Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Louisville | Why a sports columnist quit Gannett

In a new column, one of two columnists who just quit Kentucky's Courier-Journal for a job at a local TV station said he'd grown tired of Corporate's meddling from afar, and the loss of co-workers in layoffs and buyouts. Eric Crawford's column continues:

WDRB is Louisville's lone remaining locally run major, 7-day-a-week news organization. It is owned by an out-of-town company, yes, but it alone, more than any daily newspaper, television or radio station, has the ability to plot its own course.

As other news organizations have grown leaner, WDRB has maintained its personnel strength and even expanded. While others have cut back on resources to local sports, WDRB has added staff and increased its travel. While everyone else is waiting for corporate orders on what to cut next, WDRB is going the other direction, emphatically. 

In the coming months, in addition to columns and blogs on WDRB's website, Rick Bozich and I will launch new video features and work alongside WDRB's television news staff to create the city's destination web site for sports at all levels.

Earlier: Protect local sports coverage, says newspaper investor Warren Buffett.


  1. Bully for them, but broadcast TV isn't too far behind newspapers on the obsolescence curve.

  2. Great column that highlights why good people have been getting the hell out of Gannett for a long time, though with one glaring error: publishers are far more responsible for what’s going on at local sites than he likely ever had access to see.

  3. 9:25 - I am a publisher and your statement is not true. We haven't had control of our sites for over three years now. I'd like to know where you are. My guess would be you are a Dickey favorite and at a major metro.

  4. 9:25. If you are a publisher, please ID yourself. What a crock
    Publishers absolutely have the power to ruin a newsroom.
    Larry whitaker decimated Shreveport and sliced Jackson to shreds. Worst publisher in the history of publishers. Leslie hurst didnt have to do much to kill the Clarion-ledger newsroom -- Whitaker did it for her. Although it would have been nice if she had classified some of those who ultimately took buyouts as indispensable, she hasn't hurt the newsroom nearly as much as Whitaker did.

  5. 11:14:
    If you haven't had control of your site for three years, then why are you still in your job?

    For one thing, what kind of person just vacuums in a paycheck for three years and counting as a lame duck unable to foment meaningful change or progress?

    For another thing, if you are irrelevant in your position, you know that Arlington will eliminate it sooner than later.

    You have two morally acceptable choices:
    1) Get out before you're pushed out ...
    2) Or fight the power on behalf of your site, even though that course of action likely will hasten your departure.

    Any other response, then I (and probably most of your charges) are correct to wonder why anyone should care what you have to say anyway.

  6. I find it hard to believe these two sports columnists even know how to create a video, much less post one. Not sure how the TV station can afford to pay these guys what they were making at the newspaper. Good for them for getting out, but as the other post said, TV news is not the place to land.

  7. @11:14, with all due respect, if you haven’t had control of your paper in the past three years, then what the hell have you done every day since?

    • Are you actively engaged in the sales process, like meeting with advertisers and/or removing internal/external hurdles, etc. so your sales staff can be more effective in selling more or do you just sit back and demand more revenues, letting corporate lead the rest?

    • Are you actively engaged in editorial, like taking time to understand what newshole and staff cuts do to your paper, its coverage and beats, its content and staffs or do you just pass along expense goals, if at all, only to learn about once it appears in print and online?

    • Are you actively engaging with readers, community leaders and other influencers directly to see why they read your paper and/or website less or do you just watch circulation go down?

    • Are you actively engaging in conversations with those who home deliver your paper and who sell then in stores or do you just pass those declining numbers along to corporate too?

    • Are you actively engaged in the hiring, firing of each individual, approving rates of pay, raises and bonuses or does McLean do that for you as well?

    • Are you actively engaging in discussion with people at your paper responsible for integrating Gannett’s technology efforts, intervening with corporate staffs directly should they run into walls or are you just getting out of the way so corp can do that too?

    Shall I go on or have you gotten the picture that what you attempt to pass off here, and likely at your paper, is frankly a bunch of victimization B.S. Admittedly, corporate does own a lot, but to attempt what you have as a publisher no less suggests Gannett sure as hell doesn’t need you if you’re not actively involved in building your paper.


    BTW, I would have sacked Dickey and a few like him years ago.

  8. 4:12 - I know of someone who did all of those things and he/she is no longer a publisher. Their efforts weren't valued. And trust me, this person is very sorely missed. Corporate does not want someone with an opinion and they certainly don't care about what content is put in a paper. You are obviously out of touch with Gannett's reality.

  9. Back on topic, good for you Eric for saying what hundreds of Gannett employees who been shown the door would love have had the opportunity to say. Good luck.

  10. @9:44 – Not out of touch, just unwilling to accept a publisher saying they haven’t had control in three years as while their power may be notably lessened, their local decisions and acts still have influence over their employees and papers’ results.

    Again, I agree corporate and group publishers own much and that they’ve too often shown little interest in hearing what subordinates say or how hard some work, but blaming corporate as 11:14 has is no way to lead.

    It’s also no way to live, exactly why those who saw this long coming train wreck, like Crawford now, get out. Though, one hopes Crawford and others provide details why to those at the very top as believe it or not, if its compelling enough, corporate will act on it.

  11. Just change the names and the city and this story or one just like it has played out in several states. The only thing atypical here was Bozich's absurdly high salary. Did not think local tee vee was 6 figger territory for what amounts to a Mike & Mike.


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