An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
Not a Gannett property, but very entertaining:A Sun-Sentinal newspaper reporter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stormed out of a public meeting while shouting at a political consultant who slammed journalism. Reporter Marci Shatzman called politico Andre Fladell "full of you know what" at the West Boca Community Council meeting, and said the council won't get a "Goddamned bit of coverage."Here's the video of the dustup on Tuesday.
Marci worked for The Trentonian, a tabloid known for its Page Six photo spreads of women in bikinis. She also has worked on political campaigns.
Pretty sure the Trentonian is also of "Roasted Nuts" fame
It is! Tony Persichilli got canned over that headline. The fire was at the state psychiatric hospital!
Sun-Sentinel misspelled.Jim, brilliant as usual.
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I guess I shouldn't have laid off all my copy editors.
Many folks here have commented on Gannett's systematic purging of older workers. In addition to the decline in product quality and credibility that are so evident to its readers and advertisers and the legal jeopardy that the company is assuming by practicing age discrimination, here are other reasons that that particular purge is a mistake: http://www.chron.com/news/politics/article/Some-employers-see-perks-of-hiring-older-workers-4811775.phpParty on, young puppies. Some day you may mature, too.
Gannett likely understands that older workers bring a lot to the table -- particularly institutional knowledge and mentorship for their newspapers. They're simply to cheap to pay for them.
11:44- I'm and older worker and I don't hate on the younger people, I feel bad for them. There are no editors to mentor them and teach them the finer points of writing reporting and editing. I can think back to skills I was able to improve thanks to several key editors in my career. Editors don't have that luxury at Gannett because their ranks have been cut (at least the ranks of AME's) Older reporters are equally as time crunched in the do more with less era. Every round of lay offs mean more work. The big difference I'm seeing is that young journalists aren't settling for it for long. I've seen many of them leave the business and change jobs and professions or go back to school for something else...ANYTHING else. The industry is eating it's future.
9:55, this is 11:44 back...I realized after I posted the "young puppies" comment that it was overly snarky, and I apologize for that, but I couldn't delete it. Before hitting "publish," I had read one too many "get out of the way, gramps" comments, I suppose.You are correct to decry the loss of mentors and institutional memory at sites which have lost their most experienced workers. To be healthy, any self-perpetuating organization needs a balance between new blood and older workers. Where there aren't enough new, younger workers, the organization stagnates. Where there aren't enough older workers, chaos and impulse reigns. In either case the organization becomes ineffective, either accomplishing nothing or careening from one dumb fad to another, losing sight of the organizational mission and goals.Do employees even know what the organizational mission and goals are at Gannett so they can work to accomplish them any more? Is Gannett a newspaper/content provider? Is it a broadcast spectrum manager? Does it seek a significant national presence or is it primarily a consortium of local markets? All of the above? None of the above? What sustained efforts are being made to clearly state the mission and then communicate to each and every employee that "this is what we do, and here is how your position contributes to what we do and this is what we expect of you to help accomplish our mission."Maybe I'm off base here, and I'm sure you'll tell me if I am, but that is my impression of what is happening to this company... lack of focus, imbalance, frenetic spinning about. I just want to tell the corporate officers to sit down, take a deep breath, choose a path, adapt to change but remain true to the basics of what the company does best. No other company has the control over local information that Gannett does in many communities and that is its strength. They control the information and content that customers can't find anywhere else and want the most. Don't squander the brand and the opportunities it still offers. Please.
9:55 here. I totally agree with your second comment-especially on the lack of focus. I would describe what management is doing at my site as being similar to throwing jell-o against the wall to see what sticks (I'm being polite in this description). The problem is you are giving more credit to Gannett management than they deserve, based on their performance. They are neither far sighted or visionary. They have proved themselves to be like pirates, starting with Craig Dubrow and working on down the line. They took the money saved from past layoffs and put the majority of it into executive compensation, instead of re-investing in it in the company where it belonged. Forbes magazine called them out for that very practice. Management was late to the party when it came to developing decent apps and websites for the publications. While they are to be commended for investing in iPhones for staff, they bought the model with the smallest memory, which is not advisable for info center staff, who now have a new video mandate to meet. But above all, the main complaint I have heard from Gannett employees, both old and young, is that management refuses to listen to anyone else except management. We have seen failure after failure from going down this path, and those failures are diminishing the brand to the point where the brand will be irrelevant and worth nothing in the market place. It is a sad, sad place that this company finds it's self in and a far cry from the industry leader it was decades ago.
(I apologize if someone has already posted this info. Since I was laid off from the Enquirer a couple years ago, I don't follow this blog closely....) Former longtime Enquirer reporter and current Cincinnati CityBeat writer Ben Kaufman weighs in on the Enquirer's pulling out of Kentucky (oh, that's right, they're IMPROVING KY coverage by consolidating staffs!): http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-28528-enquirer_kentucky_relationship_strained_by_rocky_coverage.htmlExcerpt: "Now, instead of coverage, remaining [Kentucky] readers will get a thin gruel of what officials, spokesmen and other media manipulators provide time-stressed and Cincinnati-based reporters."And unfortunately, that's what Cincinnati readers get too ...
Don't forget Carolyn Washburn's Aug. 2 tweet about the Ky. and West Chester, Ohio bureaus closing. The layoffs were Aug. 1. Jim covered her tweet on Aug. 3. Carolyn Washburn @CarolynWashburnNot true. Same # reporters. Not closing office. RT @SuziSteffen: Abandoning NKY? Wow RT @Andy_Brownfield: @Cincienquirer shuttering 2...7:31 PM - 2 Aug 2013
One Ky reporter was laid off. Ky schools now being covered by the Cincinnati Public Schools reporter. Top editor also laid off.
There's no "covering" a tweet, 3:25. Try to get a grip.Also, all of that came after this site and others erroneously reported the closure of the Kentucky office.
That's crazy talk. A tweet is many things, including a very short-form press release.We cover tweets all the time, including most recently Twitter's announcement via tweet that it had taken the first step toward an IPO. And Carl Icahn's tweet that he'd amassed a big stake in Apple.
So you wait for someone to tweet something, copy the tweet, and call it coverage? Why am I not surprised?
True, Cincinnati Enquirer not closing the NKY office (from what I hear ad sales to remain) but remaining NKY news staff is moving back across the river. So Carolyn is just playing the semantics game as usual
Actually, 2:25, anything short of saying the report -- based on rumors -- of the office being closed was wrong is a semantics game.
One day after huge Boardwalk fire in Asbury Park Press sphere of influence and stripped across the top of APP.com is a promo for high school football coverage
Life does go on.
Did they spell it "footbal' like the Northwestern in Wisconsin did today? Skybox no less.
Considering the incredible lead time we are stuck with getting online ads from GIADC, you should see promo for 'rebuild the boardwalk!' in about a week.
APP did not show up high on the list during Google searches of this big news event either. Instead it was dominated by NY dailies and TV stations and even the Newark newspaper website. It still does not show up high on Google searches even now.
A reader sent me a link to a story about the history of the Internet and its impact on news publishing. I responded with a note that I'm sharing here:My "uh-oh" moment came around 1994-95, when I was trying to build The Idaho Statesman's first website in Boise. I was working with a big local technology company, Micron, that made memory chips -- a business far from news publishing.But one day, I went to Micron's website for something, and noticed the company's homepage featured local news from a UPI feed. My first thought: that's not good. If a company like Micron could start competing with the local paper, anyone could and what would the future be like?Not many months later, a delegation of senior Gannett executives descended on the paper for one of their occasional on-site visits. One of them, Gary Watson, was the president of the newspaper division when Gannett had just sold its outdoor billboard advertising division, making the company even more dependent on newspapers.I asked Watson whether it was wise for the company to be so invested in newspapers -- and impolitic question. He gave me a look that could have cut through steel. Ten years later, he was forced out in a power struggle. And the rest, more or less, is sad history.
Oh I get it, you were a visionary, he wasn't. Two issues with your yarn. 1. You never left the newspaper business despite your vision. 2. I saw your performance at the sharehders meeting. You never would have had the courage to ask Watson the question. Nice yarn though.
Jim, I'm not sure of your story, since I wasn't there. i can tell you though that just two years later the same Gary Watson was most aggressive in pursuit of digital at three sites in the company. His commitment to digital was never an issue to those of us.
May be worst kept secret ever...Or not. Allan English to return to The Times as editor. Spill the beans, Judi.
If it is true Judi didn't do her homework.
Watson would have been a far better Ceo than Craig Dubow. But he gave everyone that look, Jim. he didnt kiss ass like most of the Gannett management "leaders" we now have. Many other media types made similar mistakes. Like giving content away for free when readers should have been paying for it.I would rather have a hardass like him in charge than any of the dorks that are now in charge.
Hello 2013 calling. Watson, SJC never had to do battle with the web. When they woke up they failed. In fact they failed miserably. Watson in nowhere now and SJC is running a non profit think tank. Ironic isn't it. Non profit. Ha! But she is known for marrying one of her direct reports. Classy move.
At least she married him. Most of you just sleep with them.
Are you saying that Gannett in its current state isn't failing miserably? Most of your profit is from the newspaper side, which is dying. How do you survive without it? What a conundrum that the current crew can't figure out. Geesh.
Anybody would have been a far better CEO than Craig Debow....and now Gracia. This company is unrecognizable now.
Gannett wasn't alone; with few exceptions, virtually all newspaper companies followed the same strategy. And that's the problem; they all made the same mistakes, which went roughly like this in Gannett's case:1. Go public, tethering your future to Wall Street's demand for profits over public service. Aim for double-digit profit margins. Start cutting staff and other costs to keep profits up, even though quality of content suffers.2. Get too comfortable with monopoly markets and don't react sufficiently to rising competition and, in mid-1980s, peak and then start of decline in circulation/readership.3. Starting in in the mid-1990s, treat the Internet as friend rather than foe. Watch newspaper shares soar with the first technology bubble because Wall Street thinks anyone who publishes any content online will earn gazillions.4. Double down on newspaper investments. In Gannett's case, sell billboard companies, polling firms, and use proceeds to buy Central Newspapers (Arizona Republic, Indy Star), Thomson papers, Newsquest. (McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder; NYT Co. bought Boston Globe; Lee Enterprises bought St. Louis Dispatch.)5. Watch shares fall after the tech bust. Then borrow billions to buy back shares because you think they're too cheap. Gannett borrowed $1.8 billion and bought GCI shares at average price of around $65 each. 6. Finally realize times have changed in mid-2000s. Shares won't come back, and then launch digital strategy: freshen up websites, think about mobile. Invest in relatively small technology startups that don't pan out so well -- PointRoll, Ripple6, Moms. Buy some that do OK: Careerbuilder but aren't gamechangers. (NYT bought About.com; News Corp. bought MySpace.)7. Watch world's economy nearly collapse in 2008-2009 and discover all that debt from newspaper purchases and stock buybacks can't be serviced. Watch shares totally tank (Gannett's trades for under $2). Suspend dividends.8. Order massive cost cutting to stay alive: Gannett axes 20,000 jobs, nearly 40% of all, freezes pension. This further degrades content and drives even more readers away. Outsource/consolidate customer service, ad production. Shutter presses, which moves up start times, which harms quality. Reduce page size and count. Consolidate page design and editing.9. When content has really turned to shit, and only then, ask readers to start paying for it online -- more than 10 years after giving it away for free. Raise home-delivery and single-copy prices. Readers just laugh and keep leaving in droves. See rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Hack away even more at your only competitive advantage -- local news -- and replace it with reader-generated content and second-rate editorial from other sources (Butterfly Project).10. Double down on another medium about to tank: television. See: $1.5 billion in cash plus assumption of $715 million in debt to buy Belo. Keep laying off more people. Then pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and pray.And there you have it: the newspaper industry's business strategy.
The true visionary company was Knight Ridder. It saw the impending demise of print media and sold itself off for top dollar before the Great Recession hit. Bravo to the KR Board for, in hindsight, making the right call.
That's a bit revisionist and gives Tony too much credit. In fact, his hand was forced by an activist investor who thought KR properties should be earning then-GCI-like margins. Obviously Pruitt agreed. Epic timing, but dumb luck.
I can read this stupid crap til i'm blue in the face and it means nothing anymore. Yes, I've reached the I don't give a crap phase with gannett. Just lay me off, give me my severance and let me start my life over without gannett. Thank you for the memories but I'm ready for a new life free of stress, worry of layoffs, furloughs, no raises and doing four peoples job. I love what I do, I just don't want to do it for gannett.
Why would any one work here when this blog is just waiting to %$#@ on you when you make a mistake? As for 10:32, really? How can anyone get good work done when people like you are faking it in meetings? I think I know you. Some of us wish you would just go and quit shining the boss on.
Faking it? You are making the assumption that the "boss" would ever listen to an underling. And if you have worked at Gannett long enough, you'd know the answer to that question - rarely to never. So don't blame the blog for what Gannett is doing to itself-over and over and over and over and over again. And for the record, this is not Jim, but a loyal reader who is grateful for what he does,
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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