An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
In an e-mail yesterday, a reader wrote: Just attended the dog and pony show called Content Evolution at my site. How sad it was. There was talk from executives of more reader participation stories and layoffs. One executive said there we will "probably lose folks." It was said there will be more emphasis on food coverage and education. The executive admitted circulation is off eight percent over the last three years. He said web hits are down five percent over the last three years. Municipal coverage and court coverage will continue to be de-emphasized. They are excited about paywalls coming. My question is this: Since web hits are down with no pay walls, how are they going to go up with pay walls? Looks like they just don't get it at my site. I urge all Gannett employees to ditch company stock and not buy Gannett products.Because I have had one raise in the last four years and have been furloughed five times in the last four years, Gannett will receive no content ideas from me. All it will get is my vacation request. I urge all employees to do the same.
I would urge you to look, but keep doing the best work you can do.its not about listening to these know nothings, it's about taking pride in your work.
On a positive note, there is a life after Gannett, and it is sweet.
You got that right, Amir. Could not even imagine going into that awful place to work for such a lousy company... wish I had left years sooner.
"Because I have had one raise in the last four years and have been furloughed five times in the last four years, Gannett will receive no content ideas from me. All it will get is my vacation request. I urge all employees to do the same."Layoffs, furloughs and no raises are absolutely a morale sapper and too large of a burden on remaining staff not to impact performance. However, this kind of advice goes a step too far in my opinion.I assume that most folks have at least a few friends in the company; folks that they care about. Some of those folks actually enjoy what they do and want a healthy company to work for moving forward.If people work against the company, you're working against some of your friends.You've got every right to feel you deserve more. I wouldn't argue that at all. I'd argue that a better path is to polish a resume and go get more, but don't hurt folks you probably care about while you're still around.
When will Gannett's Management Committee decide it needs actual journalists as members? Anyone? Again. We are taliking about the internal operating group, not the outside board.This says tons about management's mindset.
Jim,Any word on furloughs?
We all know Gannett reads this blog. We all know Rob, Sandy, Sarah and Cat do too. If Rob is lying to us and our clients, we safely can assume he has been lying to Gannett.Rise up fellow Rollers! Time to unite! Show Gannett that we want these clowns gone! Demand that they take action. Demand all four resignations.
Current KoP employee DEMANDS resignations!
6:08 I know something. Keep up the good work yourself. But you should look at the reality and whole picture. We are not dumb. We feel and see it everyday when we come to work, and for you too paint a real pretty picture is wrong.Brevard is not doing as great as you would have us believe. The numbers aren't there. The building either needs to bet sublet or let go. The print is not enough, etc.We will probably merge with someone in this building. Too much to maintain, physically and financially. Basically it's gone down the crap shoot. As for workers, most of us are too tired to pull up our boot straps and move forward. Most of us are ready for a lay off! So please when you want to act like everything is gold, be specific and factual. We have heard the bull for the at least the last 3 years.
Word is that 22 of the 44 people in the newsroom at the Arizona Republic who were offered the buyout REJECTED it! They have been given 10 days to "rethink" their positions.A very depressing situation.Any other newsrooms out there have a similar situation?
Shreveport production manager at it againpete please raise your head come out your office and steer us to shore WE ARE DROWNING
By the way, Gannett 25 punishment is a letter in their personnel file followed by a wagging finger and a "Don't do this again."
Where's the news/comments on the assault on USAT/Sports? Seems the dismantling of what was once the prized section of USAT should be drawing more attention on this blog and elsewhere.Assuming the one blurb that I read yesterday was correct, it seems USAT is once again thinning out men of a certain age.
I can't say I'm surprised by the moves in Sports. Even aside from the new crew coming in, Sports has grown stale over the last 15 years. It was time for a makeover.That said ...A. It would've been nice to see these guys have an opportunity to move elsewhere within the company. They may not be visionaries, but they're good, loyal people and pretty good managers. Compare this with the treatment they gave a few people on the news side who frankly committed firing offenses but were gently pushed around the org chart until the furor died down.B. I still haven't seen much sign of the new crew being able to pull off the grand makeover they're trying here.One error a lot of people here are making, though, is comparing this to other Gannett moves or warning other groups that they're "next." What they're doing in Sports is unprecedented. It might be the boldest, brashest thing Gannett has done since Neuharth said, "Hey, let's make a national newspaper." They've suddenly realized that USAT used to own Sports -- I maintain that the brand was actually BUILT on Sports, with all due respect to other departments -- and now they're a bit player behind ESPN, Yahoo, Fox Sports ... even Deadspin. And yet Sports has kept most of its staff, not seeing the exodus you've seen from other departments. (Perhaps because ESPN and company don't raid USAT the way they raid most papers.) Monte was the biggest defender of the status quo you ever saw, for better or for worse. Now that he's gone, all bets are off.
Mark Silverman and I discussed pay walls. My personal opinion is they will be a DISASTER for Gannett. Mark's argument in favor is that "the NY Times has them and it's a success" my response was it takes me a LOT longer than 10 minutes to read the NY Times. I'll pay to read news that's fresh and well written. The fact is "what" the Gannett local papers are trying to sell is offered free on other blogs. Mark's the expert so maybe he's right.
Why would ESPN/SI, etc. raid Sports? The writing there -- even in its 'glory' years -- was always uninspired at best and hackneyed at worst. It's always been ironic that, at the Nation's Newspaper, the blandest, most pedestrian writing seemed to be embraced by the two sections where, traditionally, the best writing was showcased: sports and features. (Instead, the best writing was in Money and News, in that order.)Honestly, did the sports guys ever read the likes of DeFord, Jenkins, Reilly, etc. and, if they did, did they ever even attempt to question the comparatively banal "USA Today Way"? Not a single writer rose above the pedestrian style. At least Life had Craig Wilson as a token, designated 'one guy in the section who can actually write."My sympathies to those losing their jobs as a result here. But let's not kid ourselves that this is the destruction of a once-great sports section.
Maybe one of those ex-USAT sports editors would like to come to Cincinnati? http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?IPath=QHKCV0A&APath=184.108.40.206.0&job_did=JHT2RY6BHCM05LD86CL
I was about to send back a form updating my life insurance insurance beneficiary information when I realized there is absolutely nothing on the form to identify me. The letter is addressed only to "Dear Gannett Retiree," so I can't use that. WTF?? how are they going to match my beneficiary information with my account?? This is beyond bizarre. The form goes to "Gannett Benefits Center" at a P.O. Bbox in Totowa, NJ. And then what?There is no telephone or email link, nor is there any place on the form for updating the beneficiary's address, if necessary (which it is). Thanks, folks.
11:28 - It gets more and more bizarre by the hour.
So much chaos and disgruntled employees at Gannette, what is someone named Maryam Banikarim a senior VP there or something?
The Sports changes needed to be made to keep up. More coming. As others pointed out, how did the nations newspaper fall behind the likes of cbssportsline, yahoo!sports, even deadspin?
In an e-mail, a reader asked me to post the following, regarding the "dog and pony show" referenced at the start of this thread:@ 2:54, I would repeat the advise of a wise editor" Always write (well) for yourself because that's what's going to get you out of there." I sat through the same content evolution presentation, which comes with a reorganization of the newsroom seating (big time waster) and taking down physical "walls" between work spaces, so now you won't be able to conduct a simple phone interview without noise bleeding in from every corner of the newsroom. Will the top dogs give up their glass offices to show support of this idea? Doubt full. Remember what a bust the open classroom concept was in education? Leave it to Gannett to adopt someone else's failure. maybe we can bring back "new" Coke next. What was lacking was the digital business plan evolution and the advertising sales evolution presentations. The fundamental question remains, how do we make the same money from web and tablet ads that we make from a full page ad in the dying print product. No one seems to have that answer, so it's up to content producers to pull of a miracle...again. Meanwhile we're told there are iPhone and droid and tablet apps coming, but no roll out date. Didn't we hear this in the fall? Oh and everyone gets to await word on what their reassignment is in the New World Order. And we have always been at war with Oceania! Meanwhile word on the street is that corporate rejected our sites Content Evolution plan. So why the useless time and productivity wasting dog and pony show? And food is one of our passion topics. So dust off mom and grandma's recipe box, because they are your new sources! It's all in reach!
@9:45 I'm one of those "22 of the 44" at the Arizona Republic who didn't take the early-retirement offer. I have not seen any notification of 10 days to "rethink" the offer. As for the first comment about not offering content ideas -- I'm sorry, but I always felt I worked for the readers, not the newspaper owners. I've been in the business 37 years and have kept that attitude the entire time. I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I didn't put forth a good effort every day.
The Big Lead (a Gannett property) just reported that columnist Joe Posnanski is leaving Sports Illustrated for the USA Today/MLB Advanced Media project. Big name.http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2012/03/30/joe-posnanski-is-leaving-sports-illustrated/
He's a major talent. Wonder how long it will take until he regrets ever leaving SI?
10:12 and 12:18 got it right. The status quo had reigned far too long in Sports and things had gotten so stale that some of the bright up-and-coming talen got fed up after a few years and left. Monte may be a nice guy but he did not move that newsroom forward whatsoever and frankly he was very hands off about online and digital production. I don't like seeing anyone lose their position but I can't say I'm surprised he or any of the others who fell by the wayside in the last 24 hours are now gone.
You not only have to leave Gannett, but get out of the news business. All of the other publicly traded companies are corrupt, the start ups pay nothing unless you are a big wheel, and the nonprofit models only profit the good old boys who run them.
Posnanski's a huge hire. No way he comes to USAT under old management.That said, can he or any other good writers make readers change their habits? It's impressive to other journalists, but will readers notice?
1:16 Posnanski is going to work on a "partnership" between USAT Sports Media and Major League Baseball that was announced in February.Under the deal, "The USA TODAY Sports Media Group and MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, today announced a joint venture to develop and produce new content and products for sports fans across all digital and mobile platforms."This would be akin to Gannett forming a partnership with Apple to develop news and information content about that company -- while simultaneously claiming to write objectively about that company.How are readers to trust USAT's baseball coverage when the paper is business partners with the team owners?
Readers don't care Jimmy. Only you and your dinosaur pals care. Go Tommy, go Tommy!
And I can't sign a fucking petition.
Looks like the info on the three people "let go" in USAT Sports might not be completely accurate. They didn't get the management jobs that made the most sense for them to get. But have they cleaned out their desks?Why so much silence on it? We usually know layoffs and buyouts within hours. These changes were openly announced at USAT, and no one has the "scoop"? Strange.
Me again from 2:20 -- Or maybe MORE people have been let go. Conflicting reports. Silence. Very strange.
They are making some major changes. Guys aren't necessarily being let go as they are losing their old jobs and will be put in new jobs. New leadership and direction is badly needed. Posnanski is huge. Look for more similar announcements.
So glad to be out of GANNETT!
I don't come on here often, but when I do, it's sickening from all sides. Reading the comments on this blog is like reading all the spineless, armchair-QB, holier-than-thou reader comments on our stories everyday. No matter what (insert paper name/company here) does, it is never right or never enough; and instead this reader and that reader (or this journalist/former journalist and that journalist/former journalist) has all the right answers. Even if Gannett were to find a cure for cancer, all you whiners would find fault with that. As much as we would hate to admit it, the company is doing something right to be hovering at $15/share today while other media companies have gone under.I'm definitely no fan of the company, and I have found it flabbergasting that we, at my paper, are expected to continue producing despite what little resources we have. But as one commentator said earlier, we do it not for the company and its rich executives, but for the readers. Take a little effing pride in your work. Screw McLean and what they may reap from your good work -- do it for you and the readers because of your pride in your work, because you have a strong work ethic, because you still believe in good journalism. And then when it's time for you to leave -- whether willingly or not -- then it's time and you just move on and meet other challenges ahead. Sometimes we're in control; sometimes not. Everything happens for a reason.I'd hate to work with so many whiners who constantly bitch and play armchair QB. I'd hate to have so many of you work for me. No wonder you're on the hot seat with that sort of effing attitude. Take pride in your work for yourself, for your readers. It's as simple as that.
Amen. I'm sure a lot of these posts are by the same poster. They appear to have the same underlying message that their happy to be out, or everyone there is trying to get out. I love my job, and I'm thankful to have it.
Any truth to the rumor that the positions of everyone in advertising except those who directly sell ads will be eliminated in the next few months?
One of USA Today's top editors, David Colton, sends out a daily note to the staff, which often is the only way anyone knows what's going on.Here is what he sent on Thursday about the Sports changes.(For those outside of USA Today, you need to know that Sports is managed completely isolated from the rest of the newspaper and website.)Good afternoon on this Thursday … Changes in Sports: Obviously an important but also a hard day in Sports yesterday as the first names of a new management team were announced by Dave Morgan, Senior Vice President of Content for the Sports Media Group. Stepping down as Managing Editor will be Monte Lorell, a longtime USA TODAY colleague whose career here has ranged from the Life section to Page One Editor and nearly two decades guiding the Sports Section through evolutions and revolutions -- in coverage, in new approaches to the news and in digital delivery (not to mention dealing with the likes of Rudy Martzke and Hal Bodley!). From database journalism to how USA TODAY interacted with leagues and athletes, Monte has been one of the brand’s classiest acts throughout (plus he’s a great Yankees fan), and we know his story is just starting. Stepping in as Acting Managing Editor – starting today – will be Gerry Ahern (spelling corrected here; Colton got it wrong), who is the Sports Media Group’s director of network news and will retain that position as well. Gerry has been sports editor at three Gannett newspapers – Huntington, Lansing and Detroit – and was a former managing editor for college sports and investigations at Yahoo! Morgan said Gerry will serve until a new ME is chosen, and that his larger role as director of network news remains “his long term position.’’ Gerry said with his Gannett background, he felt as if he was ‘coming home.’’ Also announced yesterday at a Sports meeting in the auditorium: Tom O’Toole has been named AME for sports beats; Deborah Barrington is AME for desk operations; and Tim Gardner is AME for digital programming. Other leadership spots are still to be filled and new “team leader” positions will be posted shortly, Morgan said. “Go after those positions aggressively,’’ Morgan told the staff. “We have an opportunity to reshape who we are in the industry – dynamic, digital first. That’s what this process is about. … The human part of this has been difficult. We recognize that this is not easy, but we’re building the right vehicle for the future.’’ He added, “We’ve made some tough decisions,’’ referring to “colleagues who have built the brand over 30 years. We thank them for what they’ve done.’’ This is obviously an ongoing process in Sports, but even though they are technically a separate entity, we are all intertwined and we thought it important to let the rest of the newsroom know the highlights of what’s happening -- at least those parts that are determined. Good luck to everyone involved, present and future.
Fortunately, the association with MLB will be without any conflict of interest. MLB is the epitome of sports professionalism and all news related to baseball only occurs on the field. They never have scandals like throwing the World Series, players betting on their own games, performance enhancing drugs, recreational drugs, labor relations issues and strikes, or $26 hot dogs.
3:07 PMSo glad that you still come back to make your pathetic life seem meaningful? Like "My life sucks, but at least I'm not still at Gannett" Gee it sounds great. If I didn't work here anymore you better believe I would not be looking at this blog.
Or bounties for hits like in the NFL!Or crooked refs in the NBA.Or...
And lest anyone think Gannett is the only dubious media corp. ...Emmis preferred fight gets NYT attentionBy Jack Messmer on Mar, 30 2012Radio & Television Business ReportThe battle between Emmis Communications and some major holders of its preferred shares has gotten the attention of the New York Times. The article in Friday’s (3/30) paper carried the headline “A Strategy to Vote Dead Shares.”NYT writer Floyd Norris compared the Emmis strategy of buying the voting rights to preferred shares, which have been cashed out under tax and accounting rules, as analogous to Chicago’s famed dead voters who regularly cast ballots.Emmis, owners of radio stations and city magazines across the country, has been targeted for delisting by NASDAQ. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/business/emmis-chases-a-strategy-to-vote-dead-shares.html
I've worked for several chains, including NYT. Gannett isn't the best. But it's not the worst.There's no excuse for Dubow's parachute, absolutely. And there's a lack of innovation that can't be dressed up. Aside from that, it's really no worse than anywhere else.But the blog attracts a lot of people who think they deserve better. In a lot of respects, I don't begrudge them their bitterness. It just bogs down the fruitful news discussion.
What Buesse and Morgan and Hunke have done to Sports at USAT is shameful. Their talk is meaningless. They are replacing experience with yes-men who are their compliant friends. How do they sleep at night?
Oh pleeeease. USAT has been a total print product. If it wants to compete in the digital world it will take massive change. 30 years of newspaper experience doesnt cut it. Sorry
Does this really take a rocket scientist to figure out? Morgan waited out his Yahoo non-compete and now is going to bring in his own people. On the plus side, the displaced dead weight should be able to find work with Yahoo after they strip that place of anyone worth a damn.
4:47: I worked at USA TODAY and left because those "yes men" had no sense of innovation and were stuck in the status quo. The journalism industry today is simply put: Evolve or die. Good or bad, a shakeup was absolutely necessary. Monte's a nice guy but he had no clue how to handle digital stuff.
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The advertising departments should be cut back in a big,big way.How do they justify having the same number of reps when most of the advertisers have gone away and they are certainly not being replaced by new customers?In comparison to the days when each ad rep had maybe 75 active advertisers,now they have maybe half that or less.What the heck do they do with all the extra time ?
This is too Evan RayIf you have a vision for GPS, can you please explain it? We who work in Production have no clue what the Goals are, what the vision is , nothing. Everyone is in the dark, so I assume the plan is to run the print Division into the ground or sell it off? Please send a memo soon to your employees who bust their ass daily, and have been wondering why. I believe you are a figure head, soon to take the fall like Ollie North, when the complete shit hits the fan. Your not competent to run a operation of this size, no one has ever seen you or received any emails from you
What do you want to know? What don't you know?
I am no longer with Gannett and I come back here (on occasion) to see what is going on with my old company. I have held many jobs and I try to keep up with the people and the organizations at each as much as I can. Looking back isn't bad. I understand the frustration of those who remain and don't want to hear the "So glad I am not at Gannett" posts. Thus, I won't say whether I am better off or not. I will say that some of the finest professionals I had the pleasure of working with are still with Gannett. They're good people who try to put out a good product. I wish them the best. And, I wish Gannett the best. We need functioning newspapers in our society. We need newspaperman (as they were called in my day). I'm in a different industry today and it hasn't been left out of the economic hardship of the last few years. All we can do is keep on keeping on. Good luck to those who remain. Congratulations to those who left. And, to those who were let go and are struggling, my prayers are with you and your families. Hopefully, there are greener pastures ahead.
A compassionate and excellent post, 7:36.
What Hunke, Buesse and Morgan have done to Sports is having broad impact across the paper beyond that section. It is destroying USA Today.
USAT has destroyed itself by never changing and never asking its employees to change and improve their skill sets. The loudest commoners are the least willing to change. It's easier to cry and complain than seek solutions.
8:29 Can you cite some examples?
2:48, they work to secure new customers.I am sure it is easy to sit back and judge but reps at my site are busting their asses to find business. Their pay depends on it and keeping the dreaded PIP away depends on it.Reps are not just selling anymore because they are responsible for data entry, selling, collecting, delivering papers and tearsheets, more collecting, ad layout, ad proofing, as changes, more fast entry, reporting, meetings, training on new initiatives or systems, more training - oh let's change direction and have more meetings and training about it, corporate comes to town. One-on-onesIf sales people were allowed to sell then maybe just maybe numbers would improve.
At my site, Cherry Hill, you should add the duties (er, excuses): playing games on smart phone, texting, facebooking, planning parties, skirt chasing and doing personal stuff on the clock.
Old photos may be deceptive in Fla. shooting case:http://ap.news-journalonline.com/dynamic/stories/U/US_NEIGHBORHOOD_WATCH_THE_PHOTOS_FLOL-?SITE=FLDAY&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
Jim, Has Buesse gotten to you? Is he your source now?
Jim, here's an idea for a blog post:You know how reporters used to have a "dead pool" for the world leader they expected to be the next to pass? Well, why not have one for the USCP building next expected to be sold?(Of course, Duh Moines would be out, since they just gave it up, and maybe a couple others that are already in the process.)Have some fun with it!
to 7:36A fine post. We have not had a newspaperman run the company sense Al and the old guard retired. As soon as Dubow took over the ship started to take on water, it was said at the time bye long time newspaperman that this was a BAD move, Production Directors and Publisher I have known said this the day he was appointed..so yes you are correct sir, we need a newspaperman to run this company, Our leaders who are running this once great company are running it completely into the ground. What a shameThe Happy Pressman
I cannot believe that Joe Posnanski is leaving SI to work for Gannett! I thought he'd learned his lesson during his years with the Kansas City Star. Joe is the best human interest/sports columnist writing today. He won't stay long with USA Today.
He isn't going to USAT the newspaper. That's the point. You just don't get it. Beusse and his team are building something special. But the haters don't want things to change. They never do
In a couple of weeks I am losing 2 co-workers, and although I wish them all the best in their retirement or new ventures, I can't help feeling somewhat "lost". I am not only losing good friends, but also valuable experience, but none of that matters to the bottom line. Yes, they carried high (relatively) wages and 4 weeks of vacation (9 Holidays, 7 sick days) per year, and this will be offset if their replacements starting salary and fringe benefits stays low. You get what you pay for in this world, and offering $12 an hour for a $20 an hour position get you what you pay for.This is all academic if those vacated positions doesn't get filled, and in that case it is all gravy for the bean counters.During the last 3 years of buyouts and layoffs my responsibilities have increased to insurmountable heights. My responsibilities currently include me doing the job of 2 former workers, plus my own, always behind and never a chance of catching up. Now add these latest vacated positions and I see the writing on the wall. My boss is pulling his hair out, and morale is measured in negative units.If, and that is the $1,000,000 question, the positions will be posted and filled, the lag between thought and action is at least 3 months down the road, and I am not sure I (we) can make it.I wish my soon to be former co-workers all the best, and I know they made the right decision for themselves and their families, but it sucks being left behind.To those who are left, I want to apologize in advance if you find me to be a tad grumpy and perhaps a little short with you in the next couple of months. It isn't personal, just that I feel a bit stressed and slightly overworked, so please try to understand.Thank you and have a great weekend!
Jim - re: your 1:42pm post in response to 1:16pm...To be clear, the deal Beusse made with MLB is with MLB Advanced Media, which is a fairly separate company than the league itself (strange, but true). MLBAM does run MLB.com, but has a number of other sports interests outside of baseball. So, the still-unclear 'joint venture' may not be completely baseball-focused. (Posnanski is known as a baseball guy, but he columns on other stuff; he's a good name). It does sound like the 'jv' will be kept separate from the paper / USAT.com, so...time will tell how it all plays out.On another note, to your 9:51pm post (and I am not 8:29pm): new management at USAT must be in awe of Beusse's swagger and template for getting change done, patience and kindness be damned. So, he's laying a blueprint for other departments on how to make sweeping change. Setting aside whether that's all good or not, it's being done. Beusse himself will admit to having to be a **ck to make the kind of change he wants, and, well, he's doing it. I empathize with an earlier poster who lamented that it's a very rare exception when existing staff is honestly offered training or invited to become part of the digital focus. At the end of the day, Beusse and co. don't have time for that, so other than the worker bees, it's just easier to bring in whole new guys he trusts. Best wishes for the guys leaving Sports - whether they were status quo or ineffectual, they were good guys who served the brand well for many years. Many of the problems with USAT today were beyond their control - economy, digital readers, bad corporate management. Always a shame to see mass change to mass groups who do care and have cared for so long.
I don't agree with everything 12 a.m. just said, but it is a rational and level-headed view.All the armageddon talk needs to end. let's try to survive instead.
You have an abusive employer? What are you prepared to do? I left.
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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