Why your publisher and boss are so crabby today

The Friday Afternoon Massacre reordered the troubled community newspaper division, creating one less management region — and putting publisher’s jobs into play at Indianapolis and Louisville.

“Who’s going to Indy and L’ville?” a Gannett Blog reader asked over the weekend. “I’ve heard rumblings that the new senior vice presidents (Evan Ray and Michelle Krans) will replace all the community newspaper VPs. Can’t be any worse than the motley group they have got there now. Most are washed-up, do-nothing part-timers, anyway.”

The Indianapolis Star and The Courier-Journal — two of Gannett’s single-biggest employers — will be affected the most quickly. But the changes announced by division President Bob Dickey inevitably will ripple across all of the company’s 84 community newspapers. That’s why you may be seeing a nervous look on your boss’ face this morning.

Indeed, staffers at The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., are already looking over their shoulder, a reader says, after Publisher Mike Fisch told them in a Friday memo: “Not a day goes by that you don’t read or hear of the financial difficulties daily newspapers are experiencing as they adjust to these new realities. In Gannett and more specifically at The Journal News we’re experiencing many of the same things as others around the country.”

Shoring up finances, Fisch said, the paper will cut expenses by “at least 4%” over the next six months — a “significant” reduction. “We will do this in a host of ways. We will hold open positions that are vacant, and review each one to determine whether it’s strategic or critical to fill. We will redeploy staff to critical strategic areas for news coverage, sales, and other strategic priorities.”

What’s the outlook at your newspaper? Your replies, 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: this morning’s Star, Newseum]

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36 Responses to “Why your publisher and boss are so crabby today”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Good morning y’all. I know one thing for sure and that is Bab’s will be a bitch on wheels today after Friday’s massacre.

    Bitch is the new black. You go Bab’s…on out the door.

    All your meaness is coming back to roost!

    Many of us in Indy are rejoicing.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Jim:

    Been meaning to show you this blog I discovered courtesy of the librarian who holds free new media classes at the The National Press Club:

    http://graphicdesignr.net/papercuts/

    This blogger has been keeping track of all the newspaper cuts nationwide. In 2008 alone, 5,414 journalists have either been laid off or bought out. Five Thousand. And we are only in the SIXTH month of the year. Scroll down beyond the map and see the list of Gannett papers that have been added this summer. Anyone who thinks we are winding down with issues at Gannett — or any other major media company for that matter — are woefully mistaken.

    I wish my fellow scribes luck. They’re going to need that and so much more…

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett is a company with 45,000 employees. In 2006, Gannett did about $8.0 billion in revenues. In 2007, Gannett did about $7.6 billion (a drop of $400 million in revenue).

    This year, according to their last monthly statistics report, revenue dropped over 14% compared to last year!!!

    I am not a financial wizard, but at that rate, Gannett will do almost ONE BILLION less this year in revenues (without olympics and elections)!!! That means in 2008, their revenues will be about $6.7 billion in revenues.

    If Gannett is going to stay afloat, then they will need to drop about 15,000 more heads, just to keep up with the right sizing of the organization just this year alone.

    Gannett people, take a dose of reality. Between the two people you see to your left and right, one of you has to go!

    I am an shareholder of this stock and have been following this blog. It pains me to see such complacency. You are in trouble. Work harder and make more money for the company or lose your job.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Or, Anon @ 8:24 … Gannett could actually invest in itself. Stop the personnel and expense cuts. Hire employees savvy in today’s digital marketplace and provide more than enough resources to successfully execute the new business model(s).

    Obviously, the personnel and expense cuts during the past year, year and a half, have done a “great job” of producing revenues and (my favorite term) “growing” the stock price.

    So I say it’s high time for GCI management to tell Wall Street it’s not about you any more, it’s about survival and we’re going to do the right thing by our people and our customers – and invest in both.

    Ultimately, this will be in the best interest for everyone, including the stockholders.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    How bad does it suck that (6/30/2008 8:24 AM) is who we work for? ….”A lot”.

    Paraphrasing: “You are all hosed! Expect to be fired no matter what you do….now go work harder for me, you donkeys!”

    I’m guessing he’s a motivational speaker.

    The corporate mentality, if taken all the way, eats itself. Once everything is run by a few hyper-efficient corporations and most people are out of work…who buys your goods Mr. Shareholder??

  6. Anonymous Says:

    If indeed Steve Silberman, executive editor in Palm Springs, is on Dickey’s list for Louisville or Indianapolis, staffers beware.

    Two things leap to mind.

    The first, from a Howard Kurtz column in the Washington Post in 2000 (sorry, no link available):

    ——–

    Hometown Journalism

    When Jim Bartimo went to work as business editor of the Idaho Statesman in Boise, he was stunned to learn how the Gannett paper handled sensitive stories.

    Bartimo helped edit a lengthy piece on Micron Technology, a major local employer, only to be told that the story had to be submitted to Micron executives for review before it could be published. Bartimo was so disappointed that he quit the $ 55,000-a-year job after only a month.

    “It’s like running a story on politicians past the statehouse,” Bartimo says. He says the story, published last month, “is softer now than it was before.”

    An attorney for the paper, Wendell Van Lare, defended the practice in a letter to Bartimo’s lawyer.

    “The newspaper chose to have the story reviewed by Micron representatives for fact-checking purposes,” he wrote. “In fact, an error had been made, which was pointed out by Micron, and which was corrected prior to publication.” Van Lare called the practice “good journalism” and said that “the notion that the Statesman’s actions could jeopardize the journalistic reputations and careers of those involved is laughable.”

    Statesman Managing Editor Steve Silberman, who asked for the Micron review, declined to comment.

    Bartimo, who had other disputes with the paper, raised the possibility of a lawsuit to recover the balance of one year’s salary. But Van Lare says Bartimo used the Micron story as as “excuse” to quit and that the Statesman’s only strategy was “limited to making sure the door did not strike his posterior during his subitaneous egress.”

    ——–

    So, that’s Silberman Item 1. Item 2: after he’d been in Palm Springs maybe a year or two, he announced to the staff he’d gotten the local film festival to pay for a daily section about the festival written by staffers at the paper. You heard that right: paid for by the film festival, written by Desert Sun staff. It took the deputy managing editor — the wonderful Ben Holden, since departed — explaining to Silberman the fallout from the Staples Center fiasco at the LAT for the idea to fade.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t think “working harder” is the problem. We need a thoughtful and sound plan to execute. That’s what we need.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Anyone remember Boxer from “Animal Farm?” Every time a problem came up, his response was simple: “I will work harder.”

    See how far that got him?

    Every Gannett employee I know works hard. What we need is to work smarter.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    and will Michelle take her little robot assistant with her? that is what we are all hoping in Palm Springs. She can’t think on her own and the new guy will toss her anyways. Everyone, keep your fingers crossed.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Fisch has no idea how bad Westchester is. The print and the website has no place or respect in the community.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    8:24 a.m.: Work harder? You gotta be kidding me! Before I took buyout, I never worked less than 50 hours a week, was always “”filling in” for at least one other person while doing my own, multi-tasked job, and often would arrive home too exhausted to carry on a coherent conversation with my family.

    The readers want news that affects them on all levels: local, state, and national. But as long as Gannett keeps cutting back the news hole, and trimming back the staff that provide those stories, and cutting the quality of the stories because so many people are doing so many different things, the readers are going to continue to not buy the paper, and the corporation will continue to lose money. It hasn’t dawned on anyone yet that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. (Plus they totally missed the boat with online content…)

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I’m sorry Anon 8:24 is disappointed with his stock’s performance but he should have dumped it years ago. Every employee I know is dumping the stock as soon as they get it.

    Working harder is not the solution. Working smarter (and I hate that phrase) is. The sad fact is our corporate overlords are idiots. There’s no other way to put it. They’re like little dogs chasing their tails. They don’t know why the do it, there’s no payoff but it keeps them busy, so they keep running in circles.

    Meanwhile the journalists (sorry content creators) are out busting their asses for stories and photos that have no relevance to readers but are mandated by editors who think the story will fill a niche (moms! pets!) and attract advertisers. At the same time stories that are important (how the credit crisis is affecting low income readers) are ignored.

    How out of touch can our bosses be? Pretty damn out of touch. My Gannett paper did a center piece story on the local Super Rich taking their nannies on vacation with them to look after the kids so mom and dad could really enjoy their vacation, unencumbered by children. This at a time when most readers can’t afford any sort of vacation and many readers are losing their homes.

    Whew. I feel better. Thanks for letting me rant.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    This is all fine & dandy for those papers that actually “have” publisher’s… I think we in Lansing are the only one’s without one currently! We actually loved our Publisher. We are scared about who is coming…

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I missed something about Lansing.
    Whatever happened to Michael Kane?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Michael Kane has been the President and Publisher in Rochester since August 2005.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Hey anon @ 12:59 … How’d you like to have Leslie Hurst back? We sure don’t want her … of course, when she’s here (Lafayette) she’s in her office with the door closed the entire time.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    So no one’s speculated on the original question…who’s going to Indy and L’ville????

    Anyone…anyone…bueller…

  18. Anonymous Says:

    OK Anon @ 4:07, here are my guesses:

    Abe Froman to Indianapolis

    Art Vandelay to Louisville

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 10:13 – It’s funny. When I was working for The Asbury Park Press, I actually wrote a very bitter poem called “A Song For Boxer” about working for that place. The poem played with the concept of always being made to work harder, Boxer’s “work ethic” and the end result it earned him (i.e. an early death).

  20. Anonymous Says:

    And very accurate. Nothing changed in the time since you departed, that’s for sure. It was a great poem.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Random thought. Gannett should sell New Jersey. Nothing good there. The people are generally stupid and the community sucks. Thank you.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Indy is the third-largest paper in the community publishing division, Louisville is the fourth-largest. Gannett is not going to name an executive editor or AD from a smaller paper as the publisher at either one. They’ll move a publisher up … that’s how it works.

    And no, Randy won’t be headed back to Louisville anytime soon – he needs a some more seasoning in Asheville before he moves up to a job like that.

    I don’t have any knowledge about who specifically will be named at those positions, but wherever they put the Interstate group president, it will be a big name.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Hunke to Louisville. Silverman to Indy. Buchanan to Detroit.

    Sell Cinci, and then punt. Or maybe bring Stier back into the fold with a few thousand shares of worthless stock.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Sell Donovan and the Jersey Devils to MediaNews…or worse yet to Journal Register Company.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Is New Jersey still part of the Union? Maybe the Clinton’s can buy the state with nothing else left to do.

    Sell Asbury to insure that Craig can get his bonus for the year.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Ellen Leifeld to Indianapolis

    Randy Hammer to Nashville

    Ronnie Agnew to Asheville

    Pat Dorsey to Louisville

    Scott LaFuria promoted to President and Publisher in Tallahassee.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Here is a thought. Maybe they will bring someone in from outside to replace these folks. Part of the problem with this company is that we think we can always find the answer inside the Gannett walls.

    If Dickey is a real leader, he will not play the seniority game and look for the best candidate inside and outside of Gannett.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, Hammer is ready for a move up. In his 3+ months as pub in Asheville he has “collaborated” his news staff’s integrity for a daily Lose Weight campaign with Mission Hospitals, the untouchable Big Dog in town. (Unfortunately, during the 3-month run of features the Citizen-Times could find only two minorities – one a newspaper staffer – in a city of 70,000 to feature. Presumably none of the others needed to lose weight or “hadn’t heard about the program.”) The result: miles of wasted “news” space and a Chamber of Commerce award for Hammer. It was right up there on the Gag Scale with his yearlong “The Good Community” series in Arkansas that was so heralded with the Gannett Inner Circlejerk.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Michael Kane to Indy

    Arnie Garson to Louisville

    Pat Dorsey to Sioux Falls

    Pam Jodway steps up to Pub in Lansing

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Ellen Leifeld to Indy (and Group President)

    Leslie G. back to Nashville

    Pat Dorsey to Louisville

    Carol Hudler promotes her best current executive to President and Publisher in Tallahassee.

    Genia Lovett to Lansing to oversee all non-Detroit operations (i.e. Battle Creek, Port Huron, Livingston County , Community Publications)

    Kevin Corrado moves to Appleton to oversee all of Gannett-Wisconsin.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Sure, let’s send Leslie G. back to Nashville. Not often one person gets to screw a place up twice! Bet Ellen would love knowing that after she got at least some of the crap that Leslie did straightened out that she would be followed by the same person who she had to clean up after.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    What about Mark Mikolajczyk? How long has he been in Brevard?

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Great point Anon @ 3:52 p.m.

    Mark is fantastic. I’d come back into Gannett for a chance to work with him. He got a raw deal in Detroit.

    Whatever happens, I wish Mark all the best – which he’s earned and deserves.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    The Journal News could easily, I mean easily, reach their financial goals by just eliminating a few fat-cat editors/executives who do nothing to get the paper out except stand over people’s shoulders, saying “do this and do that.” They have so much executive fat, they don’t even list them all on the Contact Us page on the Web site. Of course, the rank-and-file editors and reporters will wind up getting cut and left with even more work while dozens there stand around and attend meetings. Disgraceful.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Anon at 12:32… are you kidding? Did you really say Ellen Leifeld straightened things out in Nashville? What a joke! She has slashed and burned, and the result is tanking circulation and revenue, and a completely demoralized staff.

    http://tinyurl.com/3f9wjk

    Why not make Leifeld the CEO so we can drive this company into the ground faster? Let’s end the misery.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Giallombardo back to publisher? Are you kidding? She is a total train wreck! It’s pretty clear that she will be out of her current position once Krans arrives at corporate. Let’s hope that we don’t have to do 2 buyouts this time for poor performance.
    She just needs to stay home for good and do whatever the hell she does full time.

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