What USAT’s 200-or-so reporters hear from editors

I’VE GOT FIVE MINUTES BEFORE MY NEXT BUDGET MEETING, AND ONCE MORE THE BUDGET IS BARE!!!!!! Whatcha got for me on Wednesday’s ginormous, show-up-or-get-spanked staff meeting???!!!

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25 Responses to “What USAT’s 200-or-so reporters hear from editors”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Define what a budget is in Editorial terms please…

  2. Jim Hopkins Says:

    An addendum: This is also how editors everywhere operate.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t really know if it matters all that much what happens at Wednesday’s meeting. Judging from last week’s preview at the newsroom meeting where not a single tough question was asked of the editor, it appears folks are resigned to accepting whatever news comes from Wednesday’s meeting. There is a sense of surrender in the building. Somehow, the fight has been taken out of folks. I believe the small window of opportunity for staffers to steer things a bit was closed last week when everyone lied down.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    The fight has been taken out of my former newsroom.
    The last word I received from a colleague following the layoffs was “Doomed!”

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Hint: Budget cutbacks mean no Thanksgiving turkeys will be given to the USAT staff this year.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Too bad on the Turkeys. The real world newspapers lost theirs years ago.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    @7:33 — Editorial budgets are the lists of stories scheduled to run the next day, next week, next month, etc. Middle managers live and die by what’s on those budgets.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Ken Paulson did a Ali-like “rope-a-dope” last week. But unlike George Foremen, the punches thrown by the USAT newsroom were half-hearted, powder puff blows. As I watched, I imagined a text bubble over Paulon’s head with the words: “Is this all ya got?” There was absolutely no fight, no energy, no willingness to send a message to the higher-ups. The newsroom pretty much gave its assurance through its timid approach that it isn’t going to openly object to whatever is coming from Craig Moon. It’s every staffer for himself now. That’s the type of society we live in these days, and the kind of newsroom that exists at USAT. Folks, Gannett wins almost every single time because the herd allows it to win.

    Everyone makes fun of the way Gannett handles things, but if you look at it objectively, what the execs, editors, CEOs and even Tara Connell does usually works. Working in the shadows, not really addressing issues and indirectly silencing people when they try to speak up has more or less kept Gannett out of the news (except here). No one is organizing a union or a sickout day. Few are even able to ask a quesiton at a meeting. When people talk around the office, it’s in hushed tones for fear of who might be listening. There is no shortage of fear these days around USAT.

    With that said, I can’t help but believe there are other more passive-aggressive ways of fighting back, and maybe, in some ways, those are the most destructive methods of payback. Maybe Gannett and USAT heads think everything is fine with its employees, meanwhile there is something eating away at the foundation.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    How right you are 9:45. That foundation, though, is already starting to crumble.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    9:45 Correct indeed. Quite a few people (corporations, countries, etc) try to rule through fear. It does work, for awhile, but the bullies get their comeuppance eventually.
    I believe a lot of brave people exist in this world, they are not always apparent. A lot of people just need to know they are not alone.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Silence in the face wrongful manipulation is a dangerous thing. Look at history. Many examples of people letting fear or just plain selfishness get in the way of standing up to authority. And that has led to disasters. These people think that if they just remain silent, they can escape whatever it is they fear. But in time, they too are swept away. By waiting to speak out, they actually become more vulnerable, and have less support from a dwindling workforce. I believe USAT is on the brink of becoming just another Gannett sweatshop if the newsroom continues buy into everything its told.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I disagree on newsrooms everywhere having lost their turkeys. The turkeys are making the bad decisions.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    The USA Today newsroom is soft and spoiled, plain and simple. That’s why they don’t question authority. They want to maintain their gym memberships, play on their ball fields and tennis courts (part of the Gannett/USAT complex), go home by 5 or 6 every night. They enjoy their views of the Ritz from their terrace and their lattes made fresh on corporate grounds. Many of them have forgotten what it’s like to work at other Gannett papers. Some never did work in the smaller sweatshops so they have nothing to compare the glass palace with. Many USAT people still have it made compared to most folks at other Gannett properties. On some level, perhaps they know that, which is why they fall into line so easily.

    To be fair, I suspect there are also some very hardworking souls at the flagship, because with every organization that coddles so many people, there has to be others who can carry more than their fair share of the load in order for things to run. Those are the people who should be speaking out. Actually, they should be screaming! But they won’t either because they are outnumbered.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    11:26 AM, spoken like someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to work at Corporate. This is becoming critical. Everyone needs to understand that no matter how outnumbered you feel, there are others who will come forward and back up your argument. Bad decisions are being made every day at the Towers. This is going to get worse before it gets better, people. If you have something to say, say it now!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Some of these people in the USA Today newsroom were once very principled folks who weren’t afraid to speak out. Some were the rebellious types from the late 60s and 70s. They challenged professors. They demostrated. They got into the news business to help put a spotlight on societal problems. So it’s somewhat ironic that they, in their old age, now just accept all the corporate baloney that is right under their noses. Maybe one can only fight for what’s right for so long. People get old; they get outnumbered. I expect no push back at Craig Moon’s meeting on Wednesday. In fact, I don’t expect very much news of any kind. But we will see. At most, he’ll give some cryptic foreshadowing of things to come. But for now, during an election season, I don’t see any pink slips for the newsroom.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    11:40 AM
    Just think of how many customers fall into that “principled folks” category. Maybe—just maybe—people outside the company are the very ones who are still powerfully spotlighting societal problems, which in this case could mean—give us news we can use or we’ll get it somewhere else.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    The waste at USA Today is absolutely off the charts. It occurs right under the noses of the head honchos. But it’s like they are blind. It comes in all forms, big and small. Underperformers are allowed to remain for years while qualified people leave. Seemingly, the entire company works banker’s hours, even the newsroom. There are empty offices, vacant workstations and unused entire floors all around the building. Televisions are left on over night. Computers aren’t shut down at the end of the day. The electric bill alone must be astronomical. They groom the softball field and wax the marble floors constantly. Without addressing all of that waste, it’s hard for me to get onboard with anymore potential layoffs (or substantive cutbacks) that don’t target the dead wood and fail to acknowledge that all the bells and whistles, and general cavalier habits, are luxuries we can do without. They closed the cafeteria, but kept cable TV to everyone’s desk. Took away the food and left the sitcoms. They shut off the AC for late night employees, but allow some staffers unlimited amounts of time off because no one wants to track it or be the bad guy for pointing out that “Jane Doe” hasn’t worked a 40-hour week in 10 years. Horrible management from top to bottom.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Who gets turkeys?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Waste at USAT? Fie. When USAT moved to McLean, they opened up a bureau in Washington so the employees would not have to strain themselves taking the Metro or driving the 14 miles. SO how much did that cost? And why did no one consider just locating in the Senate Press Gallery, where space is given away free.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    No one at USAT gets turkeys, according to the post.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    12:50 PM,
    I’m not sure who is working banker hours. There are tons of people in Finance, Circulation, IT, and other departments that work 10 hour plus days and weekends because they are so short staffed by layoffs and ineffective coworkers. As with any company there will always be people who do the bare minimum but I do not see that as the overwhelming majoroty in the various departments at corp or in the other offices around the country.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Oh please 5:27 – the USAT office located in the Bridgewater site is often completely dark and all locked up on Fridays- especially in the summer. No late nights there either that I ever notice.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    @5:59 — USAT doesn’t publish Sat or Sunday, so most editorial people don’t work on Friday. Sunday-Thursday is the regular sked.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    7:45 thanks for the clarification. I don’t think they are editorial- sales and circulation mostly. Guess they are off the hook though.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    7:45 If they are sales and circulation employees they’ve either been up most of the night or should be out selling – or both. Either way, an office isn’t the place to be to make those things happen. Plus, many have to work remotely from home because so many offices have been closed, meaning they need to have office space at home.

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