Friday, August 16, 2013

In GCI's silence, an 'obvious problem of hypocrisy'

Columbia Journalism Review contributor Anna Clark takes a close look at how Gannett newspapers have been covering their own recent layoffs -- and found many dailies coming up way short. In a story today on CJR's website, she writes:

There’s an obvious problem of hypocrisy when news organizations, staffed by members of a profession that rightly demands transparency of government and other major institutions, are not themselves transparent. There’s also the question of responsibility to readers. The most engaged, most valuable readers want to know what a paper’s plan to cover their community is. They want to know why someone whose work they’ve seen for decades is abruptly gone. When they don’t know, they may lose trust -- and, over time, interest.

Related: Gannett cuts jobs, declines to reveal how many.

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An estimated 324 jobs have now been eliminated at 52 of about 80 newspapers since the current round of layoffs began July 29, according to the latest reports from Gannett Blog readers.

Please check this read-only spreadsheet, then post your site's current information in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.

[Image: cover of CJR's July/August print issue]

21 comments:

  1. Gannett of all companies should know that when you try to tamp down bad news by refusing to talk about it -- you just get even more negative news coverage.

    It's Public Relations 101.

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  2. Florida Today makes it a priority to publish articles about layoffs by NASA and other space industry employers in Brevard County. Yet for its layoffs in 2011 and 2013 there has not been any public announcement of staff reductions. Very hypocritical in my opinion.

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  3. Go to Career Builder. Search for the word Gannett. Read the list and the ads. You will see them posted for your location. They are everywhere. Put them all together. It then becomes crystal clear that there is a huge restructuring underway. But of course, the company has failed to explain anything to employees as it slogs through the long metamorphosis of this sufficating butterfly.

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    1. Yeah, it's "restructuring" at its best.

      Take those that make a decent salary, have lots of experience and are loyal to the company -- and replace with much lower salaries, no experience and no loyalty to the company or their customers. Brilliant!

      Delete
  4. This is the danger of big media companies like Gannett and why the demise of family-run newspapers will be a stain on journalism for years. Gannett papers police everyone but themselves. Not even USA Today will touch any story that may not put Gannett in favorable light. Yet, we're supposed to believe Gannett papers, including the failing flagship, are fair and balanced? What else aren't they covering or putting a slant on if they can't report the facts about themselves?

    Gannett is not only bad for the profession, it is bad for the country. Twisting or concealing the facts about layoffs or other business transactions, while demanding other public companies open the books and reveal everything, just seems so damn arrogant, even from a company that built its rep on being less than ethical in its biz practices and treatment of its own employees.

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    Replies
    1. The monopolizing of newspapers is actually a blow to more than journalism. It's a setback for democracy. When on large company controls the messaging, and when journalists are told what they can and can't cover, nothing good can come of that.

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  5. Proud of you, Jim. Your hard work and crowd-sourcing exposed this mess to the light of day. CJR story would not have happened without your compilations. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. But at the risk of stating the obvious, none of that would have been possible without literally hundreds and hundreds of contributions from employees from coast to coast.

      Delete
  6. "Enquirer Media completed some restructuring as part of a need to manage our costs and adapt to a quickly changing marketplace. ...

    We believe content will improve in some areas. That’s because we’ve aligned reporting resources with editors who are experts in their subject areas and we are establishing seamless relationships between the content team and our digital and audience engagement leaders.



    Who are the expert editors in Cincinnati? Randy Essex has been there a little over a year. The same goes for Vickie Ashwill and Annette LaCross. I don't think you can call them experts on Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.

    The Enquirer has let go most of the editors who had been at the paper a long time and actually understood the community.

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    1. Washburn and Essex practice cronyism. And the Enquirer's dwindling quality, number of subscribers and influence in the community is the result of such a practice.

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    2. Buchanan recently shared she’ll keep “managing” costs downward if revenue continues to slide.

      Moreover, slide it will as her mini-paper only further alienated a shrinking group of advertisers and subscribers who are tired of getting less for increasingly more in price. Saying they can do a better job with fewer staff is b.s., at best, something long-term customers easily see through.

      Delete
  7. I totally agree with 4:40pm. I was fortunate to survive several rounds of layoffs at Florida Today and was able to get out and move on to greener pastures outside the news industry before suffering the same. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time there but it was very bizarre to watch the lack of compassion for the departing Florida Today employees compared to the treatment the laid-off NASA/space contractors received through the pages of the publication. The headlines read: "Tell us your story", "We are here for you", “Where to go for employment help”, etc., etc...
    I can only speak for my observations in the newsroom – sorry, INFORMATION CENTER – Stover and the top editors seemed to be conveniently locked away in their offices when the departing workers were shown the door.
    Very sad indeed.
    Good luck to all those recently let go.

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  8. The company's in a tough spot. They want print to die, but can't afford to kill it outright. Nor can they afford to tell print staffers that's the plan. It has to be managed carefully and in secrecy over a period of years.

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  9. I believe since 2009 many media companies have been trying to keep work force reductions out of the news.Palm Springs area has had a very high turn over rate at the local television news stations as stations have been allowed to buy other stations. Gannett doesn't own any in the area. They do own the Desert Sun Newspaper. There have been many layoffs over the past three years there and not a mention anywhere about them by The Desert Sun or any other News source. If any other major employer lays off people it is headline news. Talk about turning their back on the people they let go but also the community they are supposed to be serving. They have an obligation to report the news that lets their readers know what is happening in the community. They have failed to fulfill that obligation.

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  10. There are no good ways to lay people off (or, let’s be honest about it, fire them) but Gannett’s ways are among the worst. Their refusal to cover their own RIFs hurts their credibility in the communities they cover and reveals the executives to be hypocrites.

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  11. Maybe they just assume readers are stupid. Or as Rahmbo in Chicago might say, f*ing retards.

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  12. Well the thing is that 500 people losing jobs in a 30000 employee company with 2000 open jobs isn't news. It is sad, but layoffs are minuscule except to those affected.

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    1. On this subject, I'm not writing for shareholders who work in New York City skyscrapers. I'm writing for "those affected."

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  13. Adding to the hypocrisy: Without a WORD written about the layoffs, the weekend after the Cincinnati layoffs, the Enquirer trumpeted that it was hiring two new "watchdog" reporters...(see link below) and, interestingly, an inside source says top management at the Enquirer consulted with another Gannett investigative reporter to help the female half of this watchdog team learn how to perform her watchdog responsibilities. It appears that this new watchdog was hired because she has a Detroit connection in her pedigree: Randy Essex, the Enquirer metro editor. He has continually surrounded himself with his minions, regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof, and regardless of who gets booted to make room for them. http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130804/NEWS/308040032/Enquirer-adds-two-watchdog-reporters

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  14. With something like 200 employees left out of a high of 600 at Florida Today before layoffs began you would think something would have appeared in the paper.

    Think of any other company shedding that many employees, it would be the top story for weeks.

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    Replies
    1. I think you mean 200 layoffs over a period of several years, right?

      Delete

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