Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GCI debuts new business model for its newsrooms

"It will be platform agnostic: News and information will be delivered to the right media -- be it newspapers, online, mobile, video or ones not yet invented -- at the right time."

Questions: Who said this? When did they say it? And how will the business model introduced next week be significantly different?


  1. Great logo. That question mark ought to be the company's logo...

  2. I'm going to assume that Chief Digital Officer David Payne & Co. will re-emphasize a digital-first strategy in the new business model.

    That is, the newsroom will be expected to emphasize web- and mobile-friendly content first. Filling the next day's print paper would be secondary.

    But that would ignore two realities: 1. Print advertising still accounts for nearly half of all Gannett's revenue. 2. The press is relatively inflexible when it comes to accommodating a typical day's news.

    And that leads to the following truth:

    So long as there is a print paper to fill, print will drive the daily story gathering and assembly process. Period.

    Gannett and every other publisher can talk about digital first, but the reality of print logistics will win out for one simple reason:

    At the end of the day, a print paper with X sections totaling X pages with X amount of newshole must be filled with stories, photos and graphics.

    It would be unacceptable for the newsroom's top editor to say to the publisher: Today, we devoted an unexpected amount of our newsroom resources to producing videos, blog posts, Facebook updates and tweets, and that's why we don't have enough to fill the print edition. So, we're going to fill the extra space with house ads, irrelevant non-local wire copy -- or leave it blank.

    Aint. Gonna. Happen.

    Presses require fixed combinations of page counts. They don't have the infinite flexibility of web pages to expand and contract to the exact amount of space needed to accommodate the day's news.

    For all those reasons, each day will begin with a budget built around the amount of print newshole that must be filled. And that budget will drive the rest of the day's activities.

    That means digital will come first only so long as it doesn't threaten the editor's ability to fill the print edition.

    It shouldn't be this way. But until we are fully weaned from the ad revenue derived from print, we'll continue to be be slaves to the press.

  3. What fresh hell waits for us now? I've been with this company for 22 years. It seems like 50, but it's only 22. In the last six years not one "improvement" has been made to actually improve the quality of the newspaper. Every single new initiative has been made solely to reduce the number of employees and fatten the bottom line.

  4. "I don't mind so much that the newspaper industry is dying, it's watching it commit suicide that really pisses me off" -- Molly Ivens.

    The late, great Molly could have used Gannett as the proof of that remark. If it will help kill the business, you can bet the overpaid drones in Virginia can't wait to implement it. Then when the rest of us are broke, they'll open their golden parachutes and float away.

  5. 12:01, your co-workers can expect the same hell -- you. Every day you show up, it's the same descent into the pit for them.

  6. All excellent points, Jim. There's also a lack of buy in by most reporters and editors: they only relate to the end of the day deadline. Or too lazy to post early and - gasp - update a story during the day.

  7. Jim has nailed it. Can't put out blank pages. 10:52, it's not that we are too lazy to post to the website as much as it is we are so overloaded getting a paper out that we don't have time to put an update together, get the art and then post it all. Not enough people or time.

  8. Read the post to Al Neuharth in the first blog of the day, its very hopeful and inspirational, I'm sure the trill too run GCI will fire up the old gunslinger back in the saddle and bring this cimpany back to greatness, I am here to help what ever you need me to do
    The Happy Pressman/press mananger/ several other roles in the compnsy over 25 years

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  10. The Big Biz Professor1/25/2012 9:57 AM

    Where is the smartphone app? When will the websites run like it is the early 21st century and not like it's a 1990's reject? When will they put money in to developing these things instead in the pockets of executives who are mediocre at best? Those are my questions for the Feb. 2 cheerleading session.
    These are the things we, the overworked and underpaid want to here. Even the accursed NJ.Com, a miserable website, has a smartphone app.
    But I notice some of the mucky muckys are walking around sporting nice new iPads. Isn't it an embarrassment that to get a GCI paper on a smart device you have to go to the internet?
    Here;s a hint: the market share you want to capture lives and dies by apps. They're not going to the web when your competitor has a free app that lets you access their site with one tap.
    Any other "suck out your mind" rah rah here's how we're changing the content to be presented on Feb. 2 is nothing but B.S. and kicking the can further down the road.
    The content doesn't need to "evolve", how it's delivered to our customers needs to in order to play catch-up ball to other "media" companies.

  11. @ Jim: that's a lovely lofty goal, but here's why it won't happen.
    There is a lack of bodies to make a "digital first" mandate happen. Remember that the last lay-offs claimed digital people, including one of the key people at my site who was the digital "go-to-guy" who'd handle getting content on the website. Now we go to an over worked AME and if they're in one of the many planning meetings, oh well, that on line update waits for one of them to get out of that meeting.
    Unless the Feb. 2 training session comes with some hires on the digital side, it will just be another "do more with less" unobtainable mandate from clueless corporate.

  12. Technology tools and toys are nice, but unless you have enough experienced people who know what they are doing, the tech does not amount to much (and will be outdated in 18 months).

    Good journalists and adv reps and IT pros (along with a press room and circ people whose labor still results in lion's share of money to invest)are what matter.

    To the Big G, people are like bugs to be squashed.

  13. Spot on analysis, Jim. The only way to be digital first is to be digital only. So long as we have a paper to fill, the paper has to be first.

  14. The goal was supposed to be digital first when they started the whole Information Center crap over five years ago.

    Five years later, and NOW they're trying to set digital first as a goal. You corporate morons already did that. And it failed, because you cut thousands of jobs that could have gone towards digital first.

  15. Remember, newspapers bring in 62% of the revenues, without this, GCI would be like a local web site with little to no content to read and no interest from anyone without an I Phone
    The Happy Pressman

  16. 3:33 gets it. Gannett shot itself in the foot. If they needed a RIF, they should have first checked the employee's yearly reviews -- the whole point of having them!

    Tossed, like the RIF-raff they view their employees as. They couldn't be bothered with that. "To hell with all of you," was their evident motto. "We run the ship!"

    Longtime employees might remember way back when local sites were more autonomous, and these sites would solicit their own staffs for input, information, feedback -- positive or negative.

    Seems like a dream now because it has certainly been a nightmare for some time since.


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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