Archive for January, 2008

My blogging’s going to start getting very light

January 30, 2008

My domestic partner and I leave today on a vacation until about mid-February. Sparky and I are visiting friends in Brazil for Carnival. I’m bringing a laptop, so I can try to keep up on comments, e-mail and Friday’s fourth-quarter earnings report. But telecommunications in Brazil aren’t always a safe bet. And it is supposed to be a beach vacation. . . .

[Photo: Praia Mole Hotel]

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Report: Union threatens strike at Honolulu

January 29, 2008

Gannett is prepared to impose a labor contract at the Honolulu Advertiser that would increase employee medical premiums and freeze wages for a year, according to one of six unions jointly negotiating with the company, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin says today.

Diversity, thy name is Fernandez — or Garcia

January 29, 2008

Among the most sacred cows in Gannett are the various diversity-in-news-and-hiring programs that Corporate has been pushing on journalists as long as I can remember — something I referenced in this post, now drawing lots of comments.

“My favorite anecdote on such matters came from a buddy who had to cover a country western festival in the 90% Caucasian upper Midwest and was ordered to mainstream his story,” one commenter just wrote. “He spent all day looking for anyone remotely non-white and came up dry. However, he did find a white woman who was married to a Hispanic man, so her last name was Fernandez or Garcia or something along those lines. When he turned in the story, he happily noted he’d found a mainstream source . . . after all, just look at her name!”

(Clearly, I wouldn’t be writing such means things if I was drinking my daily glass of Kool-Aid!)

How I spent my Gannett summer vacation

January 29, 2008

I got an internship — and then the company pulled the rug out from under me! Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this summer, anyway. Phxsoul, a Phoenix-based blog for African-Americans, is promoting Gannett’s 2008 Talent Development Program. Those are the internships where, against all odds, many of the positions are magically filled by minority applicants — even though, of course, reserving spots for minorities would be illegal if it were official policy. (OMG: I’ve said something bad again about GCI’s sacred diversity policy!)

Advice to applicants: Don’t bet the summer rent on your internship if you wind up at a paper like the Montgomery Advertiser. Last June, the Alabama paper was forced to make quick budget cuts, leaving three interns suddenly jobless.

[Image: this morning’s Advertiser, Newseum]

Reader: Advertisers won’t like offshoring

January 29, 2008

With little fanfare, Gannett is moving advertising production work to the land of rock-bottom wages, India — raising red flags for a Gannett Blog reader at the Pensacola News Journal. GCI has contracted with 2AdPro in Los Angeles to produce ads for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Press & Sun-Bulletin (left) in Binghamton, N.Y., and other papers. “We are not doing a wall-to-wall replacement like some other newspapers,” Austin Ryan, vice president of production, told the trade publication Newspapers & Technology. “But we do believe we can gain some economies and we will be rolling this out at other properties that make sense.”

The Pensacola reader asks: “Is this the new norm? It has resulted in layoffs (of course). If the local ‘small-town’ advertisers here, who are very patriotic, get wind of this, the backlash could be a disaster. Not to mention the sales reps are pissed because the ads look like shit.”

The question du jour: How long before Gannett starts offshoring newsroom jobs?

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Press & Sun-Bulletin, Newseum]

First Bushee. Now, Greiwe. Who’s next?

January 29, 2008

At USA Today, we used to say that three examples makes a trend. We’ve now got two at The Arizona Republic; I’m looking for a third, as Gannett’s second-biggest paper after USA Today continues to hemorrhage top executives. The Republic said yesterday that its No. 1 advertising executive, Linda Greiwe (left), is leaving to become president of a group of 10 Gannett newspapers in central Ohio, including the Newark Advocate, where she’ll be publisher. Greiwe’s departure follows last week’s surprise news that top Editor Ward Bushee is fleeing GCI after 21 years for the top newsroom job at the money-losing San Francisco Chronicle. Coincidence? Probably. But suppose you started thinking Gannett was no longer committed to the Republic. Would you stick around?

[Photo: Tom Tingle, Republic]

Gannett announces major local-news revamp ;)

January 28, 2008

More than ever, the new plan emphasizes local news in a bid to recover readers frustrated by newspapers that have lost their relevance. “The news is delivered where they want it, how they want it, when they want it,” Gannett says.

Sounds like the Information Center model announced in fall 2006, right? Guess again! That was actually Senior Vice President Phil Currie announcing the then-new program — Real Life, Real News — in September 2003. Is it any wonder we’re cynical about the latest flavor-of-the-moment initiative dreamed up at Corporate?

There! I’ve gotten all that in my First Five Graphs and I’ve hit every one of the 10 blocks in the News 2000 pyramid. Plus, I’m gay, which means I get points for diversity and mainstreaming!

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: more Back to the Future here.]

Pitfalls of publishing: Olsen Twins edition!

January 28, 2008

Update on Jan. 29: The ads have been taken down — but only after I called the Olsens’ company, Dualstar Entertainment, to ask why they were still up.

Remember those tacky Virginia Tech “Tiffany” lamp advertisements I spotted on the Statesman Journal‘s website last month? Well, here’s another good example of the downside of carrying online advertising served up without human intervention. I noticed two Google-provided text ads (screenshot, above) at the top of actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s website. The one on the left links to a site for Peta, the very anti-fur activist group that’s dubbed their latest target Hairy-Kate and Trashley Trollsen. The ad’s link on the right, for an anorexia-related site, doesn’t work anymore; it apparently sought to profit off Mary-Kate’s reported battles with an eating disorder.

I can’t imagine the Olsens want those ads on their site. (One of them’s feeling enough heat already.) Yet, amazingly, I first saw them yesterday — and they were still on the site as of a few moments ago. Hello? Anyone awake at Olsen Headquarters? (And, no, I’m not obsessed with the Olsens. Well, OK: maybe a little.)

Crowdsource this: GCI’s total news employment

January 28, 2008

I think Gannett employs around 5,000 journalists at its 85 dailies and 23 TV stations. But I’m not sure — and company spokeswoman Tara Connell just told me the company won’t disclose that figure.

Update at 10:34 a.m. PT: News Watch said in December 2001 that the total number of Gannett journalists increased to 5,614 from 4,636 following the acquisition of daily newspapers in 2000. I’m still looking for a more current total, however.

Does anyone out there in Gannettland have the current total? (Even better: the figure today vs. a year ago!) Use this link to e-mail the answer. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Monday Recap: Moolah, Mary-Kate and Motown

January 28, 2008

Posts you might have missed while the Big Cheeses were splitting:

  • Pay Daze: New Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis’s pay package opens a window on how GCI competes for top techies.
  • Double Trouble: Mary-Kate Olsen’s role in Heath Ledger’s puzzling death reminds me: avoid celebrities.
  • Motown Mojo: The Detroit Free Press shows us how to investigate in a 21st century way.