For today’s Dubow visit, a plumber named Joe

(Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET.) In an anonymous comment, a reader says CEO Craig Dubow spoke of more layoffs as soon as year’s end during a meeting today with Louisville employees. I have not corroborated this on my own. The reader’s comment: “He was cornered at the end of the meeting by a handsome young man about when the layoffs would occur and how large. He said that the numbers were still being worked on and that sites and the UK had to be visited, but that it would probably be before the end of the year. We didn’t know if that is when the numbers would be known or when the actual layoffs would occur.”

(Earlier.) Back in the days of the old “on-site” visits, the Idaho Statesman once published results of an inaugural Idaho Poll to impress then CEO John Curley and other potentates visiting from Corporate. (It was the pricey poll’s first and only appearance.) Carpeting long in need of repair was fixed. The lobby was spruced up. As business news editor, I was told to make sure Gannett’s stock listing was correct in that day’s paper. You can imagine all the other headaches we faced in this “company’s coming” drill.

Fast forward to today, when CEO Craig Dubow and newspaper division president Bob Dickey are reportedly visiting The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and then The Cincinnati Enquirer, 100 miles northeast in Ohio, for a series of meet-and-greets with employees. Readers here posted questions they’d like Dubow to answer, including: “Do you read the Gannett papers?” (I’d love to hear him answer that one!)

Louisville, Cincinnati: What can you report from your meetings? 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: this morning’s Enquirer, which Dubow and Dickey would be expected to read closely. The front page features the nation’s current “talker” of a story: Joe the Plumber of Holland, Ohio, now enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, 200 miles north of Cincinnati]

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26 Responses to “For today’s Dubow visit, a plumber named Joe”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Dubow in Louisville: “There will be more layoffs.” That’s about all I got out of the boring meeting. Oh, and for someone who makes so much money, he wears cheap shoes.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Did he have to blow the money to get here to tell us that?? Don’t we all know that? Did he happen to give any specifics or better yet say that his job was eliminated????

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’ll have to say that he was honest and up front about the layoffs. More than what we’ve gotten so far. He did supply some good information about what was going on in the company. Yes, we’ve all heard most of it before, but at l east he didn’t hem and haw about there being more layoffs. He was cornered at the end of the meeting by a handsome young man about when the layoffs would occur and how large. He said that the numbers were still being worked on and that sites and the UK had to be visited, but that it would probably be before the end of the year. We didn’t know if that is when the numbers would be known or when the actual layoffs would occur.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Only thing that sucked is the meeting started 20 minutes late and ended 15 mins before it was supposed to. What’s up with that?

  5. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Thanks, 5:55 p.m. Was anyone else in the meeting who can comment on/elaborate on that?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    There were about 100 people in the room. It was at the very end. So even though there were no actual time lines given, it sounds as if it will be fairly soon and in his words by the end of the year.

    He was also talking about consolidation of printing sites was No. 2 on their list of things to do and they were now looking at (through an outside company) of ways they can consolidate printing operations to cut cost.

    Other things said were about combining resources on stories – kind of like our own in-house AP. Dickey talked about the AP and how we would still continue to use it, but that it would only do so after this new in-house system was in place and further down the road.

  7. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Unfortunately, with all these “Anonynouses,” it’s hard to know whether we’re hearing from one person — or several people — in the meeting.

    Also, does anyone know when/whether the Cincinnati Enquirer meeting is on today?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I’m Anon 5:55 and 6:28. We’ll just call me “Sue.”

    I’m sure you will hear other stories from others. And Yes, they were at the Cincinnati Enquirer because they went there first and flew down. Supposedly that’s why they were late. So I’m surprised no one has spoken up from Cin City.

  9. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Thanks, “Sue.”

  10. Anonymous Says:

    6:28 PM
    Combining resources? Does he know HIS company has a job listing for USAT-London? What sense does that make when the company has all of those UK papers?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    7:08.

    He was talking about this new thing being a source for stories. Their example was how much did it make sense to have 84 newspapers write some of the same stories when the can be concentrating on giving the stories a local spin. For example in the Spring each newspaper might write a story on Spring Gardening. So they were saying it was redundant to waste resources writing the exact same thing. This would free up writers to write about local events.

    My only thing is you’re not freeing them up to write locally, but doing this so that when these writers are fewer in number you will have the writers to write the few local stories that do exist.

    “Sue”

  12. Jim Hopkins Says:

    As you describe the presentation, Dubow was talking about a network that — correct me if I’m wrong — we already have: Gannett News Service. Or am I missing something?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Dubow needs to start laying off in his own GCI palace.

  14. Kzandra Says:

    Jim Hopkins wrote, “Unfortunately, with all these “Anonynouses,”[sic] it’s hard to know whether we’re hearing from one person — or several people — in the meeting.

    Commenters can pick a nom de blog by clicking on “Name/URL” and typing in a pseudonym.

    On a blog like this a generic handle is best. Something like the word verification for your next comment is good. No hint of race, sex, interests, political affiliation, favorite music, etc.

    Not just for the commenter’s protection, but for any other Gannett employee who shares that characteristic.

    “Sue” is a bad pseudonym even if the writer is male, because it indicates a target to management.

    Don’t help managers retaliate during the coming layoffs.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Jim,

    What you’re missing is that Gannett News Service has no staff features writers. Features come from the papers. The GNS DC bureau writes about Washington news. So some paper is going to have to write that spring gardening story in the first place for GNS to spread around for the others to localize. So who decides who writes that original story? I’d be interested to see how Dubow answers that one.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Dubow just doesn’t get local local, obviously.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Ok, doesn’t it strike anyone as strange that the largest newspaper company in North America, one of the largest on the planet, with a sh*t pot full of presses is PAYING A THIRD PARTY to study press consolidation?
    “He was also talking about consolidation of printing sites was No. 2 on their list of things to do and they were now looking at (through an outside company) of ways they can consolidate printing operations to cut cost.
    This just proves that Austin Ryan and the corporate production people are next to worthless. I can’t believe they are using a third party for this. How far have we fallen? We no longer have the inhouse expertise to manage our own press operations? Unbelievable!

  18. "Sue" Says:

    They really didn’t go into great detail on how and who would write which story. They called it something and GNS wasn’t it. It had a name, but basically would be ran as 9:27 has said. The local newspapers would write the stories and submit for use at other papers. Not only would they use it for the core product, but for online and other areas. Dickey alluded to the fact that once this resource was built up it could possibly replace the AP. Perhaps I misunderstood them though.

    “Sue”

    p.s. This was the first time I had met either of these 2 gentlemen and I would have to say I was impressed with how they handled themselves. I know I’ll get grief over this, but I think we all too often jump to blame someone. A lot of what is going on is the economy and how technology and the way people live and get their news has changed. I’m not making excuses for them or towing the Management Line (I don’t work in Management). I just wonder if any of us were in their shoes we would know what to do either.

  19. Kzandra Says:

    “Sue” wrote, “This was the first time I had met either of these 2 gentlemen and I would have to say I was impressed with how they handled themselves.

    Not surprising. That’s their job. It’s why they make the big bucks. Good on you for your honesty.

    “Sue” continued, “I just wonder if any of us were in their shoes we would know what to do either.

    They know what they’re doing – milking every drop of cash they can from a business on its deathbed. I don’t have a better plan to offer.

    Last November Alan Mutter, the Newsosaur, wrote, “publishers, editors and ad sales people ought to be scared as hell about the future of their industry.

    Last December, Mark Potts, the Recovering Journalist, wrote, “Memo to Tribune employees: Get. The. Hell. Out.

    Think they were crying wolf?

    Early in September Negative Momentum: Newspaper Ad Revenues Gaining Downhill shows the problems started at the beginning of 2006 and have continually worsened.

      "At this rate, there won’t be an industry left by the end of next year.

    Sound apocalyptic?

    Runnin’ Scared from the Village Voice,

    Rupert Murdoch paid $3 billion for TV Guide back in 1988. But things have changed: Macrovision has sold the magazine to OpenGate Capital for one dollar. That’s one American dollar, folks. Macrovision also threw in a $9.5 million, low-interest loan. It is, however, keeping the online TVG franchise.

    Thanks to Angry Journalist #6969 for the link.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    There was another point made nobody has mentioned. One we all pretty well already know. Corporate is committed to growing digital, and consolidation or not, print is actively being abandoned.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Good point someone made about this huge company not having the internal will or knowledge to study its own press operations. That’s just a slap in the face to all the wonderful workers. I’m wondering how much they’re paying these outsiders to do the study.

    Here’s a hint. Just look at the titles and nature of the jobs Gannett posts daily on the company’s job site. That paints a pretty clear picture of where the company is headed. Notice the sites that are hiring copywriters instead of reporters, and notice all the part time positions.

    Question for Sue: Did the guys take questions from the audience?

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I got some more lowdown from Dubow in the C-J men’s room, where we were taking leaks at adjacent urinals. He complained about having held it on the plane all the way from Cincinnati, then forgetting to hit the can before his speech, which is why he ended it early. Since it was going to take him a while to do his business, I pressed him for the full story on his plans for the C-J. First he rattled off the same lines he fed us in the meeting. Only after I threatened to spray him down did he come clean on the truth: that Gannett plans to consolidate the C-J, the Cincy Enquirer and the Indy Star into one paper. I was thinking this was going to make me piss in my pants, but I was already properly situated and gulped hard instead. Dubow seemed relieved at disgorging the truth and went on to say that the consolidated team of editors would “take turns” picking reporters, photogs and others from the three papers for those consolidated jobs. Then he said those workers would be guaranteed at least a year’s worth of work until Gannett outsourced those positions to some company in Bangalore. He grunted in satisfaction, zipped up his fly and stole a quick glance at his urinal-mate, as if to take a mental photograph of the latest possessor of the news of this dastardly pogrom. Before he could ask, I told him my last name — Bingham. The name meant nothing to him. Clearly I was just a number to him, not a person. He hastily rinsed his hands, checked Gannett’s stock price on a Blackberry with a “MomsLikeMe” logo on it, then said something about having a plane to catch and slipped out the door.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    This is “Mary” and I am a female C-J employee.

    Dubow began the meeting by saying that yes, Gannett is strong. Yes, there will be more layoffs, and there was a third point, but I don’t remember what it was.

    He did a Power Point presentation to show the history of the Gannett stock and how it compared to the GNP and Real Estate market. The presentation also showed how Gannett stock activity basically mirrored the Real Estate market. Dubow said that although Wallstreet is not currently confident in Gannett, he is confident that by the end of 2010, the Real Estate market will have bounced back and so will Gannett stock.

    Dubow went on to talk about how the Gannett Balance Sheet is strong – he said that several times. He said that Gannett is in a position to make investments. All I could think of is why not invest in the people that were going to lose their jobs?

    Someone asked if Gannett was in the process of purchasing the Daytona Beach paper. Dubow didn’t say yes or no, but did say that if purchasing any paper would benefit Gannett, then it would do so.

    Gannett’s goal is to allow national companies to be able to do a one-stop shop for all of it’s advertising needs across all mediums. One person questioned the importance of local involvement, and both Dubow and Dickey stressed that local, local, local is still the priority.

    As someone else already posted, the meeting was late getting started and ended too early. Lots of people had more questions, but the meeting was over and that was it. I felt kind of cheated.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    If he thinks things are so promising for Gannett, why do the layoffs? That just doesn’t make sense.

    Here’s something else that just doesn’t flow logically for me: Why would he compare Gannett stock with the real estate market? Wouldn’t a better comparison be one than compares Gannett history and stock with competitors?

  25. sue Says:

    6:29 – yes, he did take questions. about 5 or 6. Each time they went into long winded answering of questions.

    12:11 – Dubow answered that by saying that while some papers are doing great and some not as good that Gannett overall had a good balance sheet – better than other newspapers. But he said that with the down economy they couldn’t continue to keep the same number of employees when they’re not bringing in as much money. We all know Gannett (as any company would) wants the dollars rolling in. If they’re not then they have to decrease the amount going out.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    you’d think if some papers are doing great, they’d leave the staffing alone at those and focus the efforts on making the not so good sites better.

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