Reader: Moon is worst thing to happen to USAT

Regarding my post about USA Today, a reader says of Craig Moon, publisher since May 2003: “Since the day he arrived his goal has been to Gannettize USA Today and he has succeeded. He has gutted the editorial side, he has cut circulation to the bone, he restructured the marketing department and then never gave them the budget they need to do their job, he wants new products but refuses to provide the money to adequately fund them. The man has no vision, no strategy. The only thing he knows is how to march to the orders of the Gannett tower. I am so sick of hearing how newspapers are dead. Bad decisions are hurting newspapers. Poor management is hurting newspapers. The mindlessness of corporate bean counters is hurting newspapers. Craig Moon holding on to a dream? Hardly. The man is incapable of a dream, much less holding on to one. USA Today is a marvelous brand with a very loyal readership. It hardly is dead despite Moon’s horrid leadership. Actually, his lack of leadership.”

Join the debate, in the original post.

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13 Responses to “Reader: Moon is worst thing to happen to USAT”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve worked on the Gannett and USAT side and can testify to witnessing some horrific behavior by group presidents and publishers. There’s a lot of people you can demonize at Gannett but I don’t think Moon is part of that crowd. Moon at least is making an effort to improve the way managers treat employees at USAT. I don’t hear of anything like that happening on the community newspaper level.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Moon is making an effort to improve the way manager’s deal with employees at USAT?
    What planet are you living on?
    Morale is as bad as I’ve seen it here, and I’ve been here since the 1980s. The News section is more disjointed and top down than it was under Hal Ritter. By and large, reporters are very unhappy. The Money section operates rudderless and when stories break, senior editors are slow off the mark and unsure what to do. Several jobs throughout the paper are being filled by management without being posted and open to all – a potential violation of Labor laws. And the vaunted merger of on-line and print continues only on paper throughout most sections. The general thinking is that with all the layoffs going on throughout the industry, Moon, who didn’t take a cut in pay or bonus despite slashing staff 9% last year is just waiting to slash and burn again.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, I am hearing one of USATODAY’s founders was asked to take an early retirement. This is big news, since this GM was one of the first people who introduced the hotel program……. I think it is worth covering the subject, not sure if more on the way in term of more market consolidation. This is bad because they are eliminating one of the top and smartest people on their team. I have also heard NYTIMES might be interested in Hiring this person because of all the leverage he has. Another bad decision by USATODAY’s management team.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    As an insider, I agree with another commentator. The morale at USAT is lower than I can ever recall, the so-called Design Department is a mish-mash of haves and have-nots. The News section is simply floundering. Things were bad under Hal Ritter, but this is worse. And the print-online merger, well… Don’t even let me get started on that! Not sure Moon is to blame for all of what is going on. As the man at the top, he must accept some responsibility. His Gallup Poll fiasco (to improve morale) did nothing but waste a lot of money and time. Most people answered the Gallup surveys dishonestly, and said they were happier than they really were, just to avoid prolonging the horrid process. I tend to think it’s the spineless managing editors who are making the really terrible decisions (or, worse, sticking their heads in the sand). The MEs seem far more interested in their own salaries and bonuses than in what’s really going on in the hearts and minds of those underneath them. Does anyone at USAT sense any honor in any of the MEs? I have always gotten the feeling that any one of them would sell me and others down the river in a second. They want loyality, but give none in return.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, you can always tell the editorial staff comments: perfect spelling and perfect lack of business sense. 😉

    Moon has a pretty good vision and strategy — how well his team can execute it is the issue. And if he doesn’t supply $ for new efforts — well, Tom Curley had the same problem getting Gannett to invest and take risks — even when his brother was CEO.

    Comments above point a finger at a USAT problem they seem to have some insight on — editorial management adrift. They may be onto something. It’s not Moon’s fault that the web site’s traffic growth is so weak vs its peers.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Regarding the comments by Anon 7/02/2008 9:53 PM and the USA Today MEs. There’s a side to the story that goes unnoticed by most staffers. The pressures put on the MEs by advertising and marketing are enormous. The ME of Life is being pulled in directions that have little to do with the journalistic mission of her section. Advertising wants her to write content that appeals to certain advertisers so they can sell it. Guess what, the ad staff couldn’t sell water to someone dying of thirst. The marketing department wants Life to produce content that it wants. Meanwhile, the Life ME is working with a depleted staff and trying to produce content she knows that readers want. The depleted staff and expense cuts forced her to give up the All-USA Academic teams, the one brand franchise recognized by all and the feature that celebrated academic accomplishments at the high school, junior college, 4-year college and teacher levels, something no other publication did. There is not another ME who cares more deeply about her people than the ME of Life.

    The ME of Money experienced similar pressures from advertising and marketng and was taken to task because he dared question it. The Money section has been jerked around so many times by advertising demands that don’t pan out the staff might as well be on a roller coaster.

    Similarly, the ME of Sports is so gun shy and has been beaten up so many times that Sports now pretty much adheres to whatever cockamamie pullout or special section advertising or marketing wants regardless of whether it will sell.

    News and design are two different beasts and don’t come under the same pressures from advertising and marketing.

    The merger, well, that requires a book.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    anaon 12:42

    Make sure you know what you are talking about. The real story is quite different.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    The ‘design’ department? Where’s that?

    Getting a graphic at USA TODAY is now almost impossible.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    anon 7/03/2008 10:29 AM do you have a story to tell us?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    7/03/2008 3:09 PM I’m just going to mind my own business. It’s his story, not mine.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    To 10:28 AM: That’s no fun, I want to hear a story!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I am in agreement with 1:57 am, but to save you from typing, we can sum it up in three words, politics, favoritisms and foolishness!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    anon 7/05/2008 2:50 AM

    You say you are in agreement with anon 1:57 and then you feel you can sum it up in three words. Well, which is it: do you want to hear a story or do you think you know the story?

    Or is there a third truth? That you just want to fabricate a story to make yourself feel important or to just stir the pot? Do you even know this guy?

    You’re the kind of poster that stifles any credibility this blog still has.

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