Archive for May, 2008

Gone fishing

May 31, 2008

I hope to resume blogging by early-ish next week, once we get settled in our summer ’08 rental on Ibiza. What’s it like there? The New York Times maps out 36 hours on the Mediterranean island. Written in November for off-season travelers, it’s also a nice introduction for newcomers.

[Photo by Flickr member petervanallen: A view of Es Vedra from the beach of Cala d’Hort, Ibiza]

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Beck: Inside the Argus Leader’s Clinton ‘maelstrom’

May 30, 2008

Top editor Randell Beck faced a “maelstrom” after that Argus Leader editorial board meeting with Hillary Rodham Clinton, where she created headlines mentioning Robert F. Kennedy‘s 1968 assassination. The newspaper in Sioux Falls, S.D., did a great job: It quickly published video of her remarks, plus a transcript, drawing a surge of readers when the video spread to cable and broadcast TV.

“Visits were up nearly 40% from the previous month,” Beck writes in yesterday’s edition of the weekly News Watch, published by the News Department. “Unique visitors jumped nearly 160%. At last count, the video had generated more than 1.2 million viewed minutes.”

Beck says he learned three big lessons from the experience: Streaming video works. Editors must be ready for a video to go viral. And the medium’s transparency is a good thing.

Gander? It’s Goose — again
As we discussed the other day, News Watch could be a rich multimedia showcase for Gannett’s best work — an online classroom to discuss outstanding journalism. (I’m not afraid of competition!) For example, look at Beck’s piece yesterday: He’s writing all about a video, plus associated stories — without News Watch providing so much as a single link, so readers could easily watch and read on their own. Hello! Linking and embedding aren’t hard. Look what I’ve just done here:

(Confidential to Phil Currie: Little annoys the community newspapers more than Corporate’s piling additional digital work on already overstretched newsrooms — when you guys can’t seem to use the most basic technology tools yourselves.)

[Image: this morning’s Argus Leader, Newseum]

Clicking with readers, pageviews soar in May

May 30, 2008

Gannett Blog served more 97,000 pageviews in May — 39% higher than April’s total, a new Google Analytics report shows. More than 12,000 employees and other unique visitors stopped by during the month for their daily antidote to Corporate’s Kool-Aid.

Google Analytics has the data, available in a free report I make available to anyone. Want one? E-mail me confidentially, using this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: Google Analytics]

In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett

May 30, 2008

It sure is something to watch CEO Craig Dubow dismantle a 102-year-old company right before our eyes: rendering newspapers at corporate chop shops, while shipping untold jobs to low-wage countries — all in a shaky bid to keep Wall Street at bay.

Only yesterday, Dubow & Co. was at it again: laying off a steep 55 employees at the Asbury Park Press and three other New Jersey dailies — part of a regional group that’s lately appeared on the edge of freefall. And yet, the N.J. papers are only the latest to be swept up in what I imagine is now Gannett’s biggest retrenchment since World War II. (Dubow, to be sure, has been retailing it on Wall Street as the more April-fresh sounding transformation.)

In Phoenix, Arizona Republic workers are weighing a buyout offer that one of my readers says stinks. In Westchester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla., and beyond, advertising-production artists are terrified of being the next to lose jobs to Los Angeles-based 2AdPro, which is shipping their work to India as fast as Gannett will allow.

In the Broadcasting division, Gannett is eliminating graphics jobs in favor of consolidating work at a central “art house” in Denver. And the division is now being asked to adopt a version of the Information Center model that was supposed to boost online advertising revenue when it was rolled out across U.S. newspapers last year. (Gannett has been curiously quiet about whether the strategy is working.)

These are only recent examples; I’ve omitted many others that I know — and even more I hope to uncover in any reader responses I get to this post. I’ve been writing about Gannett’s downsizing since Dubow issued that scary Sept. 11 memo last fall. It’s not at all clear whether he’s now putting his pedal on the accelerator, with even more turmoil ahead for this summer. And I’m not expecting any clarity soon on that point. Why? Nowadays, the well-paid top brass don’t have time to deal with even basic questions.

So, if you’re wondering whether Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore is about to redline your job — well, don’t look for answers from We Work in a Bubble, Va. They’re already on their third round at the Kool-Aid Bar!

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: yesterday’s Republic, Newseum]

Survey says: I’m surprised by recent hiring

May 30, 2008

Amid CEO Craig Dubow‘s campaign for more diversity, I expected a lot more minority hiring when I asked Gannett Blog readers this week about their department’s newest employees. Fully half of the 86 who responded to my survey said their last hires were white. (I was expecting closer to 25%.)

Now, this wasn’t a random sample. But the results are still interesting, if only as a collection of anecdotes. So here, then, is how those 86 readers responded when I asked them to complete this statement: The most recent person hired in my Gannett department was

  • Asian-American: 13%
  • Black: 22%
  • Hispanic: 3%
  • Native American: 2%
  • White: 50%
  • Other/don’t know: 1%
  • I’m not a Gannett employee: 6%

Note: figures don’t total 100 because of rounding

Related: Sinner? Saint? Sweetheart? Survey shocker!

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: the 12 members of the rather lily-white Gannett management committee]

Hola: Gannett Blog global HQ nears move to Spain

May 30, 2008

[Dalt Vila: a picturesque walk in Ibiza’s old fortress city]

This will be my last day of blogging until perhaps Monday, when I figure Sparky and I will be mostly settled at our summer rental on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. I’ll do my best to monitor comments and e-mail over the weekend. (OMG! I just remembered what I forgot: Monday is Sparky’s birthday!)

[Photo by Flickr member alfvet]

Jobs threatened, artists plea for 2AdPro details

May 29, 2008

At one larger Gannett newspaper in the Midwest, advertising production artists were told that just 30% of their work would get shipped to India via 2AdPro of Los Angeles. “I heard from someone else that Nashville is sending 75% over to 2AdPro,” an artist at that paper says. “So my question is, why would one newspaper be different than another? Wouldn’t there be a mandate for all newspapers?”

Related: Advertisers won’t like offshoring

Please share details about 2AdPro, in the comments section, below. To e-mail me confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Donovan confirms layoffs, cites ‘adverse’ conditions

May 29, 2008

Asbury Park Press Publisher Tom Donovan told employees in a statement now quoted by his paper in a new story: “This is not a decision that is easy to announce at this, or any other, time of year.”

The story confirms earlier reports by my readers: Gannett has eliminated 55 jobs at Asbury Park and at three other papers in its struggling N.J. group. Today’s layoffs come three weeks after management offered voluntary buyouts to nearly 170 employees.

Donovan disclosed today that only 83 employees accepted those buyouts — triggering layoffs that had been warned if Gannett didn’t reach its targeted cost savings. The three other papers are the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick; the Courier News in Bridgewater, and The Daily Record at Morristown.

Employees losing jobs can apply for open positions at the papers. “It is my hope that the total number of impacted employees will be reduced as a result,” Donovan said.

Related: N.J. employees use Gannett Blog to report buyouts

[Image: this morning’s Asbury Park Press, Newseum]

Reader: Are New York papers now facing layoffs?

May 29, 2008

Regarding reports of layoffs today at Gannett’s troubled group of six N.J. newspapers, a reader asks: “What do you hear about the New York papers? Don’t they have bigger staffs to cut than the New Jersey chain? Or is the N.Y. chain next on the list?”

Dozens of layoffs reported today at N.J. papers

May 29, 2008

Updated at 10:10 a.m. PT: “Your information was correct about the New Jersey layoffs,” a reader just told me in an e-mail. “I guess today is the first day of the rest of my life.”

Earlier: Several of my readers are now telling me that 55 employees were laid off today at newspapers including the Asbury Park Press, the Home News Tribune, the Courier News and The Daily Record. One reader says those who lost their jobs will be able to interview for open positions at each of the newspapers.

Any forced layoffs would suggest Gannett’s struggling group of six N.J. newspapers was unable to reach cost-savings goals when management offered buyouts three weeks ago to nearly 170 employees at five of the papers. Management had warned layoffs were likely if an insufficient number of employees agreed to leave voluntarily.

Can anyone confirm what I’ve been told — and add more details? Leave a note in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.