Archive for February, 2008

Debate: Do you have time to make videos?

February 29, 2008

Great comments on my post about CEO Craig Dubow‘s annual letter to shareholders — and his assertion that “our program to train hundreds of print journalists in the use of video has been much lauded.” (Can you source “lauded” next time, Craig?)

One reader says: “I just never have figured out how I was going to be able to cover an event, take notes (for Internet updates) shoot video and snap off a few photos, too. Then rush back to the Information Center . . . upload the photos and video, and write the story for the print edition. . . . I have never managed to pull it off and it depresses me that anyone thinks I really might be able to do it.”

Join the debate, at the bottom of the original post.

Questions: Hiring? Jack Kelley whereabouts?

February 29, 2008

Gannett Blog readers asked me to post the following:

  • A Gannett editor says of GCI papers in his Midwestern area: “I was talking to a couple of fellow managers and we can’t think of a single new hire in 2008. . . . I am wondering if this is company-wide?”
  • And a San Francisco reader asks: Whatever happened to disgraced USA Today reporter Jack Kelley?

Use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Annals of the Unlikely: Hell freezes! Pigs fly!

February 29, 2008

Gannett editors challenge cutbacks — and Corporate airs their gripes! What’s next? Al Neuharth‘s son, questioning his father’s legacy on the pages of the very paper that made the octogenarian retired CEO (left) so famous?

Oh, wait: That already happened! From Dan Neuharth’s USA Today Op-Ed piece on March 27, 2006: “How dedicated will the leaders of publicly traded news companies be to spending the money necessary to publish hard-hitting, top-notch newspapers and websites that profit their communities’ well-being, even if it means somewhat lower profits for shareholders?”

Single gals: Have a happy Leap Day!

February 29, 2008

Folk tradition says today is that rare occasion when women can ask their boyfriends to marry. For your’s truly, Leap Day brings an extra 24 hours to be an alleged Gannett sourpuss.

[Image: A 1908 postcard, “Be careful, Clara, that’s a fine Specimen!]

Tallahassee’s Gabordi: Spend — don’t cut back

February 29, 2008

Golly! It’s sure interesting to see Senior Vice President Phil Currie apparently authorizing a reprint of Tallahassee Democrat Executive Editor Bob Gabordi‘s remarks on further newspaper cutbacks.

Here’s Gabordi in the just out-issue of News Watch, the weekly company newsletter to newsrooms: “This is the right time, in my opinion, for investment in our business, not cutbacks. You cannot sustain a business model that relies on cutting over the long haul. You have to figure out new revenue streams and be willing to try new things. Some will work, some won’t, but you have to try.”

Has Currie cut back on the Kool-Aid?

[Image: this morning’s Democrat, Newseum]

Publishers: Just say no to the NAA conference

February 29, 2008

Citing a need to cut costs, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt (left) is urging his publishers to think carefully before attending April’s Newspaper Association of America annual meeting — even though he’s taking over as chairman. “I would prefer they make the wise decision due to economic conditions,” Pruitt told trade publication Editor & Publisher.

Given all Gannett’s travel cutbacks, don’t you wonder how many publishers will go to the event? After all, I’ve been told that GCI publishers are getting together in March anyway — giving them plenty of chances to schmooze then. The NAA member registration fee alone is $650. The program looks like a snooze. Plus, it’s hard to gauge the speaker line-up, since the NAA is keeping this list a secret to all but a chosen few. (Way to be transparent for a group that ought to be devoted to the First Amendment!)

And speaking of travel: What’s happened to the travel budget at your Gannett paper? Use this link to e-mail your reply. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Gannett stock: ‘Somehow it’s in my portfolio’

February 29, 2008

Commenting on my post about bonuses for the top brass, a reader says of Gannett stock and the 401(k) plan: “I thought I opted out of purchasing the stock when I got hired, but somehow it’s in my portfolio.” Perfect opportunity for my advice on the retirement plan. Back then, Dec. 15, I urged employees to reconsider investing precious retirement money in Gannett shares. GCI sold for $35.30 at the time, Google Finance says. Since then, it’s fallen another 14.4%, based on yesterday’s closing price.

Stop the presses: I’m paying a compliment!

February 29, 2008

The Arizona Republic, announcing the appointment of a new No. 2 newsroom leader, is allowing readers to leave comments at the bottom of the story. Holy Single Standard! The story treatment about newly appointed Executive Editor Nicole Carroll (left) reverses past Republic practice on stories about three influential Gannett executives.

[Photo: Republic]

Document watch: Waiting for the Big Kahuna

February 29, 2008

A banker in Little Rock, Ark., once complained about a story I’d written that’s become a staple of business journalism: The annual CEO pay list, a roster of executive pay packages at publicly traded companies. By including him, the banker said, I’d put his family at risk because the world now knew how much money he made. I’m pretty sure I suggested a simple solution: Earn less.

CEO pay rankings are based on a document that public companies such as Gannett file once a year with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s called a shareholder’s proxy report. (The formal name is a Form 14A.) The report includes all sorts of interesting information, including items to vote on like the election of board members. But much of it is devoted to what top officers got in base pay, bonuses and stock-based compensation.

Gannett filed its last proxy on March 15, 2007, showing information for 2006. (Here are the proxies going back to 1997.) Any day now, the company will file its report for calendar year 2007, revealing how much the board paid CEO Craig Dubow (left), retiring Newspaper Division President Sue Clark-Johnson and other big cheeses. Dubow was paid an estimated $8.2 million in 2006, the last proxy showed — although that figure is misleading. It includes all sorts of assumptions and forecasts about Gannett’s future stock price that may or may not come true. Still, it’s a useful yardstick.

What I’m wondering: Did the board give Dubow or any of his top lieutenants a bonus last year — a year when Gannett shares performed worse than every other major newspaper publisher but McClatchy? We’ll soon see.

Commentz Korner: Phoenix shielding Dickey?

February 28, 2008

Batting three for three, The Arizona Republic appears to be protecting another top Gannett executive from embarrassing online reader comments. The paper published its story about newly appointed newspaper division President Robert Dickey (left) — without allowing comments at the story’s end.

Dickey, 50, the Republic‘ s chairman, replaces retiring Sue Clark-Johnson, 61 — another former Republic executive.

The Phoenix paper — Gannett’s second-biggest, after USA Todayallows commenting selectively. At the moment, for example, readers can leave comments on a Dunkin’ Donuts story, or on another, about Honeywell laying off hundreds of Phoenix workers. On that story, one reader comment calls Honeywell executives “liars.”

But when it comes to influential Gannett executives, editors apparently fear similar, nasty remarks. The no-comments-allowed decision happened twice before: In the Republic‘s Second Coming of Sue story, and when Editor Ward Bushee quit.

OK. That’s three examples; I’ve got a trend story! Quick, get me trend expert-futurist Faith “Most Overquoted Trend Expert” Popcorn, so I can spin this sucker forward!

Got an offensive or just-plain-crazy comment that made it past your Gannett site’s filters? Use this link to e-mail Commentz Korner suggestions. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the moderated comments section, below.