S.O.S.: A plea to the board of directors

“Are you out there?
Are you listening to any of this?”

Anonymous@4:17 p.m.commenting on the angry response to Corporate’s handling of this week’s 600 newspaper division layoffs.

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16 Responses to “S.O.S.: A plea to the board of directors”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    To the Board of Directors:
    There will come a day when you, our board of directors will review this 1,000-employee layoff/buyout plan. I hope it provokes some attention.
    1. The plan has hit hard at the indians doing a hell of a lot of work in this tribe, but what about the chiefs? Please ask what are all these chiefs left doing with no indians to do the work, and would it not make sense to give them a laptop computer and send them out to do some reporting?
    2. Newspapering on the cheap does not work. It produces lousy newspaper which consumers reject. You will notice this in declining circulation numbers. Might I just point out that only 16 percent of Americans read newspapers today, and the number has been steadily declining. Would it not be preferable to adopt policies that increase readership? You have heard a lot about the importance of reaching the younger generation of readers, so what specific successes has management had in attracting this age group?
    3. The trouble with cutting newsroom staffs is that it leads to a death spiral. Reducing staff reduces content, which reduces interst in the product, which leads to lower readership and so that means less ad content, and declining revenues. And so full circle back to reducing staff again. What does Gannett’s leadership have in mind for breaking this cycle? With all the talent and experience that left, how will management maintain quality newspapers?
    4. According to the Readership Institute, about 62 percent of Americans asked in a recent survey had absolutely no idea their newspaper had a Web site. Is it wise to continue to pour money and effort into Web sites if local newspapers are getting no advantage out of them?
    5. In connection with No. 4, how much revenue do the Web sites produce for Gannett. Do not pay attention to click-through numbers or other phony readership numbers the company presents, but cold, solid, hard cash. Now obtain the cost numbers for producing that cash and you will be able to see how much of a loss-leader is this Internet project. Can Gannett thrive on this stream of revenue now, and is it likely to thrive in the future? Ask the really hard question: is the Internet, like radio and TV before it, something that newspapers cannot participate in, and should not participate in?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    They couldn’t send the chiefs out to do the reporting at our paper because some of them have never even worked as reporters. I wonder if this is the case at other Gannett papers.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    To all Gannett managers:

    WAKE UP!!!!

    Enough with the Chicken Little, sky is falling, we’re all gonna die act. The newspaper industry as a whole is in deep crisis, and lopping off more heads of those on the front lines trying to cope is not going to solve it.

    Stop reacting. Start thinking for a change. Try to find some solutions to declining readership. Try new ideas, even if they seem crazy at first. Actually talk to your staff – you may find they have some good ideas. Don’t just sit around waiting for corporate to tell you to fire more people, take the initiative and try to do good journalism and build readership so you won’t have to let people go.

    Somewhere out there, there must be people with ideas on how to solve this newspaper industry crisis. Cyrus McCormick started a whole agarian revolution from one small forge in Virginia – Bill Gates started techno revolution from his garage. I can’t believe there isn’t someone out there with an idea on how to turn newspapers around.

    Stop running around like chickens with your heads off and put your energy to work to solve this crisis. If this means sitting down with all the CEOs from competing newspapers to find what works, do it! For, as Ben Franklin once said, if we all don’t hang together, we most assuredly will hang separately.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Que… Simon and Garfunckel

    The Sound of Silence

  5. Anonymous Says:

    How DOES Gannett plan to make money off clicks or hits? I still don’t get it, but I’m no longer ashamed to admit that since I’ve concluded Gannett must not know the answer to that question or somebody would be sharing online revenue numbers with shareholders.
    Please somebody—- tell me what I’m missing here.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    to 3:32 pm

    I’d guess that they hope to make their money by local and national advertising buying the advertising on the websites. Seems obvious since most of them appear to have the same web layouts and the advertising appears to be canned ads for McDonalds(or Target, or credit checks) or their own Promo ads. I wonder how many of the local small local businesses get perturbed by seeing the national ad crap?

    I’d wager that local sales reps are being pushed beyond their limited local resources to make up for the lost core product dollars.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    So, Gannett wants local, local, local news with the national, national, national ads? That just seems so contradictory.

    How much canned national advertising does it take to make up for the lost core product dollars?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    From what I understand even National advertising is cutting corners and they take out the cheap online average of $10/k impressions, (dependant on the market of course).

    Way cheaper on a monthly investment for additional eye candy than the overpriced core prodduct. A months worth of online impressions is 1/16 the cost of one day in a metro market paper.

    Tell me what small local business can make up that kind of net revenue loss?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    So, that brings me back to what I’ve wondered all along. How does Gannett make money online? What else brings in money besides selling ads?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    @ 7:11 PM

    This is Gannette, and they don’t discriminate where they get their revenue from. They simply overprice their value to the local economy, and hope to hell the national dollars make up the difference. They foreget that National ad dollars and local ad dollars face the same economic climate. But different economic consequences in their bottom lines determine the budgets they have to work with.

    Anyone who’s taken a marketing 101 class knows that during times of economic distress, you look to the businesses that have their own higher profit margins to exploit for additional marketing revenue. During ressesion times hey have no need to market themselves, they are immune.

    Forget recovery of ression proof dollars, adjust the budget accordingly. Be honest and let the chips fall as they may. Better than top sque the tally, and blame the Reps for comming in below budget.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    THe click works better for advertisers in theory. With a popup ad or an ad you click on, the advertiser knows he had a set of eyeballs on his ad, so he knows his message got across. The problem with newspapers is that there is no way they can guarantee an advertiser their ad is going to seen, so advertisers pay a premium for a guarantee their ad will be adjacent to news.
    That’s the theory that the Internet is going to be great for advertisers. But in practice, people no longer notice these ads — even the popup ads you get when you click through a site. I always look for the “keep reading” button to get rid of them without even looking at what they are. So Gannett can tell advertisers they are getting 46 million visitors a month to their Web sites, but that’s just selling the board of directors and stockholders a bill of goods.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    “5. In connection with No. 4, how much revenue do the Web sites produce for Gannett. Do not pay attention to click-through numbers or other phony readership numbers the company presents, but cold, solid, hard cash. Now obtain the cost numbers for producing that cash and you will be able to see how much of a loss-leader is this Internet project. Can Gannett thrive on this stream of revenue now, and is it likely to thrive in the future? Ask the really hard question: is the Internet, like radio and TV before it, something that newspapers cannot participate in, and should not participate in?”

    if newspapers cannot participate in the internet than they might as well liquidate now.

    the internet is the hear, the now, and tomorrow. every day more people turn their back on traditional media and look to the internet for information, entertainment, and otherwise.

    if you are seriously calling for gannett to abandon their efforts to become a presence online, then you are calling for gannett to find a rope and hang itself.

    the internet is not simply the next media in a line of media like radio, tv, newspapers. the internet is all encompassing, and interactive. this ability to participate and influence the actual medium is what sets the internet apart from newspapers, radio, tv, movies. the people actually get a say in what it is and what it does. Look at what youtube has done in just the few short years its been around. it has allowed the average joe to become a celebrity overnight, it allows people to be their own reporters and their own entertainers.

    Its already a daunting task to try and fit an old-school media company into the internet world. and now you would prefer that gannett continue to be arrogant and dismiss the impact the world wide web really has on the world.

    i hope you aren’t in charge of making any of the real decisions around here.

    (although i question the people who are, hah!)

  13. Anonymous Says:

    So why did newspapers make their website news free in the first place? I can’t go pull up my favorite magazine or book online for free. I always felt like we were shooting outselves in the foot.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    9:35 a.m. – I’ve asked this question for years. To me this has to rank as one of the worst business decisions ever made in Western civilization. No other business in its right mind would have the stupidity to give its product away for free.

    I suppose one could argue though that newspapers may be the sacrificial lamb necessary to kickstart the Internet Age. Without online newspaper reporting there would be no blogs – you’d have a wasteland of LiveJournals and nothing else.

    Let’s face it, we opened Pandora’s Box, and we’re about to be hacked to death by our own children.

    And you know what? Fuck it. Maybe this is all a good thing. Maybe once we get past the initial stages of painful change, journalism – an entirely new form of it – will be reborn and better than ever. Now that I no longer work in newspapers, I really do believe that the current model has to die and be swept away for the new model to truly emerge.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Then all the highers-up truly do have to wake up to figure out what that new model will be. We have to take charge of our own destiny. I guess what I’m desparately looking for is true leadership (yeah, I know, dream on, but it’s gotta be out there somewhere…)

  16. Anonymous Says:

    to anonymous 1:00:

    this is what the internet age has brought us: the internet is the “hear”, the now, and tomorrow.

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