Meeting notes: Yonkers, Louisville — and Shalala

I traveled 2,800 miles to McLean, Va., from my San Francisco home for an annual shareholders meeting this morning that I suspected would produce no news. I wasn’t disappointed. About 300 people gathered in the auditorium at Gannett’s headquarters — a pretty good turnout that might have been partly motivated by expectations there’d be fireworks. The company’s shares, after all, are down about 50% from a year ago, when stockholders held their last meeting. Today’s gathering was over and done in less than 45 minutes, however.

There were a couple of amusing moments, of course. A stockholder from Yonkers, N.Y., made occasionally rambling remarks in a delightfully genuine New York accent — quoting chapter and verse from company documents he’d apparently memorized, right down to page numbers. (And I haven’t seen a leisure suit like the one he was wearing in years.) Another shareholder, from Louisville, said Kentucky is one of the nation’s reddest states — then complained that The Courier-Journal only endorses Democrats. (Take that, David Hawpe!)

I didn’t say a word. The statement I stayed up late preparing remained in my pocket. I accomplished what I set out to do: Making sure at least some members of the board of directors know about this blog — and the employee views it reflects. After the meeting, in the soaring, sun-filled lobby, I saw director Donna Shalalah (left), heading for the exit.

“Director Shalala,” I said. “May I introduce myself?”

She gave me a wary look as I approached. I handed her my Gannett Blog business card. She glanced at it for a second, then looked up at me and beamed: “Oh, you’re Gannett Blog!” she said. “I love blogs!”

So, there you have it.

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

15 Responses to “Meeting notes: Yonkers, Louisville — and Shalala”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Heh, no guts, no glory. The Yonkers fella probably was an ex-sales manager for that amorphous newspaper…Gannett Suburban Newspapers…Westchester Journal…the Journal News among other rag names.

    Sell the freaking chain and get it over with. The Board members can pick up pieces of pie elsewhere.

    Weak players, weak agenda, no answers.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Heh Donna, what happened with that overtime issue in Cherry Hill? Doesn’t the Dept. of Labor have a set of balls? Oh that’s right…the Kingdom is sound asleep…along with the cronies of Gannett.

    No ethics, no morals, no commonsense. All pure bullshit.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    What a ridiculous meeting. The company’s value drops by about 50 percent in a year and no one has much to say at the annual meeting? It’s clear to me now: Gannett will only change through pressure from institutional investors and hedge funds looking for a fire sale.

  4. rmichem Says:

    Jim, How much of that 45 minutes, were given by PR head TC?

  5. Enjoying exile Says:

    Sh-la-la-la likes football, too, even through her University of Miami program is full of thugs and social miscreants that often run afoul of the law and start brawls on the field.

    She’s perfect for the BOD. A clueless rubber-stamper whistling past the graveyard.

    Forty-five minutes for an annual meeting about a company melting down before our very eyes?

    Did they actually say “Move along people, nothing to see here,” or was it just implied?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    @anon 11:00 am – were you at the meeting? What were you expecting for someone to say and who would you have liked it to come from?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    @anon 10:56 – The news reports show that the three board of directors – including Dubow – were elected with over 95% of the shares. Which institutional investors were you looking to rise up and complain?

  8. Jim Hopkins Says:

    The institutional investor to watch would be Brandes Investment Partners — Gannett’s No. 1 shareholder. I need to do some research to update my figures.

    But the last time I checked, Brandes was something like $400 or $500 million in the red on its Gannett stake, accumulated in the past year or so. Those paper losses, it’s worth noting, came well before the more recent, steep drop in Gannett’s share price.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    That’s right…the big bucks will make the day.

    Jim, why not tell your readers what the individual net worth is of the BOD’s.

    How would you expect one millionaire in a protected class of sorts, the upper class, to put out on another millionaire? Rarely does one pull rank.

    The meeting…much ado about zero.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    What a cop out. You travel all that way to do nothing. You may be feeding your ego to say that you made the crowd bigger then it would have been but you are wrong. It was an average crowd. If you are the standard bearer fighting coportate injustice then you should have had the guts to say something and deal with the responce in person instead of hiding behind your blog.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Here, here A3:51. He copped out

  12. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Tough audience today! To Anon@3:51 p.m.: I didn’t mean to suggest the audience size had anything to do with my presence. Indeed, I do not believe that was the case.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    It is a tough audience because you let us all down. You could have mailed your card to the board. We all had hopes you’d put Craig on the spot. You did not. You let us down.

  14. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, folks. Even with 20/20 hindsight, I still can’t think of a way I could have better managed your expectations — while still accomplishing what I set out to do. But, hey: I learn something new almost every day.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Okay enough about this. What do you know about SCJ’s goign away party at corporate today. Did anyoen come?

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