Sunday, February 06, 2011

Jan. 31-Feb. 6 | Your News & Comments: Part 5

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  1. For Part 4 of this comment thread, please go here.

  2. I read an AP piece about how Domino's CEO is going to "work in the trenches" on Super Bowl, which he figures will be the busiest day of the year for his company. He plans to make his share of pizza pies.
    TV carries a regular show on CEOs who take front-line jobs at their companies to learn more about what works and doesn't work.
    Both situations are examples of enlightened leadership.
    CEOs who work the front-lines say it's the smartest thing they've ever done. They see what really happens and can quickly fix many problems.
    Wow, I thought. How 'bout Dubow or Martore stepping into the news centers they oversee rather than continuing to manage in their detached, remote 1960s style. Those of us who work there call it the "command and control" approach. It's much more like the military than it is innovative companies like Apple, Microsoft and others.
    Checking in on the front lines lets top managers firsthand the effects of their bone-deep cuts. Let them hear suggestions and ideas from frontline workers on how to move the company forward. It makes them less susceptible to disinformation from mid-level butt-smoochers, who build careers telling bosses only what the bosses want to hear.
    One problem is that neither Dubow nor Martore have ever worked in a newsroom, so they couldn't literally work on deck, ala the Dominos boss.
    But they could learn to do something of value in a newsroom. After all, that's what they are requiring of their employees. "Ya need to update those skills, folks, if you hope to keep your job in the new media age."
    That kind of hands-on leadership would be a welcomed change from Gannett's old-fashioned big-shot visits that inevitably turn into shameless ass-kissing sessions.
    Come on, GCI leaders. Join your employees in modern day America!

  3. Great points, 4:07. But the answer is: Debow and his enablers don't have the vision/leadership and overall human capacity to take on that kind of management style. They like it there in their palatial surroundings, scoffing and otherwise belittling the 'littles' who serve only to stuff their wallets. I think they actually take pride in the fact that they don't even know who the people are that they lay off, what they look like, what their kids' names are or what they actually did for GCI before they were booted.


    Attention: Gannett shareholders

  5. Jim, please delete the disrespectful comment at 9:21 a.m. today in Part 4 of this thread. It's sad and unnecessary. The people mentioned are good friends.

  6. Dubow can barely gat around - at least the last time I saw him...seriously doubt he will be on Undercover Boss anytime soon...good for the Domino's CEO though...!

  7. Not to get too dramatic about it, but I do see a parallel between Gannett's failures and what happened during the Vietnam War. In general terms, I mean.
    The book "Bright Shining Lie" and Gen. Westmoreland's memoirs of the war attributed U.S. failures to flawed, bumbling, often self-defeating leadership. Both books cited instance after instance of gross mismanagement.
    So it was that the soldiers did so well and yet lost.
    From what I see, the people remaining in the trenches across Gannettland are fighting a good fight. But a lack of clarity regarding their mission is demoralizing. Their efforts to succeed in the digital world are hampered by too few resources and outdated equipment. There is no appreciation for a job well done because leadership is unable to define exactly what well done means.
    Guidelines and goals change from day-to-day. Last month's edict is often tomorrow's target for change.
    I attended an "on-site" visit one time and heard the then CEO deride an editor publicly for de-emphasizing some zoned editions. "Why in the hell would you do something so stupid?" the CEO asked. "Because you folks told us to," the editor replied.
    It was true. One part of corporate overrode another and no one thought to tell the CEO. The zones were then pumped back up only to be abandoned six or seven months later.
    The editor, of course, was put on the slow train for embarrassing the CEO.
    That editor soon left Gannett and, I'd bet, contributes to Jim's blog regularly. He'd tell you point blank: Don't blame the employees for Gannett's demise; instead, blame the leaders who were paid millions despite their repeated failures to create and carry out a winning strategy.
    The leaders let the troops down and then were brash enough to reward themselves with lavish bonuses. All while pink-slipping long-term employees to offset the losses the bosses had created.
    Westmoreland had the courage to apologize to the troops, though many years after the war ended. Not much of that around GCI from what I can see.

  8. Yeah, 9:58, I can see the connection even if it's a reach here. Robert McNamara also asked for forgiveness before he passed. Somehow, I just get the feeling that DuBow and his many dwarfs won't be ask for any forgiveness from anyone. They're too busy lining their pockets at GCI's expense.

  9. You're stupid, 9:58. The employees are very much to blame.

    I bet your employer is wishing you would go elsewhere.

  10. Yes. They are burning the village in order to save it.

  11. 9:58's comments:
    I don't even think that's a reach. A very good analogy, really. In both cases, things began to unravel and leadership had no idea what to do, so the mission became a total CYA operation.

    Only a few are getting rich in the demise of GCI. The rest of us are under the bus. Some of you just haven't been run over by a tire yet.

    The fictional Rhett Butler famously said, "There is money to be made in the collapse of an empire." Too true. But 99 percent of us will end up losing our savings, many will lose our houses and most of us will find ourselves in a vocational vacuum.

    I'm there. And I was one many thought to be highly protected. In the end, those at the "near top" often get treated even worse than those in the trenches, even though we truly made every life decision at the behest of the company.

  12. Just can't resist noting that the stock closed at the satanic (1)666.

  13. GCI is doing very well at the Broadcast Division. It's Print that's weighing us down and the sooner GCI whittles Print down, the better. I'd even favor spinning off Print, if GCI can find some sucker like Dean Singleton to buy it.

  14. Give us a break 11:39am. Print continues to pay the bills for everyone. Broadcast has never represented more than 15% of company revenue, and digital revenues aren't breaking any records either. Broadcast did very well last year because of mid-year elections and the Olympics but what will your revenues looks like this year without those events? You aren't ever going to save this company so stop the pompous drivel. And if leadership doesn't figure out how to make the news a valued and desired entity in print and on-line, eventually the reaper will come for you arrogant little snits in Broadcast too. Caution, hubris has its comeuppance.

  15. Hubris, 12:07 p.m.? It sounds like you have plenty to go around for everyone!

    Regardless of print's contribution, corporate has taken it upon itself to shit can community papers across the country.

    Dubow and Martore are steering the Good Ship Gannett to harbors unknown and apparently uncharted in the company's ass-kissing, yes-man/yes ma'm culture of conformity sans innovation.

    The future is digital. I think most everyone agrees with that. The issue is how long will it take corporate and Wall Street to adjust to the reality of reduced revenues?


    Print was a cash hog on wheels, and is still raking in big bucks. That will come to an end, however, and price of ads online will never reach what it was in print.

    Remember those glory days of page after page after page of classifieds! That was what paid the freight and then some. No more.

  16. OK 12:41PM, you make some valid points. I just couldn't let go unchallenged what appeared to be a jab at a division that continues to pay the bills. Truce. And really, I'm mostly a self-depracating person unless you get my dander up, lol.

  17. What continues to baffle me is the upside triangle that we see. Why the hell are there so many mangers. We need more folks in the trenches servicing the customers - you know the ones that give us MONEY!!!

  18. Gannett, for some unknown reason has always been management heavy. I have four bosses with only five worker bees. Now that makes absolutely no sense and they all try to justify their existence by riding on the backs of the worker bees.

    Anyone have some legitimate reasons why there are so many managers at Gannett?

  19. 1:52 We may be seeing fewer managers in the near future at some worksites, according to one of my better-informed readers.

  20. If that's the case, Jim, there's certainly plenty of room for harvesting management at the Journal News. A few got axed a short while back, but it's time Westchester's staff size started corresponding more to the reality of an ever-shrinking circulation.

  21. There are some sports editors (at smaller papers) who do just as much leading coverage as the one or two other sports reporters. The sports editor works extra hours to help cover and keep OT down for his staff, so they can be proud of their section regardless -- and he won't get in trouble for OT worked by his team. Yet, that same sports editor may be the target in upcoming layoffs.
    In the future, it won't make sense to have section editors as much as it used to just because of the numbers. How many chiefs do you need? This might not apply to a place like the JN, but it is a village that gets out the paper each day in most rooms. Issues now tend to be, "Did we keep the right people?" rather than can we strip down more.

  22. 2:41 - Very true. The population of The Journal News' coverage area is around 1.5 million but circulation has dwindled to around 30K as a result of poor management and cost cutting. So the staffing now is more like what you would see at a 150K daily, which The Journal News was a few years back. Time to face reality and do some heavy duty trimming as the paper continues to descend into oblivion and eventual extinction - likely by year's end.

  23. There is still alot of management in St. Cloud. For a newspaper so small it doesn't make much sense except that buddies have been allowed to stay.

  24. @Jim: can you provide any more details without giving away your source? More newsroom consolidation in the works?

  25. This concerns at least one newspaper, but probably more. Otherwise, that's everything my reader has told me. I'll post more, when I learn more.

  26. File under milestones: @2:58's is this blog's 70,000th comment. And it's a good one, too.

  27. What I have never understood is how a company that makes its living digging up the dirt on other companies and people can get SO upset at the thought of their own dirt being aired for the public to see. Threats of firing for reading the blog, the whole air of secrecy at each site, the refusal to tell the workers that their jobs are truly being dissolved, the obscene amount of bonuses given at the top level, trickling down to managers, while the regular workers can't even get a freaking ham at Christmas! 1.5%, max 2% for a pay raise. This company is disgusting, with no morality at its' own core. They deserve for every site to post ALL the dirt on the company, and the clowns they have running it, to be put on display for all of America to see how Gannett has ruined the art of journalism. Freedom of speech is never practiced once you walk in the door of a Gannett paper.

  28. Management is heavy everywhere in Gannett, and this is coming from a former Gannett manager. There are some managers who contribute to the paper, no doubt, but there are many others who sit around all day on Facebook.

    Let's stop complaining about the facts though. If you care about your future, get a new job, preferably in a new industry. The people who sit around here complaining about how bad Gannett is need to reassess their situation. They're not victims unless they choose to be. Complain about how cuts are hurting the service of journalism, about how they impact community news, but give it a rest on the personal sob stories and the management bashing.

    "Get busy living or get busy dying" It would appear many are choosing the latter.

  29. I have a question for the people who cheer for fewer managers.

    How many of you actually have some sort of motivation? Or do you think your position should just get merit pay raises every year while your responsibilities stay the same?

    There are people who left journalism because they saw no mobility. I assume those people do not post here.

  30. Jim,
    Maybe you coud feature you top ten favorite comments of all time.

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

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

  33. So what does 2:58 get for a prize for being the 70,000th post? A new car perhaps? Wheeeeee!

  34. >>>What I have never understood is how a company that makes its living digging up the dirt on other companies and people can get SO upset at the thought of their own dirt being aired for the public to see.

    That's because the people in charge don't actually know what the company is all about. Has Gracia ever used the word "journalism" publicly?

  35. I am one who left Gannett about a year ago.
    I check back here once in a while to find out
    the latest info on what my former Gannettoids
    are going through these days.
    It seems that the chaos has not been relieved much by the thousands of layoffs and consolidations.The stress that I went through
    for so long seems to have multiplied by quite
    a lot.The stress of wondering about who is next to be cut seems to have increased by a lot also.
    The stress of working your butt off 70 hours a week and still not having job security also remains and seemingly in an bigger way.
    To me, this year has been a a whirlwind of ups and downs. However,now that things have stabilized for me, I wonder why I stayed with Gannett for so long.A year has past,that's a long time,I come back to this site and find that nothing has changed in Gannettland and I wonder why in this long year,that the same
    stories, different days are being written and why so many don't choose to leave.I wish you all the best,and realize that everyone has different situations,but you are educated,intelligent people,you really should
    be able to find a way out of the Gannett surfdom.

  36. @ 11:38: Many of us are still with the evil empire because our job searches have so far not turned up a viable alternative, so don't assume that those still working for Gannett choose to be there.

    Also: that should be serfdom.

  37. 11:38
    Thanks for the typo catch.
    At least you are trying to get out and get away.
    I know that many of my ex-coworkers are still
    there, and hating their lives entirely,all because of Gannett.These same people are not even
    making an effort to get away. Yet they moan about the stress and long hours and not knowing if they will have a job next week or not.
    Their lives are completely ruled by Gannett,
    and they do nothing to even try to change the
    situation.The best of luck to all those doing
    the best they can to get away from Gannett.

  38. What is the difference between Jim and a piece of dog crap? After a few weeks, the piece of dog crap stops stinking!

  39. Wow, 4:36 p.m. That was about the lamest attempt at an insult I have ever read. I feel dumber just for reading it.

    I am by no means a Jim supporter and can see many reasons why people can legitimately criticize him and this blog. But, your post lacked even a mild attempt at intelligence and wit. If that is the best you can do while trying throw a firebomb, I feel bad for you. Truly, I do. Get a life.

  40. Heh 8:05 are you a socialist? If you think Gannett bonded are obscene then do your homework. They pale compared to most companies. I know I know thanks for checking in Craig. But if you and your pals would do your homework you'd drop the communist manifesto. Everytime you have exhausted your argument you go back to the big bad bonuses, bonuses not one of you would reject.

  41. 5:49 PM _ Have you worked with water dripping out of the light fixtures, all of your computer, your work area, while they spend money on stupid media rooms? Have you, bridge troll? Well I have. And no, I don't get any bonuses, and yes, I would probably accept a bonus if I was ever offered one. But you see, they took away all our pitiful little bonuses in order to keep putting those obscene bonuses in the pockets of the upper echelon. And before you say, get out if you don't like it, I'm on my way, simpleton boy. I'm sure Robin Pence is paying you handsomely to post here, pro-Gannett. You speak of other companies handing out bonuses, ummmm, are THEY successful? Martore, Dickey, Dubow, they are not. They have not brought one innovative idea to Gannett. The newest job page? What a joke. Nobody in this area would even consider posting a job listing in this paper since they tried to cram Career Builder down everyone's throat. They failed utterly with that initative. What a bunch of morons. What are they going to do to save money when there are no more bodies to lay off? Tell me that, little boy.

  42. 8:50 I'm a manager and I still love my job and I am motivated. Here is the ironic thing, I don't hear the doomsday attitude one reads here. Sure there are unhappy , dispirited folks, but the majority still work hard, come up with great ideas, and celebrate success. I am proud to call these folks my friends and colleagues. Today isn't fun but tomorrow offers hope. Sorry if I offend anyone but you asked.

  43. 5:56 see that's all you and your pals have to say if someone disagrees with you. I am Dickey or Pence's lackey. I work in reno and our roof leaked buckets. So what did the publisher you all made fun of do; he had it fixed. He also put air conditioning in the mailroom, something Sue Clark Johnson NEVER did. So there goes your argument. Oops Superbowl time. No more time to debate. Go Steelers!

  44. 5:56
    You must all live under a rock !
    Have you ALL not been paying attention to all that has happened in the last two years ?
    Wow, I was a an ad manager at a profitable site !
    and there were still layoffs . The moral was terrible and even at a profitable site everyone
    worried who would be next.The stress level was through the roof! You may not be as in tune with your underlings as you think!

  45. 5:49, yes, I would reject such a bonus. That's because I realized the bonus was 'earned' not for any kind of managerial excellence, but simply for shredding jobs, which takes no vision or skill. I'd realize that the bonus was 'earned' as a direct result of my damaging my own products. I'd realize that accepting a bonus in such circumstances isn't just bad leadership. It's morally bankrupt.

  46. 6:24 calling hard working people "underlings" says more about how you see people than the dude you call out of touch.

  47. 6:44 nice speech. Lucky for you, you will never have to be concerned about making such a difficult decision.

  48. Add me to the list of people who would forgo a bonus paid for off the backs of laid-off and furloughed workers.

    It's not a hard decision to make: Even a rogue motivated by nothing but bald self-interest would know immediately that it's wrong.

    And the grand people who took the bonus? They have no credibility as leaders and absolutely no moral traction. What a waste.

  49. Just give it back. Send the check back. Give it to someone. Whatever.

    As for the Careerbuilder commercial. Wonderful!

  50. 7:37
    Oh brother,underlings to me was just a word meaning people I managed.We all worked together and I NEVER considered myself as better than them .In fact they regularly called me at home to talk about personal or other matters.
    We shared thoughts regularly and occasionally went out for Fri happy hours. So don't spin a word out of context ,and think you know how I felt about co-workers.

  51. The CB commercials cost 43 jobs.

  52. I have been with Gannett since the paper I work for was bought by them.
    I have seen the paper go from a strong force in the community to a laughing stock..the running joke is..if its new we are the last to know.
    Our printing and mailroom has been outsourced, we have less than half of the number of employees than we had 3 years ago, and with GPC and Design Center consolidations, there will be even less employees.
    I have seen my staff cut by more than half in the last 3 years, while the Advertising Department in the building has tripled staff in the past 10 years, and revenue goals are not being met and so...they have hired another salesperson.
    I understand that its tough out there to sell. But 60% of the time the salespeople are in the office or at home.
    Ad count at the paper has hit rock bottom. January is always slow, but its not picking up.
    I am in pre-press and in the 15+ years I have worked here it has never been this bad and I don't see this paper coming out of this decline.
    Which is sad, it was such a staple in the community and now people have found other sources for their news and advertising.
    And soon my department will be gone with the consolidations. I will miss the people I work with,they are a great group of people and noone deserves what is going on here.
    But, I know that there is something better out there for all of us.
    Everyone keep your heads up, don't let them beat you down, continue to do your best, Gannett is the big loser here!
    They want to save the almighty dollar, you can consolidate all you want, but someone in some faraway city has no idea about the local advertiser or the local reader, and in the end they are the ones who make or break a newspaper.

    @5:56 p.m. is that you "Jeremiah"

  53. 6:09 PM. News flash, I DON'T work in Reno, our roof has leaked on us for 10 years, and neither our publisher or General Manager has done ANYTHING about it. There is no money in the Capital bucket for building maintenance, but big wigs visiting can go eat at one of the fanciest places in town. Go figure!
    8:40 Yep, it is "Jeremiah"! ROFLMAO The truth hurts, doesn't it Corporate drones!

  54. No one here would send back money. Enough of that nonsense. It makes the blog even less credible than it already is.

  55. 8:16 I think your original post says it all! I'm not misinterpreting your words. You said Underling. Don't feel bad. You see people one way, I chose to see them as equal colleagues and teammates. It's ok to be honest about your feelings of superiority.

  56. 8:59
    You come off as high and mighty no matter
    how you spin it.All of us here can feel your attitude as being ...I'm right,that means you are wrong .

  57. You are wrong, 9:26.

    No discussion about the Super Bowl? Jim is a huge Packers fan.

  58. 9:26 so anyone who speaks truth is a troll or has an attitude. Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball.

  59. Wow.
    9:49 and 9:55
    You need to put away the cool aid
    and whatever else you are drinking.
    If is's not alcohol induced ,then you really
    have problems. Get a life.
    I've got one and it sure as hell does not
    include being a Gannett fool.

  60. 10:16 so what kind of fool are you? See what I did there? Too funny!

  61. Wait until Jim gets back from watching the Superbowl. He is going to set a record deleting posts to this string! Ha

  62. 9:55, you're pretty cool. Nearly everyone else in this thread is a fool.

    Oh, and when Jim does arrive: Packers!

  63. 8:06 - I WILL add you to the list of people who can actually spell "forgo"

    It's a very short list.


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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