Wednesday | Sept. 24 | Got news, or a question?

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51 Responses to “Wednesday | Sept. 24 | 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. Anonymous Says:

    another hit for NEWSPAPER COMPANIES.
    $100 MILLION Lawsuit – Nawspaper Carriers "INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR" STATUS challenged in case against Orange County Register.

    It looks like the "Wink & a Nod" ascertion that carriers are not employees is being challeges…..ut oh.
    Tuesday, September 23, 2008
    Register barred from reporting testimony in case involving paper carriers
    The Register is also accused of destroying evidence in a contentious lawsuit over the employment status of newspaper carriers.
    Comments 22| Recommend 4
    SANTA ANA – Superior Court Judge David C. Velasquez has ordered The Orange County Register not to publish any articles about witness testimony in a $100 million class-action lawsuit brought by newspaper delivery workers.
    The action involves some 6,000 current and former carriers.
    Velasquez also imposed a fine Tuesday of $23,792.50 on the Register's parent company – Freedom Communications, Inc. – and its law firm for "intentionally and willfully destroy(ing) evidence."
    The gag order was denounced by legal scholars.
    Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, said the order was "clearly and blatantly unconstitutional."
    "Even in a criminal murder case, never can the press be excluded from reporting on what's going on," Chemerinsky said. "It's not a close call."
    "That order is, on its face, a violation of the First Amendment, and clearly invalid," said Peter Scheer, the executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition.
    Velasquez ordered non-expert witnesses from both parties to stay out of the courtroom during testimony by other witnesses, prohibited both parties from discussing witness testimony outside of court, and extended that prohibition on the involved parties "to all means and manner of communication whether in person, electronic, through audio or video recording, or print medium."
    Separating the witnesses – "sequestering" in legal parlance – is common in court cases. Prohibiting publication of a witness' testimony is highly unusual.
    Velasquez said in court that the order was directed at the Register rather than all media, according to Alonzo Wickers IV, an attorney for The Register. Wickers argued in court that the order constituted prior restraint – an unconstitutional attempt to tell the newspaper what it can and can not print.
    "The Supreme Court repeatedly has made clear that prior restraints are a form of government censorship," Wickers wrote in his legal brief opposing the order.
    Wickers said Monday that he will file a writ challenging Velasquez' order in the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana.
    Velasquez ordered Freedom and its law firm, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, to pay the plaintiffs $23,792.50 as punishment for the company's failure to stop its e-mail system from automatically deleting messages relevant to the case.
    Freedom was first served with a request for documents on Dec. 5, 2003, and received three more requests over the next three years, said plaintiff's attorney Daniel Callahan, but allowed its system to delete 90-day-old messages until Jan. 21, 2008.
    "Defendant's conduct was especially egregious in light of the fact the defendant had the ability to preserve information by '"taking snapshots" of the mailboxes,'" Velasquez wrote.
    In a press statement, Freedom said the company "had been saving voluminous information and documents that were related to the suit. Over the course of this litigation, Freedom has produced in excess of 10 million pages of documents, including almost 130,000 emails. This is not a situation where the court specifically had ordered the production of the emails and they later were deleted. Rather, the Register did not believe that its automatic deletion of these particular emails would have any impact on the case."
    In the lawsuit, Gonzalez v. Freedom Communications, Inc., the delivery workers are contending that Freedom illegally classified them as independent contractors when they were entitled to the benefits due employees. They also argue that Freedom should accept liability for any traffic accidents during delivery.
    Delivery workers sign a 12-page contract agreeing that they are contractors when they start work, Callahan said. But the question of whether they are employees or contractors is determined by the degree of control supervisors exercise over the performance of their duties, he argued.
    Freedom still hasn't turned over more than a two-month sample of daily instructions delivery workers receive, Callahan said. Those instructions include performance evaluations, Callahan said.
    Freedom said in a statement, "All of (the carriers') actions show that they are in business for themselves. They regularly engage others to do their routes for them and they regularly engage others to help them with parts of their work. They have freedom and flexibility that only people who are in business for themselves have. The Register respects their independence and honors the contract which states that only the carriers can control how they do their work."
    According to documents filed by Freedom, more than 90 percent of delivery workers in the newspaper industry are considered independent contractors.
    The class-action suit against Freedom is the first of its kind, according to Callahan.
    Velasquez's gag order is far from the first of its kind.
    In a landmark 1976 case Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited nearly all "prior restraint" of the news media.
    The court summarized its earlier decisions: "The thread running through all these cases is that prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights."
    "You are only allowed to impose a gag order on the press in the most extraordinary circumstances," said Chemerinsky, who has argued several cases before the court.
    "It has to meet three criteria. One, that publication poses a serious risk to a fair trial. Two, that there's no alternative except a gag order to protect a fair trial. And three, that the gag order be successful in creating a fair trial."
    The constitutionality of such restraints is "a settled matter," Chemerinsky said.
    Asked to think of the last use of prior restraint to pass Constitutional muster, he said, "I don't think you can find any since Nebraska Press."
    Scheer also found the order outrageous.
    "Hopefully, the judge will quickly pick up his copy of the Constitution and re-read it," Scheer said. The court has no authority to order other media not to publish, he said, while "for the order directed to the Orange County Register, the court at least has jurisdiction over the newspaper, but it is nonetheless forbidden under the First Amendment to try to enjoin the Register's publication of the news as its editors and reporters see fit to write it."
    Asked to suggest a scholar who would argue the other side, Scheer said there were none.
    "On the question of whether you can shut down the Orange County Register from publishing news, there is no reputable constitutional teacher or professor who would endorse that," Scheer said.
    Attorneys are currently arguing motions in the case; testimony is expected to begin in around two weeks.
    Asked whether the Register would defy the order and publish testimony, Ken Brusic, the newspaper's editor, said he is waiting to see whether the order is overturned on appeal.
    "Prior restraint is unconstitutional and we need to see how the process plays out," Brusic said.
    The Register generally only publishes day-by-day accounts of witness testimony at trials with widespread public interest, while other cases are covered at arraignments, verdicts, or other milestones.
    Would an employment law case even merit the same blow-by-blow coverage as a sensational murder trial?
    "I don't think there would be the same public interest in a complex civil trial," Brusic said. "A lot of it would be arguing over paper. But it's certainly something we'll want to keep a pretty close watch on."
    Register Staff Writer Larry Welborn contributed to this story.
    Contact the writer: or 714-445-6694

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Wow, such a long detailed story. Don’t they know in the O.C. that people don’t have attention spans and you have to write short for the internet? I hope there were bullet points, pull quotes and info graphics to break up this monstrosity of wordage.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Jonathan Yardly, Pulitzer Price winning journalist for the Washington Post, wrote a moving commentary on the demise of the newspaper business last week. I highly recommend reading it. It will touch you on many levels.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Wow! Great piece by Jonathan Yardley. Makes me want to fight like hell to keep newspapers alive, in any form we can. Beautifully written. I hope we don’t lose all our great writers.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, we all know the story is grim in the newspaper industry…more layoffs, less influence by editors and more by bean counters. But isn’t the news business worth fighting for? How many Gannett news people still have the fight in them? The belief that it’s critical to keep some form of news and quality journalism in America? Why are we spending so much time just watching the bridge burn and not fighting for our papers?

    Maybe, in the end, complacency will kill the newspaper.

    I thought journalists were fighters! Complaining on the blog is ok. But action is needed. Passion is needed. Who is still fighting for this?

  7. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Yardley freely admits that his paper would be a high-minded vehicle aimed at the elites. But who, then, would cover the school board and the sewer commission?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I love Yardley’s piece but Jim has a point. When my neighbor is locked out of a zoning board meeting in violation of the Sunshine Law, who will he take his complaint to – his Internet provider?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    The Associated Press has selected thePlatform, a white-label video publishing subsidiary of Comcast, to serve as its central back-end management system for publishing video across some 2,000 affiliate and syndication partner sites.

  10. rmichem Says:

    Their is a much bigger story, then you letting on involving newspaper carriers. If newspaper’s carriers, are not consider independent business people, but employee of a newspaper. The newspaper, would have to pay income tax, social security tax, provided health care, pay overtime. The paper would have to follow the laws, regarding child labor.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    BINGO!! 8:43. You go to the head of the Class.

    Several other states are attacking the “Independent Contractor” facade. Massachussetts Attorney General is hitting PCF with a Class Action suit. Others as well.

    With rapidly declining revenues, I.R.S. and State Tax authoririties are becoming much more aggressive. No newspaper company can wiggle their way out of this one.

    You reporters and white collar types might have to help deliver papers.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    8:43 – You have to be kidding about “OVER-TIME.” LOL

  13. Anonymous Says:

    U.S. Ad Spending Falls 3.7%, Biggest Drop Since 2001 (Update1)

    By Sarah Rabil

    Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — U.S. advertising spending fell 3.7 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the biggest decline since 2001, as automakers and phone companies cut marketing budgets as the economy struggled.

    Spending in the first six months of 2008 dropped 1.6 percent, including a 0.6 percent gain in the first quarter, New York-based market researcher TNS Media Intelligence said today in a statement. Advertising slowed on every medium in the second quarter compared with the first, TNS said.

    Consumer spending in the third quarter will probably be the weakest since 1991, according to economists surveyed this month. In response, advertisers are shifting marketing dollars to the Internet, cable television and syndicated TV to target more specific audiences, Jon Swallen, senior vice president of research at TNS, said in the statement.

    Spending rose 8 percent on Internet display ads and 3.1 percent on cable in the first half, while newspaper and radio continued to decline. Ads on network TV fell 2.4 percent. National newspapers declined 9.5 percent, while local newspapers dropped 7.1 percent.

    U.S. automakers, the largest group of advertisers, cut spending 11 percent to $6.48 billion in the first half. Carmakers have cut marketing for 12 consecutive quarters, TNS said. Phone companies reduced ad outlays by 8.9 percent. The top 10 industry categories spent $36.3 billion in the first half, a 0.7 percent decline from the year-earlier period.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Rabil in New York at

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I work for The Des Moines Register. Corporate is in our building today. Apple is also here with them. Does anyone know what that might be about? I would ask around myself but I’m nervous when it comes to corporate Gannett.

  15. Jim Hopkins Says:

    You said Apple is there. Can you be more specific?

  16. Anonymous Says:

    So is anything going on in Nashville? Enquiring minds want to know!

    From Yesterday
    ” Anonymous said…
    Something did happen in Nashville but I can’t provide the information until it becomes public. Should be tomorrow.

    9/23/2008 10:10 PM”

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Photojournalists at the Detroit Free Press won two national Emmy Awards for work that appeared on the newspaper’s Web site, “40 Years of ‘Respect'” and “Pit Bulls: Companions or Killers?”

    It’s the newspaper’s second and third national Emmy Award in just two years.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    10:22, Jim:

    Check this.

    Perhaps the technology can be applied to print/online graphics.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, all I know is that Corporate and Apple employees are in a meeting room, looks like a seminar, everyone’s wearing name tags. Since Des Moines is one of the Gannett region hubs, maybe they have another condensed/downsizing project in the works. If I find anything more out, I will post.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I do not think that print will ever go out of style, why?…because the local Barnes and Noble is packed every weekend.

    Especially on the weekends I look forward to grabbing that paper and my mug of coffee and just chillin.

    I hate ads online, I hate ads on tv, that is why I record anything I want to really watch,so I can bypass the commercials. I cannot stand reading online either. I get digital subscriptions to magazines and then print the pages I want to read, then into the bathroom I go. Newspapers will be around as long as people still read in the terlet.

    I strongly disagree with those who say print is dead and digital is going to dominate. I never even look at our local papers website.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous said…
    Why would Gannett’s Newspaper Division post a job for a Mother’s Helper in Cocoa Beach? It reads like a Florida Today job! That’s the first time I’ve seen a non-industry job listed on the corporate site. Strange.

    9/23/2008 2:33 PM
    UPDATE on 9/24/2008 The job posting for Mother’s Helper in Cocoa Beach no longer appears on the corporate Website! I’m still wondering why applicants for what appeared to be a job in a home were allowed to apply on a company Website.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    After reviewing many, of rmichem’s posts over the past, few, months, I conclude. that he is either (1) trying, to make his writing , unrecognizable through the, use of strage punctuation. fragments. and so on. or (2) in need, of some serious remedial English, lessons.


  23. Anonymous Says:

    8:32 a.m. wrote: “How many Gannett news people still have the fight in them?”

    As I told a friend not in the biz recently, you can get kicked in the groin only so many times before you think, “Hey, maybe I’ll just lay here on the floor for a while – it’s not so bad.”

    I’ve busted my hump this year, only to get grief and insane demands from higher-ups. Thanks, guys.

    My paper really needs a clean sweep of leadership at the top.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    There were two very well-respected Media analysts this week in NY quoted as saying “newspapers will be around for a very long time.”

    The general consensus is they will exist, albeit it smaller and maybe in tabloid form (size not edit) or some other forms.

    But not before there is a lot of pain in the reinvention and downsizing.

    There were very few who believe they will completely die.

    Murdoch has just invested Millions a new ad campaign for the WSJ. And Harbinger contiues to invest in NYTimes.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    what do you mean by “Apple”????

  26. Anonymous Says:

    12:52 PM, it was probably for Al Neuharth.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, what is the news from your “secret source”? Did you ever confirm the source as good?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    2:25 PM
    Do you know if using Gannett’s HR posting and screening is a company benefit offered to company retirees? In other words, can retirees look to Gannett’s recruiting page for help finding personal things like babysitters?

    I was just kind of shocked to see Mother’s Helper posted among all those journalism/media jobs/media jobs.

  29. Jim Hopkins Says:

    2:43 pm: It’s actually two different sources. The first is good, but I can’t post the information. I’m still checking out the second one.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    As somebody who covered a lot of sewer boards and zoning commissions, no paid-circulation paper I know has covered them for a long time now, and I think that’s a good thing. The old “newspaper of record” thing was insanity based on the idea that we have certain duties whether people want to read it or not. We don’t. We have a duty to dig but not to sit through every meeting just in case something happens.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Someone said: “We have a duty to dig but not to sit through every meeting just in case something happens.”

    Yes but what about the notion that what happens at such meetings is affected by the presence of a watchdog?

  32. rmichem Says:

    To anonymous, who criticize my writing style. I suggest you Google, me. You will see, that the person who put 5 billion, into buying the WSJ, personally offer me a job.Yes I talked with his office, it was R.M. Be careful what you say. I could end up being the person, who FIRED you from Gannett? Now if you excuse, me. I have to go and call a source at Google and fine out who you are.

  33. Anonymous Says:


    I was not sure if you were aware or not but one of the two hub for the RTC (Regional Toning Center) is on your top floors and they are entirely Mac based.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Please let us know when you “fine” out who they ae. How dare they criticize your writing skills. It’s your typing skils that stink.

    Say heh to Rupert for us

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Never heard anything that would cause rumbles or indigestion (or anything good, either) here in Nashville. Don’t know what the rumors were, but I can’t tell anything is different.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Leave him alone. He’s not hurting you, is he? Just let it be.

    Good luck on that book you say you’re writing, rmichem.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    I was actually proud of my paper this week … take a look at

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Still nothing in Nashville…except for the passing announcement at the end of today’s TIP rally about the coming of the big “timeclock.” My understanding is that it will require log-in with a handprint or thumbprint. Is this 1984 or what?

    What about the potential “good” news, Jim? Any further word?

  39. Anonymous Says:

    There is more news to come out of Nashville. I have it on very good authority that it will come out tomorrow.

  40. twj Says:

    The unintended consequences here will be that some paper carriers may receive some more money in a settlement, but most will go to the lawyers, millions. And since there is no spare cash in the news business at all, the net effect if delivery costs are upped 100M or less for the past and future will be a further diminishing of resources available for writing and creative endeavors. And some people who can afford delivery at $300 will not be able to do so at $400. Future subscribers will have to pay any excess delivery costs on pass through like any other product. Like many others I was a young paperboy years ago. The money I made started me on a good path. Hard to believe this current path is one envisioned by the legislative assembly.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Nashville Cats, play clean as country water
    Nashville Cats, play wild as mountain dew
    Nashville Cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
    Nashville Cats, get work before they’re two

    Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
    Guitar pickers in Nashville
    And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
    On a Tennessee anthill
    Yeah, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
    Guitar cases in Nashville
    And any one that unpacks his guitar could play
    Twice as better than I will

  42. Anonymous Says:

    To 9:42 PM:

    Tomorrow, tommorrow…you sound like Annie. Are you trying out for a musical?

    Don’t toy with us. People here are concerned about keeping a job, paying their mortgage and feeding their kids. We don’t need jokers like you bullshitting us.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Anyone who has anything concrete about layoffs or wage freezes or pay cuts should pony up to Jim and let him investigate its “truthiness.” All of us need to know, and some of us might have lower-paying offers on the table that we would take faster if we knew our days are numbered. I know, I know, I’m the King of the Idiots if I don’t see my days are numbered, but if there is GOOD news out there somewhere maybe some of us will still be here in a year. Or not. In any case, we have lives to lead, kids to feed, houses to not lose, ulcers to prevent …

  44. Anonymous Says:

    A suggestion to the folks on the board: When saying stuff like “corporate is here” – can you be more specific?

    Corporate has several hundred employees in a variety of different roles.

    As a corporate IT person, I traveled to dozens of newspapers over the past 12-13 years.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    I really need to know if there is something happening in Nashville. I’m seeing shadows everywhere so I’m beginning to believe it. What has anyone heard?

  46. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah rmichem … good luk on the buk you righting!

  47. Anonymous Says:

    Nothing heard about the supposed big happenings in Nashville.

    Of course, I stay away from 1100 Broadway as much as possible so as to avoid the idiocy… It might be contagious.

  48. Anonymous Says:

    9:28 PM wrote: “Still nothing in Nashville…except for the passing announcement at the end of today’s TIP rally about the coming of the big ‘timeclock.’ My understanding is that it will require log-in with a handprint or thumbprint. Is this 1984 or what?”

    Welcome to Kronos. Soon you’ll be doing the accounting dept.’s work, too.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Kronos is the best program ever!! Ummm…. Not being a beancounter, I can’t fathom why we’re looking at an interface created for an 80 column screen, THIRTY YEARS AGO.

    If it were a case of ‘if it ain’t broke…’ it would be one thing. But making a lowly mac design supervisor approve composing payroll on something so ugly and inelegant is tantamount to torture.

    On the other hand, if making it prettier would involve dealing with GMTI – I’ll take ugly. Might never get paid if they start working on it.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    I’d be interested in knowing how this news thing works!

  51. Anonymous Says:

    Rumor has it there is a deal in the works with Yahoo. Management has been in California several times in the last month. Supposedly Gannett will transfer a large number of news gatherers to Yahoo, cutting back via transfer, and Yahoo will be on the hook for pay.

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