As layoffs begin, spotlight shifts to USA Today

The nation’s No. 1 circulation newspaper escaped the 3% job cuts now engulfing Gannett’s 84 community dailies — racheting up pressure on Publisher Craig Moon to sacrifice at least some of the paper’s hundreds of jobs in time for an Aug. 27 all-hands staff meeting.

USAT isn’t the only newspaper in play, of course. GCI’s No. 2 paper by circulation, The Arizona Republic, has delayed any job cuts while employees consider buyouts now on the table. The Cincinnati Enquirer also is deferring any cuts pending the outcome of about 50 buyout offers. “People are running for the exits,” Cincinnati blogger Newsache says.

But it’s high-profile USA Today that’s commanding much attention because of its disproportionate share of Gannett’s revenue, circulation and online traffic. The newspaper has historically been given more generous staffing and working conditions than Gannett’s much smaller 84 community papers. Some employees now fear Moon will rein in USAT‘s budget so it even more closely mirrors the razor-thin spending at those smaller titles. “This is the end of an era,” a reader says.

The paper has already laid off an undisclosed number of employees in the past year. It bought out 43 newsroom workers in late December — about 9% of its combined newsroom staffing. And it’s no doubt quietly eliminated more jobs through attrition. Still, it’s unclear how long Moon (left) — publisher since May 2003 — can preserve current staffing levels, given other GCI papers’ sacrifice, and USAT’s own faltering advertising sales. The paper’s June ad revenue plunged 27% from a year before, the paper’s single-worst monthly decline this year. That spurred Moon to shake up the sales team.

July’s monthly revenue report for USAT and for Gannett is expected any day. Gannett CEO Craig Dubow warned investors during the dismal second-quarter earnings report last month that results are likely to be bad again.

USAT staffers: After last week’s 1,000 job cuts, what are you expecting Moon to say at the Aug. 27 staff meeting? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

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52 Responses to “As layoffs begin, spotlight shifts to USA Today”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I expect the meeting on the 27th to lay the groundwork for future cuts at USA TODAY. The meeting itself might not yield any dramatic news at this time. Employees will probably have to read between the lines to figure out what might be coming.

    It would be nice to get frank, clear and sincere remarks from Moon, but I believe this will be more of what we’ve all gotten in recent years. And we all know what that is. Corporate-speak.

    Frankly, things are so bad that many of us are kind of numb to it all now. There has been a heavy feeling in the air since key people began leaving the paper, even before last year’s buyouts. They saw the writing on the wall, the problems with merging with online and other issues. Moon tried silly Gallup polling questions to better things, or at least identify problems, after certain newsroom fiascos. Few answered the questions honestly because they didn’t want this survey to be an ongoing thing. It was a waste of money. Most people said everything was fine, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was not one of the people who advocated lying on the survey. But that’s the way it played out, at least in large portions of the newsroom.

    We’ve gone through 3G. Pretended we were learning something in USAT University classes, and were penalized like children when we didn’t go to class. We’ve been fed popcorn and have been schooled in how to write evaluations that are meaningless documents (unless the company wants to fire you), based on false perceptions and favoritism.

    We’ve had salary freezes and hiring freezes. Some staffers are overworked, while others barely show up for work. Some get sweatheart deals, working from home or getting every Sunday off, while others labor away on every holiday and have some of the worst seats in the house.

    None of this will be discussed on the 27th. None of what will be said will really make much difference in day to day life at USAT. There might be hints of layoffs or further hardships, but it is unlikely this meeting will do much other than create further cynicism.

    We are in need of news we can use. But I am afraid that more spinning, more vague comments will be the theme of the day.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    First off, the meeting on August 27 is being held kind of early in the day, before the bulk of the newsroom is in. Wonder if that was intentional? Journalists tend to ask difficult questions at times.

    Frankly, I have no idea if we’re going to get cut. I suppose if not now, then the cuts will come later, as the last posting said. Let’s face it, the powers that be aren’t going to add any print positions ever again. What positions open up, through attrition, death or layoffs, will be filled with web site personnel.

    I could handle the cuts (presuming I survive), whatever they might involve, if our leaders also come up with a plan to take a realistic look at how we can work smarter and more efficiently. We don’t need more slogans like 3G or new seating charts to get us through this. We need real, tangible solutions that address workload and other daily challenges. There is still a lot of wasted effort and hours because of flawed work flows and some dead wood. Sorry to state the obvious, but some of the people not pulling their weight remain, while at the same time we lost some heavy hitters last November. I hope whatever cuts are made, now or in the future, target the low-end producers, regardless of salary or experience level.

    After the last round of buyouts, there were very few conversations about how we were going to do business with fewer bodies, at least in my department. That has led to a great deal of frustration. Somehow, I just hope everyone in key positions have more insightful answers this time about how we’re going to get through these rough days. Last go-around there was some ineffective cheerleading and god-awful plans that were based more on wishful thinking than anything substantive. We can’t keep losing bodies and suffering through superficial or non-existent planning. We need some serious leadership, not transparent pep talks.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Honestly, I don’t know if the publisher even knows what is going to happen at USA Today yet. We do know this much — the future for print workers isn’t good regardless if you’re at the biggest paper in the country or some little weekly. Whether you’re in the news room or the circulation department, your time is limited. Kind of a depressing reality to work under.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t expect Moon to dive too deeply into anything that hasn’t been said already in this blog or reported in other media. I don’t see any big news coming from this meeting.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Moon will say whatever he is told to say. The real decisions are made next door.

    This is a tough business to work in now. USA Today could have handled things a better to make the transitions easier, but instead got sloppy.

    Honestly, this is the end of an era. The newspaper was on top of the publishing world. Those who worked at USA Today were proud of their success. The competition with other papers was invigorating for many. Yes, there were tough times then, too. But nothing like this. Those days are behind us, so we all need to take care of ourselves individually now. Working at any newspaper is soon not going to be an option.

    My hope is that the news on August 27 is honest and to the point so that we can decide how to navigate our careers. Holding back bad news will damage folks more than it will help them.

    Give it to us straight, Moon. You owe us that.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The waiting is the hardest part for many of us. This doesn’t appear to be unfolding in the best way possible for anyone, not even the suits. Gannett defenders have to admit that info trickling out on a blog wasn’t the best way to announce the layoffs at the various papers last week. And now the wait USAT employees are experiencing doesn’t seem to be a sensible approach.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    There is a growing resignation about the fact that many of us will be scrambling to start new careers in our 50s. A daunting task. Whether that happens this year or next remains to be seen. Good luck to all at USAT and the many brothers and sisters at the other Gannett shops.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not ready for shuffleboard yet!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    We need info. Anyone have anything solid on USAT’s plans, short-term or long-term? Folks have to start planning and making various decisions, so any info that can be shared would be appreciated. Thanks!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry. Haven’t heard a thing.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Let me clarify something. Based on my own observations from within my department, USA TODAY has not been filling some open newsroom positions for about 10 years. As far as I am concerned, layoffs started in the late 90s, not last fall. I have been profoundly impacted by every one of those jobs that were lost.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Here is a take I’ve never read about on this blog. USA TODAY/Gannett was counting on a significant number of folks not moving from Arlington to the Tysons campus. They thought people would be too inconvenienced by the trek to the ‘burbs and saw the potential losses as a cost-savings benefit of the move. As it turned out, the losses weren’t that great. People moved with the company. USA TODAY barely lost anyone. The souring economy and downturn in ad revenue came later. The shiny palace in Tysons, in one of the most exclusive areas in Virginia, wasn’t going to be paid in part by the loss of jobs, not through attrition, anyway. Folks kept their jobs. We are where we are because USA TODAY and mother Gannett got greedy and arrogant. They built a disgustingly large complex that won’t be filled for many decades, if ever. Just the taxes on that place must be staggering. In many ways, what happened to Gannett/USA TODAY is also what happened to homeowners who are now being foreclosed upon. They over-reached. Didn’t prepare well for a downturn. But with Gannett, they have a solution. And now we all have to pay with our jobs. The mistakes of this company are varied and endless, but as long as Wall Street keeps rewarding the company for laying people off, as it did last week, don’t expect to retire at USA TODAY or any other Gannett property. USA TODAY is going to take another hit. Maybe in a week or two, and certainly within the next year. I am not a gloom and doom person by nature, but I just can’t ignore the facts.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I bet C. Moon has a real nice office there at the palace. Hope you all make him run back to it with his tail between his legs after the meeting on the Aug. 27. Give’em hell!

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Moon may not be the head of the monster…but he’s not far from it. Is there any honor in any of these people anymore? Will anyone stand up for what’s right, even if it puts their own jobs in peril?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    The stock has been sliding from $91 in 2004 to $20 today, so don’t take a one-day blip as any indication Wall Street is in love with GCI again. It’s been a series of death throes, and I think the investors just saw the 1,000 cuts as the first sign they have seen that the suits are going to do something to fight the ad and circulation downturn. As you point out, there has been a quiet attrition. But wait and see what happens to GCI and other newspaper stocks when the news drops of July’s ad declines. Olympics and back-to-school ads haven’t met expectations. Apologize for being so gloomy, but facts are facts.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    The suits already have put out notice that rental units are available at 7960 Jones Bridge, McLean. Note the reference to redundant space:

    http://www.hines.com/property/detail.aspx?id=161

  17. Anonymous Says:

    10:54 PM, Will you?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    OMG, would they fold USA Today?

  19. Jim Hopkins Says:

    All: We need to know current staffing at USA Today. It was once around 2,000 employees, but that was a long time ago. Anyone got that data?

  20. Anonymous Says:

    11:59, I have gone to bat for many of my direct reports for about 30 years, often knowing that by doing so I wasn’t endearing myself to my bosses. There were many situations where respect for my staff and myself trumped saving my own ass. I am not bragging on myself because prior to coming to Gannett, some of my bosses did the same for me. I don’t see that anymore. Maybe it’s the era we’re in, or maybe it’s the kind of managers Gannett attracts.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    USA Today will not fold. Not in the next five years at least.
    It still has a huge readership and a lot of revenue. Revenue like that is still a big business. Its just down like the rest of the industry. When classified ads moved to the web it was a watershed moment for newspapers. Most lost 50% of revenue and revenue pays for us in the newsroom. You have Craigslist to thank for that moment in your history.
    Then there is the rising cost of newsprint and a bad economy.
    But don’t bury newspapers altogether. They can survive and most likely will…albeit smaller and different.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I expect Craig Moon to say nothing that will directly impact most people. Some poor souls might take a hit, but the herd will remain intact. He’ll spew out some numbers, do a self-serving dance, maybe set the tone for things to come, and call it a day. People in the audience won’t ask tough questions because, as we saw during the day-long online/print merger USAT U sessions, anyone asking tough questions tends to get shouted down. For those who attended the first USAT session last year in the auditorium, Chet laid into Jim H. for asking legit and ethical questions. For the rest of the meeting, the audience was silenced. Kinsey wasn’t there at the time. Nice job Chet (one of USAT’s biggest frauds, and lowest intellects). From that day on, I knew the merger with online was going to be a train-wreck, and that trouble on other fronts was coming (the buyout). It was just one example of people getting crushed who have the guts to question those with fancy titles. Given the fact that most of USA Today’s upper-level managers are masters of holding meetings but revealing little tangible information, let alone truthful explanations, this meeting will most likely be a frustrating experience that some people, who have seen this act for many years, won’t even bother to attend. Don’t expect much from Moon or anyone else with an office in Tysons.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    News to managment:Stop trying to deliver the same profit margins as the glory days. The industry is in a historical realignment as ads and readers move online. Take a big write down and manage to lower profit margins….all newspapers. we cannot sustain the profits of the glory days so why try and cost thousands of lives? Journalism should be part of business, not government. But lets not pander to the institutional investors to the point of killing a critical part of democracy. The need for journalists. Not blogggers …but journalists. And no I am not a journalist. I am an investor. But I fear that media companies have not readjusted the expectation of a changing industry.
    This movement of ads and readers to the web is not a blip. Its the new reality. Lets lower profit expectations for a few quarters and do the hard work to rebuild based on this new reality.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Bullies tend to scream when questioned or confronted by reasonable and varying opinions. Chet, like many USAT managers, sounds like he was cornered in the meeting the writer above referenced. Didn’t have the wisdom or smarts to have a healthy debate. Wanted to crush the line of thinking that was coming from the audience. I’ve seen this in many managers at many USAT meetings over the years. They claim to want folks to participate at meetings, but hammer them hard if the talk doesn’t suit them. Many folks have just given up. Refuse to give their opinions about anything anymore.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Well said, 10:59 AM. While they’re at it, why doesn’t Gannett purchase a business that is completely opposite of media that is successful enough to sustain the media side while it goes through this transition? It’s not rocket science, people.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    As in diversify? Now there’s a concept.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    11:12 AM – Never give up. Keep asking the hard questions. Make them answer you or point out to everyone that they’re avoiding your questions. It’s time to take a stand. If people started making them answer the hard questions, maybe things would start to change. Remember, there is life outside of Gannett and other jobs to be had. Don’t be afraid to get the answers everyone so desperately needs!

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett has never quite understood that journalists are a slightly different breed. True journalists question things. They fight back. They have values adn insights. They have a nose for news and instincts that Gannett benefits from, but also wants to stifle. USA Today’s top editors have moved more towards the corporate mindset than the journalistic values I presume they once had. That is a profound problem in the USAT newroom. The generals are disconnected from their troops. It seems to me that lots of people are just out for themselves at USAT. It’s no longer about journalism. We once accepted low salaries and long hours because we loved what we did and felt some backing from the top. Editors rolled up their sleeves and really helped out where needed. Lately it’s about getting the best work schedule and maintaining a decent paycheck. That means kissing butt and not speaking up about obvious wrongs. This is a fragmented newsroom, and nothing CM says on the 27th is going to change that. Might make it worse. We will have to wait and see. Astonishing to me that CM is dragging this out as long as he is.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I am not as confident in the 5-year future of USAT as 10:15 am seems to be. Readership and revenues are both taking a big hit, and expenses keep going up. There comes a point where the revenues don’t meet the costs of payroll, printing and distribution, and unfortunately that is a figure that GCI hides from everyone. Community papers are bearing some of the printing costs and some of the payroll, too. That is why the downturn in community papers is certain to hurt USAT. A lot of USAT circulation is in hotels, and as you see from the stories, hotel rooms are going vacant these days.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Demanding answers, as 11:20 says, is long overdue. However the trend seems to be going the other way. People are becoming more scared, and not asking tough questions of late. Even mild questions have been dodged in the last year or two about a whole host of things, from moving to digital to layoffs. The big cheeses just would rather we remain ignorant or silent or both. I do believe things will worsen and that there might come a breaking point where people feel they have nothing left to lose by speaking up. Just not sure we’re there yet.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    I am pleading with people to ask questions on Aug. 27. But ask good questions. Don’t phrase them in a way that sounds like you are only interested in your little corner of the universe. Those types of questions are easy to dismiss and don’t generate followup from others. We need to ask broader questions that are inclusive of as many peeps as possible, then build upon more specifics from there. Bring the heat. Watch the back of your coworkers. If they shout anyone down, come to their defense.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Some form of a union will eventually organize at USA Today. It might not be like the unions of the past, but something has to be done to protect people. The wide scope of problems I read about there are just overwhelming. Doesn’t appear to just be a layoff issue. And BTW, who is this Chet guy and why is he allowed to scream at someone for asking a question? Do managers at USA Today ever get reprimanded for things like that? Or are they free to do this sort of thing? That company must have some pretty sharp and busy lawyers.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Spot on, 11:34 AM. I heard earlier that this meeting is being held before most reporters report to duty. Get to work early that day people, and ask the tough questions! Make them answer you!

  34. Anonymous Says:

    It’s time to expose Chet for the incompetent man that he is. Make him answer tough questions. Do not back down. There is nothing to lose anymore.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t just save the questions for this one meeting. Fight all the small battles, too. Ask, even demand, answers from every boss either one on one, or in meetings. They won’t know what hit them. A barrage of commonsense! And if most everyone is probing and offering resistence to things that just are simply wrong, they can’t shout us down or dismiss us all. They might not answer, but they will know how angry we are and how transparent their act has become. They’ll begin to know what it’s like to work in an office where their jokes are no longer so funny. Some might even realize that the only reason people talk to them is because they are the boss, not because they are genuinely liked or respected. Don’t let the smell of popcorn throw you. Now is the time to fight back and make these supervisors, department heads and editors explain their actions, big and small. If they create a policy that doesn’t make sense, tell them that and tell them why it doesn’t make sense. If they appear caught in a lie, press them on it. Find out what the motivation is for deception. They need to stop thinking we’re idiots or that their titles can protect them forever. Outside of that office, they are nothing. That’s why so many of them cling to their jobs. They know, without their titles, they are just human beings like you and me. It’s time for them to be brought down a few notches. Time they feel some of the discomfort we all have been feeling the last few years. When authority goes astray, people must fight back.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Chet is just the tip of the iceburg. He represents print managers/staffers who fled to online many years ago, essentially because they were going nowhere with the paper. These weren’t the brightest bulbs in the box. Some were competent, some weren’t. Some had skills but few work ethics. Others knew how to schmooze, but to this day do little else. Most of them didn’t leave because, as they like to tell you, that they we curious about the web site and wanted to help build it. Many of them were either fed up with the paper or the paper was fed up with them. They needed to move. The Freedom Forum wasn’t an option for every castoff. There was nothing noble about their going to .com. And now, in large part, these are the people running the web site. Good luck, USATers!

  37. Anonymous Says:

    It is heatin’ up in here. Lots of haters, but they make some good points. As a relatively new usat employee I am learning a lot of history on this blog. This could be a meeting for the ages next week.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    At least Tara Connell (the subject of much ridicule on here) left the USA Today newsroom before towing the company line in her Gannett PR job. USA Today MEs and DMEs spew the corporate b.s. from within the newsroom. They should all be ashamed of themselves. I expect they will support whatever Moon says or does on the 27th.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Not all DMEs are low-character creeps with their eyes on the corner office. The good ones fought the good fight for years, but in the end had to leave rather than be a part of this baloney. What has been left behind is admittedly a grade or two below on the honor/integrity scale. But the creeps always find a way to survive, don’t they?

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Most of the competent younger talent fled online a while ago. There are a few who are good that have actual print experience, but they are the exception. Leadership at the higher levels of .com has been an issue for many years, and now those remaining in power are, as 12:16p said, those older staffers who generally couldn’t exist elsewhere in the online or print world. The result is a stagnant, rudderless product led by individuals who lack the vision and publishing sense to move the entire USAT brand forward.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    I am not allowed to drive more than a few miles from my office to cover news.

    So, in my estimation any paper that can afford to send people to Ethiopia must be doing fairly well.

    Imagine that! Famine in Africa! Who’d a thunk it?

  42. Anonymous Says:

    The cheap shots here aimed at Chet come from folks who have a strange sense of revisionist history.

    I remember the meeting in question very well. Chet objected — loudly and correctly — when someone claimed to represent “the journalists in the room” while airing some attack about the online product.

    That “journalists” statement was the single most poisonous, prejudicial, ignorant, mean-spirited screed I have heard anyone air in the last two years, and that person richly deserved a verbal beat-down for it. There was nothing honest or heartfelt about that statement — it was just a mindless attack from a mindless attacker — and it got the response it richly deserved.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    12:02. The person asking the question was supported by most of the room. The question wasn’t even directed at Chet! He asked it in a calm, professional, inquisitive tone. Chet lowered himelf by literally grabbing the mic from someone’s hands and screaming. “Beat down”…is that what meetings are coming to? You admire Chet for that? You’re a buddy of Chet, and are going to defend him. Probably see talents in him that I sure don’t see. Understood. He’s part of the online gang, as you probably are. But I am here to tell you that that moment at that meeting was representative of how things were going to go with the merger. Word spread of Chet’s temper tantrum. Yeah, print got “beat down” that day from someone who couldn’t make it in print. And print continues to be silenced in various ways. We aren’t really a welcomed element in this merger, and for the most part accept that we’re now second-class citizens at the newspaper/brand we built and made No. 1. Hopefully, the web site will enjoy that kind of success one day if they can get beyond the arrogant tactics they are currently using. I know neither man invovled in the conflict very well, but have worked a bit with Chet back in his print days. He wasn’t impressive then. And he wasn’t impressive that day.
    He came across as a bully who was shunned in her pervious job, and now it was payback time. Frankly, if someone screamed at me like that in some private place, where one isn’t protected by their job title, there would have been a far different outcome.

  44. Anonymous Says:

    You are simply beyond hope if you really believe your own words, and in the end, I pity you.

  45. Jim Hopkins Says:

    To @9:47 am or anyone who witnessed the Chet incident.
    To anyone who witnessed the “Chet” incident.
    Please E-MAIL to me the following information via gannettblog@gmail.com:

    1. Approximate date of meeting.
    2. Purpose of meeting.
    3. Name and title of person who asked the question.
    4. The question itself.
    5. Any other details.

    E-MAIL ONLY!

  46. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, I’m quite curious what went on that day and would like to hear the facts to sort out the details for myself. Please be sure to keep us informed.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    I was at that all-day meeting in the auditorium. I tend to agree that Chet was far more out of line than Jim Healy. At worst, Jim was being a bit snippy and asking what most of us didn’t have the nerve to ask about how journalism was now apparently being integrated with marketing, if I recall correctly. The tone Chet took was shocking and inappropriate for a manager in that setting. There was a sense that he had a bigger title than Jim and was goig to use it. The presentation was in the auditorium. It was suppose to be about USAT’s online intiatives. An “educational” session for print people, and a look into the future. Most of the day was fairly mundane. We were told and shown a lot of things we already knew. Kinsey was there for a large portion of the meeting, but I noted was not there when Chet blew up. There were essentially no more substantive questions after the confrontation, and still a few hours to go in the meeting. And from the people I talked to afterwards, it was apparent that we weren’t going to have much of a voice in anything that was happening digitally. With that all said, the confrontation wasn’t even the worse thing about that meeting. There were few answers. The whole presentation was lacking and didn’t inspire much confidence. It sort of was a window into what played out in the coming months. So in that regard, it gave a lot of people a heads up as to how things were going to be. Probably inspired some to take the buyouts.

  48. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry I can’t email you Jim. I don’t have the exact date of the Chet vs. Jim meeting. I think this was labeled as a USAT Universtity meeting, but it was all day. The entire newsroom was required to go to one of the three or four sessions. The first session, from what I was told, was by far the worst.

    I only know each of those men by name and to say hi to when passing. My gut reaction at the time, however, was that Chet was extremely heavy-handed, even scary in his anger. The crime didn’t seem to fit the punishment, so I assumed those two had other issues and a bad history. I sure didn’t feel free to say a word after that.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    While not at the meeting people are commenting on, I can tell you that I heard, through two reliable and objective staffers who were there, that Chet revealed a level of anger and took a stance that was very unbecoming of a journalist on that day. Anything more about him, I will leave to others to debate. It is very interesting to see all these dirty little secrets coming out in this blog.

    But this was just one incident. I’ve been in countless meetings where it’s been clear in the last year or so that tough questions are no longer encouraged. There is a climate of “just shut up” at USA Today right now. I think mistakes are being made because frank input is not being solicited from key people who could help make this transition easier. I thik this blog is benefitting from people being silenced on the job. They are letting it all out here. If there was more freedom of speech at work, this blog would probably dry up, at least where it relates to USA Today.

    The wounds are also being aggravated by a number of other factors outside of the merger. This is not a pleasant place to work anymore as countless people have mentioned. Sad that a lot of this could have been avoided with cooler heads, more thoughtful answers and better leadership.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    It’s apparent that USA Today is taking a “throw the baby out with the bath water” approach. So, let me get this right. There are people at that newspaper advocating “beat downs” of coworkers who ask questions, or is it just questions they don’t like or can’t answer? Granted, some questions in a tense environement might be a bit self-serving or raw or even trivial, but that shouldn’t keep others from asking tough, thoughtful questions. One “beat down” might prevent some good questions from even being heard, let alone answered. USA Today should value questions, no matter how tough. Questions, shared info and observant remarks are what lead to answers and solutions. Answers prevent problems from forming. Heck, isn’t that how things work when you go to the doctor (you ask questions), or have your car repaired or try to build a rocket to go to the moon?

    I would expect management in some secretive industries to want to silence workers, but this is happening at major newspaper? Should’t newspaper managers not only value but protect these people asking questions? What is going on at that place? Is this the way the media in general is going? Expect sources and other officials to be open and honest, but keep everything under wraps within the newsrom?

    Judging from this blog, it seems like the paper is on the way out. Is that really wise? Isn’t it still the largest circulation newspaper in the country? Do managers feel they need to get rid of what works so that they can build up the web site? Why dismantle somethng that still appears to be wanted by the public? Is this another Coke fiasco? Can’t you all build the web site and maintain the paper and the integrity of the people who work for both?

    This all sounds so crazy. And if there weren’t so many people commenting and complaining, I would think it’s just a few loose nuts there in northern Virginia and elsewhere within the company.

    I guess leaving the business a decade ago was about the right time to get out. I still like following the inner workings of the newspaper industry, but from what I read here, it’s no wonder papers are dying premature deaths and why a couple old friends of mine are actually hoping for buyouts. Ten years ago, that would have been an outrageous thing to wish for.

  51. Anonymous Says:

    There have been layoffs in USA TODAY for years. The news departments have been relatively safe in the past, but if you look at the rest of the company, tons of people (heck, whole departments) were laid off. Circulation had approximately 40 people laid off in spring 2008. Finance had portions of their department moved to Gannett (meaning most of the USA TODAY people are gone now). IT laid off a few people when Gannett and USA TODAY were merged recently. Advertising has had several lay offs over the years.

  52. Jim Hopkins Says:

    I just wrote the following, on this USAT-related post: http://tinyurl.com/6avbkx

    I’m repeating it here, because it’s relevant to this string, too: If Gallup turned up any of these sentiments, were they reflected in the reports given to Moon and other big cheeses? And who audits Gallup’s work, to make sure it doesn’t boost employee approval ratings to justify their contract. And, and: How much does/did USAT pay Gallup?

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