Thursday, July 02, 2009

Farewell | Why I'm shutting down this blog

From a comment I posted earlier today, in reply to a kind note from a reader, wishing me best wishes in my next blogging venture.

My decision to shut this blog on July 10 is mine alone, with Sparky's support and encouragement. He and I had grown concerned about health problems I've experienced as I've tried to keep up with the demands of blogging about a company with 41,500 employees, and many more who have left.

In the past year, I have lost quite a bit of weight as I've neglected proper nutrition and exercise. I could have made better choices, to be sure. But I am a very competitive journalist. I wanted this to be the best newspaper blog possible, because I think the employees deserve that much.

Also, Gannett Blog always had a built-in expiration date of two or three years. I first started following the company, without publishing my posts, in the fall of 2006. I began publishing the blog on Sept. 11, 2007. So, on that score, it's time.

I may also pursue film/online video training next year, once I've returned to San Francisco. I've received positive encouragement from people far more expert than me, based on the videos I've knocked out with only my MacBook and YouTube as my publishing platform.

So, there's lots and lots of journalism-related opportunities ahead for me. More important, I want to reclaim a more sane life, and to spend more time with a really, truly wonderful man: Sparky.

Blogging's downside: vitriol
Saying goodbye to so many wonderful readers is a bittersweet experience. I've enjoyed getting to know many people I never would have met, plus I've reconnected with friends I've missed for years.

On the other hand, I must admit that the level of vitriol from commenters who clearly and absolutely are being driven here by Corporate has gotten a bit much. If I thought I could get the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission interested, I would point them to several senior officers in particular, who I believe have abused their authority and fiduciary responsibilities toward shareholders in this regard.

Several journalists are now asking some pointed questions about issues related to who has actually been in charge of Gannett since July 15, 2005 -- and, especially, about crucial decisions made since the fall of 2007.

I will not be around to write about that. But I urge anyone reading this post to monitor that situation very closely. Some very odd things have taken place.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.

Sparky taking a nap. A planned holiday abroad turned out to be quite the opposite for my domestic partner, when I blogged about Gannett seven days a week]


  1. Best of luck to you in your future ventures. Gannett Blog's impact has been nothing short of remarkable, and so many of us are very thankful for the time and effort you've expended. Yes, there are some complete jerks out there willing to spew their vitriol at you from behind the safe curtain of anonymity, but there are so many more of us who admire what you've done, and are grateful. Take care, and thank you again.

  2. It was a great ride. I too got discouraged by some of the juvenile commentators simply trying to protect their own little cozy jobs, but overall I've found this blog to be very enlightening. I have always heard horrors stories about Gannett being the worst of the worst in terms of media chains/publishers, but until I started experiencing some things first-hand at USA TODAY, and saw that others also were experiencing the same things company-wide, I thought maybe these were isolated situations.

    Gannett is everything people have said it is for decades. No other chain gets trashed like this one from former employees. It discriminates against people over 50. It has horrible hiring practices and can't retain top talent in a good economy. It rewards mediocrity. The alleged best newspaper in the chain is so dysfunctional that it's amazing the few people with values are able to withstand the constant storm of incompetence and unethical/selfish behaviors amongst colleagues at all levels. The move to digital has been a haphazard experience at best. I am shocked by how managers, who were previously dedicated to the leisurely pace of the web site, can't seem to function in a print environment, yet, in many instances, they are the ones now calling the shots on both platforms. This blog underscored a variety of problems like this at most GCI properties.

    The folly of last December's ruthless layoffs of people who are of an age where they have nowhere to go was probably the most inhumane action I've seen since the shoving out of senior staffers the year before during the buyouts. This isn't GM. These layoffs might have been necessary to a degree, but should have been handled in a wiser, more compassionate manner. Instead, Gannett blind-sided countless numbers of folks over 50 who had done nothing wrong other than age and acquire a slightly bigger salary than the 20somethings. Gannett is to blame for getting itself into this situation with all the debt and disgustingly pricey building in McLean, Va.

    Again, thanks for the ride, Jim. I know this must have been an emotional strain on you. Just reading it tore me apart at times, but I guess that was the intention of the few bad apples who would comment here at times.

  3. Thanks Jim for creating and keeping up this blog. I also wish you the best of luck. Jerks are jerks. Karma will get them back.

    I was one of those laid off from the "Crystal Palace" back in December with over 8 yrs at the company. I've will others.

    Take it easy!

  4. A couple of days ago someone commented, that you profiting from doing the Gannett Blog was sick. It made me wonder if this person was a journalist since 'we' profit from the bad news that we report everyday. You provided a service to many of us that helped us cope and make plans for the future. I for one appreciated the forum.

    I can understand you giving this up. For a period, I read the blog everyday and the negativity was unrelenting. It got to me, so I cannot imagine how you deal with so much negativity in your life and much of it was directed at you specifically.

    I can't say that I enjoyed the period when you started posting tons of thing about things other than Gannett, but it seems that you were frustrated with the trolls and the inability to get paid for all of your hard work.

    I find it ironic that most of us (myself included), work in an industry that could be saved by subscriptions and donations, were unwilling to support a service that most truly wanted. But we could get it for free and are content to watch it die as a result.

    If we ourselves won't 'buy' into that business model, I doubt the rest of the country will anytime soon.

    Best of luck to you Jim and thanks for all of the hard work.

    – Just some random cog in the wheel

  5. That Jim thinks the criticisms he receives are driven by Corporate says it all.

    Delusionally he rides onto the sunset.


  6. Jim wrote: "On the other hand, I must admit that the level of vitriol from commenters who clearly and absolutely are being driven here by Corporate has gotten a bit much."

    Last time I'll say this: I ain't from corporate.

    It's easy to blame an organized campaign for any criticism of what you're doing, but I'm just a low-level shmuck out here in the trenches who used to believe in you (and even sent you donations) until I saw that it had become an ego-driven crusade rather than a true campaign against the company.

    There you go. Believe it or not, but it's true.

    Now, just shut down this blog now. Quit dragging it out for so damn long.

  7. Delusion is all he knows,

    That's why he enjoys the postings of random, anonymous idiots who feed his delusion.

  8. Jim - having my 50 year-old butt unceremoniously kicked to the curb by Gannett last fall left me feeling, well, there's really no words to adequately describe it.

    This blog really helped me get through this rough time by reading many of the posts from people who were struggling with the same emotions and issues as myself. It gave me a place to express my disbelief and outrage and generally vent a lot of frustration with the company I thought I would eventually retire from.

    Because of your blog, I believe it was a lot easier for many of us ex-Gannetteirs to transition through this rough period in our lives.

    I don't know if you've ever considered how much of a positive impact your blog has had over the years for those of us who were fortunate enough to have found it, so please when you're thinking about some of these wankers who've given you a hard time here, please try to remember that through it all, your efforts here have really made a big difference in our lives.

    Thank you, and God bless.

  9. 12:23, 12:30, and 12:30 -- Shut up, shut up, shut up, and go away. Please. Just give it a rest, already!

  10. The whiners cannot stop the truth.

    Jim is a nutcase. He's showing his true colors in the final days of the blog.

  11. A) Thanks Jim, for a glimpse into the truth and a place where we can go to hear from others in our shoes around the globe.
    B) I don't think all your nutjobs are from corporate because there are always going to be nutjobs out there sniping at hard truths.
    C) Take care of yourself. You have done good work here and it is appreciated by so many more than you will ever know. If any one thing said or revealed here put a burr under corporate's blanket, then you have stirred the pot. The rest of us will have to ensure we turn up the heat.

    Good luck.

  12. Jim,
    Thanks so much from a small daily newspaper employee who, before this blog, didn't realize there were so many people out in "Gannettland" who were just like myself. We've been put on distribution lists, asked to join in "Experts Online" groups and have occasionally been forwarded e-mails from other sites. Yet, the personal connection was never there. This blog has helped many of us to see that there are many other people coming from many other newspapers out there just like ours. Yes, I said "ours". Because that is what being a newspaper employee is, and even if I'm laid off tomorrow, will remain. Being a newspaper employee is and will never be about which publisher happens to be sitting in the big, pretty office, which editor happens to roll in, or who is currently occupying the ad director position. WE are employees working our butts off day in and day out to create a NEWSPAPER, damn it! THANKS TO YOU we've had a place to see each other not as "sites" but as people. You've given us more than a blog or a forum. You've connected us as people. For that, I cannot say "Thank you" enough. But here goes, one more time.

  13. Jim,
    Thanks for doing what you did.
    You did the hard work, with some excellent journalism.
    You exposed Gannett for what its always been - profit before people and quality news.
    Most of us knew the facts.
    Shining the spotlight on the facts id goof because it's the truth.
    The truth also hurts and many of us worked on and hard, burying the truth.
    My first and last post.


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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