Documents: GCI eliminating 275 finance jobs; Asheville, WUSA-TV among first 11 taking hit

The company will eliminate the accounting and other jobs as part of the previously disclosed creation of two national shared service centers in Springfield, Mo., and Indianapolis, according to internal documents I’ve just obtained.

The documents were provided by a Gannett Blog reader who requested anonymity. They describe in detail the timetable and scale of the plan to consolidate finance work at newspapers and TV stations in a bid to cut costs as Gannett wrestles with declining revenue and profits. Previously published reports gave only a broad outline of the project.

The plan calls for a combined 11 papers and TV stations to be used as pilot sites starting last month, the documents show, with completion of the entire project expected by March 2009. About 55 jobs will be created at each of the two new centers — for a net job loss of 167 positions, the documents show. Gannett now employs about 46,000 in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

“The termination dates for employees losing their positions are determined by the implementation timetable,” one of the documents shows. “As a site begins migrating their activities to the national shared service centers, employees begin losing their positions.”

The documents say the first 11 pilot sites are the papers at Asheville, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Springfield, Mo.; Mountain Home, Ark.; Jackson, Miss., and Hattiesburg, Miss. The TV stations are WGRZ in Buffalo, N.Y.; WUSA in Washington, D.C.; WTSP in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn., and KTHV in Little Rock.

In sharing the documents, my reader says: “This is top secret. You have to protect my identity! So many people are frustrated because Gannett is keeping this such a secret. People just want an idea of when this transition is going to happen at their units. These people are not stupid — they know there’s a schedule out there somewhere, so why not share it — even if it’s tentative. So, here it is. I’m not sure if Gannett is on schedule or not. Do with it as you feel is appropriate.”

All readers: Can you provide confirmation — and further details? 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.

[Image: yesterday’s Asheville Citizen-Times, Newseum]

35 Responses to “Documents: GCI eliminating 275 finance jobs; Asheville, WUSA-TV among first 11 taking hit”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I gotta say, I have mixed feelings about posting ‘top secret’ documents. IF they are legitimate, there are usually good reasons for the secrecy. In this case, the finance at these sites just got their notice – and in a much worse way than the recent 600 layoff notification. On the other hand, the journalist wannabe in me likes knowing what wants to be hidden.

    My major concern though is that a flood of ‘top-secret’ documents may come your way, Jim. Possibly just inserted as comments, without any filter or time-delay at all. Remember that all of us are in competitive markets, that’s all I ask.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    As a very low-level supervisor, I know I don’t share everything I’ve heard or read. I got burned as a pup, telling staff we were getting a new copier that eventually did arrive… in another department.

    Whether or not it’s top secret, there are times when information should be kept out of the conversation. Plans change. Perhaps in a subsequent memo, one of these sites was swapped with another.

    The bitching here about how the 600 layoff notification went surely told corporate that it was better to give people no notice at all.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve never understood how farming out work is cheaper than in house. Someone is still getting paid to do the work. Then there’s a time lag in shipping/sending the data to wherever it’s going, then back. And does the accuracy rate actually go up? How long to fix errors?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    The two coments above are bullshit – all the finance people know their jobs are toast. Run all the top secret stuff you want jimbo. A communication company that can’t communicate is stupid.

    The only beancounters that are happy about sticking it out til the end are the ones getting the bonuses to stay.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Farming it out is cheaper cuz one person can manage 15 people in one room much easier than having three managers take care of 5 people each in three sites.

    Three managers at $50k versus one manager at $75k, there’s no contest.

    With the miracle of the internet, all that work can be done wherever the seats are cheapest. Springfield or Bangalore.

  6. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Note: In fact, this post DOES correctly list the 11 pilot sites, despite what I wrote earlier. But I’m now working from my iPhone, with limited editing capabilities. I’ll fix this later.

  7. Jim Hopkins Says:

    6:20: Indeed, I want MORE such documents. The purpose of this blog is to shine a bright light on Corporate’s behavior. That’s what we journalists do.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Let us never forget the announced plans for Gannett to get government support (tax abatement and training grant money) for the Indy service center. Anyone know if the company asked for taxpayer help in Illinois?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, you are no journalist. Just a sensationalist who takes joy in other people’s misery. Calling yourself a journalist based on a few sensational blog posts is an insult to the rest of us.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Holy cow, people. Stop arguing and look for a job. Yours is next.

    Asheville is losing good people every week. Some older ones and some younger. Asheville is down to a skeleton staff that knows their jobs very well. If one more person goes, that place will lose revenue at an alarming rate based on the quality of work produced.

    Clients just won’t wait any longer or listen to anymore excuses. They will find a nice glossy magazine somewhere else to advertise in.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I think all the overpaid Advertising Directors need to be outsourced as well. Do you really need these people. The Retail Manager and the Classified managers do all the work. They train and manage the staff along with going on calls. Advertising Directors sit in their office and allegedly check email all day. They sure do get paid a lot to check email and make a few rounds at the office.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    If you don’t think secret company documents should come to light, you shouldn’t be working in journalism. Go work for Dick Cheney’s office, or do PR for big agriculture. There your instincts can be put to good use.

    Gannett missives are not directions for building the bomb.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    8:16 raises a good point, but the poster probably didn’t mean to.
    What exactly is a “journalist?” Is it only someone hired by a big corporation and given a beat to cover?
    How about if the local publisher keeps the business reporter from writing consumer-oriented auto and real-estate stories. Is that reporter a “journalist?”
    How about someone who uses his own initiative, money and time to write about things that interest him? Is that person a “journalist?”
    And incidentally, sources have been giving secret government, business, scientific and academic documents to “journalists” for a long time.
    Journalists publish them. It’s what we do.
    It occurs to me that what we need is a federal licensing agency, then we’ll be able to tell who is a journalist and who is not.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Can anyone from one of those sites, preferably one of the papers, shed some light on which positions are being axed in finance? Is it accounts receivable, analysis…which positions besides credit and the payment processing areas? Thanks!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    9:49 a.m. – Great idea. Ever read this thing called the First Amendment?

    We all know what a journalist is and isn’t. The “argument” over that topic is so fucking boring. If you really need to wage it, take it to the guys over at Poynter who haven’t worked in a newsroom in decades and who have the time to putter around with such pointless mental masturbations.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, you’ve just been had. This information isn’t correct.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Asheville lost a lot of positions some in Finance. One yesterday.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    9:56 am.
    I posted that “what’s a journalist?” comment and for the record that licensing comment was sarcastic.
    On a Yahoo biotech message board I follow, some poster just related his conversation with one of the company’s executives.
    The information that poster gave me will be just as valuable to me as anything I will read in the Times or my hometown paper.
    My point to 8:16 am, is that Jim is a journalist, whether he is working for USA Today or himself.
    Keep at it Jim.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with 8:42 comments. However, I wouldn’t outsource the Ad Directors, I would simply eliminate them. The RAM and CAM at our paper does all the heavy lifting. Not sure what our Ad Director does, except play golf. He has a better tan than George Hamilton

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Does the document give timeline for all the properties or just the initial sites? Like what properties will be hit when?

  21. Anonymous Says:

    You all miss the entire point of the Jim debate. Journalists check their sources before they put out random information for all the world to see. Its reckless. I’m not opposed to allowing Jim put anything he pleases on the blog but how do we know anything is reliable. give us the proof and I’ll feel better about “random news flashes”.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    We don’t miss it, thanks.

    I think Jim’s track record speaks for itself. Part of reading something like this blog is understanding the context. We are the sources. We are anonymous. Some of us might be lying saboteurs. But we are also the only ones willing to distribute company information about our own futures.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    From what I have heard corporate is moving Accounts Receivable, credit and collections, and General Ledger to the service centers. If Gannett’s past consolidations are any indication of how this will go it will be a big cluster with the sites and and customers suffering.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    So, the Virginia-based Gannett gets to “mandate” layoffs at different sites, only to later ask for training grants from a different state (Indiana) to hire on a bunch of new workers? Why can’t Gannett train its own workers—or, hire people who meet the job qualifications?

    I just don’t get it anytime a company lays off workers, then asks for government support to train workers. I don’t get why newspaper reporters don’t report things like that anymore either.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    8:41- You obviously don’t know Asheville. We have lost revenue for years and got rid of all the good people a couple of years ago. Virgil Smith ran it in the ground. It’s been on life support since.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Anyone who thinks Virgil Smith ran the Asheville Citizen-Times into the ground is delusional or has his or her OWN axe to grind. In terms of truly understanding that a newspaper should serve and reflect its community, Virgil was the best thing the AC-T ever had.
    The critical issue with the AC-T’s financial performance has been and continues to be its mediocre ad department where incompetence rules. Excuses always abound about why the ad sales team can’t sell: “the content wasn’t right for us to sell it”; “the economy’s down so we can’t sell”; “we have too many products to sell”…on and on. The culture of the AC-T ad department is one of whining and passing the buck. Because performance issues in the AC-T ad department never get addressed, who knows — like cockroaches, they may end up being the only ones left.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Let me preface this…
    I dont know anyone from Asheville. This isnt directed at any one person in particular.

    But…praising the publisher and admonishing the ineffective ad staff at the same time, makes no sense.

    I TRUST my publisher to fix ineffective departments. If he cant, he himself is ineffective.

    Accept no excuses. If you cant change the people, change the people.

    My 3.2 cents worth (hey, the markets up today)

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Regarding Asheville:
    1. It’s been a “cluster beta site” in Circ for a couple of years, with self-addressed subscription envelopes addressed to Nashville, Tenn., although 275 miles is a bit of a reach for a “cluster.”
    2. Virgil Smith’s legacy there is editorial chaos, a news report with no direction or consistency. Anybody who walked in his office with an “idea” saw it implemented, then eventually reversed when it failed miserably.
    3. How many different top editors, ad directors, circ managers have come and gone on VS’s watch? Too many to count.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    The last blog entry merits a correction, particularly on point #2. When Mr. Smith was there, his executive editor, Bob Gabordi, led the paper to the winning of a Gannett gold medal, not to mention a bunch of other awards (not just Gannett awards). More importantly, the news coverage during that time included true watchdog journalism and a genuine effort to connect with the community.
    The publisher there before Mr. Smith was the one who went into the community and told folks that the AC-T was doing something called “planned abadonment” and would not be covering various towns and communities around Asheville anymore. People in the community STILL talk about that.
    And a clarification on point #3: most of the cuts, departures, layoffs, etc., at the AC-T occurred in the past few years after Mr. Smith’s promotion.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    @1:40 – It’s not like anything posted here would be either wrong or just simply malicious…

  31. Anonymous Says:

    NJ group reporting here — I don’t know about your Retail Ad Manager (and I use those terms lightly) but ours makes a big case for going on sales calls, schedules them with the acct executives, and then…doesn’t go on the call. As far as returning calls, etc. I can’t began to tell you how many sales we’ve lost to her incompetence, and if you get a reply to an email to her, consider yourself lucky. True, it does seem to be a huge breakdown in communication between the ad director and the manager, and that breakdown trickles down to the sales team. We have a “Stragetic” rep who has to have someone on the sales call with her, and other people on the staff who simply tells the Retail manager what they are going to do. “I am leaving at 4 today —not May I leave at 4 today, etc. It’s terrible. If you are not the teacher’s pet – well you know how that goes. When I am let go, which might be any day now, I won’t go quietly. I don’t feel protected because I am in sales – although many of my coworkers do. They continue to come in late, leave early, and basically not give a shit. It is disheartening,

  32. Anonymous Says:

    How many going out the door in Cherry Hill ?.Five i heard.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    7:41 am- what paper in NJ?

  34. Anonymous Says:

    I think the comment on 9/19 clearly illustrate the toxic attitudes at the Citizen-Times that have driven so many fine, talented reporters away. The editors’ malaise and anger was malignant; back-stabbing was rampant at budget meetings. Not to imply that market conditions there were ideal. They weren’t. But a few editors’ toxic anger and bad attitudes made it a miserable place to work — for so many people. Too bad they have also left the paper. They should have been fired long ago.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Amon 7:41. at my site last friday retail advertising was out the door by 3 pm.. it looked like a ghost town.

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