USA Today: About that Aug. 27 all-hands meeting

More buyouts? Seems reasonable to assume. But why wait two weeks from today to give details — and cost the company untold hours’ productivity among an increasingly nervous staff? “Everyone assumes this means more buyouts/layoffs are imminent,” a staffer told one of my readers. “My gut is clenching already.”

Sounds like USA Today Publisher Craig Moon might want to consider a clarification.

The text of his memo today: “Please save the date for a USA TODAY Company Update with Craig Moon on Wednesday, August 27th at 11:00 a.m. ET. If you’re in Tysons, the Update will be held in the auditorium. If you’re outside Tysons, you can join via webcast or call-in. More details will be posted on the homepage of the intranet soon.”

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36 Responses to “USA Today: About that Aug. 27 all-hands meeting”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Seems particularly nasty for the troops who have marched off to cover the Olympics and who will march off to cover the first of the two political conventions, only to come home to … what, exactly? Another hurry-up-and-decide buyout offer? Something less shiny? Worse?

    Wednesday, Aug. 27, hmmm — that’s Bubba Clinton’s night at the podium, plus Obama’s veep-mate. Sure glad there’ll be no distraction for working journalists at The Nation’s Newspaper THAT day.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Maybe it’s another meeting to discuss the company’s stellar new marketing campaign…from “Were all in this together” to “You’re all screwed”….

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Just business as usual at the nation’s newspaper. If it isn’t ominous news, then why not a few more details about the meeting? If it’s bad news, why wait? Well, I guess the answer is that the suits want to get through the Olympics. Don’t want folks quitting in China. Would be bad for business and image. I am so fed up with this industry. I estimate that on a normal day I am lied to in one way or another at least a dozen times. Lies aren’t even seen as lies anymore. They are so common that it’s more or less accepted as standard business practice. Newspapering has always been difficult work with somewhat unique demands, but wrecking careers, needlessly creating so much anxiety and health issues for senior staffers is just unacceptable. I bet if buyouts are coming on the 27th, they won’t fall short of takers this time around. Rather than administering death from a thousand paper cuts, it would be more humane for USA Today to just do whatever it has to do so folks can get on with their lives. I don’t want to hear anything more about the economy or the cost of newsprint. As long as Moon draws the salary he does, and as long as occupants in corner offices are living the good life, these woes of poverty just don’t hold much water.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Gimme a break people. Quitting in China? Really? You don’t think that it’s reasonable to let everyone get back from Beijing in order to give more people the chance to be around for the meeting in person, regardless of the tone and content of the conversation? To ask questions and to raise issues? Seriously.

    All I have to say is, if you are that unhappy on a day-to-day basis, you owe it to yourself and your family to quit and find a more enjoyable way/place to earn a living.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Well, there’s no good time to satisfy everyone, is there? I guess my point was that the comment about people quitting in Beijing was pretty silly. Nobody quit after the call for volunteers last fall – everyone who would have quit (or were ready to retire anyway) waited for that extra week of buyout money per year of service. Folwell, Hook, Huffman, et al.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    This is good news people. I am hearing that Mr. Moon will be announcing his “retirement”!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Lots of changes need to happen at USAT! They have to compete with NY Times and an inspired Wall Street Journal in print. Let alone their struggles online.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    WTF? That’s right in the middle of the Democratic convention. If it’s bad news: Way to crush a staff!

    On the other hand, Moon didn’t announce the last bad news; he let Ken Paulson do the deed…so maybe this isn’t so bad. Or maybe Paulson just refused (let’s start a rumor!). And even a place as occasionally tone-deaf as this one would be unlikely to announce a meeting 14 days in advance to dump some bad news.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I heard Moon is announcing that he has been chosen as Obama’s running mate.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    The more I think about it, the more I’d have to think it’s at least somewhat unlikely this is a buyout announcement. A whole handful of top USAT editors are scheduled to be in Denver during this time. That seems like an unlikely thing to do if Rotten News is imminent.

    I would say this: If Gannett does choose to make a buyout/layoff announcement at this meeting, I would definitely fire up the resume. Nobody should work for a company that is that dumb.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Annon 8:12 I am calling you out. You get lied to 10 times a day. Name the five you were told today. That is just a melodramtic comment and I am calling you out. What did they tell you tehre was american cheese in the lunch room today and it turned out to be swiss. Enough with the blanket drama. Tell us the lies you were told today!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I have never read more cynical comments. Slavery went out 200 years ago. If you hate your job, leave. If you stay, be a grown up and do the job and take the money and stop complaining. The industry is in a state of change. We are not alone. Change is inevitable everywhere. Find another career and stop the whining if you are so miserable. Nobody likes negative energy.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    10:13pm

    “If you hate your job, leave” sounds great (and is certainly a simple way of dealing with unpleasant situations), but in the real world … probably not a good idea. In the real world many of us have families to support and many years at the company we’d rather not flush away.

    Change is inevitable, but incompetency at the level we’re seeing it here is inexcusable. The “negative energy” is being created by mismanagement and poor communication. To blame those who are complaining about both is to add insult to injury.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 10:13 I don’t disagree. Most of us can’t just get up and walk away. But this mindless ranting does absolutely nothing, not to mention the “it’s the end of the world” hyperbole. My recommendation to many commenters here … Take a note from Paulson’s monthly from a couple months back and stop using doomsday language to describe events that can be described without the exaggeration. It’s unbecoming a professional journalist. The “a dozen lies today” and “death by a thousand paper cuts” garbage is just that … garbage. Anon 8:12PM needs to get a life, and learn how to write non-fiction.

    BTW, I am also 8:40 and 8:55 anonymous entries.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    RE: Don’t want folks quitting in China.
    I don’t think, regardless of what might be announced, that the top journalists covering the Olympics or planning to cover the political conventions would throw a temper tantrum and quit.
    When there were buyouts at my paper, people stayed to finish projects or launch and conclude work they were committed to do. As far as I know, there was a deadline for deciding to accept the buyout but not necessarily a deadline for leaving.
    As for me, I was ready to go and I did, ASAP. And they were gracious about it.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like the Gannett apologists, and maybe some fat-cat newsroom managers, have discovered this blog. I recognize the language they use. They must hate this. We’re getting under their skin!

    A couple notes:

    1. I think the author of the comment about “quitting in China” was saying that somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Surprised some people took that so seriously. On the other hand, I don’t think buyout or layoff victims are going to be so gracious in the future when they leave. Emotions are running high in some segments.

    2. What’s this “Gannett, Love it or Leave It” mentality all about? Seems like some folks are against free speech. They don’t seem like forums where people can express themselves. Opinions, whether valid or not, have a value in our society. You would think these bumper-sticker jerks would be more tolerant of various views, especially since these people work for a freakin’ newspaper! But Gannett has created an army of managers whose main task is to silence the masses. And you can begin to see their handywork here. Make no mistake about it, most people would leave if they could. But various circumstances, whether they be personal finances, health, family or just a failing economy, keep people at USA TODAY. Those who think it’s so easy to just leave at mid-career, probably have fat bank accounts or are mobile, younger employees. We graying rebels choose to stay and fight and speak out.

    As for the meeting on the 27th, my guess is that nothing that dramatic will be announced, but I do believe this might be setting the stage for something else to follow. Regardless, whatever Moon says should be taken with a grain of salt. History has taught us to view these people with a suspicious eye. And those who forget history…

  17. Anonymous Says:

    It is disturbing to see people defending Gannett/USAT and putting down, even demeaning their coworkers for being worried about the future. All the speculation, no matter how wild or off base, was essentially created by less than stellar management, deceit and poor communication from the top. We, the worker ants, didn’t create this hysteria. Moon and many other supervisors are responsible. They cheerlead on one day, and meanwhile are working behind the scenes to cut jobs. And we’re suppose to trust them? We’re just suppose to go about our business? Well, we’re human beings. And while Gannett would probably like to replace all of us with machines, that’s not going to happen for awhile. We are going to speak, write, blog, emote. I would say to those who don’t like this blog or reading about these very real, very human feelings — stop reading the blog.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Some people choose to fight for what’s right, for what they’ve built and want to maintain. Others advocate running when the going gets tough. It appears to me that those advocates of leaving are the same people who either:

    a. Have a sweetheart deal at USA Today and don’t want it to be disrupted in any way by all these grumpy people who are cutting to the bone on some issues.

    b. Have enough money in the bank, as some of the last buyout people did, to walk away. You think Folwell or Huffman are living in a box on the sidewalk? They could leave because they could afford to.

    c. Have such a simple or parochial view of life/career that they just can’t understand why someone might need to or want to try to fix things from within the system. To them it’s very black and white. Stay and shut up, or leave. This is the kind of mentality that is fostered at USA Today, particularly in certain parts of the newsroom. You just aren’t a team player if you say anything that even vaguely sounds negative, regardless of the good intentions of the comment.

    As long as USA Today continues to crush free speech, blogs like this will flourish.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    9:17 a.m. Well said!

  20. Anonymous Says:

    My only dispute with what has been said about Gannett and USA Today is that all these ills aren’t unique to that one company. Corporate America is a mess. Entangled in lies, manipulation and worse. Thomas Jefferson warned the founding fathers that corporations were one of the biggest threats to liberty and our way of life. Appears like he was correct.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    i’ve been waiting for a jeffersonian to weigh in

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Many of us love what we do but hate who we do it for. Unfortunately, corporations now run all media. Journalism and corporate values don’t mix. We would leave and practice our trade elsewhere, but there no longer is an elsewhere. That doesn’t mean we’re going to lie down and let agents of Gannett treat us like idiots. We worked many Christmas eves, to the wee hours on many busy news days. We made tremendous personal sacrifices. Our family lives suffered because we were so dedicated to journalism, to getting the story, making the picture, creating the graphic. Our health deteriorated but purpose remained intact. In some cases, I believe the strains of working at this and other newspapers has claimed lives. We are generally underpaid, and always have been, but that was OK because we saw honor in our work. So to all you peeps that think this is just another job, something else that is disposable, think again. To those people who have it good right now and don’t see the pain and deception (and want us to shut up), you will one day feel what we feel. Your time will come if you don’t learn the lessons that are currently before you. Some of us were in the good graces of the company at one time, just as you are now. We were naive but filled with purpose. If you value your futures, you will back us up through these hard times. Start questioning things a bit more. Don’t accept everything at face value. Yes, we have a nice building. There are some good things still about USAT. Protect them. Build on them. Have a journalistic perspective so that this company doesn’t veer too much off course. The media, in whatever form, is still vital to our society. It’s healthy for journalists to have a rebellious spirit, even if Gannett and USA Today editors would rather you didn’t.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, I hope Gannett doesn’t find a way to shut down your blog. I fear some of these comments are exposing truths that are making folks very uncomfortable in the towers. I don’t see libel issues, per se, but I do see remarks that probably aren’t going over real well with the empty suits and highly paid editors. Will be interesting to see how Gannett responds to this growing blog. Will they shut you down, buy you out again or just enter the blog with their own comments (disguised as regular staffers). Of course, if they do shut you down, someone else will probably start something up. With so many angry people, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had some “competition” real soon. Keep up the good fight, man. We’ll let you know what is said on the 27th.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Moon plans to announce that he will no longer golf and that he’s giving up his annual $600,000 bonus.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Correction. His salary is $600,000. His cash bonus was $365,000 last year.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Whatever Moon announces on August 27, I hope it isn’t a rah-rah speech. Would be nice to hear some genuine and sincere remarks, whether they’re positive or negative. Just give us the truth. Give us info we can use. Provide some tangible examples of how things are going to improve (or worsen). Stop with the corporate-speak, which is now being spoken by some in the newsroom. It’s rather transparent and degrading to us adults who have to listen to it. And please, don’t serve popcorn. This isn’t the third-grade.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Imagine what Jefferson would think sitting in on one of these corporate meetings! It makes it even worse that this particular corporation owns such a large segment of the once-honored newspaper business – a building block of a free society. USA Today might not have enjoyed the treasured reputations of the more serious and insightful newspapers, but it was well on its way to getting there until this latest grew came in, corrupted many of the editors and decided to trash the paper in favor of something that may or may not pan out. Decided that rather late in the game, I might add.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Think I’ll skip the meeting. What’s really left to say? In no mood to listen to a guy in white shirt tell me anything, pro or con. The lack of inspiration in these people is just dismal.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I am with ya! Why go to the meeting? Things are already decided. I don’t need to witness a bunch of spinning in the middle of another stressful workweek. In fact, wouldn’t it be a grand statement if no one showed up for the meeting or, for that matter, the Christmas party.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Let’s keep it real. The newspaper business is just that. A business. People like Moon exist because someone thinks he’s good at making money. Making money, or the perception of being able to do so, is what gives people power and promotions. We live in a country where money is everything. Everything else — art, honesty, integrity, watchdog journalism, inspirational supervisors, talented writers — mean virtually nothing. The cream does not rise to the top. Not in this business. Not anymore. Stories are driven by marketing not by the impact on our way of life. Clicks are more important than exposing profound ills of society or trumpeting the real heroes, and not just Tiger Woods. We hitch our wagon to Tiger and Britney because they sell. Meetings, which aren’t bad in and of themselves, are no longer productive. So forget about anything meaningful coming from the Moon meeting on the 27th. Meetings are venues for some to show off their wares or to manipulate a situation. Meetings are function of power. How many meetings can you chair or be invited to shows how important you are to the company. Feeds the ego. The non-managerial folks in newsrooms are generally a certain type of personality, according to a the Myers-Briggs test. They are in the newsroom, writing, drawing, designing, because they question things and are inquisitive. they are creative and, yes, cynical. These are no longer valued traits at USAT. These newsroom staffers want to do something in life with a higher calling. Again, another mismatch in today’s corporate newsrooms. Some sections and departments are further along in their decay than others. Some might be surprised to read all the negative stuff in this blog. But the decay is spreading. Whether you’re in advertising, marketing, IT or online, it’s coming. Nothing on the 27th will be said to change that reality. I suspect the web people are beginning to get a taste of what it’s like to be under the Gannett thumb. The days of their being this nice little experimental side business are also ending.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Moon will do a little song and dance. Some will buy it, some will be disgusted by it. Life goes on.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    I am going to cut the USA TODAY newsroom managers a break. Gannett forces them to wear a lot of hats. They are often running around doing this and that, and letting some important things fall through the cracks. No different than a mere copy editor swamped with stories to edit and having to cut corners to get through everything. Not sure it’s their fault when mistakes are made. It appears to be neglect or lack of ability, but it just might be that they have too much to do. All these little things falling through the cracks, however, are what will cause the house to fall. Now, should they have enough character and backbone to stand up to mother Gannett and redirect their energies into their staffs and good, insightful thinking/leadership? Absolutely. But this is Gannett. Not likely to happen. The company views multi-hat-wearing as a money-saver. They don’t see the intagibles that lead to departments falling apart, turnover or mistakes. Ultimately, the company will and is losing money because they’ve let outdated management philosophies linger for too long. We are in desperate need of visionaries. Some might exist right here in Tysons, but we may never know they exist because they are spending five hours a day in meetings or doing the work of four people.

    As for the meeting, Moon is what he is. Don’t expect much in the way of revealing the true picture.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    12:51 PM, Maybe the visionaries are out in the field, and not at the Towers. Take a look at the track records of some of the executives out in the field. Maybe the answer is there somewhere?

  34. Anonymous Says:

    The top editors at USA TODAY are telling folks today that the Moon meeting is just the annual meeting, with nothing dramatic expected. Tom Curley and Craig Moon have held similar meetings in the past at 11 a.m., and the entire organization is invited, not just the newsroom.

    He will introduce the new ad guy as well. If there is more in the wind, they don’t seemt o know, but I suspect this will be a non-event.

    As for more ‘rah-rah,’ that would be a welcome change! Put me down as pro-rah-rah.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Craig Moon is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life

  36. Jim Hopkins Says:

    @4:34 pm: LOL! That’s from one of my favorite movies, right? The 1962 version of “The Manchurian Candidate.” Please see: http://tinyurl.com/h4ocb

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