An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
For Part 4 of this comment thread, please go here.
Keep repeating this during the call today. It'll make the voices in your head quieter....VisionConsumers will choose Gannett media for their news and information needs, anytime, anywhere, in any form.MissionTo successfully transform Gannett to the new environment.We will provide must-have news and information on demand across all media, ever mindful of our journalistic responsibilities.
If I were this management team, I'd cancel today's conference call immediately. They are about to look more foolish and inept than ever before. If that's even possible.
"Furloughs - it's all within reach"
@ 7:25 PM: I don't recall getting $250 for my DIG input. But I do remember getting a coffee mug.
If creating top-notch journalism is still part of the company mission, why not let the company's top journalist talk about it publicly?What are Kate Marymont's goals for news? What is she and her department doing to help Gannett information centers reach those goals? A starring role for Kate just might give some much-needed credibility to the Dubow regime. I mean, what the hell do Kate, Ann Clark, et al do all day? Help develop logos the marketers?
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10:47 here from the previous thread, Jim.I'm relieved to hear you will post some of those questions you have for Hillkirk, Weiss, and Rudd Davis. I know we'll all be curious to add our own.Here's one: What are some specific recent examples of staff ideas or proposals that you listened to and implemented?(This would address the fact that most people at USA Today feel the "leadership" has completely tuned us out.)Follow-up: When was the last time you had a healthy back and forth with your staff as a whole, and actually listened to their concerns about this transformation?
10:47 from the previous thread here.Jim, I'm glad to hear you say you'll consider actually posting those questions you say you would like to ask John Hillkirk, Susan Weiss, and Rudd Davis. We all have some we'd like to ask too.Here are two to get the ball rolling. * What was the last suggestion brought up by a staffer that you listened to and tried to implement? * Why did you choose NOT to consult with the staff at large and have no major meetings or discussions with us about the transformation BEFORE you imposed it? * What are you doing now to rectify that and bring your editorial team back into the discussion about how USA Today should evolve?
That is strange. I thought my first post got eaten by some computer bug, so I retyped it. sorry for the repetition.
It's amazing how much Gannett can transform itself and position itself to take advantage of the evolving media landscape without changing at all.This is a company stuck in neutral and slipping into reverse! When is the Board of Directors going to recognize its duty to the shareholders and put a new management team in place?
You're missing the point, 11:44. The Board is happy. The stock is up like, what, 800 percent over the 24 months? You live in newspaper world while they live in profit land. Corporate is doing a good job.
11:08 The question I would ask USAT editors John Hillkirk and Susan Weiss, plus vice president of business development Rudd Davis is this:It's been six months since USAT eliminated more than 100 jobs, then reorganized the staff. Please list examples where editorial content has changed for the better -- either in substance or in speed of delivery.
12:07 -- GCI used to be a $90 stock and it is now hovering around $16. You're right that the board seems to be happy with that, and it's likely our biggest problem. Very few serious investors are in the media these days (yes, there are exceptions), and there's a reason for that. Analysts can see that nobody -- and Gannett has been particularly slow on the uptake -- knows how to take the old corporate media model and transition it into the new age. Companies like Facebook and Google are succeeding, but they are an entirely different sort of media, run by people whose minds work in a different manner than those serving on our board and executive management team.
You know, I'm getting tired of employees constantly saying things like, 'why doesn't the boss talk to us?' 'woe is me. I don't know what is expected of us,' etc.It's called doing your jobs, OK?Face-time is great, if you are that needy. But there is also the expectation that you DO know what's expected of you, and you should enjoy the fact that bosses are not all over you but are instead trusting you to be a professional and get the job done.Freedom comes in many forms. I don't care if the "boss doesn't talk to us!" Just as long as he leaves us alone to do our work.
What you say is OK, 12:52 p.m., but I think the issue is that management (publishers, exec editors) don't tell the plebes a damn thing about what's going on with their jobs.Westchester's management has often given the impression (a correct one, I think) that it doesn't know squat about anything and waits for corporate to lead the way.At least that's the way it's been. And I'm not hopeful that things will change with our new VP news and our interim publisher.
Westchester's VP/News is a true bright spot in an otherwise dismal situation. Give her a chance. Strong news judgment and a strong will to do the right thing. Always.
12:07 PM: Jim has already posted a statistically bulletproof presentation that demonstrates that Dubow and Co. have failed and failed miserably with respect to GCI's comparative stock performance with other newspaper companies. So cut with the "hey, stock is up now ... he must be doing great!" BS. You know as well as anyone here that Dubow's tenure will be recalled within the context of GCI history as one of brutal, unchecked, personal greed that drove the company into a sinkhole. This man remains as one with perhaps the most visionless, mediocre minds over to lead a major company -- all one has to do is read this week's memo to make that assessment -- and the "underperform" quality of the stock as compared to others in the same industry reflects that.
2:00 p.m. here: Sorry for obvious typos and sloppy language folks. Needed to dash this one off quickly before moving on to my gainfully employed, post-GCI work. You know what I was trying to say in what I wrote.
The Detroit Free Press ran a house ad on Page 2 asking readers who had about an hour of time to call them to tell them how to improve ... wow.
12:52 -- At my site, and I gather many others, the boss will leave employees alone ... until he explodes about something that he doesn't like. Often, the problem he complains about is something that his organizational system has created, but he's so out of touch that he didn't even realize it was a problem until he started getting complaint calls from people outside the building. Then, rather than fixing the broken structure that he created, he stands up and rants and tells his employees they need to get better ... despite the fact that he has drastically cut their ranks, furloughed them and piled on ridiculously large workloads. I think people want their bosses to communicate an expectation in advance. Not create hurdles for employees to jump over and then rage when the occasional hurdle falls down. If this doesn't happen where you're at, you're lucky. But I gather, from reading this blog, that this management style is common.
12:07 here. I agree that if you look at the stock performance from its peak four years ago, things are bad. But, in our "what have you done for me lately" world of business, an 800 percent increase in two years is the sign of progress. My initial comment was directed to 11:44 who asked why the board doesn't replace leadership. If the board were to do that wouldn't it have done that two years ago after the stock went from $90 to $2 a share, rather than today when the last two years it has improved 800 percent? Plus, to say that the stock isn't performing well is obtuse. Many large investment firms, as Jim as done a good job reporting in recent weeks, are increasing their holds in the company. If you're a corporate board, or a CEO, that is a very direct indication from the investment community that you're making progress in the right direction. Remember, this company was never about producing good newspapers, investigative journalism or participating in the democracy. It has always been about making money. It does that well. People need to stop confusing the two.
12:07 again. P.S. To 2:00, if "underperforming" in your eyes equates to an 800 percent increase in value of 24 months, I'll take that "underperforming" investment all day long. So would anyone else with half a brain and one iota of common sense... both of which I am beginning to think you don't have.
Jim has already documented the case that GCI stock has underperformed with respect to other newspaper companies. This 800 percent gain being touted? Stems from the dramatic dive and then a correction, not from excellence in business performance. Which is why even with the gain, GCI has vastly underperformed within its industry throughout Dubow's tenure, which I believe has lasted longer than two years. (In fact, it has seemed like an eternity at this point that inexplicably is allowed by the board to continue.)
Westchester VP/news a bright spot? Strong news judgment? Has CR been replaced? Name one story, one, of any significance she's assigned, edited or even read prior to publication in the past five years. We'll be waiting.
For something totally different... when are we supposed to get the details on our forced doctor visits this year? It's March 4, the requirement was announced during open enrollment last fall.Remember, if you don't 'voluntarily' visit a doctor or do a 'confidential' health assessment, you're volunteering to get substantially higher rates this fall - if you're still employed by the company.Roxanne? I know you ditched the majority of the human resources staff but could someone just kick out a email one of these days so we know what we have to do?
2 pm and 3:59 are referencing this Feb. 26 post, where I noted that, by Corporate's own yardstick, Gannett's stock has underperformed the overall newspaper industry for three consecutive years now.
Jim, whatever happened to the pending sale of USA Today you thought you had scooped?
"Gannett, thy turd is polished".It will be amusing to see what happens when the stockholders snicker at this one on Monday morning. Maybe the corporate trolls on here bragging about "800% in 24 months" will come back to reality and admit that "minus 83% since 2006" is more of a realistic way to see it.
Jim, or someone, Could we see a synopsis of today's conference call?
TO 5:38...sure Gannett dropped, and the rest of the world just surged ahead during that same time period right? But why bother to keep it in perspective. Especially if you make your living as a reporter who believes in fair and balanced news. I rarely see a whole lot of balance here, or critical thinking. Mr/Ms 12:07, I'd love to hear more from you!
You can go into the Gannett benefits website and take the health assessment now or you can go to your doctor and have a physical. It has to be done before September.
Could have paid 100 bucks at worth1000 and got 1000s of logos better then this one.
From a new Wall Street Journal story about Google's growing appetite to buy other companies:The core team of the online advertising service DoubleClick -- Google's biggest-ever deal, at $3.2 billion -- has remained with the company since the deal closed in 2008.Thanks in large part to the deal, Google will grab 12.6% of the U.S. display-ad market by the end of the year, or $1.3 billion, up from 9.6% last year, research firm eMarketer predicts.The WSJ story notes that, despite Google's failed attempt at buying Groupon last year, it's mainly interested in acquiring small start-ups.
Yes Google is not only taking away our business, but we are giving them the raw material in content that keeps people going to Google to search topics. Wake up. Google is not our friend, it is our competitor. I have long contended that Google is the executioner for the newspaper business and its fabulous wealth shows how much carnage has already been accomplished.
Doubleclick is hardly a small startup. The company has been around since the beginning of computers and a very strange decision made early in computer development to put cookies into the machine's software.
Due respect, 12:52, but what kind of ignorant, suck-up thinking is that? Journalism is a creative enterprise, it's about problem-solving, and imaginative presentation. It's about getting ahead of the competition and finding a way to connect and inform the readers in new and compelling ways. It's not a job performed by automotons, much as our beloved leaders would like to replace us with such. If an editor at a national newspaper can't communicate with their staff, if they can't field innovation from their teams, if they literally can't stand in front of them and speak honestly about the state of the company, then what good are they? Their job is to manage, and they are NOT doing that. They're hiding at Healthworks or behind their office doors, collecting bonuses while the workforce shrinks and the workloads double. Why do you think talented people like Kathy Kiely dropped this place like a hot potato? You can only bang your head against the wall for so long before you can't take it anymore. At USA Today the question "around the watercooler" isn't "what are you working on?" It's "where are you looking?" We're not afraid of change, but this is bad change. This is blind change for the sake of change. It is buzzword Change. If there were real dialogue here, if creative thinking were valued, on both the editorial and advertising sides, we wouldn't be in this mess. And make no mistake, it IS a mess. Do you think a brand like USA Today could go out of business? Ask The Saturday Evening Post. I love this newspaper, and that is why it is so painful to see these people in charge of it. It is HEARTBREAKING. We all know it but we can't speak up because constructive criticism or different thinking is a firable offense. Am I wrong? Who feels comfortable standing up at Hunke's next meeting and respectfully informing him the truth that this transformation has been a disaster for the newsroom.
I hear that an offer has been made for Reno's top job. No answer yet.
Following is an edited version of a comment posted at 9:02 p.m.:Many many months ago our then new boss at USAT Ruddman Davis was bragging that he was going to ignore Dave Hunke and was doing an interview with you for your blog. Whatever happened to that interview? For that matter, whatever happened to Ruddman Davis. Did you piss him off too much when you posted his interesting picture [XXXXX]?Jim says: Your comment about Davis "bragging" is illuminating. However, I cannot answer your question about what you've described as an interview.
7:22 -- Does this Yahoo Finance chart help? It compares GCI with the S&P 500 for the past five years: http://tinyurl.com/4qkdg23
So do you have more than one question for the USAT editors, Jim?
11:19 Nope; that one question I posed in this thread at 12:39 is central to the whole restructuring.
That's it? Wow, way to go Mike Wallace.Jim is like the male equivalent of Lady One Question.http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2605585/banzai_lady_one_question_simon_cowell/
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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