Sunday, May 06, 2012

April 30-May 6 | Your News & Comments: Part 7

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44 comments:

  1. Interesting perspectives on Hunkster's employee engagement. Another one of those situations which we have to question just what has been accomplished by Angela Phillips in these past two years?

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  2. What has been accomplished by any of the executives?

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  3. Jim,
    Please ask more about newsgate. Our site is transitioning soon and I'm hearing one horror story after another. Can it be fixed or, as some have suggested, is it a complete disaster that never should have been purchased to begin with?

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  4. Newgate was up/down last week and caused dead line misses.

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  5. Newsgate is a POS. It's that simple.

    That said, most of the trainers we had in during our launch were good people and knew their stuff. And the Newsgate guy who helped us was topnotch.

    There are a few good elements about the system, but they're far outweighed by the bad elements. I can't believe what a poster said on another thread here, that Newsgate is better than the system they had in New Jersey. I can't imagine working on a worse system.

    It's not journalism in any sense of the word. We write headlines and cutlines in tiny little boxes, and editing is a joke and non-existent in most cases. We just try to get the pages through and out the door on deadline. The hub we're working with is woefully understaffed and they're scrambling every night.

    The whole affair is a nightmare. But of course Gannett never will admit the hubs and Newsgate are an unmitigated disaster. They're too far in to pull back now, so good luck to the rest of you on your launches.

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  6. The problem is that every single one of Gannett's eggs is in the NewsGate basket. The designers are gone from the individual sites, and all design software capabilities are gone from the individual sites.

    It's NewsGate or bust now, and bust is a very appropriate term for it.

    For 9:33, you're going to deal with some talented and eager people at the hub ... and you're going to deal with some complete assholes who think they know more than you, will flat-out do the opposite of what you ask them to do, and who will be completely dismissive of any ideas you have.

    You'll get cookie-cutter pages, bizarre choices for wire copy from the "wire team", poor editing of that wire copy, horrible photo crops and reproduction across the board, and a regular run of missing deadlines.

    Also, depending on where you are at in the "food chain" of the hub, be prepared to have the people working on your paper drop everything they're doing to work with a bigger paper they are doing at the hub. It has been pretty commonplace at my shop to sit around for 2 or 3 hours at a time with nothing to do as we wait for our designers to get done helping out with the Big City Times. So then we get layouts that are slapped together at the last minute, rushed editing jobs, etc.

    After spending about 9 months with the hub, it's exactly what I feared it would be: a money-saving idea that shows like that in your product. Your paper will be worse after the switch than it is now, and there's really no going back.

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  7. Has anyone heard any feedback on the markets where they are jacking up the physical prices on the papers to try to show digital growth? I have asked a few convenience store attendants about paper sales since the increase and they all seem to indicate that sales have plummeted. One said the stack they pick up looks as big as the stack they drop off.

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  8. It is a horror to use even when nominally working.

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  9. Statesman Journal (still running a profit) announces paywalls to start June 1. Comments are typical: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/comments/article/20120506/NEWS/305060029/From-our-publisher-New-subscription-model-reflects-exciting-changes-improvements

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  10. You know how Gannett can feed you dogshit for dinner and call it caviar?

    As I sat at my desk, twiddling my thumbs for 4.5 hours during the NewsGate crash of last Thursday, I tried to remember the good things they told us in trying to sell us on this whizbang new system we were getting. And I couldn't think of one.

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  11. Gannett Wisconsin, still trying to atone for the sins of a few who signed Walker recall petitions.

    1-A headline: Walker rally draws large crowd

    Apparently "several hundred people" is a large crowd in a town of 65,000.

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  12. Why doesn't GANNETT take the lead from BofA and let go of 10,000 of it's senior management team.
    Just for starts!
    Then there would be no more layoffs or furloughs!
    Kind of like no tax cuts for the rich!

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  13. It's a failure. All the people Gannett fired to make way for the Newsgate /design hub set-up must be having a good laugh. Trying to accomplish the most basic tasks with this system, such as writing a story, is infuriating. My site has been using it for some time, and we're still in learning curve mode. This is the worst system, by far, that I have every used — and I am an old guy who remembers working on DOS computers.

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  14. I want my Atex dumb terminal back. Rebooting involved lifting it off the desk 3 inches and dropping it.

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  15. Gannett as 299 job opening according to the corporate site.

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  16. Once Hunke's replacement comes in, how long do you think it will be until s/he starts cutting the cadre of VPs, either to make room for FOPs (friends of the publisher) or because s/he doesn't want to have to fight budget battles over the huge executive payroll? Perhaps Maslowsky, Motiff and the other Finance types will be safe because they're Martore's chosen people, but I bet most of the rest are starting to look for equally sweet gigs already.

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  17. 3:38 If the next publisher comes from outside Gannett, the message will be clear: Everything's up for grabs.

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    1. Start grabbing.

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  18. There is little doubt, in fact none, that the next publisher will come from outside Gannett.

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  19. 4:16 What's that say about Gannett's management talent pool?

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  20. I remember very clearly all the great things they told us about Newsgate, and those things honestly sounded good. Too bad every single one of those things turned out to be fictional.

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  21. Just wait. After a year, you're going to get hit by corporate with higher expense allocations because they can't seem to run the hub as cheaply as they thought.

    Happened with toning, happened with ad design, happened with circulation, going to happen with GPS and editorial. For every Phoenix that has better profit numbers, a dozen Salinas' get screwed.

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  22. They are reviewing the women publishers within Gannett for the USATODAY publisher role. They are not welcoming advice to bring one of the successful Gannett editors into the open editor slot.

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  23. Laura Hollingsworth announced the upcoming subscription changes for Des Moines in today's paper.
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120506/BUSINESS/305060093/Register-publisher-announces-subscription-plan-changes

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  24. 6:20 Not even the women publishers part?

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  25. You think it's been bad at the Crystal Palace lately? Just wait. You ain't seen nothing yet.

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  26. How much worse can it get? Usat is barely functioning. Weiss is totally defeated and her no nothing chief deputies are in way over their heads. They have no news judgement, no initiative,no people skills and couldn't report or write a deadline story of their lives depended on it. digital is run by a clueless video guy and staffed by twenty somethings.

    No one wants to take charge, but everyone tries to outdo each other at meetings and behind the scenes turf battles. And scores of "experts" weigh in with silly emails and directives that make your eyes role. You just have to grit your teeth and wait for the next executive memo. That says absolutely nothing.

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  27. Don't worry. We have Frank, Ellwood and Micek to save us.

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  28. This is but one downside of a massive lame-duck management team.

    The past three years have been a fascinating case study in brand mismanagement. Shareholders should be outraged.

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  29. Great investigative journalism….by a non-Gannett television station in Indianapolis.

    http://www.wthr.com/story/17798210/tax-loophole-costs-billions

    A local tax professional brought similar returns to my attention in Cincy a few years ago to which I directed them to the newsroom. They even had data allegedly showing a few local tax preparers who were knowingly looking the other way to profit from it.

    Pretty easy to dig into and cover as a regional IRS unit is in full view of Cincy’s newsroom on Elm and then Congressman, now Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office is less than two miles from the Enquirer’s northern office.

    The Enquirer’s response: Absolute silence which is pathetic as news like this is exactly what people used to expect and pay for - the one who shared it with me, who also passed along this link, stopped.

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  30. Daily Record editor trashes new system:
    http://www.app.com/article/20120506/NJOPINION03/305060026/James-Flachsenhaar-you-glue-who-needs-systems-department-?nclick_check=1

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  31. I can only think (as some here have mentioned before) that Gannett is anticipating the end of print. I can't think of another scenario under which all the centralization makes sense.

    Sure, they undoubtedly save money by selling presses, getting rid of software licenses for individual sites, cutting layers of designers, editors and ad service people. On that level, it's a pretty clear cost-saving move and not surprising for Gannett.

    But they're also crippling the ability of any of these newspapers to operate outside of the centralized system. Who would buy a paper without presses, without designers, without copy editors? So they're restricting their future business options with these moves (e.g., selling some of their newspapers).

    So it makes sense that they're moving toward a digital model with skeletal staffs at each site, augmented by cheap free-lancers and community-produced content. That kind of model is much easier to run and administer through a master command center than one under which 80 different sites are printing and delivering unique physical newspapers.

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  32. Reminds me of the Borg.

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  33. Pretty spot on comment 11:20 as when I met Gary Watson soon after Gannett acquired our company he asked if I’d been assimilated yet. Thinking like his still seems to drive the company today….into the ground.

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  34. Jim, Gannett's management talent pool is there, Corporate just won't recognize a good manager when they have one. The biggest problem with Gannett is that you have to be a "friend" to be promoted. If you're not a "friend," or you don't play along with the rules, you're head is on the chopping block. I have seen it way too many times and it's sickening. That is the core of what is wrong with this company.

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  35. I'm not in the company politics loop, so forgive me if this is well known. But is the person or persons who brought NooseGate to us still with our company? Or is he/she now on a beach somewhere, spending bonus money we bought with furloughs?

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  36. Gary Watson makes current management look like the world class losers they really are. He would never have put up with the worst of class talent we have now.

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  37. 6:36 Jim - No Sir not even that part. Not even a rumaor, It's an out and out lie

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  38. 2:36 he also didn't know a thing about the web or how to use it, montitize it or combat it. Get your head out of the past. PS he was also an SOB and most people hated him.

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  39. 7:57 Jim I was wondering would you please list your three top print/digitalcompanies that you feel have done a great job with brand management,positive revenue growth and that because of said management have avoided layoffs?

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  40. 5:48 Yet, it's interesting to wonder where Gannett would be today if the board had promoted Watson to CEO, instead of Dubow.

    And what if the board had chosen Tom Curley?

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  41. 5:48, Gary may have been an SOB but he put Gannett first. He would never have allowed the decline we're seeing today. Moratore is also hated and has brought Gannett to its knees. Nobody understands what the future is for this company and as a communicator, she sucks.

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  42. 5:53 If you mean traditionally print companies that are making the switch to digital -- such as Gannett -- the first that comes to mind is the New York Times Co., which has kept its namesake brand strong.

    But it hasn't escaped layoffs and other big downsizing steps.

    Truth is, I can't think of any legacy print company that's avoided layoffs.

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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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