Monday, April 02, 2012

April 2-8 | Your News & Comments: Part 1

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67 comments:

  1. Someone mentioned another USA Today reorg coming. Unless this one sheds do nothing managers in all department or reassigning them to productive jobs, no one is interested and there will be no buy in.

    People are sick and tired of empty slogans, obtuse executive hires and senior managers insulated from real time,hands on work. The charade by Tom Beusses' team in Sports infected the entire organization with an infusion of mistrust, fear and resignation. The damage will be lasting and pervasive. You don't build a winning team by telling everyone that they have to reapply for their jobs. You certainly don't talk out of both sides of your mouth (Gracia, Ellwood, Hunke) while doing so. Especially when you retain failed, ineffective workers throughout the organization.

    When are you people going to wake up and get your act together. This isn't like cutting janitorial services back three days a week or placing completely unqualified people in nebulous positions. You are screwing around with a whole lot of lives and many more are shellshockedby the fallout. Blissful ignorance and hiding out in your offices doesn't change that.

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  2. Here's my version of what a reorg of USA Today should be:

    You don't sell ads, you are gone.

    You don't drircectly produce or handle any content, you are gone.

    Your job is redundant, you're gone.

    You have no one directly reporting to you and nobody to manage, you're gone.

    Your chief tasks are second guessing, armchair quarterbacking and covering your ass, you're gone.

    You have no idea how to report or write a story and this organization has covered for you by leaning on others to take up the slack, you're gone.

    You are an editor who thinks only in terms of the next day's paper and fail to update stories for the web, you're gone.

    You are one of more than a dozen vice presidents of whatever, you're gone.

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  3. Could someone explain to me the list at the bottom of USAT.com's home page, 'popular topics in the news'?

    It varies from 9 to over a hundred topics, and doesn't seem to have any order, either ranking in popularity or even alphabetical.

    Is it just a SEO thing? Or is it just a filler for when there isn't enough news in the world? I can't imagine there are many people who would read through that list and suddenly decide to click on the link for the 'orlando sentinel'.

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  4. Will the final buyouts at Florida Today be known this morning?

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  5. I was at work the other day (I don't work for Gannett) and everyone was complaining about the newspaper: The errors, the wedding announcement that didn't make it in, the lack of government coverage, and the list goes on. I told them about the paywalls and how they wouldn't be able to pay for just the printed paper and how their subscription rates were going to be going up and by how much and you should have seen the reaction. It was priceless. And then we started talking about passion topics. Not one person I had lunch with said they would pay an increased rate for the crap they're being fed. Not one.

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  6. 2:57
    You nailed it, I with you

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  7. Pointroll is LOSING ANOTHER CLIENT...Meanwhile, Sarah Ripmaster is on vacation again.

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  8. Good wishes for everyone that is waiting to hear if their buyout comes through or not. I hope you hear today and this waiting isn't prolonged.

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  9. Two Michigan community sites did a tap dance about paywalls yesterday... http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/gannetts-latest-paywall-announcements-would-you-pay-for-obfuscation/

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  10. This should an interesting week.
    Buyouts accepted,layoffs will then be calculated according to how bad the quarter revenue numbers have fallen once again.
    By now,who cares.Those waiting for layoffs will get what they wanted.Those still at Gannett for other reasons,too bad.

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  11. Jim, Can you please move the buyout spreadsheet back to the top and start adding the numbers as they come in? Today should be a big day. I hope Gannett doesn't take a lot longer to decide on the buyouts. This waiting is hard. Glad you got my $20!

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  12. 8:18 said "how they wouldn't be able to pay for just the printed paper"

    Where did you get that from? Nowhere have I seen anything like this. You said you don't work for Gannett so must be you got your info from someone who doesn't know. If that were true there surely wouldn't be any joy in Mudville!

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  13. QUOTE OF THE DAY

    "Should management of this dwindling, idiosyncratically-governed media company succeed in journaling millions from the preferred holders to the common holders, the resulting ripples could be worth billions."

    This is Wall Street expert James Grant talking about, no, not Gannett (this time) but Emmis Corp., owner of radio stations and city mags across the country.

    Today is the day stockholders gather to confront matters ...

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20120331/BUSINESS/203310309/Emmis-dials-up-fight-group-shareholders

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  14. A reader tipped me off to what they called the Gannett Corporate cruise to Tahiti. I've just asked for more details.

    Meanwhile, what do you know?

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  15. Dave Hunke, are you proud of yourself?

    Not only will you forever carry the legacy of having undone USA Today but now also wrecking hundreds of careers.

    How can you seriously look at yourself in the mirror every morning with any self respect?

    Time to pack it in and fade away. Please.

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  16. 4/02/2012 2:57 AM

    Excellent assessment! So now is it time to finally say good bye and good ridance to Dave Hunke, Susie Ellwood, Lee Jones, Heather Frank, Sandy Micek and Susan Weiss? We hope so.

    And now let us leave the rubble in the hands of the two most inept fools of all, Gracia Martore and Maryam Banikarim.

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  17. The Philadelphia Inquirer is now owned by one of the top political power brokers in the region. The death of journalism continues.

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  18. It might appear that USA TODAY has gone from one of the better places to work to one of the worst in a few short years, but actually the beginning of the end really started a decade or so ago.

    The lack of respect and basic honesty -- particularly coming from key managers in the newsroom -- laid the groundwork for all that currently ails the paper/website. Hiring became shoddy. Promotions of less than capable people raised more than a few eyebrows. Overall, key managers allowed an atmosphere of extreme selfishness. They turned the newsroom into a popularity contest. It didn't matter how much work you did or how competent you were. All that mattered was whether you sucked up to these insecure, ego-maniacs in the corner offices. This created an uneven workload. Essentially a small group of employees carried the bulk of the load.

    While this and other things worsened, HR and executive level managers (including the editor of the paper) stuck their heads in the sand. The entire operation became corrupt. Those with poor work ethics got away with murder. Anyone with half a brain and a desire to uphold certain standards could see what was happening. Eventually, many of them left on their own or were targeted for layoffs or forced buyouts. Some of the hardest working, most honorable people were thought of as troublemakers.

    USAT is scrambling to make up for all the wasted time and the lost talent. The bad karma created by managers 10 years ago, combined with the recession, created a perfect storm, which USAT is frantically trying to extricate itself from so that it can move forward. Frankly, I have no confidence this can be done at this point. I think further mistakes will be made. I think true buy-in is unattainable. I think the lies and layoffs will continue until the brand is so diluted that it will no longer be a major player in the media world. USAT needed changes 10 years ago to prevent the kind of destructive stuff that is going on there now.

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    Replies
    1. Itll get a lot worse soon

      Delete
  19. It might appear that USA TODAY has gone from one of the better places to work to one of the worst in a few short years, but actually the beginning of the end really started a decade or so ago.

    The lack of respect and basic honesty -- particularly coming from key managers in the newsroom -- laid the groundwork for all that currently ails the paper/website. Hiring became shoddy. Promotions of less than capable people raised more than a few eyebrows. Overall, key managers allowed an atmosphere of extreme selfishness. They turned the newsroom into a popularity contest. It didn't matter how much work you did or how competent you were. All that mattered was whether you sucked up to these insecure, ego-maniacs in the corner offices. This created an uneven workload. Essentially a small group of employees carried the bulk of the load.

    While this and other things worsened, HR and executive level managers (including the editor of the paper) stuck their heads in the sand. The entire operation became corrupt. Those with poor work ethics got away with murder. Anyone with half a brain and a desire to uphold certain standards could see what was happening. Eventually, many of them left on their own or were targeted for layoffs or forced buyouts. Some of the hardest working, most honorable people were thought of as troublemakers.

    USAT is scrambling to make up for all the wasted time and the lost talent. The bad karma created by managers 10 years ago, combined with the recession, created a perfect storm, which USAT is frantically trying to extricate itself from so that it can move forward. Frankly, I have no confidence this can be done at this point. I think further mistakes will be made. I think true buy-in is unattainable. I think the lies and layoffs will continue until the brand is so diluted that it will no longer be a major player in the media world. USAT needed changes 10 years ago to prevent the kind of destructive stuff that is going on there now.

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  20. It is too bad USA Today has no power brokers -- just get-them-on-the-cheap "journalists, an executive editor who hates her "product" more than she does her staff, and the most useless, lying do-nothing publisher ever.

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    Replies
    1. The paper has a couple dozen decent reporters and fewer good editors on the print side. Thats all.

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  21. if they





































    If they're cruisin', we can always hope for Somalian Pirates...

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  22. 12:11 p.m., the end of USA TODAY began with Craig Moon getting tossed and the inexplicable promotion of Dave Hunke. Even his lap dog Susie Ellwood can't salvage the mess he has created now.

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  23. Sarah Ripmaster is STILL ON VACATION!!! Nice job Sarah. You should resign.

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  24. Astonishing, Jim, that so much turmoil has been triggered at USA Today by Mr. Buesse's deplorable actions in Sports. And yet you have not devoted one story or item on this blog to the human tragedy now unfolding.

    I understand everyone wants to make fun of Maryam B, so any time her name appears in print you are justified in doing an item. But come on, aren't you missing the big story? Yes, forcing staff to reapply for their jobs has been done at some other Gannett properties. But this is not some shitkicker paper, but what was once the nation's largest daily and the company's flagship.

    Has Mr. Bueusse's contacts with you blinded you to the outrages he is inflicting? His claims that those being tossed out don't have the new skills needed is simply a sham, an excuse and no more.

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  25. How to get around one of the paywalls:
    1) Go to Tallahassee.com, and click on a story.
    This first paragraph shows up, with a prompt to Log In or Subscribe in order to read more.
    2) Go up to the URL, and replace "tallahassee" with "fsunews" and hit the Return button.

    Bingo.

    (FSUNews is the site of the Gannett-owned college paper there, the FSView, which is not behind the paywall. All the content for both sites is probably on the same server somewhere. I've also noticed that you can change out the website names of nearby papers sometimes to make it show up too.)

    Apparently this has been the case for over a year, so sorry if someone else posted this a long time ago.

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  26. Groupon blows it again:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/groupon-blows-again-restates-earnings-customers-demand-refunds-150759194.html

    Playing 'chicken' with their customers?

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  27. What client did PointRoll lose today? How many lost this year?

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  28. 4/02/2012 1:10 PM Jim has been right on target with his coverage and his timing of Beusse's deplorable actions and attitudes. Where have you been?

    Obviously Beusse's insane behavior can't compare with Banikarim's though they both seem to have massive egos that outweigh any of their accomplishments (or lack thereof).

    It is not Jim carrying on about these clowns at length but us poor fools stuck have to work on their didactic, demeaning and mean-spirited management.

    Then again, these idiotic acorns have not fallen far from the two-face big-trunk Martore oak tree.

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  29. Yes, Philly paper now in hands of power broker in Cherry Hill's back yard....

    Also, look at the figures:

    Inky and Daily News sold for $55 million....

    The purchase price for Philadelphia Media Network, which also operates the Philly.com website, is a fraction of the newspapers' $515 purchase price in 2006. It's also far less than the $139 million paid by creditors at a 2010 bankruptcy auction.

    Very telling.

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  30. Jim, the Sports business is worth considerably more digging. There's a school of thought that it'll only affect Sports, which is still a big deal because Sports -- like it or not -- built USA TODAY. It was a must-read for sports fans for the first decade and change of the paper's existence.

    Then there's another school of thought that what's happening in Sports is a template for what will eventually happen elsewhere. That would make the story even bigger.

    In any case, it's an unprecedented effort to shake up what was once a Gannett stronghold. With all due respect to people who'll be shuffled out, it's more than a round of layoffs. It's a megamillion-dollar gamble with a huge wave of hiring, from Beusse and Dave Morgan to the recent hiring of an honest-to-goodness big-name journalist, Joe Posnanski. They've also been acquiring properties such as The Big Lead and MMA Junkie that are far more successful in their niches than BNQT was in its.

    We frankly haven't even seen confirmation that Monte Lorell and Jim Welch have left the building. Or anything about the new "hires" for management slots. These are important people on whom a lot is riding. Why isn't anyone giving you the memos?

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  31. Jim, as a former Gannett employee ( 32 years in service ) I want to thank you for this site.

    I have been out of the loop for ten years, however I put in my time in the Westchester site. I also moved out of the area some nine years ago.
    Recently I and my family, came back to the area to visit family and friends. I decided to take a drive to the Westchester, New York site to see what it looked like, and to visit some friends.

    I as well as my wife were stunned, to say the least. The place is a ghost town. The building is virtualy empty, No Pressman, No Company Vehicles, No Pride !

    We also purchased a paper, and needless to say , completely shocked with the element of nothingness in content.

    Now when I left the company ( on my own terms ) things were changing, indeed, BUT never , ever at this level.

    I can only conclude my message here, that if newspapers are dead, The Journal News died years ago.

    It is so wrongfully sad that what is being passed as The Journal News today, would have cost you your job a mere 10 years ago. The Journal News today, would have blackballed you a mere 15 years ago!

    What has happened here?

    Could someone with a sane mind explain how this product has declined so rapidly?!

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  32. 2:23 -- Craigslist ate up the revenue from classifieds, readers found hundreds of different ways to read and watch news, etc.

    But if you stick around Jim's blog, you'll hear that it's all Gannett management, acting in isolation from other forces in the news industry and oppressing the greatest workforce ever assembled. And if you say otherwise, you're just a corporate plant. We all invent realities to make ourselves feel better, after all.

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  33. How much would you pay for this headline online?

    Convicted murdered charged in deaths of 3 men

    And these guys think they're the big dogs!

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  34. 2:40---You're kidding right ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! It is ME---PROUDLY---2:23 AND I STAND BEHIND WHAT I SAID---"The Journal News is a DISGRACE!!!!"

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  35. I am waiting to find out if a friend of mine in Shreveport had their buyout offer accepted. What is going on with the buyouts there and what is the latest on the whole advertising department fiasco? It's a mess over there these days.

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  36. Pointroll is losing Apple. Another top client has defected to a competitor!

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  37. The paywall (ie content subscription plan) has to have a code name?

    Project Firefly.

    Of course, maybe it got that name because a firefly's lifespan is relatively short...just two months.

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  38. 2:40, for all the millions that Gannett executives made, not only should they have seen the changes in the industry coming, they should have been prepared to deal with it, and figured out a way to keep the company profitable. Besides cutting jobs and increasing their bonuses.

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  39. If you are still in the dark about the changes to the"business model" you should read this from Rochester. Read the comments and the fact that the new subscription will be for "content" -- not the physical paper. Well worth the time to read it all the way through. And then read today's article about the departing columnists, writers, etc. And I'm sure readers will note there is going to be more coverage of food and wine. I could write about the wine if they stick to bottles with screw off caps.

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  40. 3:19, can you provide a link?

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  41. oops! forgot to give the Rochester address for the story: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012303180014

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  42. 3:14 and 2:23/2:56 -- (This is 2:40 responding.) Absolutely. I don't mean to say Gannett execs are wonderful people. Dubow's golden parachute is a disgrace by any standard.

    But if the question is specifically about the decline of the Journal News or any paper, Gannett or otherwise, you have to answer by looking at the changing marketplace of the last 15-20 years.

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  43. Weiss far better than Hillkirk, Paulson, Karen Jurgensen and Dave Mazzarella. If only she had some fire in the belly deputies and decent web leadership.

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    Replies
    1. And the will to make changes.

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    2. Her deputies are hoodwinking her. they are useless tools.

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  44. Gannett sure paid alot of money for "Big Brother" I mean Salesforce

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    1. Salesforce is a tool to increase productivity, not to be used as big brother. That is what we were told at my site. Sure and I expect the Easter Bunny to show up soon.

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    2. Thats why durning training the trainer always says "you don't want the CEO of Gannett to call you when he goes in and looks at what you have in your pipeline and doesn't like what he sees" No Big Brother going on at all.

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  45. Chet and Dave Teewuen need to go before Susan's deputies. i vote for Mitch Gelman.

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  46. Anything anyone is told at any site is now immediately suspect thanks to Gannett's track record over the past few years. Good going, Gannett!

    In my case, we were told that some new software would never be used to track our work. "We appreciate that some things take longer than others."

    That promise lasted about all of one day before competent staff members found themselves confronted with a supervisor's hostile and, frankly, insultingly rhetorical questions about a certain project taking "X" amount of time while another took "Y," both projects of which a supervisor had no awareness, let alone a minute's worth of hands-on involvement.

    They just checked the time log, and these guys and gals in management were good to go with not only demoralizing an entire department but betraying as total BS the promise we were given just a day before by *their* boss -- who never checked back to see that assurance carried through!

    Nice to see things haven't changed in Easter bunny department.

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  47. This ship of fools is sinking. Screw doing triple the work for nothing and focus on your resume and job hunting every moment that you can.

    Captain David Hunke is a buffoon.

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  48. Let's congratulate David L. Hunke on destroying not only the nation's newspaper but so many careers.

    Have another scotch and just know that all your " valued staff " are laughing behind your back while the industry mocks you.

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  49. I was "retired to pursue other interests" two years ago. Checking in on this blog reminds me over and over again how blessed I was to be separated from Gannett. Alarming what this company has become.

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  50. When will this buffoon finally be shown the door? What does this guy have on Martore, panty raid video?

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  51. I am ashamed to point to Hunke and Ellwood and say that is our leadership. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Kiss Ass.

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  52. Jim, having the memo buried in the catch-all daily whinefest, I mean, "News & Comments" thread is hardly the same as having a separate post where people are likely to see it.

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  53. Pointroll's Rob Gatto and Sarah Ripmaster are announcing that they are stepping down and leaving the compnay!!!!

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  54. I dont know 9:48, thats a pretty big statement- how are you so sure they are stepping down?

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  55. Jim, Can you readdress if there is an issue or concern by the board of directors on stock buyers rethinking buying gci stock because of poor management decisions? I seem to remember reading Gracia blaming debow for past problems. Is that right?

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  56. For everyone who wants to see Hunke fired, I just don't think it is going to happen. Clearly the man is incompetent with no vision, but that is exactly why Gracia hired him and is keeping him around. Hunke does everything that Gracia asks of him. He has no morals and no spine. He knows that he has no hope of getting another job anywhere else - so, he will do whatever Gracia asks of him, so that he can keep cashing his big paycheck. Gracia doesn't really want a talented leader at USAT because they might have a mind of their own and start doing the right things for USAT instead of just marching blindly behind Gracia.

    So, I think we are stuck with Hunke and the destruction will continue. There is no recovering. The damage is too deep.

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

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  58. Let's stage a goodbye party for Hunke. Maybe he'll take the hint. Everyone chip in for that case of scotch at Susie's office. She doesn't seem to be doing much these days, either.

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  59. The local news in Louisville, KY reported that 26 people are leaving Gannett due to the buy outs, most from the news room.

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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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