. Thanks for reality check, 7:05

  19. Yep Randy Lovely is highly visible on the corporate radar. Why? Randy worked for Bob Dickey as executive editor in Palm Springs when Dickey was publisher in Palm Springs. Dickey sponsored Lovely's promotion to Phoenix editor.

    Dickey was Gannett's Palm Springs (approx 40,000 circulation) publisher for about a dozen consecutive years prior to his rapid ascent under Sue Clark Johnson, Dickey's predecessor at corporate.

    Unquestioning loyalty was and is a very important value to Dickey in my opinion. Full loyalty was the way to the good graces of Clark-Johnson's - and her promoting you. Loyalty mattered above all. Talent and skill was good, but loyalty trumped - always. The same applies to Dickey, mentored for 20 years by Sue Clark Johnson.

  20. Agreed. A talented and approachable editor, but also excellent at paying the ladder climbing game and cultivating the bigwigs. That's G culture. Some of us tried it until we realized that some of the people we were supposed to respect and admire fell far short. When it comes to corporate management, that's the hazing process. Prove your loyalty to corporate by targeting, bullying and destroying people who report to you.

  21. Randy Lovely is a "corporate man" in the full sense of the term. He bows to Virginia every morning and embraces every corporate initiative. He's intensely loyal to Gannett, to Bob Dickey and to John Zidich. He demands the same kind of loyalty and unquestioning "yes, Randy, whatever you want, Randy" approach from his editors. He has culled out all dissenters and independent thinkers. He has gone far in Gannett, and he hasn't peaked yet. Keep an eye on him.

  22. So are we saying it is wrong to promote competent loyal people?

  23. It depends on what you want, 11:21. If loyalty is the most important thing, then you get a certain kind of manager - "yes" men and women who are risk-averse and focused more on the internal politics than the needs of readers. You also don't get great journalism, because that's not the priority. In short, you get Gannett. Don't expect such an organization to innovate, achieve excellence (except in terms of loyatlty) or effectively reach out to readers and retain them. All of those characteristics are essential today. You apparently are content with loyal and competent for your newsroom. I want innovative and outstanding for mine.

  24. 10:18's post is a perfect example of all the posts placed here by individuals that have never achieved anything in their lives and they resent those that do. Lovely has had a very successful career, something 10:18 and his pals crave but have failed to achieve. So if mediocre is the best one can achieve the only thing left is to attack successful people. " He must be Dickey's boy because I am a hundred times smarter than this guy. I'm my own man and that's why my career has gone nowhere. It can't be that i have actually peaked and average is my destiny." stop with the personal attacks can't we just discuss the issues? Why does it have to be an attack?

  25. I'm sure Randy values your loyalty, 11:40. You'll go far.

  26. An interesting approach, 11:40. You unleash a vicious attack on 10:18 in calling for an end to personal attacks.

  27. 10:48 is on the mark about Gannett's corporate culture. Before I retired, there were many a training in Arlington in which we were corporate types threatened our careers and browbeat us unless we followed edicts to the letter. Someone with an ounce of nerve would ask a question and find his career stalled. Fear does not bring out creativity.

  28. There's nothing wrong with being a company guy. Journalists tend to be more independent and when it comes to advancement or climbing the ladder they all howl and boo. That's a predictable response. There are good people that work for Gannett on many levels. Now, are the all these changes good? Well, you have to change in today's news environment or die. But Gannett and the AR seemed infatuated with making major moves sometimes just for the sake of making them. Some are building careers with just planning changes. The choices made for all the top deputies were painfully obvious. Randy's chosen those folks time and time again. Some are good, some are terrible. But its always the same group regardless of performance. Almost all white women, few men, virtually no Hispanics, virtually no Blacks, no Asians and no one who isn't in the Randy-Nicole click -- except for maybe Faller, but they don't care about the candy story (sports).

  29. This is classic Gannett. New "teams", new organization, new terms. It will probably get him a ring for "innovation." Will it better serve the reader or is it just a way to reallocate diminishing resources ahead of the next staff cut?

  30. "So are we saying it is wrong to promote competent loyal people?"


    It's wrong to lay them off.

  31. I am a laid-off, loyal, highly competent ex-Gannetter.

    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.

  32. 5:32, 5:12 here. That's one of the best posts I've read in a while.

  33. Having worked in this operation I think Lovely is a decent guy and bright mind, however he's dealing with the bloated Gannett bureaucracy in this building. While this plan looks great on paper it will not be executed as written. They never are and this is just more lip service to Virginia to show that they're doing something. Masterminds of the power point presentation, they are. If Gannett is truly interested in maximizing revenue they would rid their properties of excess middle management. The Mark Caseys, etc. of the company insulate themselves with these middle managers to shield themselves from blame and they reward said managers for their loyalty with empty promotions that are so in title only (no $).

  34. randy and his life partner John won't move east.


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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