Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Feb. 28-March 6 | Your News & Comments: Part 2

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

  2. 8:28 has got to be a minion of "Teflon Tony" or Simmons himself lobbying for the job. It is hard to believe that a guy with the skill to identify all of the reasons he can't stabilize circulation losses, (with immunity it seems),as opposed to taking advantage of all of the missed opportunities he's had since he's been here would even be considered for a leadership position.Especially one which demands keen vision,and strong leadership, without polarizing departments. Just one more critical error in judgement if it happens.

  3. Well it is a great day here for me in
    FORMER Gannettland.
    I carefully planned and finally got out.
    Last Friday was my last day.
    I look forward now,once again,to going to work.
    Life is great, as it once was as a newspaper person before the Gannett takeover/buyout.
    I will still log on here,but now with a outside,looking in attitude.That changes everything.
    My sympathy to those who can't find a viable
    escape from the Gannett way of life.
    I did not wake up with the stress of just waiting for Gannett to decide my future.That for the first time in years. Wow ,what a relief
    it is to say the least.
    For those still waiting for the hammer to drop,
    good luck.As many have said here,plan ahead
    because you know it's coming.

  4. @9:56: Tokyo Rose. Baghdad Betty. And now Gannett Gary, broadcasting live from Gannett Blog.

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  6. New York Times Co., Hearst, Tribune and Gannett Form Private Online Ad Exchange

    Local News and TV Properties Are Latest to Cut Networks, Other Middlemen, Out of the Market

    USA Today, New York Times or About.com -- may play a part in the private system down the road


  7. An interesting tip from a reader:

    Is Gannett partnering with MediaNews Group to buy Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register, more than 30 other U.S. dailies and a string of TV stations? Under this scenario, the two would divide Freedom's spoils, with MediaNews adding the Register to its existing titles already circling Los Angeles.

    GCI, in turn, would take some of Freedom's smaller properties, including dailies and TV stations in markets where GCI already does business in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio.

    Freedom put itself on the auction block several weeks ago. The Irvine-based company has 32 other dailies, 70 weekly newspapers and eight TV stations.

    "Different suitors are likely to be attracted to each of those segments," the Los Angeles Times says. "Returns from TV have been the best, presumably making the stations an easier sale. The papers are a mixed bag and would likely draw most interest from regional players."

    MediaNews and GCI are already partners in a publishing partnership of papers in California, Texas and Pennsylvania.

    Meanwhile, New York-based Alden Global Capital is part of a consortium of lenders that hold a stake in Freedom, according to the Orange County Business Journal. The private equity firm also owns part of Affiliated Media, the holding company for Denver-based MediaNews Group, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, as well as Chicago-based Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times, the OCBJ says.

    Speculation about a deal between Freedom and MediaNews followed a recent executive shakeup and the appointment of three new board members at the latter company, OCBJ says. Both MediaNews and Freedom have recently emerged from bankruptcies that allowed them to shed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

  8. My experience with anticipating Gannett's series of layoffs was unrelenting dread -- then intense relief.

    Sure, they took my entire career spanning two-and-a-half decades of outstanding reviews, my long hours, my work ethic always there when others were snowed in (I'd walk the two miles), my skills, my talent, and trashed it all without even a schmaltzy card of thanks from the local publisher.

    Sure, at my age, having given most of my professional life to Gannett, I'm having substantial trouble finding work even at a 50% reduction in the wages. Age discrimination is illegal, but not "we're sorry, you're over-qualified."

    Tossed in this fashion as I and several others were, to me it was and is worth it just to be no longer associated with the awful company that Gannett has become. Companies are always about profit, of course, but Gannett has trespassed too often into the human scale of its own staff.

    My health has returned to a reasonable facsimile of feeling great. I don't wake up wondering what's going to happen next, or come to work trying purposely to forget the dishonesty and intrigue that oozed from every office at least at my site.

    Nor did I have to any longer silently watch some professional folks totally lose their cool with their coworkers or their superiors, a young woman softly sobbing in her cubicle like a mouse or a dog, or some Yuppie-type dude throwing a stapler at his desk and yelling at his assistant. One staff member even came to work still drunk from an all-nighter. Another began sending porn around the site.

    Gannett saved loads by getting to fire them instead of laying them off with its cheesy "Temporary Transitional Pay" program (by the way, also outsourced) replacing traditional severance one believed would be extant.

    Instead, it's nice waking up. I look for work every day, whether in my field or not, as an employee or freelancer, and though the results are rather daunting in my region, the act itself feels good. It's empowering. Fun, even, when compared to Gannettopia.

  9. 11;29: If there is a deal underway between Gannett and Billy Dean, what is the benefit to Freedom. I don't see any money on the table here, and neither GCI nor Media News is in much of a position to cough up what would be needed. We are already stripping off debt and, according to My Boss, are already concerned about violating our debt covenants. Billy Dean has already gone through bankruptcy, which is an indication of how much money he has to throw in the pot.
    Also I can see the benefits of your scenario to Billy Dean, but not so much to Gannett. The Orange County Register is unbelievably profitable and I am sure Billy Dean would want it in his stable. Billy Dean's BANG is clearly foundering, but it has been listing for years and I am not sure how the Orange County paper helps him with BANG.

  10. If there IS a deal underway to buy Freedumb, we're not going to be losing 5,000 employees this year, per My Boss' post.

  11. Hey the way advertising has been this first quarter, has anyone heard of additional 2nd quarter furloughs or not? Maybe my boss could offer some information on this.

  12. I heard the rumors about the layoffs in next few months?

  13. Ah, but spinning off a Gannett business unit/s to another entity and/or forming a new one would be a great way for this company to move employees off its books.

  14. If Egypt, Tunisia, (and possibly) Libya can rid themselves of their dictators, why can't we?
    •What would it take?
    •How could gannettblog play a part?

    That's something to post about.

  15. The whole problem with Gannett and the newspaper industry in general is that all they ever see as investment opportunities is buying more newspapers. If Freedom's assets were actually worthy something you would see interest from alot of different companies, but they aren't so all you have interested is more newspaper companies buying each others worthless assets. The only thing worthy anything in the deal is the TV Stations.... if GCI were smart they would put ALL of their newspapers up for sale and concentrate on TV and the internet.... Oh yah, nevermind that would actually require Dubow and company to be innovative and forward thinking.

  16. Gannett's product line is heavy with right-handed buggy whips. Freedom has a bigger selection for left-handers.

  17. 2:33 p.m. said:

    If Egypt, Tunisia, (and possibly) Libya can rid themselves of their dictators, why can't we?
    •What would it take?
    •How could gannettblog play a part?

    Are you crazy or just plain stupid? Seriously. I'm asking a genuine question here. I am by no means a Gannett supporter. After a number of years working there I was all to happy to find an alternative to that awful place. I worked hard but always knew it was just a matter of time before my number was called. I still have many friends who work there, who give more than ever will get back, and who deserve to work in a better environment.

    With that said, it's hard to come here and read people making desperate posts about overthrowing the company's leadership. This post comparing the plight of the people in the Middle East, who have been beaten (literally), robbed, and pillaged by brutal dictators to the struggles of the Gannetters who are still employed is, well, obtuse. You want to use this blog to overthrow the company? Come on. Let's start putting our collective effort and intelligence towards something useful.

    The bottom line is that Gannett is a private company. Unlike the protestors in the countries of the Middle East who have no choice, if you are so miserable working for there than just leave. No one is holding a gun to your head. No one is forcing you to stay. No one is telling you that you have to come to work tomorrow. If you don't like the way management is running the company than make it simple for yourself... Quit! But to come on here and throw around baseless, uneducated claims that a rebellion to overthrow is needed is just plain idiotic.

    Hey, this is America. If you want to forcibly take over a company and overthrow its management there is a legal way to do that. It's called a leveraged buy-out. But, guessing by the sheer stupidity of your post, I am willing to bet you don't have the first clue as to how one of those works and have absolutely no ability to garner the leverage needed to make one happen even if you did.


  18. Before this buggy whip analogy goes too far, I would like to point out that we are still making buggy whips in the United States. There's a factory in Massachusetts making piano rolls, and you can find floppy disk manufacturers online. Old-fashioned 78 rpm vinyl records are also making a comeback with audio afficiandos.
    This goes to the whole question of the newspaper business. It is not going to disappear, but it has to find its niche audience to continue in business. Publishing for the masses doesn't work any more.

  19. 4:10 I agree that the comparison to the Middle East is poor.

    However, just to clarify: Gannett is a public company, which I suspect you meant.

    Also, a leveraged buyout isn't the only option. In theory, another means would be for an investor or group of investors to run an opposing slate of directors to the board.

  20. I love all this talk of GCI possibly buying this or that property. Typical Gannett arrogance. It's like all those people who kept dancing on the Titanic. "But surely this marvel of the idustrial age is unsinkable".

    The fact is..... If anyone is getting bought. It's us. There go your 5,000 jobs (mostly in Mcclean)

    The Gannettanic is almost under boys and girls. I think we should be talking about who's buying us.

  21. 4:10 p.m. here. Thanks, Jim. Yes, I did mean public company. That is what I get for not reading my post before I hit send. You're right about an investor or group of investors running an opposing slate of directors to the board, but history suggests the LBO is a far more likely scenario... although I think the chance of even that happening is slim.

    Thanks for correction. I was just so mad at the previous poster's comparison to the Middle East, where people are dying, truly dying, to enjoy the same freedoms that many of us take for granted every day, that I just start typing and posted in a haste. Gannett has many problems and faults, all of which are dissected quite well on this blog, but let's not lose sight of that little thing that journalists must keep in mind with every story --- Context.

    Thanks for your work, Jim.

  22. You know what I miss most about my fellow journalists and my (former, not willingly) profession.....a sense of humor. Perhaps it doesn't translate well online, but give me a break.

  23. We will have 2nd quarter furloughs and 3rd and 4th quarter layoffs. Look at the trend in the past three years.

  24. I, for one, appreciate 4:10's post. Having a sense of humor about people who are being killed as they come out of places of warship is truly wrong. It's easy for us to "joke" about that kind of think 7:38 when we aren't living through it.

  25. Anonymous said... UNTOUCHABLE tony simmons still prime to be President and Publisher of westchester site.

  26. Anon@316 confirms one theory I've held for some time: Gannett is building up its TV business at the expense of the newspapers.

    In Knoxville, Gannett-owned WBIR will be producing local newscasts for crosstown WTNZ come spring. Both stations will upgrade to local HD (they already carry network shows in HD) and WBIR will hire more employees.

    Gannett is involved with a similar arrangement in St. Louis.

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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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