Gannett’s defenders wave the proverbial white flag

In a shift that started about a month ago, management and its supporters have largely abandoned defending the company before Gannett Blog‘s growing monthly audience of more than 10,000 employees and other readers. Even Gannett’s vice president for corporate communications, Tara Connell, has stopped, well, communicating.

Three weeks ago, for example, I asked Connell for an update on Gannett’s probe into employee allegations that the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., had failed to pay overtime due for hours worked. She still hasn’t responded. I draw several conclusions: The company hasn’t finished its examination. Or, overtime abuse continues in Cherry Hill (and, possibly, across the company) — and Gannett is unwilling to discuss publicly what is almost certainly an unlawful practice.

Now, I’ve always been wary of publicists. They’re not in the business of telling the full truth; they spin. When Connell left USA Today as a managing editor to become GCI’s top flack in 2003, then-CEO Douglas McCorkindale tellingly said: “I am confident that she and her staff will continue to do a terrific job communicating Gannett’s success story to its employees and to the world outside the company.”

Still, it’s a little sad to see management give up on trying to say at least something positive about the company. Yes, I’m often very critical of CEO Craig Dubow and his failing strategic plan. But I’ve tried to publish every pro-management comment submitted here. What’s more, many of the comments I’ve rejected have been anti-management. Perhaps the recent silence of management’s defenders is a sign of just how defeated they’ve become in the Gannett Tower.

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.

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17 Responses to “Gannett’s defenders wave the proverbial white flag”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You are drinking your own brand of Kool Aid, Jimmy. You had a brief window where a cross section of the company was willing to look in. Hoping for an unbiased forum, a place where those who had no voice could speak. Where ideas that had been lost in the chaos could be heard. Some at the top were going to check in to see what ideas and on-point criticisms came up. But that moment is gone. I suspect that most of those with any power have decided, with reason, that this is a forum for whiners to whine. Your numbers are up because whiners like company. And, of course, they have plenty from their positions to whine about. But the execs don’t have time for the same old song, have moved on, working on multiple major projects that you largely have no clue about. Whine on.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    The above comment is pretty accurate. Why fence with a fence post.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’m surprised Tara put up with the blog for as long as she did.

    But this is less about the blog than it is business as usual for Gannett.

    It isn’t forthright or transparent with its employees and especially not so with nosy reporters and bloggers.

    Gannett’s strategy with the blog seems to be ignore it, and it’ll go away. Somehow, I doubt that will happen.

  4. Jim Hopkins Says:

    @9:56 am: Good point! Corporate ignored the Internet’s threat for years. Maybe the big cheeses now think that same losing approach will work with bloggers, too. If nothing else, we’re giving Dubow & Co. a first-hand lesson in what those in the field have known for years: The digital revolution is here to stay.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    “Multiple Major Projects” Ooo, you sound like someone real important. Can these major projects involve more outsourcing and layoffs so important people like yourself can exist to see these important projects through.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    For a fast paced business, I was always amazed at how slow some of the people were to adapt. Who needs Tara’s opinion anyway…it would be tainted.

    This blog will allow for some of the excesses to be avoided or at least well known.

    The speed of change if fastening and it won’t stop. The News at 11 is and has been the News at 6 am.
    Welcome to the new world around us.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Well… we find out that the Kool-Aid drinkers are still alive and lurking around — they just haven’t been as vocal! Welcome back! But honestly, with the stock price hovering above a fresh 52-week low, a $3 billion write-down, company-wide layoffs, dwindling circulation and revenue, damaged reputation, outsourcing jobs to India, and a failed “innovation” strategy, there hasn’t been much to cheer about for Dubow and friends. This company is on the road to nowhere. The truth-tellers on Jim’s blog haven’t been whining. They’ve been pointing out everything the corporate goonsquad doesn’t want us to know.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Witness the whores of Congress who are so full of shit that their eyes are brown. And then the whores of American business, like newspapers, with unheard of profit margins. I don’t recall any of the major media corps. complaining about excessive profits…or a windfall profits tax on newspapers.

    What kind of country allows CEO’s to break a business, kill their young, and swallow investors…and exit with $100 million?

    A bankrupt one. e.g. America and Gannett.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Some of us spurned ex-employees, not just those recently laid off, will be quite happy when the company either folds, sold, or downsized further. Sad for employees no doubt. And I blame past Board of Directors, in their own haste for greed, for not acting with greater speed to adapt to change and for not ridding the company of incompetant corporate executives.

    You can’t impeach them but you sure can fire or remove them.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett pension freeze

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003815509

  11. Anonymous Says:

    “Multiple major projects” – like freezing the pension plan, right?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Readers — have you seen that new pension plan that increases your company match in your 401K?
    Oh golly, Father Gannett, thank you for the valuable Gannett stock, now worth half of its 52-week high. A bigger match worth next to nothing. I’m so grateful.
    Remember the good old days just a few years ago when the ctock value was $80 plus?
    Yeah, we’re buyin this new best idea. A real good deal.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    This company is on the road to nowhere. The truth-tellers on Jim’s blog haven’t been whining. They’ve been pointing out everything the corporate goonsquad doesn’t want us to know.

    6/11/2008 12:10 PM

    Oh golly, Father Gannett, thank you for the valuable Gannett stock, now worth half of its 52-week high. A bigger match worth next to nothing. I’m so grateful.

    Thank you for the fitting comments! This hits the nail on the head. Oh, this is the transformation these idiot executives have been working on for months? They should hang their heads in shame! But then – what do I expect from shisters that could care less about the company and don’t even believe their own mantra?

    Please, just distribute the pay-outs and let the company fold. At least that would be honest.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Proud whiner here. Since this is the only place that an open and unedited by spin-meisters discussion of company policy can take place, I think some people will pay attention to what is said here. And since it is open access to everyone, why aren’t there more pro-company comments posted? If shareholders feel the company is on the right track, I’d expect to see a fair amount of back slapping for the exec’s happening here.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I work on multiple projects AND listen to people whine every single day. Don’t they teach you how to multitask in McLean?

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Jim:

    Firsthand is one word.

    Please stick to AP style.

    Thanks.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    New Poster: TJ34 the nic: I want to clarify some info on the pension freeze. I am an employee and angry about it. Not just freeze. I wrote GCI and complained on hot # (useless as expected). Mainly because I will be 45in December and miss the 2%/7 year 401K addition. I actually thought I could hire attorney on legal grounds. Since GCI freezing pension and says “manage your own retirement.” I say fine give me my GCI pension total which I will invest. I figure if I had a legal grounds. Gannett get concerned and give me my pension total if I drop threatened lawsuit. This just unrealilistic on my part. So I am really screwed missing out on that 2%. I will continue to write GCI over this making case anyone 45 in 08should recieve benefit. No benefits paid til 09. NOW FOR REALITY: People have complained about match in stock. Here is my plan and WHAT ANYONE SHOULD DO: It’s actually a good deal as for the dollar match. You can convert this match into cash. You put 5% in your 401K. Every 2 weeks when you get paid you go to Gannett resource website. Click on 401K Benefits; Transfer Money; Transfer money by dollar amounts rather than the %. It will show all the funds and your amounts. It will show at top Gannett stock fund and below the Gannett Match amount. Simply put down the Gannett match money into transfer box then click submit. Go to next screen and put that amount into what you want to invest in. Example if you put it in Fixed Fund. You now have converted the Gannett dollar match in stock from Gannett stock into cash which is what the Fixed fund is. I am then going to open a Roth IRA up and try to save the amount I have figured I will lose in the frozen pension plan. I am angry about the pension freeze but this is the best solution. Of course you can quit, get another job and get the pension money along with your 401K. If you can get an equal job it’s best choice which I think is partly what GCI is hinting you do. You can complain or you can get going on this. I have offered what I think is the best solution to the pension freeze.

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