Monday, January 10, 2011

Memo reveals N.J. newsroom reorg timetable

Following is text of a memo from Asbury Park Press Publisher Tom Donovan regarding the just-announced reorganization of three of the other N.J. newspaper newsrooms. The plan reportedly would reduce the combined 99 editorial positions to just 53. (The reference to "LICs" is to Local Information Centers, the name Gannett uses for its newsrooms.)

What's striking in Donovan's memo is the complete absence of any reference to cost savings, which I imagine is the real driver here; Donovan instead presents this solely as a move to improve editorial content.

Restructuring of the Organization
The restructuring of our LICs is designed to create an organization that can advance our breaking news capabilities, watchdog reporting, enterprise content and depth of local news and information across a diverse set of media platforms to best serve our readers and advertisers. To achieve this goal, we will begin the procedure of restructuring the organization and have created this Employee SharePoint site to assist you in preparing for the process.

As you begin the process of reviewing the new job opportunities in the East Brunswick, Somerville and Morristown information centers, which are outlined on this site, read the directions carefully before you begin.

We understand the concerns that many of you have regarding future employment with Gannett’s Northern three New Jersey Newspapers (N3). This site is designed to assist you with navigating through the position selection, application and interview process. You will find position descriptions, the revised organizational charts and a link to submit your name for consideration for up to two positions. Again, we encourage you to carefully review the job opportunities in preparation for an upcoming interview. 

After you apply for a position, a human resources representative will contact you to schedule an interview time. The first round of interviews will be for the managerial positions and will be conducted on Monday, Jan. 17, in Neptune. The first round of interviews for all other positions is on Tuesday, Jan. 25, also in Neptune. In some cases you may be asked to do a follow up interview. The deadline for applying for managerial positions is noon on Friday, Jan. 14. The deadline to apply for all other positions is Friday, Jan. 21.

You will be interviewed by HR Managers from other Gannett sites who are familiar with our business and our new job requirements. They will provide local management with feedback based on their interviews and local managers and executives will make the final candidate selections.

Questions: If you have questions regarding the application process or any of the positions, please contact the Human Resources Department at the Asbury Park Press. They can be reached by e-mail at

Thank you

Tom Donovan
Vice President
Gannett East Group


  1. Brace yourself N.J....This is the same BS procedure foisted on the Journal News staff in 2009.

    The interviews are totally bogus. Management already knows exactly what it's going to do.

    The out-of-town "interviewers" are nothing more than note takers. They have no information to offer applicants, and have no direct knowledge of the local operation. They merely keyboard your answers to a list of questions provided by management.

    And oh, you lucky "chosen ones," be prepared to spend most of your days doing nothing that resembles journalism.

    Good luck, folks!

  2. What a load of bollocks that memo is.

  3. Yes, unfortunately we know that. That's how they did our last layoffs. Why put people thru this, just tell us you want us or not and send the rest of us packing with no severance and no prospects.
    Given what they are outlining, which includes no local news reporting, it would make more sense to make us a bureau. Then you clearly would NOT need your publisher and executive editor and could save $400,000? and keep 4 more reporters on staff and still save money.

  4. What a crock. Gannett flys under the radar. I wish a group of employees would get together and start some kind of legal action on Gannett. Their hiring processes are so stupid. The small paper I work at did this. They had it all figured out who would stay and who would go.

  5. 9:35 what proof do you have. Please share your insider information. Since you're still there that must mean you were part of the conspiracy.

  6. Eew. Tom Donovan. Just reading that name makes my skin crawl. Can you say "Sammy Sleeze Ball"? I need to take a shower now.

  7. Once again another smoke and mirrors move that degrade both the employee and the reader. Tell me Tom The Terror, do you really think the reader is going to see this as improvement? When they don't see news from their town in the paper, why should they bother to buy it? But Tom, you're not out on the street and have to defend the newspaper when readers ask questions like why is the paper so small, why is it so thin? Why isn't there news from my town any more? Why did you raise the price for less?
    Come a time soon, they'll stop asking because they won't care any more and they'll just stop reading. And then when circulation drops, you can go on to the next round of cuts.
    How does it feel to be killing the business?

  8. Feel awful for all you guys still working there. They've been pushing this smoking car toward the edge of the cliff for, oh, five years now.

    Which is not to say the three papers don't have decent people working there, or don't put out a good product. They do, and they do. No, this one is a shame because of the style. I can only note here how this company has once again managed to make itself into an inhuman, dumb, ill-functioning organization. If you're going to lay off, lay off. I can't imagine how many 40-gallon tanks of Kool-Aid I'd have to drink each day to bleach my soul to the point where I'd be capable of drafting a memo like this one.

    Really, shame on them for not shooting straight. It's not like that's at the core of what a newspaper should be about or anything.

  9. Thanks for all those whose jobs are safe (temporarily) thinking of us.
    Anyone know what the policy is for getting your frozen pension on leaving the co? The highly paid chiefs who announced this and don't have to worry about losing their own jobs were so ill-prepared no one could answer these questions for the people they are throwing out on our asses in less than a month. I thought I remembered when they froze the pensions that you could get that money on retirement paid as a pension, or on separation paid as a lump sum. If anyone knows, please post. Thanks.

  10. Re: Frozen Pension Distribution:

    I requested my pension from a gal, I think it was "Sharon" and got it within 5-6 weeks. Rolled it over, I did, along with my 401K, made quite a bit of money this year. I was let go from the Courier and my human resources lady was quick to provide me with the name and number of the afore-mentioned person who, I believe was located at APP. Don't know whether or not she's still there, but someone should be able to help you.

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

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

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

  14. Funny how when layoffs are announced - the stock magically goes down! Almost as if it's controlled so that when those laid off put in a claim for their 401k money (so that they can roll it over) - the Shirts won't have to pay out as much! Look back to 2008, all those people laid off - the stock magically went down to single digits!

  15. These reporters all have done a great job in an ever changing marketplace. My fear is that we will not realize the value of each of you till you are no longer around.

    Outside observer - Jim Ryan

  16. What's the saying: "Don't piss on my leg and try to convince me it's raining."

    That's what this memo represents. Somone pissing on your leg and trying to convince you it's raining. Shameful.

  17. My parakeet stopped going on this paper when it was on the bottom of her cage a long time ago....

  18. The memo says the restructuring is being done to "advance our breaking news capabilities, watchdog reporting, enterprise content and depth of local news and information across a diverse set of media platforms to best serve our readers and advertisers."

    Pray tell, how does cutting half the newsroom help accomplish those goals? What a friggin' joke.

  19. Looks like the Hopkins hantavirus swept through here this morning.

    Rats, fleas on rats, and Jim Hopkins.

  20. Boris Karloff walked as a ghost would walk thru the DR Newsroom, shocked that he, a veteran Gannettoid, likely will be gone in February. Once a columnist, now a GA, the erstwhile attack dog could only whimper at the news. Meanwhile, a lot of solid and objective reporters hang in the balance. The crew at 267, I hope that all of you survive.

  21. So who's tasked with interviewing the HR managers, who, I assume, will also be forced to dance like trained circus animals for their jobs?

  22. @9:24 am Tell me again- who shot Kennedy? Nice conspiracy theory but just wrong. Stock price has nothing to do with the layoffs and is not controlled by the company. Seriously- do you really think that's what is happening??? I'll send you some money to buy a clue. First of all, you shouldn't have any (at best very little) of your 401K in GCI. But even if you do, you can leave it there if you wish, for as long as you wish, and then have it moved wherever you wish, whenever you wish when the price suits you. And for the record, I was a layoff victim after 20-plus years and am no fan of the company. Took my pension and rolled it into my IRA. My 401K is still under the company plan- I chose to leave it there for now and it's mine for the taking whenever i'd like. Aside for whatever the particular funds invest in GCI, I have zero GCI stock. You can move it into any fund you want as I did every two weeks when it was deposited into my 401K. Stop your nonsense and go read a book or watch CNBC if your attention span will allow it. Geez.

  23. Furloughed Fury1/11/2011 11:10 PM

    (snip)Anonymous said...

    The memo says the restructuring is being done to "advance our breaking news capabilities, watchdog reporting, enterprise content and depth of local news and information across a diverse set of media platforms to best serve our readers and advertisers."

    Pray tell, how does cutting half the newsroom help accomplish those goals? What a friggin' joke. (Snip)

    How will they do it, it is a down economy my friend. To paraphrase Darth Vader, Fear will keep them in line. Fear that they will lose the crappy job they have, that Gannett will find a way to cheat them out of severance and unemployment, so five greedy executives can get rich off the savings.
    Until the economy turns around and this industry gets its head out of its butt as far as making revenues from the internet, those who remain will have to jump at the crack of their masters whip.

  24. 1/11/2011 10:32 PM
    You can believe that if you want to!

    I know from experience!

  25. In essence, Gannett just sent termination notices to 99 employees which alone says a great deal about its N.J. operations – none of it good.

    Forcing ALL 99 to fight for 53 remaining positions says something far worse about Gannett and its HR function, notably: the countless hours employees and managers spent for years evaluating themselves through Gannett’s performance measurement processes and related tools, and the cost of those efforts, were a complete waste.

    Frankly, that’s the only real conclusion that can be drawn from a move like this; that and Gannett’s total disregard for its people – especially the contributions of its top tier performers within this group, let alone the costly consequences and negative environment that this creates.

    If that data is truly worthless as seems to be the case here, then Gannett can save millions by eliminating its performance evaluation process company-wide. It won’t because it does deliver value and Horning knows it, yet she presumably signed off on this.

    Why? To avoid a few potential age discrimination suits should management pick who stays using its years of data versus this process? If so, then that doesn’t say much about Gannett’s process nor the true costs of forcing all to reapply as those will be much higher.

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

  27. That performance eval has been a joke for decades!

  28. Abbott Koloff1/14/2011 11:12 AM

    To 1/11/2011 7:51 PM

    Why would anyone with a beef with me not say it to my face and instead make anonymous, cowardly Internet posts?

  29. Ever hear about the WARN ACT? A company must give 60 days notice of a lay off when 100 employees are affected. Isn't it ironic that 99 employees were affected? Did they lay one person off a week prior to the Jan 10 lay off to get the number to 99?

  30. Does anyone know if our unemployment benefits will be denied in the event we don't apply for any of these positions? And, if that's the case, then I would think that supplemental pay they are offering would be at 100%.

  31. 6:07 Actually, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires 60 days' notice when 50 or more -- not 100 -- employees lose their jobs at once. But such a mass layoff must take place at a single worksite for the law to come into play.

    In this N.J. case, WARN would only apply if at least 50 jobs were eliminated at either of East Brunswick, Bridgewater, or Parsippany.

  32. The interviewing process is a joke. Who remains and who stays has already been decided. Bad blood exists in the HNT and CN newsrooms and has for years- now it is just a matter of who kissed up the most. The heads should be interviewing too...yeah I mean you P. You strut around the office like you have nothing to be worried about. Better get your game face on, because what goes around comes back around again.


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."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.