Thursday | Sept. 18 | Got news, or a question?

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41 Responses to “Thursday | Sept. 18 | Got news, or a question?”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    I’ve just started this new open-comments thread. You can always return to earlier editions by clicking on the Real Time Comments label in the blue sidebar, to the right.

  2. Dutch619m Says:

    A good thing at the C-J.

    We got this note yesterday from new Pub Arnold Garson in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

    I know this has been a difficult week for most of you with lingering power outages and the logistical difficulties stemming from that – spoiled food, children at home instead of school, cold showers, getting dressed in the dark, cleaning up debris, waiting in line to buy gas, etc. In the face of all this, I appreciate the focus you all have maintained as you have kept up with what needs to be done here. You have demonstrated extraordinary skill and uncommon commitment in balancing your work with the storm related issues of your personal lives. As a small token of appreciation, I’d like to buy you breakfast or dinner tomorrow.

    Tomorrow morning, we’ll be serving donuts, bagels and coffee in the first floor lobby from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

    And tomorrow night, we’ll have an assortment of sub sandwiches available in our production and IC departments.

    Thanks for keeping so many balls in the air this week: Ryder Cup, storm and its aftermath, delivery and sales calls on roads strewn with debris, and more. I appreciate what you are doing and the results you are achieving.

    Arnold Garson
    President and Publisher
    The Courier-Journal

    From one newspaper guy to another, thanks Arnie!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Arnold Garson seems like a good guy. This blog is full of criticism, but lets give this guy credit. He exhibited understanding of demands put on his staff.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve worked at, and with, a number of Gannett sites in Wisconsin, and almost across the board you meet people in all disciplines who are eager to help, know their jobs, appreciate that we serve our communities and our stockholders, and are decent people to be around.

    Sure, we have some folks that have been hired or promoted to jobs outside of their talent limits. And we have our share of the ladder-climbers who are biding time til they get their call to the ‘bigs’.

    But the majority of our staffs help produce the newspaper that their own parents or grandparents read each day. We don’t have huge turnover. There is pride attached to saying you work for the Sheboygan Press, or the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Our staffs don’t poop on the floor.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I like my job and the people I work with. I am sure there will be further cuts as Gannett manages through this turbulent period of bad economics and evolving consumer media use.
    However, I am rooting for my paper and for all the good people around me.
    Do we have jerks? of course. But what office or company doesn’t. For the most part, there is talent and hard workers where I am.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I work at USA Today and most of the people I work with are great hard working people.
    The few bad eggs should be the first to go in the next lay off. Those who have not stepped it up a notch to do their part to get through these tough times, they need to move on.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    About the bagel and donuts memo to C-J, I say this:

    Thanking and rewarding the entire staff like that is a nice thing—really nice. Sweet things like that can complement, but not replace, an ongoing and honest individual performance review system.

    Personally, I’d rather have an honest review based on measurable objectives—and a crack at a fairly determined raise — than donuts or popcorn.

    I saw way too much mass rewards and punishment going on when I worked for Gannett. Convinced me that management didn’t have a clear definition of success or failure.

  8. Shirley Says:

    Arnie is a class act. Told you so!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    That is nice.

    Sounds like a cool guy.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    See, a random act of kindness goes a long way. No need for a planning committee. Way to go, Arnie!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    What if the feeding trough is brought out about every few days — is that still a nice gesture, or simply a bandaid? My site would disagree that it becomes “nice” when it seems to be the only answer these days.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    8:27 why do you still read this blog? no need to infuse negative comments against someone who did something nice for others. You must be one of those people who cannot go a day without complaining and therefore find this blog an outlet…even though you have moved on to another job. your comments were completely unnecessary.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve been one to post harsh criticisms on here before. It’s good to see someone let the staff know their efforts are appreciated, and especially when both daysiders and nightsiders are remembers. A food reward may seem lame to some of you, but I have friends down there living out of suitcases with completely disrupted lives. “It’s like the death of life,” one said to me. Let’s face it, a monetary reward is out of the realm of reality, considering everything Corporate is doing. Free, fresh clean food is probably very welcomed, I’m betting.

    Good show, Arnie.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Does Garson think a few stale donuts and cheap Subway subs are going to improve morale. We are not going to be bought off that cheaply.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Larding up the staff so they get heart attacks is a great way to reduce payroll.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks, 7:52. I’ve been thinking about writing the same thing about the Wisconsin papers. Like you, I’ve worked at and with the Wisconsin papers, and have seen and given that high quality of work, work ethic and customer service.

    Why so much angst and anger elsewhere in Gannett and not in Wisconsin? We’ve always had cuts and consolidations and meddling by Corporate just like everywhere else.

    We’re not naive. Are we too nice?

    I’ve long thought Corporate sees the Wisconsin papers as the beta test site for just about everything. The thinking seems to be, Wisconsin will sit down and figure out a way to make it work.

    Then we do, and life goes on.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Based on the very recent personnel reductions in Arizona (after the hammer fell twice recently elsewhere), does this Arizona action imply that more reductions are in the near offing for the rest of the Gannett local newspapers? Anyone got ideas. Our “management” here is NJ told us there were no more reductions that he knew of after the round which included 1000 plus 100 management…but on second thought, no one believes anything we’re told. At our paper there were no firings in the advertising department even though there should have been.Anyone?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I believe USA Today's monthly standup comedy & family photo album session — otherwise known as the newsroom staff meeting — is today in the auditorium. Anyone expecting anything substantative, beyond the usual "web site is doing great" nonsense? When is that operation going to start paying the bills and distinguishing itself from some other stellar sites? Nothing against my online friends (some are very smart and talented), but geez, can we start seeing some serious projections that show the site will eventually carry its own weight before we actually kill the thing that pays our salaries — the newspaper?

    KP, how 'bout bringing some hard evidence today that shows why we are frantically throwing everything but the kitchen sink into online at the expense of print, and why I am seeing so many unfamiliar faces all around the building? Nice that we're hiring, I guess, but are we ever going to hire a newspaper person again? The idea of a totally merged staff seems unrealistic to me. There will always have to be a core group of print people, in all departments, to keep the paper viable. Yet, that core is getting smaller by the month. Can you address some of this and save the jokes and trivia for some other time?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    12:06 I believe the Arizona layoffs were “part of he 10000” announced awhile back. They just took longer to make them happen.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    12:27, nice post. Good questions. Been wondering the same things myself. I would add that print’s loss of manpower (no sexism intended) and human reallocations to online are not the only problem with the merger. The dismantling of proven work procedures is just as troublesome to me. I see the appeal of wanting to blow something up that isn’t working. But isn’t USA Today still No. 1 as the posters around the building proclaim? It’s understood that much has to change and that some things were/are broken. But I would prefer to see a more intelligent approach in determining what those things are. Ken, how about addressing some of this stuff in greater detail, without calling on the usual suspects to explain it all. No offense, but they rarely have any answers.

  21. Jim Hopkins Says:

    12:27 and 1:04: Gawd, those monthly staff meetings were an embarrassment when I worked at USAT.

    When the newspaper was going through a crucial merger of print and online, KP embarrassed us all by wasting precious time on baby photos, marriage announcements and other trivia. I suggested to a senior editor that the one hour KP devoted monthly to a staff meeting could be better spent on substantive stuff. The response: Don't bother; KP will never give up the baby announcements.

    Instead, I was told, I should pose a question during the Q&A that would lead to a more productive discussion. When I did, KP disrespected me (though not by name), by belittling one of my questions as "loaded." (I phrased it so he couldn't worm out of it.) He was and is a monumental disappointment — perhaps the worst editor I encountered in the 20 years I worked for Gannett. And as you can imagine, that's quite an achievement.

    Bottom line: KP has done more to inspire me in maintaining this blog than any other person in Gannett. Now, that's an accomplishment!

  22. Anonymous Says:

    1:04 why cant you have that conversation with KP himself? why ask it on the blog? If you don’t speak up at the meeting, you are just a coward.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    GCI stock up over 8 percent today already!

  24. Anonymous Says:

    If you think GCI looks good, check out Media General (MEG)…up over 75%!

  25. Anonymous Says:

    I cannot find on marketwatch or the usual financial sites any specific analyst report that is driving this. maybe the shorts are since the price was so low yesterday. however, the other media stocks are down and newspapers are up.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Reuters has some info that Harbinger hedge fund saying they are not pulling out of their significant holdings of MEG and NY Times. They are the activist investors who try to buy a lot of stock and then get a seat on the board, which they did recently with NY Tines.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Stock up 13% at 4:33 today.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    you guys suck! Arnie is just trying to be nice and offer up some treats for a job well done. What a bunch of inconsiderate brats! I feel like I’m talking to my kids!
    If you are that tainted and angry LEAVE! Geez!

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Arnie Garson has forgotten more about being a gentleman and a nice human being than most of the naysayers today. He is a kind man. Get over it. He bought food for his colleagues to say thank you. Now that is something we can’t hear too much of.

    Thank you Arnie!

  30. Anonymous Says:

    If you sell your loyalty for a donut or a sub sandwich, think about how little it is really worth. This is just a cynical management trick. They serving GCI Kool-Aid with it, too?

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Coming from an ex-Gannett publisher… I’ll tell you that Arnie is a class act and many others should take notice of the respect and gratitude he gives his employees.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Oh thank goodness, word from a Publisher. Now we know the real truth. Let there be no more debate.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Wonder if the ex-Gannett publisher might offer up a comment on the state of Gannett’s performance appraisal system.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Ever wonder why there are always all these cuts to the papers, yet you never hear about cuts to staff at tyson’s corner? They have a VP for every discipline and several directors for sub-areas of which better than 50% are about as useful and productive as bits on a tull. Unbelievable — same tired cronies getting the top jobs trying the same crap that hasn’t worked in the last 10 years and won’t work in the next 10.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    8:31, eating a sandwich or a donut does not mean you’re selling your loyalty. I think you need therapy. I’ll bet the person who said anything about this random act of kindness is now sorry. It was a random act of kindness, plain and simple. No hidden meanings, no agendas, just a meal to let the employees know they were thought of.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, I was there during that “putdown” by KP, and if that was enough to send you into a tailspin, then you obviously aren’t built very tuff.

    Ken Paulson is a good editor who believes in his newsroom being a community and that is why he shows the staff photos and similar things. He is funny and clever and knows how to hold a microphone. He also knows how to stand up for the highest ideals of the profession, and often is eloquent in an industry whose top leaders often are the worst communicators in the business.

    If he has lied to his staff, we have not seen that yet. He has been open and forthright and has fought for his newsroom far more than many people realize. He is not perfect. But the worst editor you’ve ever worked for?

    That’s the kind of hyperbole and stretch that diminishes this blog, which despite the real public service it performs, somehow loses a grip on reality far too often. And when it comes from a reporter who should know better, it doubly hurts this product.

    USA Today is getting through all this because Ken Paulson is carefully moving step by step. He has not panicKed, he has not deceived, and he has been a fighter. You don’t like his style, well that is fine. But he deserves better.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    Regarding the “what are you making” query: When I left Gannett earlier this year, I was making right at $46,000. After much stress about leaving the industry but too much stress to stay, I took a job making $38,000.

    Here’s the rub: Somehow my take-home pay at my new job is more than my take-home pay was at Gannett — even with all deductions (including a higher percentage in my new 401K) and better insurance coverage — from the same company, mind you. I know it sounds implausible, but it’s true. Clearly, the difference in what my new company pays for my insurance coverage and what Gannett paid makes a bigger difference than I would have realized.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    I used to balk when people on this site would say there are a bunch of whiners…. I’m starting to agree with them… If Arnie had done nothing…. We’d be bitching about that… He does something and we bitch about that… I heard someone complain about how the sandwiches were cut up… Good God people… Grow up… Does the fact that he bought some sandwiches change anything? No… but at least give credit where it’s due… I’m thinking of some people had everything they could ever want or ever dream about…. They’d be sitting around bitching about that also….

    And no… I’m not a manager… just a hourly worker trying to stay afloat like the rest here….

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Again, I say random acts of kindness can complement, but never replace sound business practices such as a fair employee review system. The donuts and popcorn last but a day. An earned raise, based on meeting clearly defined and articulated objectives, can impact one’s livlihood and morale all 365 days.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    so 2:07 yout bitching about the bitching and it goes around and around. Just shut-up and go to another blog if you can’t handle people reacting in whatever way they want to.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    @ 8:13 – “Just shut-up and go to another blog if you can’t handle people reacting in whatever way they want to.”

    Indeed, 2:07 WAS reacting in whatever way they wanted to. Everyone gets to have their say here.

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