Thursday, December 16, 2010

Week Dec. 13-19 | Your News & Comments: Part 2

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  1. For Part 1 of this comment thread, please go here.

  2. In the last string somebody asked about the Reno publisher losing his VP status in the West. It's worth pointing out that this happened before the DUI. One was not the result of the other.

  3. That is correct, and I should have made that clear.

  4. USCP Operating Group Member12/16/2010 6:52 AM

    It's Bob Dickey and the Bob Dickey Quartet!!! Welcome to the live performance of Shuffle the Deck Chairs. Do you think Gracia will catch on that these are the same people just with different titles?

    Since taking on the role of President USCP, Bob Dickey has been a walking bull shitter. This guy has accomplished ZERO. He is afraid to stand up to Gracia Martore. He is scared shit of the Digital people. His presentations are written for him by his "very close" friend Michelle Krans.

    Doesn't anyone else see this? Goes to show how disconnected Craig Dubow and Gracia Martore is from the day tonday operations.

  5. Hello everyone in Digital. Today will be holiday shopping day at Tysons. So far we have 22 people who are playing, "go shop and get paid". It is a simple game. You get paid by Gannett (benefits and all) and you don't show up for work.

    It's like a custom paid furlough. A nice way to give back to Gannett and to your family. Ahhh, the joys of working for a big company like Gannett with inadequate leadership.

  6. 3:03 The DUI certainly didn't help.

  7. Have any USAT offices other than New York had nice holiday parties?

  8. Yesterday (Dec. 15), corporate announced that Jeff Glick is the new director of the Nashville Design Studio. Don't know much about him, other than the fact he's been working on the implementation of CCI Newsgate. Candidates for directors of other four hubs interviewed this week. No announcements yet. Number 2 spots not yet filled.

  9. Sometimes you can reinvent with the same people, sometimes you can't. We know Hudler is a solid player and knows the biz top to bottom. Question is... it's been at least 15 years since anyone had a BIG idea. The Detroit change may be the closest thing to major shift. Really, what USA TODAY launch-type project is in the wings. The digital efforts are just too small to make a dent. Murdoch's Daily inspires. It may/may not take hold but is the kind of thing I'm talking about.

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  12. I suppose if I lost my VP status I would start drinking too..

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  14. Oh I see you reading the new thread... time to crowbar your wallet and make Jim a donation!

    You know that "gut" feeling about bad news coming in the new year? Don't be bushwacked - you'll usually find out here first. Or do you prefer to be in the dark and wait for Dickeys memo?

    Everyone has at least $5.00 they can donate to Jim. Come on, it's time.

  15. To 3:03's point the Reno Publisher was already ruining his own career. He has made all the wrong decisions (just like drinking and driving) since being in Reno. His decision to lay off the wrong people, let the wrong people leave the company and he brought in his "yes" men leadership team from other sites he worked (finance, and circulation). Personally I think Dickey is even more upset with this guy because he let one of the up and coming Advertising Managers and one of the most knowledgeable circulation guys leave to work for an ex-Gannett Publisher. I would demote him also for the simple reason of not keeping your best employees during these hard economical times.

  16. 6:52
    Ahh, those choreographed speeches... very 'corporate speak'. Loaded with catch phrases, little real content and zero substance. Listening to corporate speeches is an amazing lesson in bait and switch. Once the speech is done and clapping has finished everyone traverses back to their cubicle and look at each other shaking their heads because after you wade through it all, nothing was actually said that was clear and definite. This form of speech writing is called Gannett 'Deliverance Solutions'.

  17. Well
    It sounds as though there will be some
    new leaders issueing the layoff announcements.
    We know shake-ups at the top means layoffs
    at the bottom.
    But there are 2 weeks left in this fiscal so
    some relax some will make it through
    Christmas ,and maybe New Year's holiday,
    after that have great year 1011.
    The good news..OBAMA's new giveaway program of 3 Years unemployment money ....or maybe a layoff
    is what a lot of Gannettoids are waiting for.
    And are just saying get it over with already,
    and let us collect unemployment and get paid
    to look for a new life away from Gannet.

  18. 7:12 -- The DUI didn't help anything, but the changes came before the DUI ... so it didn't hurt as far as that was concerned.

  19. I thought the charge was suspicion of DUI. Has the charge been changed?

  20. Credit seeking alpha...

    January 28, 2006
    Stock price: $63
    Five year return: -75%


    We’ll hear next from David Winters of Wintergreen Advisors.

    Q - David Winters

    I’d like to ask Doug a question.

    A - Douglas McCorkindale

    Yes David.

    Q - David Winters

    You know, you’re one of my heroes. You’ve done an incredible job over the years, and Gannett is I think, it’s one of the greatest companies on the planet. And you’ve been brilliant about allocating capital and being thoughtful. And you know, I just would love to hear your sort of longer term thoughts on the newspaper business because Wall Street despite the obsession with the short-term is so gloomy. And yet you know, this is such a great company and you’re so long-term thoughtful. So just, I’d just like to hear your general thoughts about the business. Because people are just, they’re so negative, and it’s sort of sad in a way.

    A - Douglas McCorkindale

    Well, David, you’re right on, and yet it’s an interesting buying opportunity for us. Keep in mind that the Street was going put us out of business in 1999 and they were going to put us out of business in the early ‘90s, and I can go all the way back to the early ‘70s. And when that attitude prevails there’s some interesting opportunities, as when we acquired Multimedia at a very good price. Now the acquisition market hasn’t reflected the Wall Street attitude completely. But it has reflected it somewhat. So as you know, there are assets for sale in the UK that are quite interesting to us and things going on in the US and things that are not yet public. Maybe something is going to happen in the broadcasting market for all the reasons that were mentioned earlier on this call. And yeah, it’s tougher. The revenue is not as easy as it was 15 or 20 years ago, but we’re generating a couple of billion dollars of cash. We can put it to very good use both in traditional businesses and into some of the new businesses that Craig and Gracia have mentioned and have been announced elsewhere. Our Internet world is doing very, very well at $300 million plus. Now, compared to $7.6 billion, it’s not the end of the world, but there’s a good upside there. So I own a lot of Gannett stock and you don’t see any announcements of me selling it. I think it will come back and I think the Street will recognize all the positive economics of the business. But, you know, is it as easy as it was? No, but it’s not going away either.

    Q - David Winters

    Thanks Doug. And I wish all of you the best and thanks for, thanks for being rational in what has been a very negative Wall Street emotional environment.

    A - Douglas McCorkindale

    Well, David, we’ve been rational for as long as I’ve been here and I think the younger management will be just as rational.

    Q - David Winters

    As long as they follow your example, Doug, Gannett is a long-term winner.

    A - Douglas McCorkindale

    I’m right next to them, so they’re not going away. Thank you.

    A - Gracia Martore

    I think we have time for one more question after that wonderful one.

    A - Douglas McCorkindale

    That was a great question.

  21. Are there any reports of layoffs out there?
    Or is Gannett,for the first year in three years , putting them off until
    after Holidays ?

  22. I've heard nothing about layoffs anytime soon.

  23. Anyone hearing anything more about the design hub director and creative director jobs being filled???

  24. No, 11.16, before you happily spend your unemployment check understand there is no three-year unemployment benefits coming anytime soon. It is only two years (in fact, 99 weeks) and Obama isn't proposing to change that. For those who have exhausted their 99 weeks, there is no good news.
    Explanation: It is up to the states to set the limit on weeks of unemployment benefits and the amount of benefits. Under the current law only about half of the states provide benefits for up to 99 weeks.
    The legislation before Congress doesn't extend that limit beyond 99 weeks, but does provide funding for the half of the states offering less than 99 weeks to extend theirs by 13 weeks.

  25. Jim ,You have heard no rumors of layoffs
    anytime soon.
    I know of a site that is down more than 40%
    from last years revenue.
    Are you saying that even a site such that one
    is immune from layoffs and or closing ?

  26. I think he's saying he hasn't heard any rumors of layoffs anytime soon.

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. "We know shake-ups at the top means layoffs at the bottom." Oh yeah? How do we know that? Seems to me Gannett properties with management that won't budge (lookin' at you, Binghamton) is just as adept at layoffs as those with new managers.

  29. "I know of a site that is down more than 40%
    from last years revenue. Are you saying that even a site such [as] that one is immune from layoffs and or closing?"

    I think that if you are asking that question with a straight face, you should probably plan on being cut, as you are obviously too stupid to remain on payroll.

  30. 4:37
    I am not on the Gannett dole.I am one who left more than a year ago and am well employed,rather
    than waiting to be pushed out like a lot of
    foolish Gannettoids still are.
    And yes, I know of a site that is down that
    much and is still operating and did not have
    a layoff in the last round !

  31. 6:58am,
    For those who care not to work and can slip out the back door without a manager taking notice/giving a hoot - any time of year to shop at the mall, snooze, get a haircut, run personal errands, whatever - during regular business hours (excluding lunch), GCI Crystal Palace is THE place to work and get full pay and benefits!

  32. The GCI palace isn't the only place. Check out the advertising department at any Gannett paper. Maybe that's why the company's sinking!

  33. At the Arizona Republic you could do all your personal errands to during the day and there was no worry about your manager catching you because they were out doing their errands as well. What a joke company Gannett is as a whole.

  34. 6:58 -- I say if you can get away with doing that, go for it. The company has proven that it doesn't value employees or quality work. It's just here for the overpriced executives to take advantage of, and they don't hesitate to take advantage. So, a work slowdown is just what we need.

  35. It's not really fair to your co-workers if they have to pick up your work while you duck out or slack off. In the end, you hurt them, and yourself.

  36. I wish someone would rescue us from this monster. As of the first of the year all our single copy carriers will be switched from wholesalers to delivery agents. They will direct where papers go and how many...from Tenn. no less! Their way of stripping them of money. Along with that all remaining racks will be taken from them and given to home delivery to do. Needless to say there isn't a carrier, especially the ones who have time invested, that is happy. Morale is the lowest I've heard of in many years. Our circulation gurus have gone beserk and Gannett signs off on all this? Do nay of the other papers have such an arangement with their carriers? If so how is it working out, or are the carriers at your paper the last thought on anyone's mind?
    Also, didn't Detroit papers stop home delivery of some weekdays not long ago> Any word on how that has affected the single copy sales if at all?

  37. Has anyone heard who my be coming to The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, LA, as new publisher?

  38. 11:56 -- I've seen entire departments slack off without any repercussions. It probably can't happen everywhere, but management in this company is terrible. It doesn't hurt your co-workers if you do the work but just don't do it as well as you could.

    And it certainly doesn't hurt you. Management in this company is so egotistical that talent and work ethic are two of the last things they look at when conducting layoffs. If you ask me it serves them right.

    This idea that the workforce will continue to slave despite the layoffs, furloughs and the diminishing benefits is just silly. It won't happen, and the best employees will leave at the first opportunity. That's why the company is in the sad state that it is.

  39. Publishers and GM's still are aware of who is in the parking lot and who isn't, who has time for elaborate department decorations and who doesn't, who has the grandest Farmville page and who hides Solitaire when they walk past.

    We all see a bit of slow down after Thanksgiving, but GM's know corp will come looking for more bodies and they can make mental retention lists of who they absolutely can't lose, and who may be less of a loss.

    I'm not a supervisor, not a troll, not an idiot. But my family depends on me to stay employed, and until more job opportunities are created, I'm going to give at least a day's work for a day's pay. I couldn't look my kids in the eye for 99 weeks unemployment if I didn't do everything I could to keep a decent-paying job.

    Is GCI a great company? Does the leadership always earn that effort? Doesn't matter. I have to live with myself much longer than I will live with GCI.

  40. I used to just rearrange my assignments (3 or 4) a day by calling the subject and switching the times to male my day a little more manageable. If I had assignments scattered all across our coverage area (the norm) and at silly time intervals, a couple of phone calls moved that 9am to 11am, the 11 am to 9:45, the 2pm that was closer to the one at 9:45, that was switched to 10:30 and that nooner stayed a nooner- after a nice stop for coffee with another colleague. For the lousy pay I got, the 4 hours of work I did suddenly seemed like fair pay. Did this all the time. When it permitted, I did this all the time. Management never knew or cared- same quality of work was always produced- I did have some pride.

  41. Interesting different perspectives from two employees (or a current employee and an ex-employee) from 6:48 and 7:12 -- it pretty much captures the Yin-Yang dynamic that makes for the GCI culture: True believers and those who recognize the company for what it is.

    I think both, however, are missing out on opportunity.

    Instead of doing the 'I'm just going to do my best job for GCI and hope something bad doesn't happen,' 6:48 should be thinking about how to build his/her exit strategy right now. Because I got news for this person: You could put in all the 'honest day's work for honest day's pay' that you'd like, but you will STILL get laid off within a heartbeat if GCI senior managers thought it would stick another $1,000 worth of bonus in their pockets. By now, surely most people in this company know that the 'If I work hard, they won't lay me off, right?' tactic is a doomed strategy, no?

    7:12, I like the way you think. True, you owe nothing more to the company than what you're providing. But, again, I'd use your free time building up the infrastructure that will become your next career/safety net. Productivity-wise, you sound like the kind of very efficient employee whom managers typically refer to as "a machine," which is a good thing. I was considered that employee too. Then, one day, I woke up and realized: Why produce at 100 percent for a company that was essentially paying me for 50 percent of my work, when I could produce for GCI at, say, 70 percent of my capability and use the additional 30 percent to take care of myself? My evaluation/raise was no greater or smaller at 70 percent versus 100 percent. So the proposition sounded like a win/win.

    And for many years, it was. As a result, when I got the inevitable layoff along with 2/3rds of my co-workers (few of whom had any backup plans), I transitioned seamlessly into the Plan B I had already built for myself. My family never had to look me "in the eye for 99 weeks of unemployment," 6:48. I went to work instead.

  42. What happened to the stock widget?
    Seems it has stopped working!

  43. One odd thing about Gannett, at least from my experience, is that in the past decade or so the size of pay raises did not relate to the quality of work.

    I'm talking as a reporter. The raises were so tiny that they hardly mattered, or so we thought until the pay freezes and the furloughs took hold.

    But until then, no matter what a reporter did the raise varied between 2 and 2.5 percent. And in some years that didn't keep up with inflation. It was my impression that the amount was set by corporate. No one said that, but it seemed that my editors had no idea what the raise would be until they got the word from above.

    And anytime we got a raise our costs for Gannett's self-insurance program went up. We'd get a raise and then give it back to Gannett. Wonderful!

    I always had pride in my work and did my best. But for the last several years I wondered if the editors beyond the front line even read the paper, or if they cared about the stories we produced.

    I didn't think they did. That's why I took a buyout.

  44. 9:29 AM you are exactly right, the budget is set by corporate and no matter how low the quality of work you would at least get something and no matter how good you were you could not get more than a specified percentage. The way people were managed out if they didn't like you was to put you on a performance improvement plan so if you were on one you were disqualified from a raise and getting ready to be fired regardless. Trust me I know I was privy to all the raise criteria, I worked in advertising but I am sure it was the same in the newsroom.

  45. OK 6:48PM you are really drinking the kool aide, let me point out your errors line by line.

    Publishers and GM's still are aware of who is in the parking lot and who isn't (they don't because they aren't there either), who has time for elaborate department decorations and who doesn't (they established contests for the most elaborate and thought out decorations and winners received trips and gift cards), who has the grandest Farmville page and who hides Solitaire when they walk past (My supervisor and the director use to surf the internet together in his office shopping and buying things online and gambling on the poker website).

    We all see a bit of slow down after Thanksgiving, but GM's know corp will come looking for more bodies and they can make mental retention lists of who they absolutely can't lose, and who may be less of a loss (Actually they did make mental notes, like if you didn't play with them on the internet or didn't decorate your cubicle or participate in potlucks you were definitely on the short list).

    I'm not a supervisor, not a troll, not an idiot. But my family depends on me to stay employed, and until more job opportunities are created, I'm going to give at least a day's work for a day's pay (You might one to cut back on the work if you plan to stay employed and start playing more otherwise you will be singled out as the party pooper). I couldn't look my kids in the eye for 99 weeks unemployment if I didn't do everything I could to keep a decent-paying job (Well you might have to anyway especially if you keep working and not goofing off like the rest).

    Is GCI a great company? Does the leadership always earn that effort? Doesn't matter. I have to live with myself much longer than I will live with GCI.
    12/17/2010 6:48 AM

    And that is how it was at the Arizona Republic

  46. The physical lack of leadership is a Gannett hallmark. The executive editor at my paper was never there - always away at a corporate gathering. How could he know who did the work and who slacked off? He did know that the work would be done because us "old school" journalists were committed to what we remembered as quality reporting. "Back in the day" were truly the "good old days" compared to the work environment (PC, my hindend!) of today. Give me a beer-drinking, foul-mouthed editor any day over the stone-cold, creativity-sapping silence of today's newsrooms.

  47. 11:56
    Totally agree on the slacking off thing. You hurt all around you and yourself. Our department has been laid off to the point that there are no extra bodies for anything. Long hours, few breaks, short lunches at our desks (if we take one) and a never ending stream of work. I can say truthfully our department works themselves diligently and faithfully all day long and into the evening to accomplish whatever is thrown at us... and all with the knowledge that we have our heads on the block when we convert to a centralized system. We love our jobs and want to stay. You people who slack off need to find new jobs and let others who really want jobs fill your space with their enthusiasm. You'll have a hard time getting hired any where else with your work ethic. My work ethic may not save my neck when centralization happens, but I sure will know I did the best I could while I could.

  48. Thanks, 10:34. Exactly the point I was making at 6:48.

    By all means, it may make no difference on consolidation day, whatever department you're in.

    But if the jackwagons who felt they were screwin' over the man by doing 70% effort had left with their vaunted 'exit strategies' earlier, we'd be full up with people who give 100%.

    How can you be proud of slacking?

  49. I still come in everyday and work to my fullest, but for professional pride and nothing else.

    I am no longer motivated by any confidence in our management team (they deserve none), I'm not longer motivated by our "transformation" (it it simply a shell game that doesn't address our core problems), and I'm no longer motivated by an opportunity to make more money (that has been taken away by a stubborn economy and our inability to be bold and ineffective).

    Morale is at the lowest I have ever seen and there is are prospects for improvement. We can only hope we work for our own pride because it will not come from anywhere or anyone else. Not at this God forsaken place.

  50. 8:21 -- You really hit the nail on the head. I approach my GCI job exactly as you suggested ... and I know many others who do exactly the same.

  51. Good conversation. Now let's cut it out before all the managers who spend their days reading this blog instead of doing their jobs catch on.

  52. So few of you rubes get it. Employed? Me, too. Blaming Gannett. OK, that's fine. Realize, though, that we've done it to ourselves. Journalists are a couple of points ahead of used car salesmen in credibility and integrity. What's sickening is that we extoll our schools rather than our trade ... which has become edvertising and BS "tell the story our way".

    Journalism school, schools of eduation, are places to make donations in return for nothingness. Four years and you emerge with the conviction that you must change the world.

    Report. That's what your job is. Report. Objectivity is a credo ... a useless one. Doesn't exist.

    Write what you hear and have the initiative to obtain. Care about sources .... treat news has a trust.

    Boo-hoo about Gannett. Going down. The bosses suck. It's their fault. Business model is abysmal.

    That's all horseshit.

    Somewhere down the line we concluded Pulitzers are preferable to public service. Who's coming to Sunday dinners is dull. What dimwit we think is withholding incredibly inconsequential information is paramount. File an FOI. That's easier than getting off your dead ass and meeting and establishing a relationship with people you're reporting about.

    We know it all. We can't be lectured. We can't be talked down to.

    There's a saying that you can tell an editor coming from a mile away but, up close, you can't tell him anything.

    There's truth to that. Doubt me? Look at the numbers. Look at the personal devastation of doing if your way. Doing it Gannett's way.

    You're angry at a company. But a company was your election.

    Thinks were fine when the money was there, the insurance was provided, your retirement was secure.

    And now you blame it. What a bunch of frigging hypocrites. It's like everyone brought tea and no chicken to the annual picnic.

    Get this: What you've done, what your emphases are, your self-centered attitude that consumers are obligated to read and digest everything you say .... that's the reason stocks suck. That's the reason you're laid off, that's the reason the industry is in the toilet.

    Merry Christmas

  53. Screw you. Striking my post was expected. Nothing critical of journalists (misnomer) SHOULD get in. Doesn't fit your "poor us" template. Phony POS.

  54. 10:52, I'm the supposed 'jackwagon' that you speak of. And I screwed over no one by giving what for me was 70 percent. I was always top producer in my department. My evaluations always marked "outstanding." My colleagues constantly turned to me to turnover tasks/projects that others struggled with. I simply saw the writing on the wall and realized if I kept up at 100 percent, I'd be screwing myself with an ingrate company like this. I don't apologize if my 70 percent equated to everyone else's 110 percent. My evaluations remained 'outstanding' at 70 percent or 100 percent. My annual raise (be it what it was) was always the same. This was really sooooo much the no-brainer decision for me.

    10:52, 10:34, 10:56, look around your workplace ... Tell me that there's absolutely nobody in the building who hasn't come up with a Plan B that's helping make ends meet at the homestead ... Maybe a home-based remodeling business? Landscaping? A photog who shoots weddings on Saturdays? A bit of eBay entrepreneurialism on a lunch break? Freelance writing for a trade? Business speaking engagements? Per-hour copyediting for somebody's book? Teaching? Deejay gig and/or band job at a local bar?

    If you can honestly say that NOBODY in your building is doing ANY of these things, and you're all just working so, so, so terribly hard and no one has time to breathe much less think about their futures post-GCI, then that, indeed, is a pity.

  55. Having formerly worked in a Crystal Palace department, where the people are still all-time slackers managed by a prominent, high level official who has blind eyes/deaf ears as to what other managers and staff are actually doing during business hours, makes my stomach churn as I read comments that this widespread problem continues to be and is way out of control.

  56. For Part 3 of this comment thread, please go here.

  57. I'm sending a check for your enterprise today. You let me vent. I meant to say I'd been laid off, too. Other typos in post. You let it go anyway.

    You do a service. A good. In a couple of ways, I did you a disservice.I am 11:56 and indebted.

  58. None of us got the invite for that USA Today Advertising party that Senior VP Lee Jones, VP Lori Erdos and CMO Jeff Wilkes threw. Heard it was quite the big holiday party for the entire New York City advertising staff. Did I miss something? We certainly have nothing to celebrate with their advertising revenues falling for our third consecutive year in a row. No celebrating in the mid west or west coast. Guess our invites got lost in the mail.


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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