What layoff survivors wonder about co-workers

“How the hell did he/she survive the cuts?”

— a Gannett Blog reader, commenting on my paper-by-paper breakdown of the newly announced 600 layoffs.

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41 Responses to “What layoff survivors wonder about co-workers”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Nice post. Now let’s turn them against each other. Very egalitarian.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder how worthless managers get to keep their jobs while others get the ax.

  3. Jim Hopkins Says:

    @7:42 p.m.: That reflects a sentiment that I’ve been seeing in a growing number of comments.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder how many newspapers will actually run stories of their own layoffs.

    Percentage guess, anybody?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’m sure some worthless managers will be found out when they lay off the ones who were actually doing the worthless managers job.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    It seems all the Ohio newspaper groups are axing nine positions each. The publisher from Mansfield has announced nine, and so did the publisher for Lancaster.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    What happens after all of the layoffs? We’ve seen what happens when Gannett managers and leaders are told to innovate. Frankly, Craig Dubow’s suggestion to innovate was smart. I don’t think he was totally aware of the industry that he was dealing with. Newspaper people — especially the managers — are notorious for not thinking outside the box. They are taught to be cynical and critical of anything that doesn’t conform to … well … the broadsheet. I really do feel sorry for Craig. He is in a situation where he has to deal with a LOT of people who don’t know how to move faster than snails.

    A lot of his opponents at this point would likely chastise me for his salary. Well guess what … his job is to deal with financials. Of which he has done an amazing job! Just compare the stock price to that of any other newspaper company. He is trying to hold the hands of all those traditionalists in newsrooms across the US who resent the challenge of change and innovation.

    I can tell you one thing … Dubow’s successor won’t be as nice and gentle — yes, gentle — about the situation. I suspect — and hope — that all employees (including those in newsrooms) are rated on how much money their work brings to the table. Seriously! Whether you cover grappling First Amendment issues or sell ads, your worth should be measured in how much money you bring to the trough. Life is not a free ride, this includes newspaper employees.

    It is just so sad to watch so many people take for granted the opportunity for innovation when Craig Dubow took over.

    As far as I am concerned, those who haven’t tried to make a difference are unjustified to complain about layoffs.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    spoken by someone who expects not to be laid off.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Innovation doesn’t mean buying into pointless tech start-ups.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    It is not often in life that I find myself sounding like the lone Pollyanna, but from where I sit in Jersey, coworkers are genuinely concerned about each other, each other’s families, each other’s career paths and each other’s futures. We don’t want to see anyone lose their job in this economy and in this tough time in our profession, and believe me, in the last few days I’ve spoken with a whole lot of my coworkers. I am not saying the newsroom is one giant love fest, but I certainly haven’t heard anything like the posts above. It’s tense and it’s stressful and it’s scary and it sucks but to say every newsroom is becoming a knife fight free-for-all is not true. Again, I’m not suggesting it’s all a big sloppy group hug, but at least at my site we are not writing each other’s obits just yet.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with 10:48pm. I too work in a NJ site. It is quiet, sad & gloomy. All here are concerned about each other and their families, no one wants to see the other get the axe. This is a bad economy to get laid off in. This weekend will be the most miserable weekend for myself, my husband, my co-workers and their families. Just wondering who and when will go. Will it be on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday? I know if I see my managers come to my site, I most likely will pass out or become ill. I'm in my 14th year with the paper and I feel there is no future for me in what I do, if I'm laid off. All that is out there in NJ is crap retail jobs for minimum wage. (I'm in ad production). For God's sake don't feel sorry for Dubow & his big salary and most likely bonus to come. He and all those in the ivory tower at corporate can go pound salt! Shame on them! Why don't they take pay cuts or step down? It's their leadership that has failed this company.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    This is a bit off point, but I enjoy this blog because it is the great equalizer. Management can’t use its power and threats to silence us here. I am talking specifically about USAT management. You can’t hit what you can’t see! It took the Internet and a former employee’s blog to free our voices. How ironic.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Turning against each other isn’t anything new at USA Today. My department has been under attack for years. Nasty confrontations and finger pointing games are fairly routine. But now we’re turning against each other from within my department because of some very naive and short-sighted thinking at the top. Virtually, nothing functions smoothly anymore, even the simplest of tasks have been short-cicruited, which not only hurts us, but the product. Some of us have fought hard to find ways to make things work, but it seems the powers that be come up with something new every day that make the situation impossible. Many of us have given up. I do expect more conflicts and more turning against each other. It’s sad because it didn’t have to be this way. With some true leadership, we could have weather this storm. Now there is virtually no trust, no cohesion.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 10 PM really needs a Dubow t-shirt and a reality check.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like this is all a creation of very bad management. Turn your anger towards them, not each other. Don’t buy their phony smiles and popcorn fun days. They are going to be looking for friends through this. These managers and department heads are going to conjure up things to make you believe they are good guys. But don’t be fooled by that. A tiger does not change its stripes. They survived a lot of years by doing whatever corporate orders them to do. They aren’t your friends. Beware of managers being sweet and overly empathetic over the next few weeks. Take everything, good and bad, with a grain of salt. Don’t laugh at their bad jokes. Don’t buy their sad faces when they talk about the layoffs. They are safe; you aren’t. They are well paid. Their jobs are to make us remaining employees feel that all is well so that we produce. It’s about time they start losing sleep over some of this crap. But if you entertain their little tricks to make you think they are as caring and human as you are, then the cycle will just continue. Freeze them out. Don’t eat with them. Don’t tell them about your weekends. Don’t share or go out of your way to be social. Make it known, without being unprofessional, that you don’t buy what top managers are selling anymore. They created this them against us environment through their deceptions. Let’s keep it as them against us, and not let it deteriorate into us against us.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Does anyone know if the higher ups read this blog? Even if half of what is said here is true, this is a seriously messed up company, filled with some seriously angry people. No wonder the company is failing. Layoffs happen, sure. It’s not a good thing. But there is something else going on in this company that is causing some massive resentment and pushback. Seems like this blog is allowing the floodgates to open, which should be an eye-opener. Sounds like these folks haven’t been heard or really listened to in years, if ever. Whatever has been done to allow or disallow communication of problems or grievances hasn’t worked. Maybe Gannett doesn’t allow for honest exchange or does those silly surveys that no one ever answers honestly. I’ve worked in places where management claims to have an open door policy, and they will listen but rarely act upon what they hear. Can be very disheartening for employees to feel no one is really in their corner. Truly in their corner. Not just lip service. Actions must back up words in management. I don’t know what’s happening, but it appears to have some root causes that have taken years to develop, or is this just how the entire media is run? I don’t work in the industry but do have some indirect ties to the news business. Suffice to say, these people are very upset. You don’t have to be a shrink to see that the problem is fairly obvious and that there doesn’t appear to be a simple solution. The layoffs are aggravating a situation that already existed in my humble opinion.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I have heard that the Washington Post use to encourage back stabbing. They thought it was good to create newsroom tension. Made reporters more competitive. I presume Gannett managers have used similar tactics, or at the very least openly play favorites. But now the heat is beng turned up further because of the layoffs and other financial realties. Newspapers are dying. Now the real worker vs. worker conflicts will arise. What an awful business. I suppose there are worse things, but I am glad I got out of newspaper work early in my life. Not sure how you folks stand this.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett has had it problems with worker relations, but it got far worse several years ago, just before corporate and USA Today moved to McLean. Now it’s just an inferno of deceit and frustration, particularly in the newsroom, but also in IT and other departments. Kind of depends who you are and how much ass you have kissed over the years. Some are still quite comfortable, at least for now.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    My shop still has some of the most unproductive people imaginable working there. Some aren’t just lazy. Some are certifiably nuts! The types who could potentially go postal over the least little thing. People who seriously have mental/emotional issues, some of which have been reported, but Gannett has done nothing about. Kind of scary, with this sort of pressure, what might happen when these folks begin hearing their dogs talking to them!

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I am surprised that I haven’t read any comments about one of the major things that plagues Gannett… The company attorneys!

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Today was popcorn day in Cherry Hill. Talk about putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Add the rumor that both the publisher and managing editor are on vacation next week, and it’s obvious how oblivious people are. I would hope the publisher changes his vacation sked. We’ll see.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    @ 10:00

    Man, I am sick to death of hearing GCI blame its problems on fear of change among the rank and file.

    We’re journalists, career journalists. Every last one of us has spent every day of our lives in this business adapting to change.

    Reorganizations, redesigns, reassignments, realignments, new priorities, new technology, new management, new ownership, new styles, new missions, new target audiences, new initiatives, new directives … we live with this all the time. About every six months, by count, for as long as I have been with Gannett.

    We have been having changes — often, radical changes — hurled at us since the day we walked in the door at our first job. And you know what? Most of us have adapted with enthusiasm, creativity, or simple dogged professionalism no matter how crazy the ideas.

    Remember: Our names go on those stories. Our personal reputations are on the line with every story we write. Many thousands of people know my name and are perfectly willing to blame me when they’re unhappy about whatever decision from GCI dictated that they cannot get the news they want from this organization.

    Change for change’s sake is meaningless. And here’s another bulletin for you: It doesn’t work when massive initiatives are hurled down like thunderbolts from HQ, formulated by people who have no idea what goes on in the communities we serve, or even in the newsroom they rule from afar.

    Powerful transformation is entirely possible in newspapers. It has happened before when the knowledge and commitment of the rank and file are engaged, and when the change is based on definitive values that govern every corner of the organization. Other industries learned this lesson decades ago, but not the newspaper racket, and certainly not GCI.

  23. Jim Hopkins Says:

    @6:20 a.m. wrote: “Does anyone know if the higher ups read this blog?” Boy, do they ever!

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Anybody hear things about the rest of Gannett? Broadcast, Newsquest, GMTI?

    (GMTI is a great example of where Gannett fails. For our Celebro product, they create layouts in PageMaker – the last new version of which came out in 2001, and does not run in Vista.)

  25. Anonymous Says:

    No kidding about GMTI. You’d think, the most easily outsourced division in the company would make them think about customer service a bit.

    Instead we get lousy products, slow service and they argue with MY customers about THEIR ads!

    Our real estate people hate dealing with Celebro so much, whenever we bring up any kind of automation, they ask if they can opt out.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    When will we get an email from the Gannett Foundation asking us to buy wristbands to help the disaster relief effort?

    No, not for the laid off, silly. To pay for the unemployment compensation the company is on the hook for!

  27. Anonymous Says:

    We all received the letter saying people were going to get fired. Has it happened to anyone yet?
    Can’t understand why they would hand out the letters then wait.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    That’s the most baffling part of this for me. Why are we all waiting?

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett has always prided itself on their perverse behavior and how much mental/physical pain they can
    create with the employees.

    It seems to be a badge of pride when
    someone drops dead or suffers a mental melt down from their efforts.

    I wonder how the age breakdown is with those being terminated? It would be a good idea to collectively seek out the information and pursue a class action against GCI based on age discrimination. From those I speak with, it seems mainly older, better paid staff is being targeted.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Being an employee of a Gannett paper in a clustered group, we have been riding a wave of constant consolidation and job losses for about 7 to 8 years now. About once or twice a year a department will be whitled down a little more and run through one of the sister sites, and the jobs either move to that site or are eliminated. I guess I’m just saying that having job functions and entire departments consolidated isn’t a new concept for some sites. We’ve been waiting for shoes to drop for years. Larger sites, good luck. You’ll soon be feeling what the smaller sites have been living with for a long time now.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    The first to go should be the managers that get six-figure salaries but have been demoted two or three times.

    At the Indy Star, I know of at least one like that, and he’s still adjusting to using e-mail. Frustrating to see those types making so much for doing so little.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    A former VP of Operations in Nashville used to refer to GMTI as Grossly Mismanaged Technology Inc.!

  33. Anonymous Says:

    It’s not man-vs-man in Cherry Hill. We’re all concerned for each other and I’m certain we’re just suffering through this weekend. A bunch of people were cleaning out their desks Friday so they don’t have to do it in front of everyone if they get laid off. At best (best being I don’t get laid off) it’s going to be a heart-wrenching week Sadly, I think this is when most of the ad designers will be shown the door because of 2AdPro. It’s a shame because 2AdPro does horrible, horrible work.)

  34. Anonymous Says:

    We all got a memo from Skip via Luanne last week telling us that there will be more layoffs with 1000 people throughout the Gannett Corp., with at least 9 full time employees and 3 part timers in HNT and Bridgewater locations. What is bothering me is that they know who is going but have decided to tell us on the 20th.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    anonymous 4:47 has the right idea — if you find out the ages (guestimates are fine ) of people getting the ax, please send them to jim. knowing gci, they’ll probably break the age bias laws and hope no one notices.

    buyout checks probably are paid only if you promise not to sue. (was that true last year? can someone who got the “good” buyout tell us, please?)

  36. Anonymous Says:

    I’d like to know what steps have been taken at the sites to prepare for stressed employees taking out their frustrations on company property. It seems as though management has got to be operating in high alert mode. The masses of people not knowing if they’re the next to go could be stealing corporate secrets or unleashing a computer virus right now…

  37. Anonymous Says:

    LOL…Well we can always hope!

  38. Anonymous Says:

    SOmeone needs to trace a “kilroy was here” picture on the blue ball.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    A couple things Gannett has always done at its newspapers:

    1. Push out most folks over 55. They have a variety of ways to do this, and are very careful not to give the appearance of breaking laws.
    2. Hire young people to replace experienced staffers, under pay them, and burn them out.

    So if you think about it, age of staffers in the newsroom shouldn’t turn people against each other. Both young and old are getting screwed!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    i agree, 3:01, but only those 40 and over are supposedly protected aginst age bias. thats why sending jim ages of those getting cut might lead to a lawsuit.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 10 pm…. how are you feeling today Craig?

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