Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 26-April 1 | Your News & Comments: Part 4

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  1. The dismantling of Sports has begun at USA Today. Out: editor Monte Lorell, deputy Jim Welsh, senior editor Matt Cimento and several others. Reporters and coluumnists learn their fate next month.

    These are decent, journalistically competent people completely boxed out in the new regime.

    It's not about who isn't willing to learn digital skills. It's about playing favorites and ass kissers and cutting salaries.

    The Gannett Way under someone's "vision" of progress implemented by freshly hired carpetbaggers. I mean visionaries and proven leaders, of course.

  2. just a matter of time before it happens to the rest of USA Today. Hunke has big plans to hire a savvy digital editor from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High Tattler.

  3. When are layoffs coming to Florida Today? Anyone? I'm Ready!

  4. You know you're the big dog when everyone else compares themselves to you. Note the unintentionally hilarious line near the end: "As retirement packages go, this one is modest."

  5. 5:48: USA Today is not the only Gannett property experiencing this kind of dismantling. I am convinced with every ounce of my being that the Execs at Corporate have hired corporate attorneys to purposely bring this company into bankruptcy in a way that stockholders wouldn't be the wiser.

    Think about this. Corporate is making enough changes to make the stockholders think that they are doing something to strengthen the bottom line when, in fact, the more tenured employees know that not one decision being made makes any business sense. A very wise woman pointed out to me that the increase in dividend was a way of distracting the stockholders so they wouldn't pay too much attention to the goings on in the company.

    Of course these people at USA Today that were let go this week have the ability to take this company into the digital age, just like so many others forced out or shown the door. None of this matters. They have to get their most knowledgeable people out the door because they probably have too much business sense to figure out what is truly going on; therefore, they Need to go. If the top brass can line their pockets with the money this company has before bringing it into bankruptcy, those greedy, corrupt bastards are going to do it. Moratore, Dickey, Hollingsworth, Hunke, Crotchfelt, etc., are morally bankrupt themselves. I truly wish someone who works with these people who suspects something but may not be in their inner circle would look into this theory.

    After speaking with a corporate attorney myself, this is the only thing that makes sense to me. He is the one who told me that these "bankruptcy specialty" attorneys exist, and he pointed out to me that he knows enough about the newspaper business to know that it is a dying business model that can't possibly succeed in the new digital world for more than five years. Look at how much money Gannett is losing every quarter. Do you doubt this fact? Everybody at Corporate would know this after consulting with their experts. Why spend money improving a product that will never succeed when you can take the money for yourself?

    Why do you think it took five years before anybody was issued an iPhone? Do you really believe that the monkeys at corporate didn't realize how important it is to have state of the art equipment in order to keep up with the competition? I don't believe these people are that ignorant but I do believe their focus is not on improving the product but, rather, their focus is on bringing this company into bankruptcy. Why issue the phones now then? Because too much emphasis was being put on the fact that they're not supplying their employees with the equipment they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively and maybe a stockholder began to ask, "why not"?

    Whether or not this theory is true, I do know one thing for certain, absolutely nothing Corporate is doing makes any business sense which is why we are all left scratching our heads. We can see it, but as individuals we are powerless to do anything about it.

    I don't know about you, but I will make sure my Pension is out before we get to the point of bankruptcy.

  6. It looks like Pointroll IS NOT going forward with the Aggregate Knowledge implementation according to my manager here at Pointroll.

    We are having a Town Hall to hear from Rob Gatto about what is going on with this disaster and illegal cookie capturing between the two companies.

    It seems like Rob is in trouble and is going to spin this in a way that makes home look like a hero. I hope he is going to say that he is resigning along with Sarah Ripmaster.

  7. There will be no layoffs at the Florida Today. The pay wall implementation has been a more of a success than projected. Coffee service will be returning and company picnic scheduled for mid May. New publisher says enough is enough.

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  9. I am ex-USAT and sorry to hear about Monte and the gang being let go. Monte is so well respected in Sports journalism circles. Like many before him who have been callously cast aside by current leadership, Monte was a class act and talented to boot. I continue to marvel at the bad Karma the current USAT/GCI leadership team are putting out into the world and hope that it comes back to bite them in the ass some day.

  10. 8:35 you are exactly right! My pension dollars are safe in a quality annuity right now, and I'm on my way out to go fishing.......Life is too short to be involved with negativity like gannett..............Im so Happy to be free from Jackholes!!!!

  11. Disgusted in King of Prussia3/29/2012 10:20 AM

    Pointroll is on the hot seat with clients. I have worked at Pointroll for just over four years and I have never witnessed a more blistering phone call from our top clients like I have over the past two weeks.

    Many of us addressed this with Sarah Ripmaster and her newly minted henchwoman, Tria Pavlides, and they just ignore it all.

    So many of our clients are now questioning whether Pointroll is going to stay in business as they cannot understand why anyone would want to work with them. The client said that so many people at Pointroll lie, it is even hard for your own campaign managers and sales reps to keep up with the lies.

    I know many of the PointRollers read this blog because we are all talking about how unethical this management team is and how sickening it is to see such a great business go down the tubes.

    I, like so many, hope that Gannett throws this team out and cleans this place up. It is a circus here. We have another Town Hall with Rob Gatto to discuss what? How we suck? How we lie? How can't figure out which end is up? Or how we are dealing with a failing partnership with AK?

    I hope someone in Gannett management reads this blog and will help out here.

  12. I was cast out by USAT awhile back, probably because of the perception that I couldn't make the digital transition due to my age. How ironic that I found a new job as a manager of digital content and am doing extremely well.

    USAT never gave me a chance, despite the many years of loyal service that I provided and a wide range of skills and solid work ethics. Did all the dirty work so the big bosses could sleep well at night. Never asked for a thing in return except to be able to keep my job.

    Good luck to the sports guys who got axed. I can't say any of them reached out to help me when I was down. Unfortunately, too many USATers are only concerned about themselves, which in turn has created an environment where the leadership there can pretty much do whatever it wants, knowing that no one is going to go out on a limb for anyone else. As long as y'all remain scared and refuse to protect one another, you are all vulnerable.

    USAT is a petty place run by petty, short-sighted people who make a variety of key decisions based on personal motives more than selfless, professional reasons. It's been that way long before the current regime. But it's clear the current regime is no better than the old gang. That's not to say there haven't been some very good people at USAT over the years, but their numbers are dwindling.

    1. You nailed it. these so called leaders are respected by no one. ironically, they arr drawing a lot of hatred by the young digitals who expected to be big stars abd continually showered with praise for doing what amounts to non journalistic clerk work getting actual content produced by real journalists on the web.

      funny thing is, with simplified technology and training, even a Caveman could handle the web end.

  13. 9:17, things couldn't be farther from the truth in Brevard. Advertising is off sharply and projected digital traffic is down dramatically, courtesy of the paywall. The buyout number is about six short of projection, so those salary cuts will have to be made up through forced retirements or mandatory RIF layoffs. Glad you're so happy, but the reality is things are tanking here.

  14. 7:24 p.m.(at least by my time stamp) in the part 3 thread called other posters asses. I thought name-calling was not allowed, Jim. Shouldn't that be deleted? Civility people, please.

  15. “Obama coming to Dayton for March Madness”

    Just one of many weeks old stories still highlighted on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s main newspage. Yeah, that’s a strategy to show readers how this paper is on top of the latest news and information. Not!

  16. Jim,
    When can Dubow sell his 2,796,987 shares of GCI stock. Found this number which accounts to 1.2% of total float in the 2012 Proxy.

    Name of Beneficial Owner(1)


    Percent of Class


    AllianceBernstein L.P.(2)
    22,785,483 9.6 %
    BlackRock, Inc.(3)
    12,453,347 5.3 %
    The Vanguard Group, Inc.(4)
    12,416,263 5.2 %
    Gracia C. Martore
    816,908 *
    Paul N. Saleh
    78,091 *
    Robert J. Dickey
    333,070 *
    David T. Lougee
    128,825 *
    David A. Payne
    14,059 *
    Craig A. Dubow
    2,796,987 1.2 %
    John E. Cody
    1,868 *
    Howard D. Elias
    15,750 *
    Arthur H. Harper
    36,868 *
    John Jeffry Louis
    347,393 *
    Marjorie Magner
    24,332 *
    Scott K. McCune
    10,750 *
    Duncan M. McFarland
    58,800 *
    Susan Ness
    1,000 *
    Neal Shapiro
    14,086 *
    All directors and executive officers as a group (23 persons including those named above)
    5,789,420 2.4 %


  17. Bill Shory left as news director of WBIR in Knoxville under mysterious circumstances two weeks ago. A local "moms blog" has posted this tribute to a "Journalist, Mentor and Friend" featuring praise from many who worked with him.

    (HT to for finding the tribute)

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  19. I think Rob Gatto is desperate as is Sarah Ripmaster. They have both been covering up for each other.

    First of all, Sarakh is no where. Never seen at Pointroll's offices. She is busy making excuses for why wears losing large clients.

    Secondly, Rob has been trying to cover up his tracks with his relationship with AK and other crappy data companies.

    Finally, it looks like Rob and Sarah have been telling people that they are selling the company and will be rid of Gannett and they will all make a ton of money. It seems like this and the failed AK partnership is just another fabrication.

    Our people in operations and finance have been saying how wrong everything is here. No one trusts management.

  20. 11:39 Dubow may exercise those options and then sell those shares over the next four years; the specific dates depend on the terms of each option.

    Here's the language from Page 52 of the proxy report, under the heading "Post-Termination Payments to Mr. Dubow."

    All Company stock options and restricted stock units granted to Mr. Dubow vested in full as of the date of termination, and the stock options granted on or after July 15, 2005, remain exercisable in full for the lesser of their remaining terms or four years. The value of the stock options and restricted stock units on the date of his termination were $3,350,000 and $3,605,250, respectively.

  21. Interesting post, 8:35. How else can you explain rolling waves of life-destroying layoffs at USAT, all while hiring high-priced VP after VP, many of whom are interconnected and most of whom have mystery titles? Does this really pass the smell test? Journalists? Bueller? Anyone?

  22. 8:35 A traditional bankruptcy would wipe out the value of every stockholder's shares -- including Martore & Co., so your scenario doesn't make sense.

  23. 8:43 When is the PointRoll town hall meeting?

  24. Bosses. Everybody has one. Without bosses, we’d be like worms.
    Disgusting. Bosses make everything better. So listen to your boss. And
    don’t question them. Otherwise you’re no better than a worm. Gannett. Bosses. Necessary.

  25. In agreement with 11:05. Brevard is a sinking ship and taking on water fast.

  26. 9:17 Maybe you should get real like 11:05!
    9:17 your a joke right!
    I know your not telling it like it is too much fluff---no one will follow the fluff!
    There will be layoffs, when?
    Skeleten crew coffee with a party, ha ha
    Must be Bob Campbell, that's another joke!

  27. PointRoll Town Hall is 2:30 PM EDT

    Ops People at PointRoll need to wake up it's not just upper management that is screwing us it's our Ops Directors, RPMs and Directors too, we need to flush the whole management team and restock quickly.

  28. I keep hearing big change coming April 2nd. Has anyone else heard this.


  29. 12:38 - Jim, I am not an attorney so I am not sure of all the legal ins and outs but from what I've been told, the majority of the stockholders in a corporation can do whatever they want to. The person who explained this to me even said that often times when a scenario like this comes into play, the majority of the shareholders will start another company to start sending assets over to in order to hide things further. GPS???? He even used the example (tongue in cheek) that if you think about it, it's the people who own the majority of the stock who are the ones going on the corporate jet to the Superbowl games, not the typical stockholders. It all makes sense to me, I just am not business savvy enough to figure it all out. I am hoping you will do some homework to help see if it makes sense or not.

  30. Is there an investigative reporter still in the house?

  31. Who are the majority stockholders?

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  33. Brevard isn't fairing too well as one poster has it. A lot of customers are very unsatisfied with the product and paywall, go figure.

  34. However, Brevard hit its numbers in periods 1, 2 and 3. So things are not as bad as someone wants to make it seem. Not great, but not that bad either.

  35. What is the Gannett policy for women and sports -- WAGs, hotties, cheerleaders? That policy has been carried out to its logical end. One of those cheerleaders has been arrested for having sex with a high school student while she was a teacher.

    1. She's probably been in an Enqy photo gallery or two with her cleavage up front.

  36. Jim, A note went out today at USA Today confirming Monte and Jim are out as top editors in Sports. Replacements named from Buesse and Morgans team.

  37. Does anyone who has accepted the buyout offer know when and how Gannett is going to let them know whether it is being accepted?

  38. With rumblings of Q3 furloughs, I have this question to ask. Why does corporate feel the need to keep it so secret? Most of us have learned to live with Q1 furloughs and have learned to expect them each year -and prepare for them financially. Q3 furloughs have not been the norm, so some advanced warning would be awesome so we can be financially prepared (and prepare for the additional time off, it is already hard for many of us to find the time away from work to take our earned vacation days.)

  39. USAT folks: You saw what they did to Sports. Rolled out truly good people like Jim Welsh. Brought in cronies from Yahoo.

    You're next, you know.

    It's time to call in the Guild. As awful as they can be, nothing is worse than current management. Stand up for decent treatment on the job. Don't just watch your fellow journalists get tossed out like last week's garbage.

  40. 6:44 - already has posted - in the main position on the site - photo galleries of the cheerleader who was charged, as well as a big gallery of other Bengals cheerleaders. Anything for those clicks!

  41. 6:59, I was told that I would receive direct notification from corporate, probably before my site would. I was told it would probably be Friday by email, but possibly on Monday.

  42. A note went out at the Crystal Palace today saying that to save money, office cleaning/trash collection is being cut back to 3 days a week.

    Just what a 24/7 news operation needs.

  43. We do our own garbage collection. But we're not the Palace of Overhead, either.

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  45. Do our own garbage also... not crystal palace. Also have not had new paint in ages, or carpet (not sure it even gets vacuumed), or anything in my department. We can't even order post-its right now.

  46. Funny that someone said Brevard made it's numbers for periods 1,2 and 3 and period 3 numbers not yet been tallied or finished for that matter..Must have a crystal ball.

  47. Running Gannett headlong into bankruptcy is the LAST thing upper management wants to do. Gannett is A CASH COW. Look at the financials. They just approved a spectacular increase in the dividend. This is how shareholders milk a company (exhibit 1, Bill Gates) or, as the financial people say, money is returned to shareholders. Why would they want to screw that up?

    You can argue about falling sales. Yep, absolutely true. And yet the company keeps making money . . . by cutting expenses. By this time next year, Gannett will be several hundred employees lighter. Let's say 500. If each of those 500 cost the company $50,000 a year in wages and benefits, that's $25 MILLION straight to the bottom line. Every year.

    To drive another stake into the bankruptcy-conspiracy theory . . . NO ONE IS PAYING for papers anymore. How much did Philly sell for a few years ago? How long did THAT take to go bankrupt? And what's it worth now? Maybe 10% of the price paid. The value of anything isn't intrinsic value - it's what someone else will pay. Just look at your local housing market as an example.

  48. Cut trash collection and watch the place get infested with rats and roaches. The real deal. We already have to fend off too many human copycats.

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  50. Hunke has gotten an earful from staffers about the callous firings of good managers n the Tom Beusse debacle. He may have to do much more than his normal head in the sand approach. The entire site is upset, angry and frustrated that any employee now has a target on their back, no matter how good or valuable they may be to the people who ACTUALLY KNOW their work first hand.

    This is now a workplace totally ruled by fear, intimidation and buck passing. The fiefdoms that existed Pre Jack Kelley have now been replaced by ones run by Larry, Moe and Curley. Now joined by David Hunke, Tom Beusse, Heather Frank and a cast of holdovers of do nothings in editorial, digital and advertising.

    Instead of big picture thinking, we get friends hiring and promoting cronies, kiddie corps reporter hires and innovative management solutions like cutting back custodial services.

    Can't wait for the next morale inspiring, completely confidential employee survey for my much valued opinions.

  51. 3/29/2012 10:40 PM makes some good points. There's more money to be made without the bankruptcy. There are profits to be made by laying off and cutting expenses while still digitally polishing the branding for a potential buyer, for years to come. Genius.

  52. 9:19PM, Period 3 closed last Sunday. So the numbers have already been sent to the Crystal Palace by now.

    As for rumors of 3rd quarter furloughs, a thought... Just what every $400+ million NIBT company has to do! Yeah, we're really hurting. Hell, we only made 400+ million, we're on the verge of bankruptcy!

  53. This bankruptcy deal is not a quick thing, it is done over many, many, many years until the end is inevitable. Like I said, the corporate attorney I talked to has seen it done. He painted the picture for me and it played like a fiddle when compared to how Gannett is operating. It is worth an investigation, but I am not the person to carry that through. If nobody else is either, we'll just watch and wait and see.

  54. And bringing Gannett into bankruptcy in this matter is not the last thing management would want to do because they are the ones who would benefit from it the most as they take the cash and kill the business without anyone being the wiser.


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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