Calling all USA Today newsroom staff members

Got any news from today’s regular monthly staff meeting? Anything else of interest (heh) come up?

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14 Responses to “Calling all USA Today newsroom staff members”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Pretty typical meeting except for the fact that attendance was about double that of most monthly meetings. The last 10-15 minutes were about “rumors,” although no one really asked any tough questions. Paulson referred to some of the content of Gannet Blog as “poisonous.” Your blog got about a half dozen mentions, and at least two or three from Paulson. He said he wasn’t privy to Moon’s agenda for next week, but believed it was primarily a status report on USA Today print/.com and an opportunity to introduce the new ad guy who Paulson she he was impressed with. No hint of layoffs or buyouts that he was aware of. He said he wasn’t quitting and that things are comparatively stable at USAT. I guess the most surprising aspect of the meeting, even to Paulson, was that so many folks showed up, yet so few asked any questions, let alone questions/comments that could be viewed as provocative.

  2. Jim Hopkins Says:

    All: Why so few questions?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hi, Jim!

    I can answer that. The last employee to ask a “provocative question” at the last all-hands meeting I was at was one of the first people let go this week.

    She had the audacity to ask about the new initiative of having clients “paint by numbers” or “create their own ads” with automated software. More ads being created in India, etc.

    She was shown the door on Monday.

    No one is crazy enough to “speak up” at meetings for fear of exactly what happened to my co-worker. We all puckered when she stood up and rocked the boat with her question. They tossed her overboard for it.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Why so few questions? IMHO, in no particular order:

    1. Fear. Plain and simple, most folks want to keep a low profile.

    2. Wrong venue. Ken should consider inviting each staffer into his office for a private talk over the next month or two, if he really want to hear what is on people’s minds.

    3. Wishful thinking. Hey, some folks want to believe their boss, especially if their boss is saying there is nothing to worry about.

    4. Some people actually do believe everything is fine. It’s not denial, it’s just believing what they’re told. Scary trait for journalists to possess.

    5. Some folks have given up and just went for the pure entertainment value. They were probably pretty disappointed. Not much of a show.

    As I sat there and watched the first half of this meeting not address much of anything other than the usual, I couldn’t help think that Paulson was burying the lede.

    I will add this, if the Moon meeting next week even hints at layoffs, Paulson will lose all credibility in the newsroom. You can’t tell news people that all is fine, show them baby and wedding pictures and speak of grand numbers concerning the web site one week, and have a bomb delivered the next. He won’t be able to hide behind the “I didn’t know” excuse.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    KP owed it to the audience to address the various issues without having to ask what the rumors were. He reads this blog. He knows what’s on people’s minds. KP should have come with his own list of things he’s hearing and address each point. The whole meeting should have been dedicated to this. Skip all the crap. He knows damn well people aren’t going to step up and ask him any tough questions in that environment. Maybe not even in private. If he came away thinking everything is fine now, he’s dead wrong.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Ken acted as if 1,000 layoffs within our own company somehow should not concern us. He apparently has no issues with the way that info came down. He also claimed the merger, for the most part, was going fine. Unbelieveable!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, the dude hates this blog. That was the one thing that came through. Someone did have the balls to ask if Ken were leaving. Asked it in a nice way, but at least it was a direct question of some interest to the group. Outside of that, Ken got a complete pass from this rather large group. About three-quarters of the auditorium, maybe more, was filled.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I fairness to the emplyees Jim showed up to the stockholders meeting and sat on his hands and asked nothing. He can’t expect other to do thing he himself is not willing to do.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Not sure if Jim expected us to ask questions or is just wondering why with that many people there, barely anyone said a word. I was sure wondering why people were fairly silent and even timid in the questions they did ask. I had my reasons for remaining in the shadows, but I still thought there was the potential for things to get hot. I think Ken’s strategy of priming us with jokes, patting us all on the back for all the wonderful things we do and his typical schtick during the first half of the meeting probably took the wind out of some sails. Maybe folks were in disbelief that he wasn’t immediately acknowledging the fact that the auditorim was nearly filled. This from a man who was worrying why attendance was dropping to anemic levels just a month or two ago? After this dud, I expect they’ll be plenty of empty seats next month. We just can’t get any real substantive info at these meetings. A lot of schtick, but not much in the way of news we can use. I wholeheartedly agree that if it turns out Ken was hiding something, and just wants to get us through the Olympics and elections in the best state of mind possible (essentially use us), then his credibility as the newsroom leader will be tarnished forever. I could be wrong, but there was something in his body language yesterday that looked a tad uncomfortable, even though he wasn’t being challenged in the slightest. Nothing but softballs to hit, and he still seemed a bit jittery. I guess next week will give us a better clue as to what might be happening this fall at USAT. I don’t believe for a second that the timing of next week’s meeting is completely random. That doesn’t mean the sky will fall on the 27th, but it might give us a better idea of what’s ahead. The publisher does not have to pretend to be a friend of the newsroom. I think we might get a better idea of what the mood is at the top when Moon speaks next week. Of course, questions will probably be sparse then, too, so we might again be left having to read between the lines.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    At a meeting like this, it makes no sense to ask a question about a rumor or make a comment. It only invites unwanted scrutiny. Paulson knew what was on everyone’s mind, and he made a tepid attempt to address them. But why put yourself in jeopardy by raising a rumor? You’d only make yourself look like someone trafficking in rumors and therefore someone who may not be a team player? That’s definitely a sad comment about the atmosphere here, but history hasn’t shown that people who stick their necks out, particularly in this kind of setting, are rewarded.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Ah, but some of this is far more than a rumor. Why not ask about the 1,000 layoffs and how they might relate to USA Today? The layoffs are fact. It’s reasonable to think USA Today, or even Detroit, might soon be next. Sounds to me that K. Paulson needed to be pressed a bit more on that. I see media people on TV news shows who are pretty willing to stick their necks out in a variety of way to get answers. Some risk bodily harm!

    And also find it curious that Paulson thinks the merger is going well. Maybe in some departments, but certainly not others that are stretched thin and dealing with a lot more than merging talents.

    Let’s hope to get straight talk from C. Moon next week. Even if it’s bad news, I would like to hear it. I feel more respected and able to plan better when bosses tell it to me straight.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I have to laugh that Ken is somehow offended by the truth being displayed here in digital print. He should have stayed in Westchester and helped to see the demise of that shitty operation.

    Wake up. Feel the pain of those now out of work and having to pay bills…all because the “new order” will be profit margins in the low teens or lower.

    Have no sympathy for any angst being felt by executives who can’t even execute the most simple of human needs…empathy.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I guess journalists aren’t so tough and cocky after all. KP easily held control of the room filled with hardened editors, reporters and others. LOL. He never even had to raise his voice. It was so easy.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Hmmmm? I never considered journalists to be tough. Maybe back in the day when they had a more blue collar approach to their jobs? But most are now college educated, politically correct, spend most of their days looking into a computer screen and generally do what they are told (as seen in that meeting you all are talking about). They go to lots of meetings and are fairly well read. Many enjoy world travel and wine tastings. None of this conjures up visions of gladiators. Doesn’t surprise me that a room full of journalists wouldn’t speak up at a meeting with the boss.

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