Monday, November 12, 2012

USAT | Ellwood leaves to join Cox Media paper

Promoted to USA Today's No. 2 position in June 2011, Susie Ellwood once was a likely successor to then-Publisher Dave Hunke, before a reorganization he launched failed to revive the paper's flagging advertising revenue and circulation. He retired this fall after Gannett replaced him with someone from outside the company.

Ellwood
Today, Cox Media announced Ellwood has been hired as publisher at the far smaller Austin American-Statesman, effective Dec. 3. She succeeds Jane Williams, who was named Cox's senior vice president of television this summer.

Ellwood is a Gannett lifer. She joined the company at the now-defunct Arkansas Gazette in 1984. She was later promoted to CEO of the GCI-controlled Detroit Media Partnership, which handles advertising sales and other business functions for GCI's Detroit Free Press and MediaNews Group's Detroit News.

Declining national ads
In Detroit, Ellwood was a protege of Hunke when the DMP announced a radical solution to save the two papers: Home delivery Distribution was cut back to three days weekly in spring 2009. It's unclear whether the papers have stopped hemorrhaging red ink, however.

Ellwood's USAT prospects appeared to dim early this year. GCI's national advertising -- largely from USAT -- plunged 11% in 2011, to $446 million, from 2010. Double-digit declines followed in the first quarter and the second quarter, when Hunke announced plans to retire, and Corporate said it would look for a new publisher, rather than promote Ellwood immediately. Eventually, the company reached outside in May to hire Larry Kramer.

Over the past year, Ellwood helped oversee a redesign of USAT in print and online that was launched in September.

The Austin paper's weekday circulation is 118,910; Sunday is 178,177, according to the Sept. 30 ABC report.

Under Kramer, national advertising and USAT's circulation continue to decline. GCI's third-quarter national ad revenue dropped 8% from a year before, and circulation for the six months ended Sept. 30 fell nearly 4%, to 1.7 million.

Privately-held Cox Media's flagship is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

26 comments:

  1. I'm so happy for Susie. She will be fabulous there. It's a huge loss for Gannett but the Austin employees should be happy to have a true leader at their helm.

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  2. This is an old game. Bring in the Gannetteer, try to learn new tricks. Sometimes works, sometimes not.

    Cox is an old-line company, probably with a lot of Cox relatives now wondering about their dividend checks. And whether they might actually have to work for a living. Sort of like D.C., without all the gas-bags.

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  3. Again, you are wrong. Distribution in Detroit is everyday. Home delivery of print in most cases is limited to 3-days

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  4. First the Alamo and now this, those Texans can't win.

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  5. 8:32 Thanks; you are correct. I meant home delivery, and I've now tweaked my original text to reflect that.

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  6. Not to be too snarky, but what did she actually do for Usa Today and staff? Anyone?

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  7. Can they use her salary to hire four or five solid reporters?

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  8. Good riddance. In 18 months here, her only mark on the newsroom was pushing Hillkirk aside.

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  9. Lost somewhere in the annals of Gannett history is the chapter of her career when she was mouthpiece and chief henchman for Frank Vega during the 1995-99 Detroit Newspaper strike. She learned from from one of the brashest, most arrogant newspaper CEOs how to crush employees while eliminating half of the circulation base -- only to replace it with decades of ill will in the community.

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  10. The final piece of the Great Dave Hunke Experiment is now gone. Thankfully.

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  11. Austin ain't the beltway. She's in for some culture shock.

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  12. One event that stands out, which I didn't note in this post, was when Mary Murcko was hired as president of ad sales, overseeing sales for USA Today, Gannett Digital and U.S. Community Publishing’s national efforts -- and reporting to Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim.

    She got that job in late February. That removed a lot of power from Hunke and Ellwood. How can you be a real publisher if you don't control your paper's ad sales?

    Two months later, Hunke announced his retirement. Corporate said it was looking for a new publisher, rather than giving the job to Ellwood.

    Why did Ellwood get less than a year? Typically, Corporate is more patient with its executives, especially those who have been with the company for a while.

    Heck, it gave Hunke three full years as publisher.

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  13. 1:20 This will be only the fourth newspaper where she has worked -- and the smallest, circulation-wise, with far fewer resources.

    That, too, will be a culture shock.

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  14. It's simple Jim...anyone hired by the now disgraced Hunke was tarnished. There was no way she was getting his job.

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  15. Another Gannettoid BSer bites the dust.

    BFD. Where's Leslie Hurst? GCI needs to lose some more advertisers today, doesn't it, Ms. Gracia?

    This would be almost comical, if the GCI pension fund wasn't so jacked-up.

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  16. Absolutely letno mark on Usa Today. If only she had taken some people with her, such as editor powerhouse Heather Frank.

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  17. She wont take any edlitorial pe
    Ople with her because she spent almost no time gettilng to know anyone below Susan Weiss. Susan is a great person, but lousy on hires and her refusal to stop the nonsense allowed in the newsroom and digital. Her tired, out of their element lieutenants are far worse. Playground central, with no accountabilty over mistakes, missed opportunity or strategy.

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  18. I missed the Hunke going away party. Will there be one for Suzy?

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  19. A two faced, conniving, mean-spirited, self serving, worthless, ass kissing do-nothing. So long Ellwood. You will NOT be missed by anyone.

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  20. 6:35 could be describing any number of Usa Today managers. Unfortunately, Callaway and Kramer are about to retain most of them, and, inexplicably, give some even more power.

    All that hope and promise that came in with them is about to evaporate.
    Wait until you see the executive shuffling. Most of these hangers on have no respective in the newsroom and should have been shown the door years ago.

    This is the best Kramer and Callaway can do? OMG.

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  21. Another former Gannett corporate executive is also at this newspaper -- Colleen Brewer joined the Austin American-Statesman in August 2011 as Vice President of Sales and Marketing She was vice president of sales for Gannett prior to that.

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  22. Austin is a great city. I am happy for her.

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  23. Well, this frees up $450,000 a year to pay for the new senior management raises.

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  24. Correction ... Ellwood had nothing to do with the USAT online redesign. Not sure about the print redesign, but she definitely was not involved in any significant way in the digital effort. Not many newsroom staffers were, for that matter, except Emily Brown.

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  25. Emily Brown? That says a lot right there. Typical.

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