Archive for November, 2007

Gannett in new online video distribution deal

November 27, 2007

GCI said today it had picked a Seattle company, thePlatform, as its new video publishing service. If I’ve got this right, thePlatform (what an awkward name!) will replace the Feed Room as the service that gathers, stores, distributes and publishes videos for all the company’s websites.

Online video is looking increasingly like a source of big, fast ad revenue growth for the company; it could run millions of tiny paid advertisements in front of videos if it can produce more and get them on more websites. In a statement by thePlatform, Gannett Digital President Jack Williams said: “We needed a centralized, scaleable, and easy-to-use video management system as we expand our offerings and tie our sites together into a cohesive network.”

But I was pretty confused when I went to five of the sites thePlatform listed as existing customers — CNBC, Court TV, E!, Helio and the BBC. The video players on all five didn’t include embeddable code. No code, no lucrative viral spread of videos across blogs and other websites.

Now, maybe those three companies all chose to keep the code private on purpose, though I don’t know why they would. Can any of the IT readers or webmasters out there explain more? Please e-mail me. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Tech 101: The exciting embed code!
Actually, knowing what it looks like and how to use it isn’t such a bad thing for a 21st century journalist. Check out the following screen shot of the flip side of a YouTube video player. The code is right there, below the word embed. You copy that code to the clipboard, then paste it onto your blog. Wham! Now your readers can watch one of, say, the Des Moines Register‘s politics videos — including any paid ads — without even being on the Register‘s site. And the Register gets ad revenue whenever, and wherever, those videos play.

N.J. governor raps Asbury Park over image

November 27, 2007

Gov. Jon Corzine’s office is unhappy with the Asbury Park Press over a Sunday front page photo illustration (above) showing Corzine, in a hat and tweed coat, opening one side of his coat to reveal cars pinned to the inner lining, like a peddler offering trinkets, Editor & Publisher says today. It accompanied a story about the Democratic governor’s controversial plan to borrow money against the state’s toll roads, E&P says. Corzine’s office said it made the governor look “sinister.”

“We weren’t attempting to show the governor in any kind of sinister light,” Executive Editor Skip Hidlay told E&P. “We were looking for a way to illustrate a very complex problem that is difficult to show visually.” (See the Press‘ Sunday front page in PDF here, at the Newseum’s site.)

In print, the Press labeled the image a photo illustration. But that credit appeared at the bottom of the page, well away from the illustration. Seems to me the two should have been closer together to avoid any confusion. (Online today, the credit appears right under the image.) Gannett photo editors and page designers: What do you think? E-mail me, please; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Hat tip, Romenesko; image: Newseum]

Cutlines Only: The News-Press

November 27, 2007

Farm workers cross an irrigation ditch as they load just-picked cucumbers at Jamerson Farms in Lehigh Acres. The record drought is affecting farmers like Jamerson Farms, the Fort Myers News-Press says today. Photo by Andrew West, News-Press.

Got a Gannett website photo or graphic to showcase in my new Cutlines Only feature? E-mail suggested links here; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Hot Off the Press: Reno Gazette-Journal

November 27, 2007

This is today’s Gazette-Journal. In its heyday, when Sue Clark-Johnson was publisher and Ward Bushee was editor, the Reno paper could do no wrong. Now, it’s one of a growing number of Gannett papers shrinking its workforce. Through buyouts, the Gazette-Journal eliminated 10 jobs, including five in the newsroom, earlier this month. The paper has up to 450 employees; the figure in this story about the buyouts is much higher than on the paper’s official company page.

Online, the paper’s website rivals the Asbury Park Press‘ for being a big, jumbled, confusing mess. Is Reno in line for a website re-design like Asbury is getting? Come on, folks: Is it any wonder Gannett’s online revenue growth is slowing at its U.S. newspapers when the company produces sites like these?

Reno employees: E-mail tips, snarky letters, suggested links, etc.; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

The Gazette-Journal at a glance:

  • President and Publisher: Ted Power
  • Executive Editor: Beryl Love
  • Founded: 1870
  • Joined Gannett: 1977
  • Employees: 400

[Image: Newseum]

P-s-s-s-t: Pass the word about Gannett Blog!

November 27, 2007

If you like what you read on this blog, please consider e-mailing the address (gannettblog.blogspot.com) to some of your nearly 50,000 Gannett colleagues; I’m always looking for more readers! Can’t remember the address? Just Google: Gannett Blog.

Reader: What about USA Today’s other cuts?

November 26, 2007

Commenting on my post about Gannett buyouts and other job losses, a reader says: “I keep seeing the USA Today newsroom cuts mentioned, but nothing about the business-side cuts at the paper. Those people lost jobs too, and their ‘parting gifts’ were not as nice as the newsroom’s…”

Can anyone supply details? E-mail me, please!; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Commentz Korner: Florida Today’s racist ranter

November 26, 2007

From a story about the shooting early today of NFL player Sean Taylor. This comment by a Florida Today reader was posted at 12:08 p.m. local time. So, as I write this, it’s now been sitting on the newspaper’s website for eight hours:

“Probably one of the ‘Bad Boy Bengals’ shot him. Black people and guns go together like bee’s on honey.”

Hello? Hello? Any editors there? Please explain how unmoderated comments like this contribute to a better Information Center. (And, no, I don’t buy your disclaimer: “The interactive nature of the Internet makes it impracticable for our staff to monitor each and every posting.” Costly, perhaps. But impracticable? Nope! You’ve just got to decide you don’t want readers scrawling graffiti across your site!)

Update at 11:01 p.m.: Looks like the comment’s now been edited to take out the racist language. Excellent!

Got a profane, racist or other crazy comment that made it past your Gannett site’s filters? I’m collecting examples for my new Commentz Korner feature in hopes of shaming editors into action. Send-links to Gannett Blog — or leave a note in the comments section, below. (But be forewarned: I personally read and approve all comments on this blog before they get published!)

Growing signs Gannett in broad job downsizing

November 26, 2007

With its revenue and stock slumping, the company is quietly engaged in a far-reaching round of buyouts and job cuts across the country, based on recent published news accounts and reader mail I’ve gotten. Absent a big change in advertising revenue, I suspect staff reductions will continue into next year and beyond. The intriguing question: Is Corporate’s top brass at the gleaming Virginia headquarters (above) also taking a hit?

USA Today certainly has. Management just announced plans to reduce newsroom employment by 45 jobs — nearly 9% — in one of the bigger cuts I’ve seen at any newspaper. The situation is looking desperate when Gannett whacks employment that much at one of the few papers with growing circulation. Yet, USA Today is only the latest. Look at what’s happening in Cincinnati; Reno; Detroit; Nashville; Indianapolis; Burlington, Vt., and Phoenix. (Got one I missed? Send me details with story and/or memo links.)

Senior executives told Wall Street last month that more severance expenses are likely by the end of this year, suggesting more job cutting. But they didn’t give a precise number or say where the trims would fall. That may explain investors’ growing impatience with GCI’s efforts to boost earnings and its stock price.

CEO Craig Dubow was similarly vague when he told employees in September about the company’s ongoing “transformation” and the pain it would cause. “Will we be structured like we are now? I doubt it,” Dubow wrote. “Will we have more or fewer newspapers and TV stations than we have now? That depends, but we’re working on finding the right portfolio.”

The nation’s top newspaper publisher employed 49,675 people earlier this year, public documents show. (See chart, left; click on it for a bigger view.) This year’s annual Form 10-K, filed March 1, showed overall employment fell nearly 6% in the previous 12 months. My hunch is that we’ll see an even bigger drop when GCI files its next 10-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the spring. As that chart shows, Gannett’s employment peaked at 53,400 workers in early 2001, reflecting acquisitions the previous year, including The Indianapolis Star. Still, even with last year’s cuts, Gannett has many more employees than it did in 1994, the last year for which I could easily find 10-Ks disclosing employment levels.

One big mystery: What’s happening at Corporate’s offices? As well-paid executives there order everyone else to do more with less, are they also reducing Corporate’s staffing and taking on more work themselves? Have they given up catered lunch on china for a soggy sandwich from the cafeteria? What about those six-figure bonuses and seven-figure goodbye kisses?

Corporate employed 600 people in early 2005 — the last year GCI disclosed headcount at headquarters, based on my review of 10-Ks. Curiously, that figure wasn’t provided in the two most recent filings.

Update: With the help of a Gannett Blog tipster, I was able to solve the mystery here.

[Data: SEC forms 10-K]

Top execs, directors feel your pain (sort of)

November 25, 2007

Retired Chairman Doug McCorkindale (left) owned the most stock among Gannett’s top officers and directors last spring, when the company filed public documents showing ownership figures. And along with the rest in the group, McCorkindale has seen the value of his shares plummet since springtime.

Worry not. The executives and board members (click on table, above, for bigger view) aren’t wearing barrels yet. McCorkindale’s stock, assuming he hasn’t sold a bunch, is worth $108.3 million, based on Friday’s closing stock price. But that’s down a bruising $65 million since March 2, when Gannett reported these figures in its annual proxy report to shareholders. Gannett shares closed at $60.37 on March 2. Friday’s close: $37.72. Oooph!

CEO Craig Dubow, too, racked up a big paper loss since March: $12 million. But his stake, assuming it remained the same, is still worth a princely $20.2 million. Among the other board members, who ultimately determine Gannett’s future, Donna Shalala (left) suffered the biggest paper loss: nearly $520,000. (Of course, the big cheeses have other sources of income, too!)

Note: Table does not reflect director Neal Shapiro, who joined the board last month, after Gannett filed its March proxy report.

[Data: Securities and Exchange Commission Form Def 14A]

[Photo of Shalala, University of Miami]

California, New York lead my readership

November 25, 2007

Nine states and the District of Columbia now account for about half of Gannett Blog’s daily readership, a new analysis of my traffic shows. Those states are among the most populous ones or are home to lots of Gannett employees.

[Data: StatCounter]