Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb. 20-26 | Your News & Comments: Part 6

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66 comments:

  1. Hey, how's everyone progressing in learning how to operate their handy-dandy new smartphones as we strive to become Gannett Tube?

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  2. I love my phone. I guess they went for the important people and sites, first. Too bad for the rest of you!

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  3. Anyone needing to learn how to use a modern smartphone (iPhone or Android) and struggling with it needs to find new work. My 3 year old could use it out of the box.

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  4. 2:14, oh do share some of the video that the little tike shot, edited and posted to the web.

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    1. 2:14 really not that difficult. Your getting paid to play with a toy. If I were gannett you'd provide your own phone.

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  5. The Consumerist: Papers that move to the pay wall model are assuming enough freeloaders will start paying up to offset losses in readership that will sting advertising revenue. The move increases the pressure on overworked staffs that have been gutted through years of downsizing, but also allows the potential for papers to reap more revenue that they can reinvest, ideally upping their staffs back up to healthier levels. As a fan of newspapers — in no small part due to the fact that I work a day job at one of them — I sure hope executives know what they're doing here.
    http://consumerist.com/2012/02/gannett-will-put-80-of-its-newspapers-behind-pay-walls.html

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  6. 2:17 seriously? All these people crying about investing in the news rooms. Gannett goes out, buys the smartest phones with decent video quality and all you people do is complain? Why wont Gannett make an investment in the news rooms? Gannett buys phones. To get you out of the building and into where the news is happening.
    Why did Gannett buy me this phone that I can't figure out.
    Stop complaining already. Half the problem with this company are all of you complainers. Everyone got screwed at some point over the past few years. Deal with it or move on. You're still here and if things work out the way that they're planning maybe it works out for you. Where in America do you get guarantees?

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  7. 2:17; Smart phones aren't being put in the hands of reporters to produce better stories. They are being put in their hands to fill space and the insatiable need to refresh web sites with short clips, fotos etc.
    The problem is the company has already gutted its newsrooms leaving a handful left to produce for both print and online. Now, reporters are going to be asked to shoot fotos and video and edit the video. They tried that a few years ago and put hundreds of people through training (again, taking many away from their primary job of producing news stories). How did that work out? Within months, now one was taking video except for maybe a few photographers enthused with the idea of moving pictures. All the training, all the wasted time and the company was unable to move forward with strong or informative video. Now, they're looking to do the same thing in an even more stressed newsroom. The funniest thing our Local Information Center got in the last video frenzy was an inane video posted on the web site about how to make a sandwich. Before you got patting the company on the back, get yourself into a LIC and see what's going on. Then, ask yourself, "How can these people possibly do more?"

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  8. 2:17, not whining. Just giggling about the issues that some folk are having figuring out their new piece of equipment.

    I do know that the level of training that folks often get is having an instruction book tossed their way with the following training message. "If you have any questions, there should be somebody who should be able to help you out."

    Really? That's training? That's (word that would get this message deleted) incompetence by someone who has a pretty impressive title on his Gannett business card.

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  9. 3:10,
    You don't honestly think that you need official training for using a new phone-device. The user-manual and online-publishings should be substantial for a universal device. If you do request additional training, than it shows that you haven't taken the initiative to "read" the manual, as everyone else has.

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  10. 7:21 am part 5...You sir are the lost soul, following the rhetoric the newspaper/Gannett, self appointed know it alls, spew. You sir are wrong. When is the last time you were in a store, paying attention to who REALLY buys the newspaper? When was the last time you spoke to any of them to find out THEIR true feelings? Everyone under 50 has or wants a computer? Really? I see many 20 somethings still buying the newspaper. The fact, even with the ridiculous return numbers Florida Today is recording with their over priced Sundays, that people are STILL buy the thing says it all. People want their newspaper...not a phone picture/tablet/i-phone/i-pad rendering. All the digital only people are doing is cutting themselves off at the knees and believing they can still run a mile in 4 minutes!

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

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  12. We have had issues with lower-level employees refusing to read documentation on new procedures. We had people who complained about reading a simple one-and-a-half-page summary, that included step-by-step instructions and screen-shots. It only speaks volumes about people that refuse to read the information given to them, and feel they need special treatment to compensate for their shortcomings and lack of initiative.

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  13. If folks never needed "training" on their gadgets, why does apple offer training at their stores on their products?

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  14. If we're going to be posting videos, the stuff needs to be of TV quality if that's who we are competing against. Which means you want TV quality photog training for the reporters. (Or perhaps the reporters should get the same kind of training the photogs got. They weren't just people hauled in off the street, handed a camera and told, "Go, shoot a football game." Or maybe at your paper they were.)

    Unless, of course, you're happy with the shakey Funniest Home Videos quality stuff that often shows up on the websites.

    Then again, never mind. I'm like the leaders at corporate. I'm just in it for the money.

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  15. Interesting that Florida Today is removing every negative comment about its implementation of the paywall today. By 9 a.m. there were three pages of comments ripping the paper and yet at noon all of the negative comments had vanished. And to the person crowing about Gannett buying smart phones and investing in technology, how about upgrading my PC? I've had the same old POS using Windows NT for 13 years now. When are they going to upgrade that outdated technology?

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  16. 3:01
    So they are giving the customer what they want. Sorry, but the little article you write about the town board meetings, or the city government scandal isn't the same to people anymore they want video, photo and they want it fast. There's nothing wrong with what Gannett is doing here. Newsrooms were"gutted" but honestly you guys have felt nothing compared to finance, advertising support, it and circulation. Most of the papers in my group have kept a big percentage of editorial. Go out and produce what the people want. When you're good at it, they will hire more people.

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  17. 3:26 PM,
    You are missing the point. The "news content" is our product, regardless of the distribution-source, whether it's print-output or digital-format. To be competitive in this market, you have to except that there is an audience for digital, in addition to the traditional print-product. You can not exclude one or the other, but you also have acknowledge the growing media-trends and prepare accordingly. I think that Gannett is taking the necessary steps to approach all audiences, and insuring that the proper business models are implemented.

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  18. Has anyone heard about The Arizona Republic Building Services and Security being out sourced?

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  19. It kind of amazes me that the editorial staffers are pointing out that losing staff will hurt both the quality and quantity of content.

    Seems to me that if they were producing all of this quality content in the past, circulation would not be in the toilet.

    If quality journalism is the salvation, it must mean that shoddy journalism was the downfall.

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  20. 4:34 But keep in mind that the VOLUME of content -- including quality stuff -- has been declining as Gannett disemboweled its newsrooms.

    While those declines aren't the only reason circulation fell, the parallel trend can't be ignored.

    And regardless of the platform (web, mobile, tablet) or the format (text, video, still) the bottom line remains this:

    News media will prosper only if they produce exclusive local content that clearly spells out its broad impact. Again:

    Exclusive. Local. Broad impact.

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    1. Coming from a guy who begs journalists for money. Yeah let's all take your insights to the bank! I'm ready forthat "Thanks for the $20 from Florida" Hed.

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  21. 4:34 Hey, circulation cratered because the papers are given away free over the Internet and advertisers have found new outlets. Where have you been the past few years?

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  22. Always gotta love posts that use the phrase "you people." It speaks elitist volumes. In fact, a primary definition of this company's stewards.

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  23. And too bad, ain't it, that the animated discussion, agreed or disagreed, intense, useful, useless, valid or snarky -- all of which takes place on Hopkins' Gannett Blog -- debate in even plebian form is verboten within Gannett itself.

    Corporations are not democracies, of course. But if they are to survive, they are not the epitome of divine arrogance, either.

    Gannett no longer provides the channel to do so, and the McClean culture actively discourages criticism as being a boat-rocker rather than a contribution, and it reaches all the way down to your local publisher.

    These unwashed, these (as one poster characterized) people who have achieved nothing. What do they know. Shut up and get back to work. If we wanted your input with your mortgages and your cute "standards," you should have done some ass-licking by now.

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  24. Gannett sounds like an awful place to work. I am sorry for those of you who are there.

    Ms. Martore has a serious employee morale issue on her hands.


    I wonder how long she can sweep it under the rug and expect to survive as a corporation.

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  25. 3:22's perception is understandable about just reading the manual, but I think the attitude exhibited is more to the point.

    When Gannett first showed signs of listing to port, I experienced way too often no manual for new devices.

    These were locked in my manager's office.

    The practice was designed to make those this dude liked, succeed, and those he didn't, fail.

    I wanted to know what was what, not just follow rote commands. I could not read them at work "on company time" or a company break, and I could not take them home to read on my own time. Believe it or not.

    People at this site will know to whom I referring, who retired happily, no harm, no foul.

    Nonetheless, I went to my HR. For that, I was pegged as a trouble maker since "no else has complained." An outright fabrication, as others had, and knowing that I got the picture. Shut The Hell Up.

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  26. Now, just look it up on Net. But there's still that onus greasily laddled. Oh? You don't have a smartphone of your own? Why, doesn't Everyone? Carriage, move on!

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  27. "Anyone needing..." "...my three-year-old." You sound like the guy who described my job to public tours, years in seniority, documented savings, as "a monkey could do this."

    On public tours.

    He was promoted. I assume that's the expectations valued here let alone quality needed.

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  28. Is Ed Cassidy back with USAT? I was told he is covering the Oscars. Don't tell my Hunke and his crew finally came to their senses and brought him back. Watch out Micek!

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  29. 5:34 Sorry for stating an obvious fact. A child can operate an iPhone with proficiency. Someone as learned as a editorial employee should be able to digest the simple instructions available on the internet with no problem. If they are unable to perhaps this new world isn't for them. This is the world we live in, and these are the tools we're given.

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  30. Jim,
    I like your Biotech/pharmaceutical stories. What is your opinion on the death of Whitney Houston in relation to the pharmaceutical drugs that she was prescribed? Do you think there should be stronger regulations on these drugs?

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  31. Florida Today = The new New Jersey.

    Wow, beaches are better too.

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  32. I'm wondering how the people who were offered buyouts are being treated at their papers. Are they taking away responsibilities in a way that is demeaning for all your years of service? or respecting it and trying to learn as much as they can before you go. I know it's not official yet, but there seems to be a subtle change or sometimes not so subtle.

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  33. On today's news, they showed a book publisher (printing-presses) closing its doors to business, today. They interviewed the employees, who said that they were signicantly impacted by the kindle/nook/ipad technology. They mentioned that it's a realization that they had to address and decided to close shop. They opened their doors in 1816.

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  34. 7:13 PM,
    I would anticipate that everyone, who is receiving buyouts, will be treated with the greatest respect. Remember to pull-together and give the retirees a proper good-bye, to wish them the best in retirement. (I have always enjoyed the "pot-luck" style events.) Also, don't cut the ties with these people. They have been wonderful tenured employees that have played a substantial role in the company. Remember them, in a year(s) to come, if you should need some freelance stories. Create a repository of our retired talent, to draw upon. Someone in editorial needs to head the Gannett-Family talent-repository.

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  35. 6:38 I have no idea. I haven't covered biotech/pharma in more than four years.

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  36. It can't possibly be this easy....

    To circumvent the paywall, all you have to do is copy the headline from the paper's home page and paste it into a new browser window???

    Tried it. I got the story. On their Web site. Without it impacting my "monthly allowance" of free stories.

    Wait until that word spreads.

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    1. I've been doing it with the Eall Street Journal for years. Welcome to the web newbie

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  37. "News" is the draw for consumers but advertising pays the bills. I find it disconcerting that hardly and advertising folks know about this blog, much less post here.

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    1. Oh they know about it but I'd wager the majority of folks who post here are from news. Newsroom folks have been complaining about everything and everyone since the first single sheet paper was printed. It's what you do, it's why Hopkins started the blog. You can't help yourselves. It's your nature. Peace and love

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  38. Article in today's Arizona Republic "Gannett is planning to charge for Web content". Martore is quoted saying- "Gannett is once again playing offense, poised for growth and value creation,". She's right, I think it's terribly offensive to be poised for growth while in the midst of over 600 buyouts and charge for Web content while most buyouts are in news departments.

    Congratulations Gannett, no heart transplant needed when you operate without one.

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  39. Hey, Martore at least seems to have intelligence and drive. Dubow had neither. And she is at least giving a show of appreciation for the staff, unlike much of her vice presidents, who treat staffers with contempt.

    I don't see how she can justify spending $300 million on stock buybacks while furloughing staff in the community newspapers. That $300 million should be reinvested in the company's assets -- its journalists and advertising staff.

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  40. And as a disgruntled employee, even I have to say: You're upset because you're getting an iPhone? Really?

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  41. I truly don't know how HQ management and GCI board members sleep at night. This constant threat of layoffs, furloughs, expense cuts are so disheartening and stressful. Older long-term employees offered a voluntary retirement package that included veiled threatening tones that other actions would be taken if people don't offer themselves up. The language at the end of the letter speaks for itself that HQ is highly worried about an age discrimination class action lawsuit since all who sign agree to not participate in those.

    Obviously this was the only way to get rid of older workers and try to avoid the lawsuit. I still wonder and plan to take the "offer" letter and accompanying materials and email notice from Mr Dickey to legal counsel. I found it highly insulting that one graph of the email says the EROP is an ongoing strategy to transform the company. To me that clearly states that HQ's plan and new transformation is age discrimination since the only ones offered this program were 56 and older.

    If we are so valued as the email stated, then why are trying to get rid of us and make it easy to replace us with lower cost new hires for the same position?

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    1. So don't take it. Problem and issue resolved.

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  42. I am one of those offered a buyout, and I am going to take it. I had hoped to stick it out another couple of years, but I don't see how I can pass up this buyout.

    What really makes me feel bad and creepy, however, is the fact that several former colleagues -- good people and good friends, all -- have been booted out the door in recent years under far less generous terms. I feel guilty taking this relatively good deal when they got such raw deals.

    Fortunately, none of them seem to be begrudge me the advantage. But it still makes me feel bad.

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  43. 3;54...That's what I've been saying all along. Digital and print can, should, and probably MUST coexist. I don't deny the new platforms have their place, but to totally disregard the print side is suicide, no matter how good digital gets.

    As for content...Gannett and others have disemboweled themselves of that for years now.

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  44. You people are all spinning your wheels. This company doesn't give a shit about you. Blowing smoke up your ass, and wall street's. Nearly a 20% drop in earnings last year. Revenues down 40% in a half decade. Stock price was at $91 as recently as 2004. Over 20,000 people gone. of the 32,000 left, 2,000 work for Career Builder. None of the newcomers to the board or senior management have ever made a major mark elsewhere. One of them just pointed a bat at you in a major management presentation.

    You are toast. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

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  45. You got that right.

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  46. Look on the bright side. Dear Maryam is getting to take that cross-country tour she's always wanted, thanks to the sacrifice of you people.

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    1. M let it go already.

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  47. There may be no money for reporters, for reporter travel, for investigative projects, for shifts sufficient to cover the 24/7 demands of the information centers, or to produce an editorial product readers would pay money to see. But there's money for Maryam's road trip and the whole Crystal Palace management floor's trips to fashion week and Cannes. So, you people, buck up. You can feel good about your company's direction. We're playing offense.

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  48. As an independent, online news publisher, I can tell you that the wheels are already spinning across the country on how to pounce on paywall-ized Gannett communities.

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  49. TV stations are taking a look at the Gannett paywall, particularly in larger markets, and seeing an incredible opportunity to build up the traffic to their websites. A paywall may work in smaller markets, but not in metro markets with competition, as Gannett will soon learn the hard way.

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    1. Haters lets put your feelings aside for a moment.other than a fortunate few what content site will be able to pay its employees five or 10 years from now if paywalls don't go up. You forget Gannett has been experimenting with paywalls at three sites for more than a year. All three are still here.

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  50. It won't work in any market if you can't provide a product people are willing to pay for.

    Just look at the shells of once-credible if not great newspapers that fill the Gannett roster. Then ask yourself: Do any of them have paywall-worthy content today?

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  51. I don't watch many videos on the computer. Once in a while I'll go to Youtube and watch a bunch. On my phone, even less. It's harder to skim through them. The few videos I start have to be something I know I'm interested in seeing, especially if it's longer than 30 seconds.

    A headline or a link is a lot more likely for me to give it a chance, especially if it's about anything like 3:52 mentioned. I don't want to watch a couple reporters talk about a government scandal or whatever news. Let me skim the news, and if parts are interesting enough to stand out, I'll read those more closely. It's pretty common for me to have 20 tabs open at the same time, or to slow my phone down from having 10 open. I doubt I watch 10 videos on the internet in a day very often.

    So I think to say video is the only thing to focus on, yeah a really good video of the right thing will get a million people to watch it, but that doesn't come close to taking over everything.

    I think more people are reading more than maybe any time in the past. I know a large majority is just playing games on Facebook, but still. Even tweets start to add up fast.

    A few hours ago, someone at work said it looked like every cop in the area was around the prison on their way past. I came home, my Local Gannett has nothing about it, and maybe they will when they put all tomorrow's news up early tomorrow morning, but in the meantime 2 local TV stations' sites helped me out.

    Keep trying to define what people as one entity want though.

    A couple years ago the TV station site looked so basic and I wondered why they bothered. Recently I realized it's now almost right there with the LG.

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  52. Our TV stations do a much better job of keeping their websites current than Gannett does. There is no way I would pay to read the online newspaper when I can go to our local TV station.

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    1. Aren't you the same guy who never subscribed to the paper because you could get it for free at work. If you worked for FORD you'd drive to work in a Toyota.

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  53. Do you Bozos who think this iPhone "giveaway" is so great actually work for Gannett? And you, Mr. "If I were Gannett I'd make you provide your own phone...." Are you aware of the furloughs this company has imposed for the past 4-5 years? Those phones were paid for by our own pay cuts. And those phones aren't any big bonus to reporters. They're technology all reporters should have had long before 2012. I'm glad they finally got around to noticing how emaciated the company's technology was -- and still is. But please, don't paint it up like a sweet deal. It's business. And we bought it all with our own pay cuts.

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  54. 12:54 that is the same attitude you and your esteemed colleagues have been espousing for yeeeeears. Nothing is good enough and everything sucks. And we wonder why we can't change the newspaper culture. It was good enough in 1888 why change now. Internet? Ir's a new fangled fad!

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  55. Right on 3:24. Half the problem early on was how most newsrooms ignored the Internet. Even back in 2003-2004. Im not pro pay wall either but there's really no other choice here. We all just have to make it work. Hopefully the naysayers stay out of the way.

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  56. @10:56 PM - You're having a form of survivor's guilt. Don't. I was one of the 700 Club in June, and while it was awful, I haven't missed Gannett for a single moment. I can't speak for everyone, but I am glad anytime one of my former coworkers finds his or her way out of Gannett and to something better. I'm doubly glad if doing this costs Gannett, too (hey, I'm allowed a measure of pettiness). I don't know who you are or where you worked, but if you were one of my former colleagues, I would be sincerely glad for you. No more feeling guilty - plan that retirement party instead.

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  57. For the record, paywall is not the term of choice among the execs at GCI. You can says it's just semantics, but the correct term is "subscription model."

    As in, our properties produce content and our consumers need to subscribe to that content with a paid subscription. It makes no difference how they get that content - print, iPad, smart phone, crystal ball. Wherever they get it, they are going to pay a fee for receiving it.

    In retrospect, it's what newspapers should have been doing all along, but alas, hindsight is 20/20.

    Regardless, a paywall implies they are just suddenly blocking something that previously was free. "We built a wall." (That's a negative to consumers.)

    "Subscription model" implies we produce daily/weekly news and feature content and you need to subscribe to it. We will offer you a variety of ways and combinations to subscribe, but we don't give our product away for free. (That's a more palatable explanation for consumers, as they are used to paying for other products and subscriptions to media - magazines, NetFlix, etc.)

    Again, you can argue it's all semantics, but it may help you understand how the suits at the CP are framing this change.

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  58. The paywall (sorry), company-wide at community papers is a very bold and possibly decisive move. I applaud the company for doing it.

    However, as many have noted, we have to follow up with rich and unique LOCAL content to make it worthwhile.

    In bigger markets like Detroit, Westchester, Cincinnati, Arizona, other entities can and will arise to offer local coverage and compete. So the bar will be higher there.

    But in most of our smaller markets, Gannett papers are the only real info-game in town, and local politics, local scores, what your neighbors are doing and saying, may very well be worth paying for.

    But no one except city hall and school board types will pay for what we offer now. We have to greatly boost the quality of our content. Then we really may have something to build a digital future upon.

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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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