Wednesday, November 14, 2012

USAT | Callaway reorganizes newsroom staffing; senior team now to include 10 managing editors

In a memo sent to USA Today newsroom employees this afternoon, Editor-in-Chief David Callaway disclosed another staffing reorganization. The last reorg took place in the summer and fall of 2010 under then-Publisher Dave Hunke.

newsroom changes
Callaway, David
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:39 PM


In keeping with our goals to expand our digital coverage as well as the impact and watchdog journalism that makes USA Today a national treasure, we’re announcing a new structure for the senior news team tonight. Some names and roles are different. Some are similar. All are designed to create a faster and more dynamic news operation, and provide new opportunity for every one of our journalists.

The changes below take effect immediately. We will discuss next steps with each and every one of you over the last six weeks of this year to ensure everybody understands the new arrangement, as well as your individual roles and opportunities for movement and advancement. Please don’t worry if you don’t see your name. This is a dynamite news team and everybody will get a chance to contribute in new ways to our success. Also, while some titles below might reflect special attention to a specific platform, all of us will continue to work and grow across all of our platforms with the same sense of collaboration and purpose that I’ve admired since I arrived here in July.

I will explain the thinking behind these changes during [Publisher] Larry Kramer’s town hall meeting here at headquarters tomorrow at 1 pm, and have time to answer a handful of questions. As always, I’m available in person, by phone, or email for more questions and comments.

Going forward, the senior team will be:

Susan Weiss, executive editor of enterprise news, Life, and Travel. Susan will have authority over all news beyond breaking, from the one-day feature story to the six month investigative series.
Chet Czarniak, executive editor of online news. Chet will maintain authority for our digital presence on web, mobile, tablet, video, and social.
David Colton, executive editor, print news. David will assume authority over all aspects of the newspaper.

Susan, Chet, and David will maintain responsibility and authority for all newsroom decisions in my absence.

Brian Gallagher, editorial page editor
Brent Jones, standards and ethics editor
Heather Frank, editor, USA Weekend
Kate Patterson, managing editor, visual story telling. A new role to dramatically raise our visual news coverage, with the photo, video and graphics teams in the newsroom reporting to her.
Lee Horwich, managing editor, politics and government, responsible for all political and government coverage, including DC-based journalists for both USA Today and Gannett.
Mindy Fetterman, managing editor, content strategy, responsible for developing and implementing strategies across news sections and platforms.

Reporting to Susan Weiss:

-- John Hillkirk, managing editor, investigative and data journalism teams, a newly-combined operation that focuses on the best of our enterprise coverage.
-- Dennis Moore, managing editor, Life. Alison Maxwell named deputy managing editor, reporting to Moore.
-- Veronica Stoddart, deputy managing editor, Travel.

Reporting to Chet Czarniak:
-- David Teeuwen, managing editor, real-time news. A new role combining oversight of our Web-based editor team with our breaking news team. Anne Willette named deputy managing editor, breaking news. William Dermody, international news. Anne Godlasky, home front.
-- Patty Michalski, managing editor, mobile, tablet, social, and video news. Mary Nahorniak, Desair Brown, Maria Fowler, Emily Brown.
-- David Craig, managing editor, newly combined team of Money, Tech, Autos, Personal Finance, Economics, and New York bureau chief. Jon Swartz named San Francisco bureau chief and tech team leader. Laura Petrecca named deputy New York bureau chief. Geri Tucker named deputy managing editor, autos. Rodney Brooks named deputy managing editor, personal finance. Jim Henderson remains in his role as managing editor of the print Money section. Doug Carroll’s economics team moves to Money team.

Reporting to David Colton:
-- Owen Ullmann, managing editor, print news. Chris Cubbison, national editor. John Siniff, cover editor.
-- Dennis Lyons, managing editor, Gannett newspapers partnerships, responsible for expanding our growing relationship with all Gannett papers and TV stations. Content One team.
-- Robert Robinson, deputy managing editor, copy desk
-- Andria Yu, page one editor
-- Jim Sergent, design chief. Design team.

Thanks and look forward to speaking with everybody in the coming weeks.

Cheers. Dave


  1. At least one name -- Jon Swartz' -- was misspelled in this memo.

  2. Compared to the more brutal sports department reorganization last spring, this is like dusting off the deck chairs.

    And that's all the more surprising given the fact that Kramer later endorsed that approach in sports.

  3. Another day, another USAT reorg... Yawn... This will move the needle! So where's Maryam?

  4. Jim you don't get it. This is about restructuring for a 24/7 digital newsroom. Kramer and Callaway don't want to lay anyone off or make anyone interview for their jobs. It may be hard to believe but it's a good thing. But I'm sure you and your pals will spin it into a melodrama

  5. This is the best they can come up with? Another recycling of the same cast that has run the organization into mediocrity for years? It is so astoundingly mystifying that much of the staff is in a state of shock. 10 managing editors? Three executive editors? A gaggle of deputy managing editors? A deputy managing editor for autos. A managing editor for mobile. Really?

    How does this improve the quality and caliber of content? How does this advance the mission of increasing readership? I dont get it. No one does. Management is at a record level for top heavyness. The only move that makes sense is bringing the economic team back to Money.
    The architects of this Great Plan seem to be completely out of touch with the newsroom and people who actually do the work.

    Please send dave a message: boycott Thursday's staff meeting. Even if you dare pose questions, you wont get straight answers.

  6. Face off between the senior vice presidents and managing editors. Winner gets five more presidents or executve editors added to the team.


  7. Nothing changes. Same dunderheads running the show. Nice going, Dave.

  8. Laughable. Keep rearranging those deck chairs while you sink.

  9. New guy comes in to run a division (new editor or publisher, for example) and says to his most senior manager: "Replace the whole staff... and do it now!"

    Senior manager there to help with transition: "Ok. Let's do it."

    New guy: "We need to re-set the org chart with a new breed... fresh blood with new ideas."

    Senior manager: "Right."

    New guy: "So let's move on this right away."

    Senior manager: "Ok. We only have one problem."

    New guy: "What is it?"

    Senior manager: "Who is going to fill those jobs once we fire everyone?"

    New guy: "Good point. Let's just move people around and see how that works."

    Senior manager: "Works for me."

  10. 8:57, so it is all about protecting jobs? Then why do anything as silly as this. keeping the status quo is like treading water. It gets this franchise nowhere. There are no brilliant ideas from this senior executive team. That is the problem. At the end of the day, layoffs will come, and this crew will be safely ensconded in their jobs, just like the last reorganization.

  11. Personally, I'm going to heed 9:13's advice. I will not go to the self congratulatory management meeting tomorrow. I've had my fill of b.s. to last the rest of the year.

  12. This doesnt move the needle at all. Except in the number of Very Important Titles. We still need a Managing Editor of 24/7, a deputy Managing Editor of Second Guessing and a Meetings & Memos Editor.

  13. if I was building a newsroom, there might be two or three out of this lot who I would hire. As far as retaining any of them, none are essential or even semi essential to the operation. several actually impede and disrupt and are consideres tine wasting morale busters.

    Not well thought out and even worse, not sufficiently explained, Dave. I hope in your alloted time for a "handful of questions," you"'ll articulate the rationale behind the appointment of 10 managing editors and three executive editors for four news sections and a website.

  14. All In. NOT.

  15. 8:57 I know many of the people in this memo.

    But restructuring for a 24/7 digital newsroom? Wasn't that the purpose of the reorg in 2005 (yes, seven years ago)?

    Or, for that matter, the reorg from summer and fall 2010?

  16. Jim, your goddess Ellwood and Hunke failed miserably. Callaway and Kramer ACTUALLY worked in the digital space. They actually have a track record.

  17. A d people wonder why USAT can't move forward. Ladies and gentlemen just look at these posts. Everybody is stupid but them. Oh, and their names don't appear on the memo. Now it makes sense.

  18. USAT loves to do small things and portray them as big.

    On the rare occasion when USAT does something big (the latest redesign, layoffs/buyouts, wasting millions on a new campus in one of the priciest real estate markets in the country), it almost always backfires. Probably explains why it's easier to do small things and pretend they aren't just a smoke screen.

    USAT has a core group of soulless leaders in its newsroom who should have been fired years ago for any number of reasons, including blatant incompetency and chronic lying and deception.

    USAT also has a group of newer employees who never should have been hired in the first place, let alone promoted. Honestly, there are people in this newsroom who can't write a complete sentence and have no idea of what's going on in the world. They stumbled into a journalistic setting but are not journalists in any way.

    So, USAT, keep playing your games of musical chairs. Keep running the newsroom like it's a high school popularity contest. Don't acknowledge your mistakes. Just keep sticking your heads in the sand and see where that gets you in another 5-10 years.

    No one believes USAT is going to be a great investigative source of news. USAT can't even get the basics right! This reorg does nothing to solve any of the core problems.

    Good luck patting yourselves on the backs for another lame initiative. Like others, I am sitting this one out. Wake me when you are finally willing to fess up to bad decisions of late and move forward with fixing the real problems in this newsroom.

    USAT, you need a 12-step program. But you have to first publicly admit you have a problem and it's gotten a whole lot worse in the last several years.

  19. 4:56 Yes, you ad people dont understand why we cant move forward. people who post here are small
    minded incompetetents who know nothing. We anonymous newsroom sloths wonder why you cant sell ads, too. Could it be the product isnt very good? You know, the actual stuff people read and view? Could that be because our staff isnt very good and our holdover leadership is suspect?

    Or could it be that our advertising and marketing teams just arent good at their jobs?

    We understand several ad team members have been let go this week. Maybe you should concentrate on your job and focus less on the newsroom. Us whiny types can handle that. Or the worst of us can be fired, too. That actually would make more sense than this charade.

  20. I wish i could have articulated the malaise as well as 9:12. Callaway doesnt really appear to have A handle on newsroom weaknesses on a management, stuctural oe even a production level.

    Companies that need and want to change fast bring in fresh leadership and new blood. This is especially true At companies with declining sales and quality issuses in competitive markets. They dont reward failures and seldom leave or promote unmotivated, uninspired leaders. I guess Gannett is unique in that way.

    The rank and file were optimistic about Kramer's hiring and enthused by Callaway's energy. Reporters and mid level editors had hoped for fresh blood at their level and new leaders to provide an injection of ideas and talent throughout the building. We feel we lost the election. Hope and change just left the building.

  21. 5:50, none of these moves demonstrates that Kramer and Callaway worked in digital space. Most of the holdover managers havent, and even fewer are hands on sufficient to post stories, photos or videos. Hell, most could report or write a story formtheaper. Most have made the same obtuse decisions that have created a mediocre product staffed by lazy, incompetent or inexperienced processors passing for journalists.

    Tell me one thing this structural upheaval does to move the ball forward differently than the past 24/7 proclimations. I

  22. Im not wasting my time going to today's staff meeting, i get enough fourth rate comedy sitting in The Hub.

  23. When a blog is built on negativity, it's a lose-lose daily.

    When "new blood'' is brought in it's a sign of cruelity. What about the loyal souls who built the place?

    When the loyal souls who built the place are retained, it's viewed as weakness. Where's the new blood?

    The only constant is the negative mindview that infects the people who routinely throw rocks here, including those who say the same tired thing no matter what direction the company goes.

  24. All of these people should have been shown the door. The've demonstrated their level of competence time and time again. Now they are being rewarded for failure.. Typical.

  25. 8:57, people should have to interview for the jobs they are being considered for. Unfortunately, Callaway didnt open the process to the entire staff. Too bad, he may have found some people who would actualy be good in some of these jobs, gotten a window into his staff and picked up new ideas. I guess that's the 24/7 digital way. It just sounds like Gannett bullshit as usual.

  26. 9:51, you have a hard time convincing someone who has spent years here that these people are loyal souls to anything but ass covering and collecting paychecks. The senior management team has rarely spent anytime being loyal to the working stiffs who make this place run. They've rarely demonstrated soul, or spine, either. The work adds up, the staff gets thinner and less experienced and the systems more complex and less reliable. These loyal souls arent fighting to make the product better or enhance your work situation. They will cast you aside in a New York minute if it means they survive and get ahead at your expense. To think otherwise is simply naive.

  27. Why does Heather Frank get rewarded for fsilure? Same with John Hillkirk? David Colton has been on coast mode for decades. What does Chet do all day? David Craig, managing editor? Please. Mindy Fetterman should be directing school crosssings, not content strategy. dave Teeuwen wouldnt know how to cover a news story if his life depended on it. Callaway, you've done some serious damage here.

  28. Without going into individual names, I just don't see how this does anything to improve Usa Today. I want to see how it does. But none of these moves seem to. Help me understand what is going on here.We are not adding reporters or shifting beats. It does not appear anybody is being added to move copy to various platforms. What am I missing here?

  29. 9:51 is so right.

    This has been done without layoffs or humiliations. It is a vote for continuity and a chance for success. If those named cannot perform, they had a fair shot and they'll be gone.

    But for now, I say bravo to a humane and smart reorganization.

  30. 11:33 To be clear, I'm not advocating for the same approach taken by Tom Beusse in the sports department last spring. (For those who don't know, Beusse is president of USA Today Sports Media Group, an umbrella division that includes all of Gannett's sports content.)

    But I wonder why his method -- making everyone reapply for a newly defined list of jobs, then firing many who didn't make the cut -- was appropriate for the sports department, but not for the rest of the newsroom.

  31. I realize that Callaway said, "Please don’t worry if you don’t see your name."

    Still, one especially prominent name is conspicuously absent: Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.

  32. Susan is considered a big star. She has fans smong the almighty. She does a good job representing the paper on TV and subbing on NPR.

    I just sat through the happy tslk staff meeting. More expectations to produce content. But I dont see how the senior management structure facilitates all the work thst will fall to the harried few who are expected to write and report two to three times what they are producing now.

    Again, 10 managing editors and three executive editors. Exactly one new reporter who will work out of London. It must be new math, because it just doesnt add up.

  33. Jim, who would be doing the assessing if the Beusse Method were applied to the rest of the staff? The same people who were just promoted. And, I suppose, this isnt Kramer's style, even though Martore would have allowed it.

  34. Micek's team seems to do a lot of asessing and studying, but much of it seems like a load of hoo ha. Rebranding news racks and asessing Facebook interactions? Get a grip, Sandi, baby.

  35. Lots of reporters barely do a story a week. They will have to step up their game. The so-called stars can no longer rely on reputations long in the past or never really earned.

  36. 2:24 Good question. The big surprise here is that Callaway didn't install his own team of new senior editors from outside.

    Many of the top editors in this new newsroom structure were also senior editors when I started at the paper in May 2000.

  37. >>Rebranding news racks and asessing Facebook interactions? Get a grip, Sandi, baby.<<

    Um, 2:27, rebranding newsracks is absolutely essential and if anything, it isn't going fast enough. And social interactions are the future.

    So they are two things she absolutely SHOULD be doing and pushing for.

    Seriously. Get a grip.

  38. News racks? Well, there was just a huge re-design of USAT. Those racks have to be re-done, or the brand looks weird.

    The work was probably budgeted months ago -- and now, who knows?

  39. I enjoyed the meeting. Great energy. Kramer and Callaway are a breath of fresh air. You can disagree with what they want to do but they are enthusiastic and supportive. It's funny to read that some folks are upset they are not firing some folks and bringing in new folks. Maybe it is just me. Anyway, good job everyone.

  40. Micek was great. Marketing has been busy. More results then I've seen in my years here. Of course I never went to Cannes with the former marketing team.

  41. I don't think you are going to see the "interview for your job" scenario in Tyson's again. You can take that to the bank

  42. You mean our balls will now be all over 50,000 newspaper vending machines?

  43. How many USAT news racks are there, and what will this repainting project cost?

  44. Old fart here.

    Dang that's a lot of chiefs.

    And a lot of jargon.

    Why not cover as much news as possible and get it published on-line as fast as possible?

  45. 5:21, because nothing is ever not comlpicated at Usa Today. because lots of supposed involvement and second guessing and meetings is supposed to produce better results. Where four or five managing editors used to do, now we have 10, plus three musketeers. And you know what, there are still probably lots of unhappy campers among managers who got passed over, didnt get their due or now are reporting to someone they despise and have disrepect.

  46. This comment from earlier might sound overly harsh, but if you've been paying attention for the last decade or two and really know the news biz, you know it's all true. Chet, I mean, this is the luckiest man on the planet since Ringo Starr. Ditto with Teeuween. Nailed it on Mindy, too. I might add Brent Jones to the list of incompetents who some how survive while folks who really know what they are doing are never promoted, or worse, are shown the door. I've had dealings with all of these folks and none of what is said seems the least bit untrue.

    Anonymous said...
    Why does Heather Frank get rewarded for fsilure? Same with John Hillkirk? David Colton has been on coast mode for decades. What does Chet do all day? David Craig, managing editor? Please. Mindy Fetterman should be directing school crosssings, not content strategy. dave Teeuwen wouldnt know how to cover a news story if his life depended on it. Callaway, you've done some serious damage here.

    11/15/2012 11:12 AM

  47. For all the CHANGE, Callaway does nothing. Status quo. So nothing is broken, right? Why do we need Callaway then?

  48. A newspaper's editorial content can be vastly improved with the same (or mostly the same) staff, provided there's strong leadership and clear goals.

    I saw this happen at The Idaho Statesman in Boise, when Gannett owned it.

    The newsroom had about 65 staffers, including clerks, when a new editor was hired from outside Gannett.

    He hired a new ME from inside Gannett, and then fired about three staffers. With those openings and a few other existing ones, he made a handful of key hires.

    Then he established new beats and retired old ones. Some staffers were moved into new positions (I was one).

    Finally, he raised expectations, especially around First Amendment/government watchdog journalism. Within two years, the paper was significantly improved, and Corporate handed the staff several important awards.

    This was all done with about 90% of the staff he inherited when he came on board. I can't think of any reason why this couldn't happen at USAT.

  49. Jim, there is a huge difference improving a midsize daily in a small market than changing the fortunes of the 2nd largest daily competiting in a national market. A couple of strong hires can make a huge difference at a local paper. You are also talking about the pre Internet days.

    Usa Today's problems run deep. Most senior editors grew up in Gannettland. Many who were just promoted have spent the bulk of their careers here. Several have limited or no reporting experience. They've made bad hires, bad decisions and operate in a void. Others seriously lack basic people or management skills.

    Fresh blood at the top was seen as a welcome change. Callaway is good at pressing for quick jumps on news. But it is painfully obvious that the same sorry ass holdovers remain in charge. Kramer cited one reporter hire in London who will have little impact, and a Money columnist on contract whose audience is the New York media elite. For Usa Today's reputation and quality to change, it needs some serious firepower, not faux leadership titles.

    Holdover leadership operates in an insular environment. It has long demonstrated a propensity for poor hiring decisions and suspect news judgement. The executive editors clueless about a 24/ 7 newsroom culture. Tslking a good game andrevamping organizational charts wont change that.

    The newsroom and bureaus, reporters and editors, are incredibly sad about what has transpired. Most of us will just keep our mouths shut, because you can never question decisions made in a void behind closed doors. Not with this bunch.

    Kramer and Callaway had months to come up with something big, and they decided it was too much work to rebuild and shed third rate editors and reporters. it smacks of hypocrisy and laziness. What they've done is almost as damaging as Hunke's reorganization. ( Note how many of the same managers elevated then were promoted again).

    Lacking on-going news events to drive traffic to an impossibly difficult-to-navigate website, these moves spell huge trouble. Advertisers and readers aren't stupid. This team is not going to give them a better product. Our competitors already have.

  50. Ease up. These guys are smart, and they are humane, unlike the dreadful actors in sports' reorg. Give them a chance. The product ain't ever going to be the NY Times, but it can improve and build an audience.


  51. The smart thing to do would be to overhaul. The humane thing to do would be to offer buyouts.

  52. 9:13 you would ahve been the first in line to scream if these guys had removed senior editors and Founders. Kramer and Callaway have done more to support staff than..... well anyone I can remember. Changes will be made but not the way you want. If senior leaders can't cut it these two won't wait long to make changes. But everyone is going to get a chance under their time. The Sports deal took place before Kramer was here long enough to put his imprint on things. There is a reason everyone isn't reinterviewing for their jobs this time.

    1. It wasnt working before under senior/founder leadership. so why should it now? You still have deep, basic issues that arent being dealt with, starting with basic talent and competency of holdover editors AND reporters.

  53. I agree that, regardless of who's in what job, everything depends on "strong leadership and clear goals." My site had a recent coverage assignment reshuffle (the second or third in less than a year) but there's still NO day-to-day overall coordination of coverage, from breaking news and followups to investigative pieces. The local TV stations are kicking our butts on some things, incuding crime-related records requests.

  54. I am not a Gannett employee; never have been. So the names and job descriptions don't mean anything to me. Good thing, as I couldn't pay much attention to the long list after reading that USAT is a "national treasure." Laughing too hard even to finish my morning coffee.

  55. 8:51, look at the track record of the current staff. How do fancy titles and promotions change anything? Look at the stated goals of new management: a quantitative traffic increase across all platforms. An objective person might ask how you boost content without adding content providers/producers. Three executive editors and 10 managing editors don't get you there unless they are writing, shooting video or posting wire. I can guarantee that aint happening. How many will be assisting hard pressed assignment editors, copyeditors or producers on deadline?

    I applaud Kramer and Kramer for being supportive. I don't think they realize how dysfunctional Usa Today is. Unfortunately, this reorg doesnt come close to solving existing problems or their goals with staff we have now.

    Think of this as an NFL team, with them as the new front office. Now we need a new coaching staff (editors) with fresh ideas on winning and more talented players (reporters) to provide results. Oh, and we need some actual talent scouts to find them.

  56. Lots of new chiefs, no new Indians.

  57. So sad that this bunch of sad sacks passing as savvy leaders get rewarded for a job not well done.

  58. I've tried to make sense of this latest reorganization for the past couple of days, then looked at the details of Hunke's reorg in 2010, as well as the blog comments. i still can't make any sense of either of these moves. kramer and Callaway have developed a rep as kinder, sharper souls than their predecessors. They've protected staff. For now. They haven't addressed how they'll accomplish their goals. For now. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. For now.

    I would urge the new, top heavy management structure to keep a light footprint. You got your fancy titles. Don't muck up the process unless you can actually generate or process content. You want to make a difference, start rolling up your sleeves. And start treating people the way you would want to be treated.

  59. 2:16 Can you (or someone else) summarize those goals in a sentence or two?

  60. I believe it's in the memo, Jim.More stuff.Faster. All the time. No blueprint on how 10 Managing Editors/3 and a cast of deputies get us there with current staffing levels, though.

  61. We will all be inspired when The Hub expands to the entire newsroom.

  62. Good to see Colton and Weiss' power diminishing. But there is trouble in the Czarniak/Teeuwen Group. Seriously, these two are overseeing news and financial reporting? What a joke. Does anyone take their digital team seriously? Money was terrible under the prior reorganization and just got a lot worse. Where is current Managing Editor Jim Henderson? What qualifies David Craig to be a Managing Editor of anything? Rodney Brooks and Geri Tucker Deputy Managing Editors AGAIN but with ONE tiny team each. Callaway has to give these two consolation prizes? Seriously?

  63. They could can every senior manager and not notice a difference in product quality. Most Reporters and copy editors are just as expendable.

  64. If Chet is Ringo Starr, Mindy Fetterman is KimKardashian.. No disecernable talent but an excellent self promoter.

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


  66. Tell us the master plan going forward. It can't be all smoke and mirrors. We've gotten our fill of that from Hunke and Banikarim.

  67. More promotions and titles coming!

  68. Being critical of colleagues is so low-rent. The people doing it about the USA Today changes (whether they like them or not), should really check their self-esteem levels, their self-control levels and their just plain how-low-can-I-go levels.

    Really sad. It should be possible to question structure and goals without belittling the people sitting next to you. By name. Just low behavior.


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."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.