Thursday, March 28, 2013

USAT | Reno's Love to lead new global news desk

USA Today Editor in Chief David Callaway has sent the following memo today. It is also signed by Kate Marymont, the senior news executive over the 81 U.S. community papers, and Rob Mennie, the top news executive over the 23-station broadcasting division.

Folks,

We’re thrilled today to announce the appointment of Beryl Love as executive editor of our new Gannett global news desk. Beryl, who is executive editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal, is one of our Gannett newspaper group’s most popular and talented editors. He’s the perfect leader to create a new, coordinated news desk to serve our sprawling print, broadcast and digital news operations.

Love
Many of you have heard about “the desk” project. But we promise once it gets going this summer you will have never seen anything like it. It’s not just a breaking news desk. It’s not just an assignment desk. It’s not even a new version of Gannett News Service. It’s a 24/7 news engine that coordinates and shares the best of all our news coverage across our 104 media outlets, as well as providing unique, high-impact digital, broadcast and print content that will add value to all of our offerings.

It will be staffed with some of the best innovative minds, graphical designers, videographers, layout editors, and engineers from all our news operations, as well as some of the best and brightest in the industry not yet with Gannett. Located in the center of the USA Today newsroom, it will be our first truly companywide news center, leveraging the coolest work of our 5,000 journalists and serving individual news units, from Reno to Rochester, from Denver to Detroit.

Dave Callaway, Kate Marymont and Rob Mennie will manage the creation of the operation as a team, reporting to Larry Kramer, Bob Dickey, and Dave Lougee, and ultimately to Gracia Martore.

Beryl will start in McLean, Va., in early May, after a suitable transition from his successful assignment in Reno. Please join us in wishing Beryl a hearty congratulations.

Cheers.

Dave, Kate and Rob

Earlier: Gannett News Service becomes ContentOne under Tara Connell, March 2009. ContentOne becomes News Network, May 2011. USA Today announces formation of national news desk, March 2012.

79 comments:

  1. So a guy who failed in almost every imaginable way at a regional paper gets promoted to a company-wide position. I don't think the he even put in 40 hours per week this last year... perhaps because he was too busy looking for his next opportunity.

    Yet another reason Gannett is doomed to fail. Bad managers fail up.

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  2. This is a very interesting project, and I certainly hope it works.

    Organizationally, though, it's going to be a challenge indeed to have it co-managed by three people, each of whom report to three other people.

    Also, Callaway has been with the company less than a year, so he can sort of be forgiven for not knowing the history of Gannett News Service and its successors.

    Callaway says the new desk "will be our first truly companywide news center."

    In fact, that is exactly what ContentOne was supposed to be -- until it was unceremoniously folded into USAT when its creator, Tara Connell, retired in May 2011.

    Not quite a full year later, March 2012, plans for the national news desk were announced with the remnants of ContentOne.

    Now, another year later, we arrive at today's announcement.

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  3. ... and Gannett News Service was also a companywide news center. It was just never used as well as it should have been. So, this is yet another attempt to do things that have been attempted before. Maybe they'll be more successful this time, but it's doubtful. The fact that they picked this guy to lead the way doesn't speak well to the future. Most of the staff in Reno doesn't respect him (outside of a few of his handpicked favorites). He is really good at firing people though.

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    1. Good points made. I was one of many he laid off during one of the several rounds of cuts the past few years. He couldn't even look me in the eye as I sat across the desk from him.

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  4. Global news? Isn't that what Gannett pays the Associated Press to provide? Can Gannett's young hack writers improve over the steady hands of the Associated Press' professionals? Doubtful. Another project doomed for the Gannett Graveyard of Schemes.

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  5. I believe the long-term plan for many if not most newspaper publishers is to discontinue use of the Associated Press as a cost-saving move.

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    1. That's some plan. Yikes!!!!! Another example of running down the product.

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    2. USA Today and most other Gannett papers would collapse without AP. Many staff bylined stories are hung on AP reporting, often credited at end, sometimes not.

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    3. Charles Everett3/28/2013 6:28 PM

      In fact, the non-Gannett daily in Cedar Rapids will drop the AP as of next week.

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    4. That's simply NOT true. There are plenty of freelancers and high school stringers willing to provide us with award-winning, compelling content.

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  6. Global news is another Gannett gimmick. It's right up there with reporters running around with I-Phones and shooting videos. What's next? Photographers writing articles? It makes about as much sense as reporters shooting video.
    What people want is solid local news in print and online. They don't want third-rate cheesy videos. Reporters can't be tied up shooting third-rate cheesey videos. Got news for ya, Gannett. Most of the time, those wonderful I-Phones don't work.
    Gannett should focus more on having reporters cover town and county meetings instead of running its media platforms into the ground with feature after feature on food and pets.
    Food features make my stomach turn. Pet features give me fleas. And I love to eat and am a dog lover!!!
    At one staff meeting, a reporter asked if we were going to cover night meetings. The manager replied, "That's a 1975 approach. We are a newspaper magazine."
    With strategy like that, small wonder revenues are down and Gannett is forced unload buildings. That's scary.
    I will applaud Gannett for making itself more accessible to readers with upgraded Internet technology.
    Let's get back to old-fashioned shoe leather journalism and see how it goes. Delivered in print and on high-tech equipment,I am sure it will work fine.
    The names of the game are content and delivery of product. Any businessman or businesswoman will tell you that. It's high time Gannett realized that.

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    1. Fairly sure that last commen sense conclusion is irrelevant to the board who see their function as nothing relevant to this profession, but only to their stock portfolio. Users. And we all know what users do, no matter their wallet.

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    2. Too-5:42, Outstanding post! Local news is a major reason why our circulation is falling. We no longer cover what people want to read, The publisher and who he reports too have no clue, I can not believe will still print a daily.

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  7. Everything old eventually becomes "new" again at USA Today. Recycled thinking from recycled leadership.

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  8. I'm assuming Callaway and Kramer write their own memos. Whatever the origin, someone sure likes superlatives and other over-the-top language -- without any qualifiers, either.

    Last November, for example, Callaway referred to USA Today as a "national treasure."

    Two weeks ago, in announcing buyout offers, Kramer and national sales chief Mary Murcko referred to an ongoing effort to turn USAT into "the premiere multi-platform news organization."

    Then, is this memo today, Callaway wrote about staffing the new news desk with "the best and brightest in the industry."

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    1. The way USA Today and Gannett are going, they will be buried treasures.

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  9. My favorite is "24/7 news engine". Just wait til they realize no one's working 24/7 in USCP land. There's barely enough staffing to cover 9 to 5 these days.

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    1. I missed that one. One would hope being 24/7 was already a given.

      Meanwhile, in Gannett and elsewhere, I still see companies promoting the notion of being "multi-platform," or delivering news to consumers "when they want it, and where they want it."

      Hello! It's 2006 calling; they want their buzzy words back.

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    2. Not 2006 - more like 1985. (None dare call it synergy.)

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  10. A question, which I hope to write about in more detail in the days ahead:

    Callaway says the news desk will leverage "the coolest work of our 5,000 journalists."

    Does that figure include sports journalists at USAT, the U.S. community weeklies and the 23 TV stations and other media units? I ask because Callaway's memo doesn't reference the USAT Sports Media Group, which has its own editor in chief, Dave Morgan.

    Remember that, when Morgan's appointment was announced in October 2011, Sports Media was said to encompass "all sports initiatives across USA TODAY, as well as Gannett’s 82 daily newspaper properties, 23 broadcast television stations, HighSchoolSports.net and BNQT.com. "

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  11. Hi. I was at the RGJ when Love was brought in. He impressed me as actually talented. This was before the Gannett Borg. He was much more engaging than, say, the publisher - also another import. Yet Love remained at a safe distance, only once responding to a concern I had voiced, and even that concern (incorrect photo captions to an event I had witnessed), never corrected. "It will be fixed." It never was. But aside from that, at the beginning Love had some say. And then... kinda got the whole Borg thing.

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    1. Sounds like Callaway, who avoids contact with 90% of the staff. But then, Hillkirk was never around the newsroom and avoiding hard decisions, too. The place needs an engaged, firm leader. This was the best Kramer could do?

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  12. It's not about news anymore. It's about marketing a product. A product. A brand. And a bad one at that.

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    1. I could not agree more.

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  13. I bet they held a little gathering at the Reno site, employees taxed to max, and all the worker bees applauded. Some announcement over the PA: "Let's give Beryl a great send-off." And despite just humane good wishes, only some can leave their workstations.

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  14. Clusterfuck I'd say.

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  15. Cheers.

    Seriously.

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    1. Nice to see that Kate Marymont was given something to do. Where have ya been, Kate!!!??? Playin' golf and sippin' martinis with Dickey on the company dime while hundreds of employees are canned, I suppose!!!!!!

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  16. Kate Marymont knows better. At least she used to, back when she still had possession of her soul.

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  17. It is laughable if they expect 24/7 help from community papers.

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  18. This is the Gannett way: hire more chiefs. They'll no doubt be getting rid of some reporters to pay his additional salary.

    Memo to Kramer & Gracia: Adding another chair at the meetings and squeezing one more desk into Callaway's hub isn't improving the product.

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    1. At my site in my department, there are seven full time managers, four full time writers and three part time writers. Small wonder there are not enough boots on the ground to cover things. One full time writer resigned and was not replaced. Another full time writer was moved to the copy desk and not replaced.
      Talk about having too many chiefs and not enough Indians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  19. Cheers, What the hell is this guy on? Cheers my ass Dave

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  20. What in the heck is a "graphical designer"?

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    1. I was wondering the very same thing.
      They also managed to get in the pointless "add value."

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    2. No shit. But there's certainly nothing of value to take away.

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    3. Just more proof that these "leaders" shamelessly don't know what they're talking about (and don't deign to be bothered), so just invent a new tortured term to match arrogance with ignorance. Nothin' embarrassin' there! Well... not to Gannett's "leaders."

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  21. The way it’s written, one would expect something like this from Saturday Night Live’s news desk.

    It’s a desert topping, it’s a floor cleaner…it’s a global newsdesk.

    No...it’s the coolest tasting, flooring cleaning, newest news source ever!

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  22. if local news content post-layoffs in reno is any measure, then the enterprise is doomed to typical gannett mediocrity. that said, this seems like an effort to economize by using more content already in hand and more expensive wire service stories. in my local gannett paper i have noticed more usa today stories, for instance. this would extend that move.

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    1. Very much agree, 2:08 PM. So much USA Today content, I dropped my subscription some time back. I've read the Reno paper front-to-back for many, many years... every day... and the current product is like a Yugo compared to a BMW. The sad thing is it's not Reno's fault. Lots of good people there (or were, e.g., over 50 years old). Thanks, corporate.

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    2. I love USAT. It's gotten better since Kramer arrived. Of course we still have to read weekly dribble a out a columnist and his dog. But then I don't read that or big Al's column either

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  23. i meant to say: that said, this seems like an effort to economize by using more content already in hand and FEWER expensive wire service stories.

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  24. The bigger story here, I think, is the possibility of an important turf battle over all Gannett newsrooms and their reported 5,000 journalists.

    Historically, even when Gannett News Service was at full strength, Gannett's three major newsroom groups operated as separate fiefdoms that seldom cooperated: the U.S. community papers; USA Today and the TV station newsrooms.

    GNS could pick up and re-edit stories from any of those newsrooms, then send it out on the wire. But it didn't have sweeping authority to set broad, uniform editorial policy for all the newsrooms.

    They called their own shots under Phil Currie's News Department (and, now, Kate Marymont) at the community papers; USA Today's top editor, and broadcasting's collective news directors.

    But now, with the global news desk, it sounds like that's going to change. At the moment, it's going to be run cooperatively by three people: Callaway; Marymont and Mennie, who's editorial director for broadcasting. They, in turn, reporting to three more people, who ultimately report to CEO Gracia Martore.

    Organizationally, that's unwieldy and impractical. Ultimately, though, one person must have the final say over day-to-day/week-to-week decision making.

    My bet is that it will be Kramer/Callaway/Love. Whenever Marymont retires, if not sooner, the community papers will be merged into Kramer's domain along with broadcasting's newsrooms. There will become one, big news network flowing from and to USA Today.

    This isn't an entirely new concept. Last September, when USAT relaunched its print and digital divisions, The New York Times reported the following:

    "The broader makeover is part of an effort by USA Today’s parent company, Gannett, to combine the resources of all of its TV and newspaper assets. The company owns 82 newspapers in the United States, including USA Today, as well as 23 broadcast TV stations and some digital media properties. Gannett is also planning to rebuild its newsroom to create a single national news desk to house employees from its newspapers and television stations.

    "Mr. Kramer, who founded MarketWatch and joined USA Today in May, said that Gannett’s newspapers and TV stations would share more content on breaking news stories, offering a greater mix of video and print on the Web site. Print reporters will be given video equipment and will be expected to do their own videos.

    "Mr. Kramer also plans to better pair the papers’ national investigative projects with local coverage; smaller papers will run USA Today investigative stories with sidebars written by reporters about local impact.

    “'This has to be an orchestra,' said Mr. Kramer. 'It can’t be a single instrument anymore.'”

    Extending that metaphor, an orchestra needs a single conductor, and I suspect Kramer would like that to be him.

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    1. What a load of incorrect, speculative crap. Kramer is here for a short couple of years. He was brought in under the understanding that he would turn the Titanic around and then turn it over to his successor. Your theory is absolute uninformed tripe. I mean do you just make this stuff up out of thin air? You were a journalist? Shame on you.

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    2. And your source for Kramer's being there a short couple of years is? He has said this in a public setting?

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    3. A good, value-added analysis on this convergence going forward for the information centers, James.

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  26. As a manager familiar with human resources issues, I just cringe when someone puts in an employee-distributed email, a throwaway phrase like "(Love) is one of our Gannett newspaper group’s most popular and talented editors."

    Really? Most popular? Based on what? A survey? A management assessment?

    A corporate email that claims someone is "one of the most popular" begs the question: Who is the least popular? Are all us managers ranked by popularity? Is that why we aren't getting raises?

    My point is that such loose memos sent out to all would NEVER fly with such language if anyone at Gannett Corp. had a clue about employment laws or followed even the most basic of employee personnel practices.

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  27. 3:54 you obviously don't know a thing about employment law. There is t a thing in the memo that comes close to an EL violation. Nice speech though

    Cheers

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    1. 354pm didn't say it was a violation, 614. He did say it is bad practice, which it is.

      With your expertise, you could be qualified to work for Gannett HR, or whichever vendor is in vogue this month. Perhaps you are.

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    2. 6:45 he mentions employment law. What do you think he means by employment law? Please enlighten us. Another wanna be who is so good he can do his job and be a labor law expert! Cheers

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  28. I don't give a damn who USAT hires. It's become a morally corrupt workplace run by people incapable of telling the truth -- managers at all levels who will smile and blow smoke...moments before you're placed another hit list of employees who must go. It started in the Moon-Paulson era -- Paulson being particularly good at deception and ruthlessness -- and has morphed into something so ugly and distant from the core values of good journalism (not to mention humanism) that I can't imagine why anyone would want to work there other than to collect a paycheck.

    Screw the place. There are other jobs one can do to earn a living without selling their souls or working in a state of constant mistrust. And I don't want to hear anything more about so and so being a good guy/gal who really is concerned. If he/she is such a principled person, how do they live with themselves for being a part of the purging of some truly good people. These holier-than-thou types didn't bat an eye as they signed off on the death sentences of their former colleagues. They used those people up until they were of no use to them, and then jettisoned them into the worst economy in our lifetimes. Nice guys. Yeah, right.

    I hope USAT implodes and falls into the polluted drainage pit they call a pond or lake. Hey, USAT, are you still killing geese in the "lake" because you just can't stand the thought of getting poop on your fancy shoes as you walk the path on your fourth break of the day? I mean, this is a company that fired three women for touching the infamous blue ball -- a six-figure piece of bullsh-t called artwork strategically placed outside of the executive offices. It's a company so arrogant that it chose to build on some of the most expensive land in the country, then within a couple years started laying people off and furloughing survivors to pay for the imported marble in the restrooms. It's a company that wears its hatred for older workers right on its corporate sleeve, thumbing its nose at the law.



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  29. Jim's analysis of the coming USA TODAY/Broadcast/Gannett "partnership'' is pretty accurate, but he is guessing on a few things.

    For the record, this plan has been bubbling around for years, long before Kramer arrived, and went through numerous study groups, even down to the level of personnel needed and structure. But it foundered on the company's schizoid nature (who would be in charge), with Gannett papers worried about control and USA TODAY worried about being thrown into a localized buzzsaw.

    Kramer, however, did sign on to the idea immediately (it may have been a condition of employment), but regardless he and Kate and Callaway (and to a lesser extent Mennie), should be seen as the ones who make it happen.

    Whether it will work is another question.

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    1. Schizoid is the right word. The company's still organized top down by platform, while claiming to be post-platform.

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    2. What a goofy management arrangement. A funeral parlor overseen by a troika rarely seen and seldom engaged.

      This 24/7 news engine will roar like a sputtering Yugo.

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  30. Plan was in the works for years.kramer likes the concept,but they are putting this in the hands of a gannettoid. Expect lots of turf wars with what is left of usa today. ultimately, this will justify lots of blood letting in the community properties.less editors and designers will be needed.

    kramer enjoys the trappings of minor celebritydom an being a potential savior. but his heart isnt in this and everything he does is all for show. Props to Gracia for thinking outside the box. But there is no one to counsel her on getting the kind of talent that Usa Today has needed for a long long time.

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    1. Although there aren't any designers left in the community properties. We all got the axe when the sites shifted to the "design" hubs.

      Still the same number of editors, however, and lord knows what they do anymore.

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  31. Oh boy! Yet another executive position. Cant wait for more best in class bloated management directives.

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  32. I'm struck by the speed with which this project has traveled in a digital world.

    The global news desk has its origins in ContentOne, which was announced in late 2008 and given an operating chief the following spring 2009.

    Meanwhile, Instagram was launched in October 2010 and sold to Facebook in April 2012 for $1 billion in cash and FB shares.

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  33. This has FUBAR written all over it. And when Beryl fails, he'll get Callaway's job.

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  34. Actually the idea will work because you have the resources a d personnel behind it. TC never succeeded at anything because she was an abusive manager. She treated people at all levels poorly and they left in droves. Don't rewrite history. Love will do fine because the tools and funds are in place. Of course the haters hate all things Gannett.

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    1. No one is rewriting history. But the editors ee have now are just as abusive and far less competent than Tara. The lack of competency is whats really killing us.

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  35. The national news desk in Des Moines provides the budget of nation/world stories for most Gannett daily papers now, and its budget gets heavier and heavier with stories from USA Today, and less from the Associated Press. These stories are often shallowly reported and less well written than the equivalent Associated Press story, and yet Des Moines consistently chooses USAT versions over the AP. So clearly, quality is not a consideration; Gannett politics is. This new development suggests Gannett papers can expect to see a lot more of this.

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  36. I'm sorry, but global news operations consist of networks of correspondents around the globe. Where, I ask, is the Gannett global news desk or correspondent in Kabul, or Baghdad, or Jerusalem, or Nicosia? And it's going to be run by this lightweight out of where, Reno? Gannett's attempts to keep up with the major leaguers in journalism are as laughable as ever. The company is as incapable of attracting outside talent as it is developing talent from within. It's like some kind of weird parody of a news organization.

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    1. I agree, 5:14 PM. Gannett's product has nothing to offer anymore. So much information is out there which matters to so many people, yet within Gannett's pages and websites there's usually nothing about them. I read all (what used to called) the "wires" every day and several are very compelling stories. Yet there's nothing in my paper. Because it's a marketing platform now and nothing more. Even so just as that, it boggles my mind how dull-headed the board is. Gannett, who are you going to market to if no reads your vanilla product? It doesn't occur anywhere along the line that people -- oops, I mean consumers --want usable content, not pictures of puppies. The board's obscene wealth won't permit that idea because after all what's it to them? Theirs is not a profession. It's a gravy train of stock options.

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    2. Is it my imagination or are the socialists on this blog losing their minds. Heaven forbid executives make money. What's wrong with you people? Please provide ten examples of companies that don't pay their executives a lot of money. Or do you hate them as well.

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    3. It's not a matter of them making money. It's a matter of them making money for doing very little to earn it, other than come up with half-baked ideas that are retreads of previous half-baked ideas that didn't make a nickel the first 5 or 6 times they were implemented.

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  37. Could not have said it better myself, 5:14 p.m. My site has lost its way _ both in print and online. It was a great platfrom _ until the Gannett Thugs arrived and staged their imitations of the Soviet troops marching through Poland, destroying everything in their path.
    Local news is virtally gone. There is next to no coverage of meetings of local and county governments. My site's products are filled with junk story after junk story.
    Small wonder its building is for sale. If a product is no good, people will not buy it and revenues will shrink. People are not stupid.
    People want aggressive, local news reporting. Not pictures of puppies. Not pictures of food. My site is on this food coverage kick _ makes me want to throw up in its lobby.
    It's high time Gannett realized that.

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    1. People may think they want aggressive, local news reporting, but they aren't willing to pay for it. That ain't management's fault. Get over it.

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    2. WTF?! We used to give them local news they could use. Then "management" fired too many reporters/editors/designers to be able to do any meaningful reporting anymore. And we jacked up the print prices and put the titties/puppies pics behind a paywall.

      And we can see the results of that on a daily basis.

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  38. You "experts" crack me up! You're so one sided it is laughable and none of you are in decision making positions. Go figure. Thanks for the belly laughs. You really are funny!!!!

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    1. Smugly said like a true Gannetoid. Always doing the "straw man" approach to disagreement. I thought the Gannett way was about teamwork. I heard a lot about teams. But not at this joint. Just derision.

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  39. We experts are the ones who have seen these mandates, decrees and brilliant ideas before. Why do they always involve more top down managers?

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  40. I love the way the come up with these "fabulous" ideas without involving the actual people that have to make "it" happen ~ Don't miss that hell hole at all!!!!

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  41. Wait a minute! I just saw this guy doing Theatre in the Round in Elko.

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