An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
Big shake-up today at USA Weekend as Heather Frank ousts several long-time employees, according to two of my readers. Frank, you'll recall, was named the Sunday newspaper supplement's editor in chief in late January after being relieved of her duties as head of the paper's struggling verticals.
Lots of job openings posted at USA Today.
Last week, Al Neuharth noted that his Plain Talk column has now appeared on USAT's op-ed page for 1,225 consecutive Fridays.
Frank dumped two longtime senior editors this morning, telling both their jobs had been eliminated. how ironic that the Frank team completly fucked up the verticals. did any of them lose their jobs? Of course not. what do they do all day? Nothing. even Matthew Greenberg is stil working. he bamboozeled Mitch Gelman into a digital non job. The guy has done nothing but take up space since he's been here.
So neither of those canned editors -- both of whom were loyal, hardworking and smart professionals -- could possibly have qualified for this position? Sounds like age discrimination or just an overall bias against the migrated USAW talent:http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?IPath=ILKV0S&ff=21&APath=188.8.131.52.0&job_did=JHT7NC70GSJ6ZQ7ZPT4
I know you don't give out names, but any hints as to who is gone, or what positions they held?
They were two senior editors at USAW. They were the only two senior editors there. They were one of the few USAW staffers who "survived" the purge of late 2009 to transition over to USAT/Life. Now, they're out. Understand the way it's being done this time is downright horribly inhuman even by Gannett's standards. Any person reading this blog still with the company who thinks it will never happen again better think again: These were true-blue, loyal, hardworking people, not malcontents or otherwise 'dead weight,' which I see referred to all the time here as a means of 'It won't happen to me' rationalization. Uh huh. Guess again. It very well can happen to you no matter who you are and how hard you work.
This is surreal. Only in gannetts world are you rewarded for failure.
Two years ago, Corporate cut back on publishing details about USA Today's advertising revenue trends in its quarterly financial news releases.But in reviewing Gannett's annual 10-K reports to U.S. securities regulators, I ran across the very data I'd been missing. And it's pretty shocking, because it shows a continued drop-off through 2011 -- a full year after Hunke's reorganization:2009: At USA TODAY, ad revenues were down 29% for the year, reflecting the continued slowdown in the travel and lodging industries. Paid ad pages were down 26% for the year and totaled 2,326 in 2009 compared to 3,158 in 2008.2010: At USA TODAY, print ad revenues were down 13% for the year, reflecting weakness in travel, telecommunications and pharmaceutical, partially offset by an increase in the automotive and retail categories. Paid ad pages were down 1% for the year and totaled 2,299 in 2010 compared to 2,326 in 2009.That 13% decline would mean print ad revenues had fallen to about $180 million for 2010.2011: At USA TODAY, print ad revenues were down 14% for the year, reflecting weakness in automotive, travel and entertainment, partially offset by an increase in the telecommunications and credit card categories. Applying that 14% to the previous year's $180 million, and you'd get total print ad revenue of about $155 million.That would mean print ad revenue in 2011 was less than half the $330 million or so in 2007.How much has digital ad revenue made up for those print losses? Not nearly enough. In 2011, digital revenues at USA TODAY and its associated brands were up by a low double digit percentage for the year, according to the 10-K.I suspect digital's ad revenue base is still fairly low relative to print.
You don't have to be a malcontent or dead weight for USAT to send you packing. Some of the most competent and loyal people have left here under difficult circumstances in recent years, and all the remaining people care about is whether they're next. Few survivors ever reach out to those who fell in the 07, 08 or 09 forced buyouts or layoffs. Yes, forced, because I don't believe most people would have left on their own if this was still a competent, fair company. They jumped because there was an implied gun at their heads. Lovely way to do business USAT. And don't even get me started on how the layoffs went down.Treat employees like crap, blame it on the recession, and then don't even offer a lending hand to your former employees and coworkers. What a heartless place, from top to bottom. What a poor business model. USAT pretty much rejects the values of every successful company, big and small, and will eventually pay a price for how it has abandoned people when the chips were down. A company that does this to people will develop a reputation and eventually, when the economy improves, find it very hard to retain or attract talent folks. When that happens, it will be the beginning of the end for USAT. You can't be a national player with an undersized, amateurish workforce.As for all those job openings being listed at USAT, does anyone really think they are all going to be filled? This is just another game being played by the morons at the top. In fact, doesn't "layoff" by definition mean ex-employees are recalled, or at least given a chance to reapply once the business climate improves? How many ex-USAT'ers do you think are interviewing for these jobs or have been contacted by the hiring agents at USAT. I would guess none. The whole thing is a lie.
Hunke wont be happy until everyone over 50 is gone. only then will his brilliance be appreciated. By those who dont know any better.
When people such as Hunke, Heather Frank, Maryam Banikarim and Mitch Gelman are in power positions, the operation is doomed to fail.
The fact that both of these loyal, hardworking veterans were let go in the manner they were just a week after posting a vacancy for a job both are well qualified to perform tells you all you need to know about this company. Why anyone would apply for any open position here is mind-boggling.I love, btw, how the younger crowd justifies this sort of shabby treatment with a 'they don't understand tech/digital' line of garbage. As if understanding FB, streaming, Twitter, etc. was such a complex riddle. (Note to younger crowd: It isn't. Find another reason to rationalize getting rid of longtime, proven performers. Like salary and flat-out age discrimination.)Wonder how that same crowd will justify their own forced departure five or ten years from now. Or sooner, given how this company operates. Oh, I forgot: They'll never get old, right?
From what Ive seen, youngsters cannot write or report on deadline and fresh faced online editors lack news judgement and perspective. they are cheap and stare with breathless admiration management, though.
Gannett Digital is now filling editorial jobs at USAToday.com, according to one of my readers. Check out this one.Who, exactly, is in charge of editorial at the paper? Susan Weiss? Tom Beusse? Augusta Duffey?
Kiddies, knowledge of digital has absolutely nothing to do with the purges. It's only about getting rid of older employees who, by virtue of their longtime loyalty to the company, are making more than new hires.You youngsters will learn this lesson the hard way when it's your turn to be purged to make way for cheaper labor......
You oldsters are way too entrenched and bitter. Just leave before you are put out to pasture.
Jim, many of us wonder who is in control of editorial, too. we arent sure. but dammit, we have lots of faux swagger.
If high salaries are cutting criteria, why not cut Heather's non performing team, underworked editors and reporters and about a dozen VPs?
Augusta lasted less than 4 months at Saatchi. Wonder if she'll job knob @ SXSW?
Sure thing, 5:51. Oh, btw: In this kind of economy working for this kind of company, you'll age far, far faster than we did. It will go from over 50 to over 40 to over 30 very soon. So check in with us at age, oh, 35 when you've been discarded like a piece of crud after years of loyal service and tell us how much you appreciated deserved the boot because you were deemed as "too old, entrenched and bitter."
Jim, you're just about spot-on for 2010 ad revenue at USAT. I don't know the total for last year, but it was well under 2010's missed goal of $200 million.Keep cranking, Jones. You're doing such a great job.
7:41 You may have missed this line in my comment:Applying last year's 14% decline in print ad revenue to 2010's $180 million, and you'd get total print ad revenue of about $155 million for 2011.That, of course, is only print. Meanwhile, last year, digital was up in the low double percentages -- let's say 15%. What did that translate to in dollars?I'm confident I've got hard data for print revenue going back several years. But I don't have that data for digital, so I can't estimate any net increase in digital for last year.Could the paper have sold $25 million in digital ads last year -- enough, with print, to make the paper even on overall ad revenue with 2010? I don't know.
Dismissing these two hard-working, professional editors was an inexcusable and horrible thing to do, but it has nothing to do with age discrimination. Heather is no spring chicken herself. When she lost her job as VP of the verticals, and took over USA WEEKEND, she brought all of her newly hired friends with her to USA WEEKEND, creating a double layer of management -- the journalists who write, edit and assign stories, and her crew. She rationalized firing these two loyal, smart, efficient employees by calling it a "job elimination," when she's clearly just clearing house to create jobs for herself and her friends. It's the worst sort of cronyism, and it's unbelievable that it's allowed to go on at a national publication that once had such stature. Giving plum jobs to your friends, and taking them away from devoted and talented professionals, is a terrible thing, but especially awful when it drives a once respectable brand into the crowd. From a purely financial standpoint, you would think someone above her would have more sense, even if they clearly have no heart.
Heather Frank and Maryam Banikarim are cut from the same cloth. It's all so disappointing to watch.
Thanks, 8:17, for adding clarity. Truly a disgusting way to treat people and a lousy way to run a company.
9:05: Sadly, it's the Gannett way. This goes on at the papers as well. This management team is juvenile, mean spirited, and they put their friends over the company's interests. It's truly disheartening and disgusting. I see it all of the time.
I can't believe that Hunke has received $2 million-plus per year to preside over this debacle.If he was growing revenue, or market share, or long-term profitability, or any other metric of note, I could understand it. Not like it, but understand it, because the endless quest for pennies is Gannett's M.O. But since mid-2009, when he ascended the throne, Hunke has done nothing but destroy the USAT brand and its infrastructure.How does one get his ticket punched in a way that allows such ineptitude to continue?
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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