Tip: In new, deeper cuts, ‘big things’ now on table

As Gannett moves closer to reporting third-quarter earnings on Oct. 24, I expect lots of speculation — informed and otherwise — about advance moves that Corporate in McLean, Va., might make in the flagging newspaper division, to satisfy restive stockholders.

With that in mind, a reliable tipster says in an e-mail: “All sites are waiting for new targets re: expense cuts. Each site last week turned in contingency plans reflecting three scenarios — 3% reduction, 5% reduction and 7.5% reduction. Before those even reached McLean, the publishers got word that targets calling for deeper cuts would be forthcoming. Group publishers were in McLean at end of last week to work on this with Corporate. Rumor has it that numbers are rolling out today. . . . Big things are on the table this time, including eliminating Monday editions at smaller papers and more aggressive consolidation efforts.”

Can anyone confirm — and add 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.

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27 Responses to “Tip: In new, deeper cuts, ‘big things’ now on table”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Two days ago, another reader told me in an e-mail: “Rumbles in Cincinnati say that among the cost cutters on the table are switch from narrow ‘broadsheet to Berliner, and possibly dropping one day a week to six-day paper. My bet is that the Berliner will go through, press arrangements allowing, and Monday would be the casualty. Now, monday is almost as bad as Sunday, which has gone from showcase to local-news waste basket and calendar section.”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    If cuts are coming, why are some of the sites hiring like crazy I wonder.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Our Monday edition could easily be mistaken for a Pizza Hut flyer… it’s that thin. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was canned. The way papers are trending, will we go back to the weekly paper of yore in which the news was as mundane as… “Miss Violet Quahog visited her cousin Eunice Snively in Des Moines on Thursday. They shared a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie with Pastor Williams when he stopped by to chat with them on the porch.” That’s where the trend of citJ, ala Gannett-style, seems to be heading. Backwards!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I’d rather see innovative plans to get the company back on track instead of wasting management time figuring out innovative ways to fire people.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If I knew I had to reduce body count at my site, I’d load up with anything that had a pulse.

    It’s not fair to the new hires, but if I want to protect the bodies that have been trained and get the daily out, I’d like to have plenty of pawns to sacrifice.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Reducing print edition days at smaller properties that simply cannot make money in today’s financial climate makes sense — assuming significant cost savings can/will be realized.

    I don’t know of too many businesses that would continue to manufacture products that lose money. Unfortunately, that’s the case for these small town newspapers with ad bases that simply cannot support a 7-day or even a 6-day a week publication.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Rather than cut out days at the smaller papers, I don’t see why they don’t cut down the number of Executive Editors. What are they really supposed to do, anyway? Does yours spend time writing personal blogs?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    From Richmond, IN: Publisher from Muncie is now our publisher – overseeing both. Heard she did this before with the Marion paper before Gannett sold it. Doesn’t seem good for us. We are small papers, but still….

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett would have to build Cincinnati a new press for them to go to the Berliner format. That, and of course, have the cash or credit to cover it.

    Cincy could build it with Louisville (converting them too)to lower their collective costs, merge two production staffs into one eliminating lots of union jobs and move Cincy’s community weeklies back from Lafayette saving even more money. Plus, Cincy could adjust the weeklies delivery to fill the void left by the Enquirer’s move to six issues – they have a larger, collective footprint anyway.

    Significant savings would result, advertiser’s seven day requests could still be met and the Enquirer could do all of it with little fanfare if they wanted and most likely still charge subscribers the same flat monthly fee anyway.

    Gee, I wonder if Dubow and Dickey would answer those questions if asked when they visit.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    How much deeper can Gannett and the rest of the newspaper industry really cut before the product disappears? It seems to me that the real solution to the crisis of circulation loss and ad revenue loss is not to shrink the product but actually innovate a whole new product.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    10:31 you are so right. innovation is the only savior

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Any newspaper not making a profit on Mondays, or ANY day of week for that matter is being run by morons. The dirty secret of this business is EVERY day is profitable – just not profitable ENOUGH for the company. At my newspaper, Monday revenues are 3 to 1 over expenses! Cutting out Monday makes no sense… unless you reduce the work week of hourly employees by one-fifth!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Could someone please explain what everyone means by Berliner…. I’m not a press person… makes no sense to me…. And are you talking about building a new press or converting existing presses… Louisville just installed their presses several years back so I’m just curious what the purpose of a Berliner press would be… Pardon my ignorance…

  14. Jim Hopkins Says:

    11:32 p.m.: It’s a modified tabloid format. Please see this Wiki article: http://tinyurl.com/6c9vpf

  15. Anonymous Says:

    @9:02 p.m. wrote: “Rather than cut out days at the smaller papers, I don’t see why they don’t cut down the number of Executive Editors. What are they really supposed to do, anyway? Does yours spend time writing personal blogs?”

    I only wish our EE would do something that useful. At least then we’d all feel like he’s actually accomplishing something for his paycheck.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    What about Asheville? If they don’t merge this paper with Greenville everyone could lose when more cuts come out soon.

    At least Greenville is not inundated with vagrants and transients. Did you know that the Asheville’s paper employee parking also doubles as a place for vagrants to sleep at night. So much so that in the morning you have to make sure you do not make eye contact while sporting your pepper spray and walking a quarter of a mile to the building.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Hey, you don’t need pepper spray for vagrants. They may annoy your sensibilities but they are harmless and reflect some terrible social decisions our society has made. Don’t sneer because if this economy tanks the way some economists are predicting, you and your family may find yourselves sharing a comfortable parking space with them.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like a great local local story to me. Has anyone talked to them?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Just to clarify 9:16

    There is a big difference between a Homeless person or family that does not chose to be homeless and Vagrants and transients that chose not to be a part of society.

    Vagrants and transients that populate Asheville chose to live in the woods or under bridges. They are just in Asheville for the free food that the missions hand out. Most of them shipped here from Raleigh and Charlotte. Don’t talk to me about being homeless until you have walked in my shoes or visited Asheville.

    Can we get back to the newspaper discussion please.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    With that attitude, I can well understand why people opt to divert their eyes when around homeless. For many homeless, it is not a matter of “choice.” There is a sizeable percentage who are mentally ill, which is something we are becoming to understand is a disease of the brain and so a medical not a social issue or a matter controlled by someone’s “choice.” Many used to live in single-room occupancy homes, but they lost those with the house-price fever as old houses were refurbished and sold off to the new debt-encumbered yuppies. This has happened before, and it takes years for these people to find new dwellings. Our society has left these tasks to social organizations and churches to resolve and, indeed, as house prices collapse, housing for the will become available. Like you, I find the homeless problem distasteful, but some human understanding is needed here concerning people who can’t make it in this world as well as you have.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    *8:05 You must be an advertising sales person. Avert your eyes from the “vagrants” and keep you head in the sand. If Asheville is merged with Greenville, the city will lose it’s local voice.

    The Mr Brand’s has, for years, clearly demonstrated that Asheville is a “red-headed stepchild”.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t forget to mainstream for the vagrant interviews and remember to have the photog catch the face in a tight crop. Maybe you could spend a night with them in the lot to get that real people angle. If you’re a real digger, I bet you could even discover some have died under similar mysterious circumstances. The killer might even call you. Could be a prize winner!

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Homelessness is the condition and social category of people who lack housing, because they cannot afford, or are otherwise unable to maintain, regular, safe, and adequate shelter

    In legal terminology, a person with a source of income is not a vagrant, even if he/she is homeless.

    Vagrant is a person in a situation of poverty, who wanders from place to place without a home or regular employment or income.

    Laws against vagrancy in the United States have partly been invalidated as violative of the due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. However, the FBI report on crime in the United States for 2005 lists 33,227 vagrancy violations.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    They don’t call it “NoCashville” for nothing. Damn hippies.

    That was all in jest. I love Asheville and the hippies.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    This won’t be popular, but Gannett corporate staff needs to more closely examine how its newspapers administer wages by looking at individual employee wage histories by paper versus by their aggregate and/or departmental histories, etc.

    And, in times like these even more so as its far too easy to keep significant increases for some under the radar, especially when they have more open, dark and changing positions throughout the year that help keep total wages at or below budget.

    Look, I’m all for paying more money but I’ve watched far too many get more because they learned their co-workers were paid at a higher rate, because they were hovering to close to the minimum…and, even because some ended up managing people who made more than they do. It’s a joke, it’s wasteful in many cases and as a result, its impacting papers abilities to do more with less.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Asheville has employee parking? We lost that two years ago.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Yes Asheville has a lot. They allegedly own a lot or lease it for there employees. It is in great walking distance and populated by criminals but it is there for employees to use for a small fee based on their salary. Maybe $10 a month for most.

    Did I tell you it only cost $6 a day to park in a nearby garage. That is a deal in my book. But $10 is better.

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