An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
Hello, hello, hello.
The stock is not quite back to $90.00 yet.
It doesn't need to if you bought it at $4.
So you're OK with it going from $90 to $21 just because you bought it at $4?
Any early reports of whether the 55-and-up employees are going to take USA Today's "early retirement" offer? I am guessing this is an offer they can't refuse, but at 55 or older, I am also aware of how difficult it is to find another job in a country where employers blatantly practice age discrimination. Ever notice how big media doesn't report on age discrimination in the workplace? It's because they are as guilty of it as any industry.So the USAT folks are between a rock and hard place. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the next month or two.On a related subject, I find it sad that management at newspapers like USA Today have driven a wedge between the different generations of current employees. I can recall coming up in the business and having a healthy respect for veteran reporters, editors and photographers. Learned a lot from them. As I got older, I tried to return the favor by mentoring those 30 years younger. But it seems that nowadays, because of all of the cutbacks, newsrooms have become divided based on age. Read this blog enough and you will see the lack of respect.I would say to both sides -- young and old -- that you're playing right into the hands of upper management when you turn on each other. Do the right thing and show some respect towards each other. You'll be that much richer for rejecting the subtle divide-and-conquer strategy of USAT/Gannett. And you just might learn something by working together without all the stereotyping and backstabbing.Just some food for thought.
Those were the good old days.That ship sailed years ago.In the midst of all the layoffs,added workload,no extra pay,furloughs,terrible morale, and the ever present shadow of more layoffs, it is everyone for themselves.May the strongest survive(and no doubt,the lowest paid).
In the last buyout the biggest hurdle for those in the 55-and-up age group was health insurance. That first year goes pretty fast and then you are on your own. Many are trapped because they can't risk being without insurance for any period of time. Fortunately, with Obamacare starting up next year, many will be able to retire earlier, buyout or not.
Amen.My medical coverage cost $150 a month when I left USA Today in January 2008. Once my severance ended from my buyout, I went on COBRA for 18 months, at $400 a month. Since that ended, my monthly premium for the exact same coverage has steadily climbed. This January, it rose another $90 to nearly $900 a month. That's just for me.I'm looking forward to 2014, when under Obamacare I'll have a shot at buying a high deductible plan with much lower premiums.
Gannett has a retiree health plan, which this year was about $500 a month. It's worth investigating if you're not eligible for Medicare.
gannett retiree medical for spouse and myself is over $1200 month. hurry up 2014 !
Yeah right.I guess you all have not been paying attention to the real facts about Obamacare.Your premiums will be way higher.Even the official Finance/Budget Committee has said this.Obamacare will be financial drain on whole economy.
"I'll have a shot at buying a high deductible plan with much lower premiums." And you think that's good? Many, many people cannot afford any kind of premium, not to mention any kind of deductible at all. If the deductible is ridiculous as is the norm, bottom line is paying for, in effect, no insurance.
Not at all; with a high deductible plan, I'm covered for catastrophic illness: cancer, etc.I'm now paying nearly $11,000 a year in premiums, plus co-pays for office visits, drugs, etc.I typically see a doctor no more than four times a year. Given current costs, that averages nearly $3,000 a visit. If I pay for each visit out of pocket, I'll come out way, way ahead.
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Anyone who thinks Obama Care is the right prescription for health care is still not paying attention to the facts; and that unfortunately includes too many professional journalists here. Employers (including Advertisers who support Gannett) have already begun cutting costs, limiting hours worked, delaying hiring, cutting jobs and reducing benefits and or passing along higher taxes and plan costs as a result of what Obama Care has already brought. And, contrary to campaign stump promises people can keep doctors and plans they like...projections cite up to 20 million (and more) won’t.In addition, while some like Jim believe their personal costs may drop, studies issued or commissioned by governors, insurance commissioners, plans, and independent actuaries show shocking price increases that individuals, families, and employers will face in 2014 as more of it is enacted. Even California’s own Jerry Brown in his 2013/2014 Budget Summary admits, “LARGE rate increases in the individual insurance market are likely.” Worse yet is how all the new taxes Obama Care extracts (including those for tanning, medical devices, capping pretax spending to $2.500, etc.) and the miniscule “penalties” those without insurance will have to pay won’t even come to close to paying for all Obama promised adding trillions in new debt on top of $16.7 trillion in debt America can ill afford now. Yet, all of this matters little to many as they only look at it from how they believe it will benefit them alone. Well, even those people won’t like what will result.
Four times a year Jim? That (excluding dental visits) hardly speaks well for your health; hope all is well with it.
As I wrote, no more than four times yearly. Last year, it was twice, and that included a flu shot.
Whether intentional or not, Gannett's flagship is transforming itself into a stepping stone company. The message derived from the actions of the last five years isn't that USAT is becoming a more successful and progressive brand. The message for job-seekers is that USAT is a place to work for 5-10 years, preferably early in one's career. USAT might see that as a good thing -- a way to stay fresh and keep salaries low. However, some view it as diluting talent, which in time will negatively impact the product. The message seems to be an obstacle to recruiting mid-career talent or good people looking for job stability. With the way it's going, USAT is going to have a hard time recruiting anyone of any age who is seeking a positive, stable environment. Furthermore, the hit USAT's reputation has taken in the last five years because of some fairly ruthless actions is being heard loud and clear, not only by seasoned professionals who might be looking to make a move, but in the J-schools across the country. Once the job market improves, and people have choices, I suspect USAT is going to have a hard time finding and retaining good people. That's what happens when you treat your workforce the way Gannett does. After all that has happened, I am not sure why anyone would want or expect to work at USAT for very long.
The last thing Gannett or any business should do these days is hire people "seeking a positive, stable environment" where they can hang out for five or ten years. Those days are long gone.
I believe that a positive work environment, where employees don't feel threatened every week, is more likely to be a successful business than a company that promotes high turnover and instability. That doesn't mean any company should tolerate dead wood or the status quo. It just means that good people are attracted to good companies and tend to want to do good work while there. USA Today is no longer a company that appeals to people who know the simple difference between right and wrong. USAT has become AOL, firing and reorganizing every other day, hoping whatever it throws at the wall will stick. Meanwhile, careers and lives are ruined and the business shows no signs of moving forward.Many companies have had to reinvent themselves to a degree. To survive, Harley Davidison and Martin Guitars, to name two traditional companies that feel upon hard times, had to rethink their products. But they did so without abandoning their workforce or their core principles. The mutual loyalty between workers-owners paid off in ways that laying off employees would never have yielded.Obviously, USAT thinks it can fire its way out of its problems. And the firings and furloughs are based on perceptions and stereotypes more than facts. This approach will never motivate enough people to get USAT to where it wants to be. Sure, some arrogant people may love the idea of trashing and burning every loyal worker. And maybe by the time their number would be up, they'd be out of there because they pride themselves on not being loyal. But does this really sound like the kind of foundation you want to build your business on -- a foundation of instability, fear, doubt, fly-by-nigh workers, etc.?
REPORT: Koch Brothers Looking To Purchase Several Major American Newspapers http://thkpr.gs/Y8068j
Hands down, USA Today's live video feed of the papal announcement and his address is way better than that of its national competitors: The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.
Bob Dickey gets even richer after stock option sale.And you all get f..cked out of raises and overtime on a regular basis.Makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy all over doesn't it.
And all we get is more work such as I-Phones and other crap. Watch out. Those I-Phones will more than double your workload. As for your salary being doubled. ... yeah... sure... right...!!!!!!
Fox Sports had an upfront the same day as Gannett.It was preceded by a press conference, then a presentation to the advertising community, and then a party.USA Today Sports was rolled into the Gannett presentation.Fox Sports was NOT rolled into a Murdoch presentation. Hard to compete with that.
The Fox Sports upfront had a major announcement that was long rumored -- Fox Sports 1, a new national sports channel that signs on in August. Gannett didn't have anything comparable.
I'm not quite sure why the push for digital is so big for Gannett. The bottom line is it has a direct effect on print circulation. Being that about 70% of ad revenue still comes from print, why play against each other. It's obvious to see with the buy outs offered at USA today, that Gannett no longer wants to be involved in the printing business. The consolidation of the buildings and a lot of Gannett real estate on the market only confirms that. It's all in with digital and a slow sell off and shut down of print. I don't think you'll be seeing USA today's content online free for much longer.
It's not a question of whether Gannett wants in or out of the print business. The market will ultimately make the decision.
8:05 I understand what you mean about Gannett wanting out of print even if some others don't. It was about cutting Print to the bone to make more short term profit while killing any chance of long term profits.
Indeed Jim. Gannett's lack of attention to innovations in the marketplace and changes in consumers' habits and behaviors with new technology has eliminated their ability to choose their own course. It's digital or die a very slow and painful death. Gannett did not seize the opportunity in the mid-2000s to develop a systematic and organized structure and process of innovation. When business was good, everyone got fat and lazy. This happened to all traditional media companies. But, Gannett had a chance to lead the way and they did not. I'd argue that the market has already decided JIm. Stock prices do not mean much. Behind the scenes, consumers have already decided they are not going to read printed newspapers or watch local television newscasts. Consumers are abandoning morning shows and primetime shows. They are "cutting the cord" and "watching" television and movies on-demand online. And, what makes matters worse, the audience measurement system for media, i.e., web analytics, tv viewing, radio listening, are having major problems measuring consumer's behavior on all the varied devices. Some brands have figured it out (sort of), such as ESPN. But, the vast majority of media company will never be able to accurately tell the advertising industry who watching, reading, accessing their products. Of course, they can come with guesstimates (as they all do now), but no one's really that confident in their numbers. You can't sell what you can't accurately measure. And that's a huge problem for Gannett, in particular.So, Gannett has no choice but to do digital. They have nothing else at this point. They must continue to cut costs and shed headcount to keep the lights own. There's no plan to develop any system for innovation, so there are no new business models being developed to build new revenue streams. That's the way it is.
11:03, you are wrong with so much of that. It's tough to figure out even where to start refuting your nonsense. You have no sources, only unsubstantiated claims.It's not the way it is.
How can you this dispute this?Print revenue has been on the decline in a big way for the fifth year in row.Successful corporations on the grow show yearly revenue increases at the levels Gannett has dropped.
Jim, I would add that there is a lot of financial engineering between print and digital. There is a very real effort to cannibalize print in an effort show progress in digital. We see this in the new subscription pricing where the print rates increase 40% to drive the business to the digital side. Then we see the big wigs selling that to wall street to boost the stock.
I would also add that this sort of practice does all sorts of things that distort the basic economics of the businesses. In our case, instead of trying to maximize the value of the locals through properly subscription pricing and efforts to boost print circulation, you can have inefficiencies in your efforts to drive the digital side. You might be willing leave 2 bucks on the table in the print world to gain 1 dollar in the digital world. This might make sense if you were a leveraged buy-out firm or someone that has a lot of stock options and you want the company stock valued on a higher multiple on a short term basis. It could very well be bad for the value of the print asset and long term value of the entire enterprise. This is a simple example and this stuff can get very complicated, but I think it is good illustration of how distorted things can get. You can also understand why those folks do some of things that don't seem to make sense. They are trying to maximize their personal return and that makes perfect sense.
Ok, 11:22pm, prove that anything I said is false on its merits. The evidence is ALL over the Internet. Do a quick google search on anything I stated about media habits and consumers. And, I have specific knowledge to know that the so-called leadership team is absolutely NOT interested in developing a company-wide innovation process to push forward new and disruptive products and revenue streams. They are dead-set on riding the advertising wave until they can't any longer. As I said, that's the way it is. That's the reality.Remember all that IDEO'ing and BCG'ing that went on over the past several years? The only real thing those exercises did was to show the company that they needed to get off their rear ends, get their hands out of the sand and figure out how they are going to live with less and less print revenue over the next 5 years. That's all it did. The approach to the digital subcription model was born out of the million dollar BCG engagement. They spent ALL that money to do something they should have done back in 2000. But, better late then never I suppose. What evidence can you bring to bear that Gannett has an organize company-wide innovation strategy that helps it surface new and creative ideas to develop disruptive products and services that can potentially bring in new streams of revenue? You can't b/c there is none and there's no one sitting on the 11th floor Crystal Palace who has the knowledge, skills, motivation, or support from the board to do it.And, that's just the way it is.
@8:05P - a pay on USAT will never work. Who would buy it?
Does anyone remember the Y2K groups that were formed in 1999 to talk about the future of Gannett? Lots of great ideas were discussed, including going digital before digital was the "thing" and all was dismissed and ignored. Biggest waste of time and energy ever.
12:15, millions of people still watch prime-time TV. So you are entirely wrong on that.As fun as it would be to go through each of your bogus claims and shoot you down, I'll rest on proving "anything" you said is false.Your "way" is not the way it is.
Everyone, and I mean everyone in the sense of what local news correspondents understand, are silent.http://government.brevardtimes.com/2013/03/is-florida-today-hand-in-hand-with.html?spref=fb
Now who's pulling down stories?
Jim, it might be worth launching a thread on the Gannett compensation structure, which effectively eliminates a large portion of the company workforce from ever being eligible for pay raises based on some very questionable and subjective criteria. Those sites with unions or even union influence may not have this approach, but many others do. While the old compensation and review system was certainly flawed, the new one tells a large percentage of workers, which appears to vary by site from 65 to 75 percent, that they just aren't good enough for even minimal raises. Only superstars as identified by managers with some interesting measurements get raises. As a former HR rep, it's clear there are two goals here: get rid of those workers who aren't doing a good job without having to lay them off outright, and chase off those who may have larger salaries without having to create supporting documentation that they didn't measure up. Was this a Gannett creation or are they following the model of other companies? I wonder Gannett leaders understand that this approach resounds through communities when key advertisers hear that Gannett is not providing most of its employees even a minimal raise at the same time it seeks to raise its advertising rates or subscription rates.
10:36, it is pointless to call on Jim to provide any sort of analysis. He is either unwilling or unable to do this. Perhaps both.Your last sentence is particularly puzzling. Do you really think key advertisers give a crap about whether the newsroom people get pay raises? If so, you are delusional.
They're asking for a comment thread, not an analysis.
Sorry, but anyone who stays in a job is by definition being paid what he's worth. The 13th Amendment is still in force.If you want to enhance your earning potential, then get out of a dead-end industry and get into a growing one. Otherwise, quit being a victim and a crybaby.
1:25, that makes no sense. Try to think first and then post.
10:36, Good question. Gannett has shown over and over that it isn't clever enough to come up with anything on its own, and that applies to punitive HR practices. It goes to its practice of slipping falsified or exaggerated job-performance flaws into workers' evaluation. It goes to its practice of having two or three managers in confrontational private meetings with "problematic" workers. It goes to its practice of setting unattainable performance bars as a way of denying raises and promotions. And on and on. Nothing original comes out of Gannett. It's a pretender and plagiarizer in every sense.
You all know this, and so does GANNETT. PRINT IS DEAD. It is totally impossible to reap any growth from newspapers. Magazines maybe, but not much grow.
Yet the decline has slowed the past year or so. Yes print will never return to it's glory days but there does still seem to be a place for it for companies willing to accept smaller profits.
Or that mentality is killing it.
Yeah its not the fact that content, is free, better and available everwhere thats killing it. Its a bad attitude.
Wrong, it is the mentality that says we are not going to produce good content that people are willing to pay money to read. The mentality that produces content that cannot compete with the free content, which is of poor quality too.The bad attitude and the sarcasm or more like personal problems that you should work on.
Sorry for the sarcasm. I mean no disrespect; however, here are some questions for you to ponder: If in 2013 a corporation approched the print medium with the very best content (or mentality) available, do you think its going to be a good investment for readers, advertisers and wall street? Stop and think from a consumer's stand point: how much money do you personally spend a month on print content? Do you think that will ever increase? Could you live without it? Have our readers been trained in a very short time to find alternative content that serves the purpose? Has our society placed a higher value on consuming video than reading? Will circulation of any print shock wall street with its growth....ever? The next time you go to startbucks, the airport....count how many people have print in their hands. I have done it for 4 years and the shift is astounding.
Great, succint and reasoned questions. This is exactly why I check this blog. I can deal with all the dust and immaturity as long as there's a post like 6:09's once in a while.So here's my deal, as a general response: I like print. I like digital. I use both — depending on what its application is, no pun intended. I can't possibly be the only one.
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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