Archive for November, 2006

More signs CareerBuilder may be target

November 29, 2006

From a story in today’s Chicago Tribune about Tribune Co.’s board extending the deadline for considering bids:

“Gannett may see special interest in Tribune because of their joint ownership of CareerBuilder. If Gannett were to take over Tribune, its CareerBuilder stake would give Gannett 85 percent ownership of the asset, which would allow it to carry CareerBuilder on its income statement instead of treating it as an unconsolidated minority position. As CareerBuilder grows, Gannett’s ownership would be increasingly valuable.

“But a Gannett bid would also amount to betting big on newspapers, and bidders all along have said that the falloff in newspaper industry performance has made it difficult to predict what papers like the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune are really worth.”

Just in time for the holidays

November 17, 2006

With Clear Channel’s announcement today that it’s putting all its 43 TV stations on the market, and Tribune shopping its 23 stations, Gannett CEO Craig Dubow sure has a lot to choose from now.

Indirect confirmation on Phoenix

November 16, 2006

Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly, says the 31 jobs cut represent about 1% of employment at the newspaper.

Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell tells the paper that the 1% story “is not true, though she would not deny that more heads might end up on the chopping block. Nor would she deny that other Gannett papers might be cutting staff,” the story says.

“‘As you know, Gannett runs a very tight ship,”’ Connell says.

Report: Layoffs in Phoenix

November 14, 2006

The VisualEditors website says 31 jobs were cut. Can anyone confirm?

Has tire-kicking turned to bidding?

November 14, 2006

The Los Angeles Times, floating the idea that members of the Chandler family might seek to buy back the newspaper, also says GCI has now submitted a bid.

The relevant passages from the Times story:

“Representatives of Gannett, which owns USA Today, about 90 other daily newspapers and 23 TV stations, met with Tribune management last week and examined some of the company’s private financial data, according to a Tribune executive familiar with Gannett’s actions, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak for the company.

“Gannett is a partner with Tribune and McClatchy Co. in, the leading Internet job-search site. A Tribune purchase would give Gannett a controlling stake in the business, which some analysts say is worth more than $1 billion.

“The biggest obstacle to Gannett’s buying all of Tribune might be federal regulations barring the concentration of media ownership.

“Federal Communications Commission rules limit companies from owning TV stations that cover more than 39 percent of the country. Currently, Tribune stations cover about 28 percent of the country, and Gannett, which focuses on smaller markets, covers 18 percent. Combined, the stations would reach about 44 percent of the country, but a combined company could probably sell off enough stations to conform to the rules, one analyst said.

“A potentially tougher problem is cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations in the same market. Gannett would inherit Tribune’s cross-ownership situations in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami and Hartford, Conn., and could run into further problems in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, where Gannett newspapers would be added to Tribune TV outlets.

“Tribune has been hoping for a change in the regulations, but faces a license expiration Dec. 1 for KTLA and expiration for New York’s WPIX next spring.

“Gannett was unlikely to buy all of Tribune because of the regulatory headaches, but might covet the company’s growing and highly profitable Florida newspapers and some of its TV stations, said one rival newspaper executive, who asked not to be identified for fear of souring his relationship with Tribune executives.”

Blogs light up on Information Centers

November 13, 2006

There’s a very interesting discussion about the centers and, especially, about “crowdsourcing” at — where else? — Lots of positive feedback.

Crowdsourcing’s site is run by Jeff Howe, who coined the term and who wrote about GCI’s new seven-desk structure in this Wired magazine story.

Tribune’s TV stations could be appealing

November 13, 2006

So might its stake in CareerBuilder. But as word surfaces that Gannett is talking to Tribune, it seems less likely that GCI would bid on the company’s 11 newspapers, other than a few small ones in Connecticut. Its 25 TV stations might be another story.

The Wall Street Journal has the story. The Los Angeles Times carries the Chicago Tribune‘s story.

The Tribune, quoting two sources it did not identify, said GCI is interested in the chain’s newspapers; the story, oddly, doesn’t say anything about TV stations. “The sources noted that the Tribune sell-off was in its early stages and that Gannett had participated in newspaper auctions before without pulling the trigger. Most recently, Gannett expressed formal interest in Knight Ridder Inc. before eventually backing away,” the story says.

Yes: Backing away.

New publisher in Jackson, Miss.

November 10, 2006

John Newhouse leaves after just 14 months on the job; he’s being replaced by Shreveport’s Larry Whitaker. What’s going on?

This doesn’t read like a long-planned move; GCI usually announces departures and replacement simultaneously, after all. That clearly wasn’t the case, according to the Clarion-Ledger‘s own story disclosing Newhouse’s resignation.

Overholser’s ‘manifesto for change’

November 9, 2006

Long-time GCI employees will recall Geneva Overholser from her days as editor of the Des Moines Register. Given her strong GCI views, they may be skeptical about her thoughts on corporate journalism. Still, On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change, is worth reading.

In the section on Corporate Realities, and the rise of publicly traded newspaper publishers, I naturally noted the following:

“The change was led by Gannett’s Al Neuharth through an emphasis on earnings management — smoothing out the cycles of the industry by expanding in good times, cutting in bad — and a demand for quarter-by-quarter profit ‘improvements.’ The system trained Wall Street to expect quarterly gains and extraordinarily high returns. It worked for years, industry-wide, even as circulation declined. Compensation for executives was tied to economic performance. Cuts in spending kept budgets up to corporate headquarters’ expectations. Training all but disappeared, becoming journalists’ chief complaint inan American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) finding in 2002. Foreign bureaus were closed. Celebrity news replaced thefar more expensive investigative reporting. The industry becameknown for some of the highest margins around – and some of thelowest expenditures on research and development. Being a cashcow, one wag has noted, IS a business strategy.”

Good notices on plan’s details

November 7, 2006

The Washington Post says: “While other newspapers, including The Washington Post, have aggressively expanded their online presence or merged it with their print newsrooms, Gannett’s move is the industry’s first wide-scale overhaul, in name and purpose.

“‘It’s pretty big,’ said Michael Maness, Gannett’s vice president of strategic planning. ‘It’s a fairly fundamental restructuring of how we go about news and information on a daily basis.'”

At the Poynter Institute, Steve Klein writes: “Gannett is finally speeding ahead after a cautious-at-best and slow-at-worst approach to a cross-platform media strategy — despite the success of (now part of a converged news operation with the five-day-a-week newspaper).”