Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 19-25 | Your News & Comments: Part 2

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  1. Dear Ms. Ellwood and Mr. Hunke:

    Could you please provide your staff an update on the editor search? Is there one? Have you brought anyone in for interviews? If so, who haven't they been through the newsroom? is there someone with actual journalism experience who might be interested in speaking with reporters and line editors?

    While you are at it, Can you give us an update on what's happening in sports, too? How about the verticals? Anything of substance would be most excellent.

    Any information and updates with concrete information would be very helpful. Thank you.

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  3. Pointroll is gone3/20/2012 8:32 AM

    Dear Rob Gatto,
    Is it true Pointroll was never for sale, but you were trying to minimize voluntary turnover by promising employees that we will soon get away from Gannett and promising them a pot of gold?

    Could you please inform the employees of Pointroll how you plan on reversing our two years in a row of top and bottom line decline of 25%?

    Also, Mr Gatto do you plan to come clean on what really happened with the "Safari cookie" programming and explain to the rest of the employees that this was deliberate AND a lack of judgement?

    Finally Mr. Gatto, have you considered resigning along with your head of sales Ms.Ripmaster as you both have held your own self interest above our clients and our employees?

    Mr. Gatto, thank you for totally screwing up Pointroll. As every employee here says "you were a sales rep at failing ShopLocal before you became the CEO of Pointroll...what should we expect".

  4. My Boss has been identified3/20/2012 8:35 AM

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  7. "Pointroll is gone" asks some good questions. The only problem is Rob Gatto can't answer these questions. neither can Sarah Ripmaster. Both aren't even qualified to do the jobs they are in today.

    I am glad fellow Pointroll employees are speaking up. We get threaten everyday by these two Chicago style leaders (Gatto and Ripmaster).

    I can't imagine this blog is good for their careers, but it does provide Rob and Sarah immediate feedback.

    Anyway, we all know Pointroll is dead and that we have been trying to build partnerships with companies like Aggregate Knowledge, but a partnership is not going to solve our problems. especially this one!

    We need real leaders to take over Pointroll. I was not here back in the day, but when you ask someone about the "old days" you see a glow in people's eyes. They talk fondly of "what it used to be".

    Today, we have a morally bankrupt leadership team in place at Pointroll that probably won't find another job at this level again.

  8. I totally agree. Pointroll's management team is morally bankrupt! I also like the Chicago-style comment too.

    Time for PointRollers to stand up against this management team. We should all slow down our work and make sure all campaign processes and procedures are in order before we release a campaign. It would kill Rob and Sarah to know that we lowered our throughput.

  9. Pointroll is going under fast!! Gatto is the DH that keeps striking out.

    Nice job Gatto. Maybe you should go back and coach little league!,!

  10. Strange days in Westchester. We've now lost two top-flight reporters to the new Newsday start up. But it could have been worse, despite all the cutbacks there's still a lot of reporter talent here. Lost our most tech-savvy visuals editor to Newsday as well. But the real blow could be when papers are put in for buyouts. That's where we could have losses in quantity of quality that would be tough to absorb.

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  12. Some words of wisdom for those unsure about taking the buyout: Take it.

    Know this: Management has a big bullseye painted on your back. Gracia wants to burnish a "compassionate CEO" image by offering a generous buyout to offset the prevailing workplace hostility. As at other corporations in downsizing mode, generous buyouts tend to be followed by stingier buyouts and, yes, layoffs. Management would love to be able to advise eligibles to take the buyout, else they be laid off, but it can't.

    From a purely actuarial point of view (that is, Gannett's actuaries), here's why you have a bullseye on your back and why you should take the buyout:

    1. You make too much money for your job.
    2. You receive the maximum amount of vacation.
    3. You use more sick days.
    4. You consume more health insurance coverage.
    5. You drive up the cost of company health insurance premiums.
    6. You spend more time on disability.
    7. You require more special accommodations as a result of health or disabilities.
    8. You receive more company stock in 401(k) matches.

    On a more subjective basis, your days are numbered because:

    1. You are in the twilight of your career and are viewed as counting the days to retirement.
    2. You are beholden to old ways and are resistant to change.
    3. You are not as accepting of new technology, social media, video, etc.
    4. You have less energy and hustle less.
    5. You look your age and are crotchety.

    Publishers who fail to dispose of buyout eligibles will come under corporate pressure to give them negative evaluations and lay them off sooner, not later.

  13. 10:32, the thinking is short sighted and wrong. If you put in a simplified distribution system for web content, you can get rid of the young processors whose skills are limited to technology. Keep the people who have the local institutional knowledge and you might actually have the hometown advantage.

    As for using up more benefits costs, I don't buy it. A young hire with family sucks up more.

    Gannett is facing a rash of age discrimination suits that will be unprecedented for an industry. Even if most lose, the loss of reputation facing this company will be far worse than it's image on Wall Street.

  14. You know what's funny? Maryam and Tom think they are in line to replace Grace.

  15. If you have a soul then you have no hope of getting anywhere in this company. The Gracia's, Crotchfelts, and other company leaders think that caring about employees, taking care of employees, and taking employee needs into consideration is a sign of weakness. They get off on the fact that they can line their pockets buy inflicting layoffs, furloughs, and not giving other people raises. If there is a god they will surely rot in hell.

  16. 11:47 brings up an interesting point. For those of you that believe in heaven and hell is there any way Gracia and her followers can be saved or eternal damnation at this point unavoidable? It is hard to believe someone that is so selfish and has caused so much suffering can be saved.

  17. 9:00/8:27, that was a good attempt to throw us off the trail. But we know you are the same person.

    Get some new material.

  18. pointroll is another good example of how every thing gannett touches turns to sh*t

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    1. Karen Crotchfelt to the rescue !!!!!

  20. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. When I am no longer affiliated with this company, I will make sure that all of the major advertisers are reading this blog so they can decide for themselves if they want to support Gannett's mission.

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  22. Gannett Cog #892469-23/20/2012 1:14 PM

    10:32, in the words of Samuel L. Jackson, permit me to retort:

    I am an older, not buy out eligible employee. All my reviews have been top flight, I haven't had to take disability and probably average no more sick days than anyone else.
    I have adopted to new media and technologies and was among the many who uses his own equipment (laptop, iPhone, camera with video capability) before the company decided to loosen the purse strings. I tweet and Facebook articles constantly.
    But here is what GCI loses in productivity if they sack my wrinkled ass.
    1. Productivity: I can crank out copy, lots of good copy.
    2. Due to experience, my copy needs little to no editing. No disrespect to younger people on the blog, but my editor doesn't have to do the wholesale rewrites or returning articles for more reporting by me. Less work for my overworked superior and the copy desk=efficiency and cost savings. (and I speak from experience, remembering how my editors had to work with me when i was younger.)
    3. Efficiency: I can multi-task and juggle since I've been doing it my whole career. This allows an AME to put me in a set it and forget it mode, because they know job will get done.
    As for energy and hustle, I'll slap my metaphorical "meat" on the table and compare my productivity, energy and output with anyone half my age. As I've been told before "You do the work of two people."
    There are a lot of us out there doing this level of work, which is why GCI has been able to make the cuts it has and still get a decent product on the street. Cut those who remain, especially proven performers and the ball will get dropped more often.
    Cut a few directors and "chief executives" if you want real savings. The worker drones, of all ages, have been cut enough

  23. Excellent points 1:14 pm. One of the problems w/building a staff around younger, cheap reporters is that you get what you pay for. Most of them need a lot of editorial hand-holding; of course, Gannett is cutting down on the numbers of editors as well, not just copy editors but assistant metro editors, etc. At some point, perhaps after the buyouts, we're in a death spiral.

  24. I still for the life of me can't figure why anyone in any management capacity can think cutting content providers (i.e. reporters) and those who edit that content while in the midst of rolling out paywalls is a good idea. The only reason anyone will be willing to pay for content is to, well, provide that content, more so than ever before. It may cost the company some money in the short-term, but if paywalls are to have any lasting, signficant and tangible affect to the bottom line, people must be hooked from the start and the only way that will occur is to overload the reader with content.

  25. 10:32 here again, 1:14. Your value and contributions notwithstanding, you are in GannettWorld, where what is valued is upside down. Operative phrases in my post are "purely actuarial point of view" and "on a more subjective basis." That's how Gannett operates, actuarially (bean-counteristic for the vocab-challenged) and arbitrarily.

  26. @ 1:14 - all very valid, and real points. The problem is, for you specifically, is that you make too much money! I was one of "those" older employees, in the industry over 35 years, stellar all the way through, but I made a decent salary (though not what I did 10 years prior with another media company). I had always heard "bad" things about Gannett, throughout at least 20 years. But Gannett owns the paper in this market, and that was/is my passion, so I opted to apply and was hired. I came to find out, especially my last year of employment, that Gannett was acually worse than it had been portrayed. I simply could NOT believe how little they cared about employees, me included. However, my work ethic was ingrained in me, and though it sucked, I continued to give my heart and soul, praying things could change, that common sense would at SOME point prevail. I was wrong. My heart goes out to Gannett lifers, for this is all you've ever known. At least I have some great memories with a former employer, and great memories with my "professional friends" at Gannett, but I simply could not treat people the way they wanted them treated, and I fought to my own death. Still glad I did!

  27. The age vs. cost points are all valid. So are the contributions of older employees. I get it, because I am one of you.

    Unfortunately, every move this company has made lately at Gannett, USA today and the community papers point to one obvious problem: management doesn't care squat about the quality of the content. None of our leaders, especially the newcomers, pay more than lip service for good enterprising content. It's all about distribution and delivery systems and how to make thing look shiny and bright.

    None of these people have a clue about producing decent content because they have no background in it. Nor do most of the kids they are hiring. You can cut employees to the bone, but at the end of the day, if you have no one experienced at gathering content, even deciding what to grab and package from other providers, you are going to produce shitty products that no one wants to read.

  28. From the How-Times-Have-Changed Dept.:

    Sometime in the 1980s, insurance companies decided to give price breaks to companies that drug-tested employees. The publisher at my Community Group newspaper announced that all new hires would have to pass a drug test.

    Shortly after that, John Curley came to town for some reason, and I attended a Gannett dinner at which he answered questions from attendees about All Things Gannett.

    One publisher asked why he couldn't insist his current employees pee in the cup.

    Curley's response (I'm paraphrasing mostly, but the part in quotes is absolutely accurate): We see our employees daily, and we know their work. Drug testing them for no reason would be insulting. "I don't believe in beating up on our employees."

  29. When will it sink in that for gannett and most other media companies the quality of content is irrelevant.

    So what if the story has no context?
    So what if the story never explained when the event (or whatever) happened?
    So what if the story never explains who the person is who is quoted?
    So what if the story leaves readers begging for more information and/or facts?

    With the push toward "citizen journalists" -- as in "free" --- all emphasis on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of a story will be out the window.

    What we will get are snipets of dubious info that will be poorly written, misspelled and ... did I mention "free?"

    Because the quality of the content doesn't matter when all you want to do is fill those white spaces above the ads...

  30. We just got the everybody-gets-a-review-at-the-same-time email. Does anybody know the point of this? Is it just so the bosses can tell everybody at the same time that they're not getting a raise??

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  32. Freedom Forum and Newseum trustees meeting. What a mess.

  33. 11:47 is correct, when in Phoenix, Crotchfelt would talk in meeting about crying when having to layoff people. She would go on and on about not sleeping, making hard decisions and doing her best to save those she could. Such compassion is always very nice if it wasn't so self-focused. She never mentioned employees, just the sorry it brought her. She actually got her odd little group to feel sorry for her. Now that's the true Gannett way!

  34. This is an interesting article:

  35. 9:03 AM, we too talk fondly of "what it used to be like" at my site, it's not just Pointroll that working conditions suck.

    After 27 years, I've had it! I'm taking the buyout as I can't stomach working for this company anymore.

  36. As you may have heard, US Community Publishing (USCP) is adopting a new approach to providing performance feedback and establishing clear goals and expectations throughout the division.   All USCP Full-time employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement will move to a common review date plan.  Under this approach, all employees in the organization will receive their annual performance review and consideration for a pay increase during the same time period.   
    The performance evaluation period will be April 2011 – March 2012, with the process itself to be completed by the end of June and pay adjustments effective with the first payroll of July.   This new performance review process is in contrast to the service anniversary date (original hire or position date) approach currently used at most locations.   Please note: if you have already completed a performance appraisal in 2012, you will not be required to complete another appraisal in this transition.  Attached is a timeline for the transition process.    

    As a full-time hourly (non-exempt) employee, you will complete your performance appraisal on the performance appraisal form currently in use at your location.   Your local HR business partner can assist you with accessing the form.
    If you have any questions about this process, please address them to your manager or HR business partner.

    Tim Regan
    Gannett Human Resources

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  38. Good observation, 8:24!

  39. "HR business partner" sounds so greasy ...

    1. It's a standard title in many companies these days

  40. Moving to a single review date is not a bad thing, especially without the number of people in HR to track due dates, etc. I had to beat up on some supervisors or nobody would ever get their reviews in and I really believe the employees deserve to get some feedback, even if it's only once a year. My philosophy has been that if your review is a surprise to you, then your manager is doing something wrong.

    At my first HR job and now this one, there is a common reporting period. At this company, the employees are scattered across the country and so are their managers. The annual reviews are now coming in. It is much easier to track them and make sure the are correct. Having a set date for all raises (I know that's an unknown concept lately in Gannett) helps in the budgetary process. You'll know how much your payroll is going to grow and when it will hit. Also good for the employees so they know when their reviews are due so they can make sure their managers do one too.

  41. No offense to you 10:24, but how in the heck Shreveport still has an HR rep is beyond any of our comprehension. For years she has referred us to a website or a phone number and has never answered a single question. She is never in the office and it is obvious that claims she is a jewel in the corporate crown must be true because she does nothing to advocate for the employees. How sad that gone are the days if you had a problem or issue in the workplace, you had an advocate. Now you sink or swim alone.

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  43. The Peyton Manning chase shows how Gannett has been outclassed when it comes to big stories. Last night WKMG in Orlando reported that former Denver quarterback Tim Tebow -- a Florida native -- would be traded by midday today. Fox Sports correctly credited WKMG; USA Today credited national media outlets but not the Orlando TV station.

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