Saturday, November 02, 2013

In a new interview, news chief Marymont discusses everything about Design Studios -- expect for this

Three years after expressing concerns in an open letter about Gannett's plans for five page production design hubs, the Society for News Design has swung back with a new interview with the chief of Corporate's News Department, Kate Marymont.

In 2010, SND worried cost cutting would crush creativity, a concern Marymont addressed at the time in a Q&A with the professional association.

In the latest interview conducted by email, Marymont offered a detailed update on how the transition worked and lessons learned. But there was one question of especially high interest to employees that she still wouldn't answer:

SND: In your original interview with SND, you said: "We don’t know how many jobs might be eliminated. We are just beginning this project and a first step is to survey and analyze the work done at each site." Now that we are three years into the process, how many jobs were eliminated in the transition to the studio system?

Marymont: Gannett’s policy is that we don’t provide details on personnel or staffing matters. However, we certainly found savings as we introduced efficient ways to produce commodity information and refine workflows. We took some of those savings to build a management team at each studio to recruit and continue to train great staffs. We also are investing hours in building digital skills at the studios.

What the record shows
In fact, Gannett does detail staffing information, although generally when those figures are favorable to the company's image -- a tactic common across Corporate America.

For example, when the design hubs were announced, The Courier-Journal said in a story that it would add 75-100 jobs at its hub in Louisville, Ky. The Des Moines Register expected to hire 35 to 60; and The Tennessean planned up to 70 jobs in Nashville.

But in their hiring accounts, the papers and Corporate did not say how many jobs would be eliminated at the papers served by the hubs.

Gannett has detailed staffing elsewhere, sometimes at the most microscopic level, as when newspaper division President Bob Dickey told Wall Street the paper in Lafayette, Ind., had added two newsroom jobs in 2012. Those were among 60 other local news hires with plans for as many as 240 total, he said.

On another occasion, Corporate told Wall Street Gannett employed more than 300 local sports reporters and 50-plus sports columnists. Also, executives regularly mention the company employs 5,000 journalists companywide out of a global employment of about 30,000.


  1. It seems like some sort of alien being has invaded the body of the journalist I used to know named Kate Marymont. Sad.

  2. Interchangable GCI Cog #19440911/02/2013 3:04 PM

    So we're commodity information producers. I liked content producers so much better, it had the ring of professional pride. Sigh.

  3. The 5,000 journalists line is BS. There are about 5,000 employees in newsrooms, but not all are journalists. Some are admin staff, etc.

    1. Unless the bona fide "journalists" can produce the same output without the support, it's a meaningless quibble.

    2. No matter what their job title is, I'm not convinced there are even that many people working across all the newspaper and TV newsrooms. Here's why.

      As long ago as 2001, Gannett said it employed 5,614 journalists. That would mean newsroom employment has dropped only 11% over the past 12 years to the current 5,000.

      Yet, Gannett's total employment across all company divisions has fallen a much larger 40%, to about 30,000.

      For those who've survived the past 12 years in a newsroom: look around. Is your department really only 11% smaller?

    3. Compared to 2001? Yes. Most of the cuts at our site came from outside news. Of the news positions that were cut, some were ones that had been added in the 2005-2007 timeframe. If you look at the FTE now vs. 2001, it's in line with the numbers you cite. But we're not a typical case.

    4. At the information center where I work, the staffing decrease from '05 to current staffing level is 45 percent, which includes support staff. If you narrowly define "journalist" as reporters and photographers -- like our editor does -- the decrease is less than 15 percent, all through EROP.

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  5. At my Gannett site (a cluster of two daily newspapers), the combined newsroom staff numbered 40 when I started at the papers in the late 1990s. We are down to 22 people in the combined newsrooms today and are facing another cut of one or more positions before the end of the year.

  6. There aren't as many "journalists" left for them to target and when it comes time for the next round of layoffs, management is going to have to look for victims from its own ranks. A dozen news staffers from reporters to copy editors (excuse me- finishing desk editors) took the hit at my site.At least two other AME positions were left vacant.Upper management carries on like it's business as usual, but the readers notice and tell the people on the front lines about it. There aren't enough bodies on the front lines now. Some citizens of glass offices are next in line.

  7. Im sure the ratio of senior managers to working stiffs has never been greater at Gannett. Im unsure how most justify their existence.

  8. What the record should show is most uscp newsrooms are at 50 percent or less of staffing from 7 to 10 years ago. No one remembers that because all of the old people who can count are gone.


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