Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week Jan. 17-23 | Your News & Comments: Part 1

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  1. Another week of collecting unemployment, Jim. Been unemployed over a year. Went back to school for retraining my skills, only to be told that I don't have experience in the new field. Sent out hundreds of resumes, had about 20 interviews. No job. A lot of good my Gannett experience has done me.

  2. 9:17, I'm curious, in your resume do you mention the newspaper industry anywhere other in past job references? I ask because I too was looking for a job after leaving a Gannett paper and my resume was littered with newspaper industry references until I was advised to make my resume fit new opportunities.

    Just a thought that might serve well.

  3. Better to focus on transferable skills that your learned in the newsroom, advertising, marketing or production rather than the job you held in a dying industry. People leaving buggywhip factories who wanted to work at a car factory could accentuate how they excelled at precision, tight production schedules, quality assurance, teamwork and delivery logistics. Hang in there, 9:17. A lot of us know how much you are hurting, and this site is a way to convey encouragement.

  4. Yes, 9:17: 20 interviews out of hundreds of resumes isn't a bad 'batting average' at all. Keep in mind that you won't get responses for most. But if you've gotten 20 interviews in a year, than you're at least getting 'in the door' more than once a month and you can just finetune your approach as you go along.

    I agree with all advice above, especially 10:59 because that's essentially what I did.

    Also: Can't express enough the need to keep working while you look for work. Get contract jobs in the field you want to work in. I know a lot of people make excuses not to do this, but if you can, contract work addresses multiple fronts: You can go into interviews and state honestly that you are still working, which bosses like to see. You can keep skills sharp and relevant to changing industry needs. You can establish contacts for possible fulltime work. And you make money in the process.

    If you can't do contractual work in a field where you'd like to land, then volunteer at non-profits where your skills would be valuable. Again, all benefits from contract work would apply here, except the money thing of course.

    Good luck and hang in there!!!

  5. 9:17 here, thanks all for the advice and encouragement.

    When I go on interviews, I stress the skills that I've acquired, especially the ability to get work done on deadline. Funny thing with my last interview, they asked me how my newspape experience translated to their job. I told them how I was used to a fast-paced environment, I get the job on time, blah, blah.

    They responded, "Well, here we have a very relaxed environment. It doesn't get too stressful here. Are you sure this is what you'd like?" Naturally, I said yes, but I felt almost silly saying it.

  6. i probably won't make many friends with this comment, but, i walk in every morning praying for my pink slip...at least i'd get an honest days pay for an honest days work! so sick of doing the work of 3 or 4 and getting paid for the work of barely 1 while "management" collects their six-figure salaries.....

  7. I was about to hit 61-years-old when my pink slip arrived. GCI knew it was putting me in an especially difficult position. So few jobs and so much competition. That's why it's hard for me to sing Gannett's praises. Its reorganization was abusive to its senior employees. That poll you did a few months ago showed that old, expensive workers were targeted for extinction.
    Those sharing happy notes about job searches are not representative of my perspective. If I were in my 30s, 40s or even 50s, I'd be chirping right along with the happy little birds above. But that's not the case.
    Gannett could have followed in the footsteps of respected companies that examine employee layoffs one-by-one to customize settlements. Healthcare through age 65 is a key ingredient offered by America's best employers.
    Instead, GCI took the cheap, easy path, assuring us that it valued quicker profit returns over corporate integrity.
    Future ethicists will surely see the inhumanity and ruthlessness of companies like GCI. Perhaps such brutality will inspire a successful lawsuit or at least give birth to labor department initiatives that actually serve the interests of laborers. One can hope.

  8. Lemme pose a question to all the newshounds still employed there:

    Why are you not reporting on how bad unemloyment really is? It is much, MUCH higher than 9.4%. Why don't you investigate why the actual figure is not reported, and try to report the accurate figure?

    Next, why are you not reporting on the veiled age discrimination occurring to our unemployed americans like 2:38pm? Why are you not publishing investigative series like this? There used to be a time where you did so, regularly.

    You no longer stick up for the community you serve?

    I heard on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" about a month ago a program that had a reporter from the NY Times and hiring managers more or less say anyone unemployed for more than six months is "unemployable."

    Now, if that isn't a display of ignorance, let alone irresponsibility... That's more or less saying "group X can't be hired because they're..." To blame the unemployed, most who are victims of the greed on Wall St., whose actions created the panic that caused corporations to dump payroll and participate in creating this ecoonomy, so they could sit on RECORD profits, while decimating families and communities...

    (... while CEO's receive bonuses...)

    Why not report this, more?

    You all are reporters, self-acclaimed purveyors of the Fourth Estate and all... When are you going to start publishing stories like this, and grilling our elected politicans about it?

    When will you start serving the communities you supposedly serve?


  9. I have heard we may see more layoffs. why the company is making money. What an I missing.

  10. 2:38, your feelings are completely valid. And, yes of course it's harder to find a job at 60 rather than 30, 40. Again, if you have marketable skills, there's no reason why could can't segue to contract/consultancy work while you seek fulltime employment. It's not like the contract work will flock to your door at first -- it takes time and shoe leather and a ceaseless will to market yourself. But one job (assuming you do good work) can lead to another and then another and so on ... And those contacts can result in fulltime work. That's how I got hired fulltime after spending the vast majority of 2010 working solo. Same thing happened to my dad about 15 years ago: Got laid off. Started his own business. Became a consultant. Client of consultancy hired him as COO.

    In the contract world, your age, sex, race and other demos really don't matter. It's a 100 percent meritocracy. Deliver good work and people will want to hire you again and they don't give a rat's a--- how old you are and they don't have quotas to fill for contract work.

    If you're still feeling handicapped by the 'age thing,' use email when possible instead of the phone. (Avoiding having your voice give you away.)

    But all of this said: If you sit at home and grumble about not having a chance at anything because of your age, then your discouragement will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Hirers will sense this and shy away. You need to approach with confidence that you have valuable skills and you'll be someone's best hire -- contract or fulltime.

    Good luck! Hang in there!

  11. Best resume advice: Create a new one for each position you are going for.

  12. I think 2:38 is on target. I used to think that I had chosen a profession that more often than not, stood on the high, moral ground. It was a lie expertly told by smug self-important liars. And one upon a time I was one of them.

  13. Deliver good work? I want to live where that person does. I delivered good work, work that blew clients out of the water, good work for 25 years amid Gannett. Perhaps it's different for journalists; I was a graphic artist. Didn't much matter. Is that a lie? Some sleight of hand? Nope. Just 25 years, years, not dead weight but an active employee, to the curb, as if I never existed. Whining? Whining! Hardly. I am now wailing my fate; I have future prospects. But that deal will never absolve the crass crap by which Gannett champions their comprehension of staff. Nobody even knew my name. The advertisers did. So, freelance.

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  15. 9:17 - one other piece of advice - if you can, get your resume into the hands of a 'head hunter'. I am a soon-to-be former Gannett'er who got the new job opportunity through a hiring agency. They were great and even helped me rewrite certain parts of my resume - these people are the pro's. I took their advice and got the job.

  16. I would love to see someone answer 3:17 PM. What 3:17 PM is really asking is can a newspaper ever change or are they doomed to being biased based on the makeup of the people whom work for them?

    You all complain but never discuss changing the newspaper itself to one that really is non-biased. The MSM has been exposed but it does not seem to want to change in any way.

  17. I heard The Journal News -- Westchester NY -- building is a knock-down. They're planning to move the operation to some other building in the Gannett office park.

  18. USA Today beaten on story of Starbuck's new Trenti-sized coffee. Have they given up on trying to stay ahead on cultural changes? It is on the front page of the Washington Post.

  19. I am with 3:17, and wonder why chronic unemployment is being virtually ignored by the MSM in this recession. We have almost 17 percent unemployment, and if you talk to people involved, you find there are few attractive jobs they want. I don't understand the economics, but I have a friend who would rather draw unemployment than take a position on a lower rung than the one he left. This is silly, but there is no talking him out of it. I think the plight of the unemployed is a great story and one that has been underreported.

  20. Here's more on 2:38's point...
    Gannett could have made its downsizing more palatable by creating layoff segments that addressed individual employee needs. Instead, it did a one-size-fits-all approach and that created dehumanizing inequities.
    In their rush to "youththanize" their company, they could have offered layoff packages by age and years of service.
    Younger folks would get grants for retraining or education. Middlers the same and more. Over 60ers with 15+years would get help bridging healthcare to age 65 so they could afford the early retirement they'd been forced into.
    Not to be petty, but I would bet that those additional benefits would have been very affordable for GCI...probably less than this year's bigshot bonuses.
    Problem is, GCI didn't look at the layoffs from the perspective of its employees. It committed to its process in a stiff-necked, cold-blooded, heartless manner, which says alot about its leadership.
    Clearly, Dubow, et al couldn't care less about many departees who'd served the company well for 15, 20 or even 30 years. And that's what pisses people off.
    Even the old farts understand things had to change. But they also are smart enough to know that Gannett's approach could have been much more human(e).
    Had these misers written the script to "It's a Wonderful Life," Jimmy Stewart's character would have ended up working as a teller for the bad-ass banker whose dishonesty ran Jimmy out of business. See, the misers would say to the audience. Starting over again ain't so bad.
    So much for integrity, ethics, character, honesty, poetic justice and happy endings.

  21. 11:50 Why all this misery? The company doesn't owe you anything but a paycheck for the work you have completed. Grow up. This isn't a family. It is a corporation that is doing things it sees as necessary for its survival and ensure the execs get their paychecks each week.

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  23. 10:43pm, on 1.17.11: I'd bet money that your unemployed friend wouldn't be able to get one of those lower-wage jobs. I've been unemployed for 2 years and seven months. I'm either over- qualified or under-qualified. Applying for a job is a crap shoot. Sure, throw your hat in the ring, but most of the time, there is no response.

    It's hard to follow-up with an employer to find out why you weren't selected.

    I dunno what it is, but it's like I'm anathema.

    But I'm okay, and am surviving. Others, however, who lost their retirement savings, homes, marriages, families, hope for The American Dream... they've got it much worse than me...

    ...at no fault of their own.

    I don't want to sound like some Conspiracy Nut, but there's something going on. I see how news is Managed. How unemployment figures supposedly drop one day, only to have jobless claims figures reported a day or two later to show they're higher.

    I mean, "Great Recession?" C'mon - this has decimated MILLIONS of people; it's another Depression, yet not being labelled as such.

    And how Big News Events like Loughner's Rampage in AZ just conveniently push complicated stories on the economy and unemploymet to the backpages, if not entireley out of the way.

    Dunno, but the Big Elephant seems to be RIGHT THERE, and yet it's being ignored, for whatever reason. I sure would like to know WHY?

  24. "11:50 Why all this misery? The company doesn't owe you anything but a paycheck for the work you have completed. Grow up. This isn't a family. It is a corporation that is doing things it sees as necessary for its survival and ensure the execs get their paychecks each week."

    And that's exactly how we should treat this company. They get 40 hours. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't slack, but also don't go above and beyond. It will neither be rewarded nor appreciated. Continue to look for opportunities to grow in your field for your own advancement, not for the benefit of the company. You have to put yourself first, always.

  25. 8:21, I'm not far behind you and agree with what you say. It's the demise of the middle class, slowly but surely.

  26. 6:29's comment bothers me. Sociopaths think that way.
    There was a time when Gannett stood for more than the simple business relationship 6:29 cites. For example, it was a leader in diversity. It was cited as a model by people who cared about racial, ethnic, age and gender equality. GCI leaders led the way, saying the quest for equality was "the right thing to do." And, they would say, it is good business.
    In that manner, GCI leaders stood for something bigger and more important than simple profiteering. They believed in a GCI that knew right from wrong, and they did value loyalty among its employees. Its corporate character was strengthened by the strong watchdog journalism of its news outlets.
    Sadly, those attributes are rarely attributed to GCI anymore. The heart and soul of the company is gone, as 6:29 so mindlessly reminds.

  27. 8:30 xxx Don't slack, but also don't go above and beyond xxx
    Right on. Give them the 40 hours they are paying you for, but no loyalty for the paycheck, no love, and no emotion. Posters here seem to be looking for some cozy assurance from their employers that they are appreciated and even loved. They don't appreciate you. You are a widget, disposable at any time. Understand that it is just a business relationship and they really don't respect your feelings.

  28. Re 8:30 a.m....How right you are! And how foolish are those Gannettoids who've taken on the jobs of one, two, maybe even three of their former colleagues without additional compensation.

    All they're doing is justifying management's game plan, which, quite simply, is to churn out a junky product because it's, as the old Gannett phrase goes, "good enough."

    Gannett executives, of all people, should know that money talks.

  29. Hey folks, just so you know: The new benefits administration transition for Cobra has been a bumpy ride indeed. The folks are REALLY nice on the phone. But I've been trying to pay them for weeks now and they can't seem to find the check(s) I've sent. Which means GCI changed administrators and, in the process, isn't getting the payment that it's owed for Cobra. Ironic, huh?

    Bottom line if you're going through this: The new administrator folks are really nice and helpful (despite the fact that they can't find my checks, even those I sent to them directly using the address they gave me) and aren't 'cutting you off' of Cobra if you're demonstrating a good faith effort to pay and follow up. It's just a lot of time spent on the phone and running to the post office to express mail checks to try to straighten all of this out.

  30. I know district managers who found work with trucking companies. I know reporters who found work as insurance adjusters and investigators. I know sports writers who found work with colleges as assistant SID's. I know editors hired as adjunct teaching faculty. Post Gannett - I once drove 5 hours to a $70K job interview only to be told when I arrived that the interview had been canceled and would not be rescheduled. Prolly my low point. But I kept looking. Found a door open. Started low. Stuck with it. Worked my way up to a job with decent benefits, no nights and weekends and no annual reviews. I don't make quite as much as I did but I don't have to accept daily insults from a mean spirited idiot, either.

  31. @11:15 - you said "And how foolish are those Gannettoids who've taken on the jobs of one, two, maybe even three of their former colleagues without additional compensation."

    What are we supposed to do? Quit and spend 2 and half years with no paycheck at all??? It's a catch 22 and they know that right now...as soon as i walk out, there are 100 more ppl ready to take my job in a heartbeat...with that being the case, who really loses? i do...with the job market the way it is, the best thing to do is keep putting out resumes and wait for your layoff slip....

  32. Hey 1:01 p.m. wake up! Do as much as you can without killing yourself, and after you put in a full day, leave. You're not going to get fired. They've already got a good deal with you and "they" know it.

    And yeah, keep looking for another job. You're not without options!

  33. Come to think about it, the movie "Wall Street" seems more appropriate for this conversation. David ultimately beat Goliath in that one. Good triumphed over bad. That flick could be about GCI today. And no, not all companies treat their employees like indentured slaves. Only the bad ones without strong ethical underpinnings live life that way.

  34. 11:01 How many times do we have to be screwed over before we realize this isn't the same company Frank Gannett founded? Yes, there was a time when Gannett stood for other values, but that was a long time ago and on a distant planet. Look at the company and its approach to treating its employees today and you realize that clearly.

  35. I left a Gannett paper about two years ago on my own. But, several years earlier, the light bulb finally went on and I realized that the company did not care one bit about me and that my immediate boss (who everyone knew was useless and incompetent) did not give a damn about me and never said thanks. So, at that point I came in exactly at the official starting time, took lunch every day, took every sick day I could and every vacation day, and always left precisely at the click of the clock at the end of the day! Frankly, what I just described was never my work ethic in the past or presently, but when you realize what you are dealing with at Gannett...get wise. Do exactly what you have to do and no more. Put your own personal pride, and ethics aside because Gannett and the idiots who run the place have no ethics whatsoever. So glad I'm gone from that evil place.

  36. What about an age discrimination lawsuit as has been mentioned here from time-to-time. Any ideas on this? Any chance it could work? Any thoughts out there from our journalist/lawyer types. I for one with 30+ years of excellent performance reviews right up to the end wonders how, but because my age, I could have been let go.

  37. With all this talk about what a corporation does or does not owe to employees, it reminds me that one of the sorriest episodes in recent Gannett history is the way they allowed the Gannett Foundation to morph into Neuharth's employment-for-cronies agency.

    I would never have known about this if not for Jim's reporting.

    That somehow all the money that was set aside over decades to benefit Gannett communities was turned over to one man to indulge his whims -- it's awful.

    I give Neuharth all the credit in the world for building a successful media company. And his creation of USA Today was possibly the single best idea in the newspaper industry during the last 50 years.

    But now, with so many former Gannett employees struggling, I think of what those hundreds of millions of dollars, once held by the foundation, could have done. They could have set up education grants, training grants, health care assistance that would not have hurt GCI's bottom line.

    Not that they would have, but at least it would have been a possibility. Instead it went to Al's monument to himself.

  38. I don't like Gannett. I am glad that I don't work there anymore. I have sympathy for every journalist in Gannett and outside of Gannett who is struggling to find work in this economy. I feel bad for the factory workers in so many Midwest towns who saw their jobs evaporate to China. I feel bad for the families of everyone who is struggling. But...

    But, it's unfair to think that because you gave your all for a company over a number of years that you are "owed" some level of compensation after being laid off because your name came up on a balance sheet somewhere. To the people making the decisions to enforce layoffs, they are cutting the amount of money your salary and benefits cost them, not you personally. It's all about money. It's the same for the factory workers whose jobs were shipped to China. They weren't laid off because the company didn't like them or didn't appreciate their work. They were laid off because their work could be done far cheaper somewhere else. I guarantee any one of those workers could move to China and get their same job working in the same factory for $1 a day. It has nothing to do with personal relationships. It has everything to do with the bottom line. And, I am going to get beat up here for saying this, but that is OK. That is the American way.

    I agree with one of the commenters above who said people create their own destiny. If they sit around collecting unemployment thinking about useless they are, about how they will never get another job, about how Gannett (or any other company in any other industry) screwed them, yeah, that will be the way life goes for them. They will continue to get screwed. But, it won't be Gannett's fault.

    During every major recession/depression, innovation, inventions, new products, new technology, new businesses start up at a rate that is 15-20 percent greater than during the good times. It's because people, who got screwed, picked themselves up off the ground, brushed themselves off, and got to work forging a better life than what they were facing at the time. Take some risks, leverage your assets, start a business, cut costs to early retirement, start a consulting firm that pays $30k a year, go to work. Even if it isn't for the same salary, or in the same industry, or using the same skill sets, at least you will feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself is the first big piece to moving on with your life.

    Gannett sucks. We all know that. We all knew that years ago when times were good. It's reputation has long preceded it. Why everyone is so surprised that that reputation is actually true now that it personally effects them is, at times, mind boggling. Now, go ahead. Flame away.

  39. 1/17/2011 3:17 PM
    BRAVO!!! Thank you! You said it all... I too have been unemployed for over 6 months, I guess I too will never work again? (According to the NPR story, that I too heard.) Unbelievable... how reckless of them to say that! Yes, newhounds how about it?

  40. 1/18/2011 5:38 PM
    Alas... you are sooo right... ;-(

  41. Gannett's TV division is losing a longtime manager next month. Deborah Hooper will leave WFMY-TV after 25 years to become president of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

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  43. 5:38 said:
    " It's the same for the factory workers whose jobs were shipped to China. They weren't laid off because the company didn't like them or didn't appreciate their work. They were laid off because their work could be done far cheaper somewhere else."

    And look at the result: shoddy quality, tainted with lead or other poisons, and worse. I understand the nature of business. I can deal with being laid off if someone else works cheaper, as long as their work was at my level or surpassed it. But so far that hasn't been the case. 2AdPro, RTC, GPC--how well are they working out? All I hear are complaints and it's not people complaining just for the sake of complaining. The quality of work that comes out of these places directly affects the quality of our paper. In many cases, it could mean keeping or losing an advertiser or subscriber. That is what I take issue with. And does anyone really have any hope that the new page design centers will be any better?

    I understand what you are saying, but people are not numbers. People are people. They are a company's greatest expense, but also its greatest asset. Somewhere along the way, Gannett forgot that.

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  45. For Part 2 of this comment thread, please go here.

  46. Folks, there is life after the Fortune 200, and after the print and news biz. There IS. Some things I had to face:

    I had to learn how to do something new. Seriously. Just telling a potential employer that I was a quick study, even if it's true, wasn't enough.

    I had to downsize (as if I hadn't already), because I was likely to be starting over a little closer to the bottom of the totem pole.

    I had to move. Ugh, I know. But I needed to follow the job I was looking for.

    All those 'intangibles' like time management, people skills, analytical abilities are great, and they are going to help you be good at your next job. They are not necessarily going to land it for you.

    To all my friends and former coworkers: life after GCI can be scary and weird and exhilarating, too. Believe me, I totally understand the need to vent and be disgruntled. But don't let that drain too much of your energy. Then 'they' just win again. Focus on what's next and decent things will start to happen.

  47. Layoffs are already happening. They are just sporadic and Gannett is trying to keep everything under the radar, I guess so it won't be posted here.
    We lost two people at our paper. One in HR and one in IT.


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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