For editors, new software tool — and Connell, too?

Gannett is on the verge of launching an online software application to make it easier for its newspapers to share and reuse each others’ stories and other content, readers tell me.

The service, possibly called Gannett One or Content One, could largely or completely replace what remains of Gannett News Service. What’s more, it appears to be a step in the direction of weaning the company off increasingly expensive Associated Press stories, video and other content.

CEO Craig Dubow and Gannett’s chief spokeswoman Tara Connell described the new initiative in a series of employee meetings yesterday during a Corporate tour of papers at Greenville, S.C., and at Brevard and Fort Myers in Florida, readers say. “There was a TON of open groaning and shifting about this from the news side of yesterday’s meeting,” one tipster told me about the News-Press meeting in Fort Myers.

In a curious twist, I’m told, Connell — who has been vice president over corporate communications since 2003 — would take on an editorial role, working with research and development chief Michael Maness to run the service. (I asked Connell for comment last night, but have not heard back from her.)

Gannett One would let an editor quickly determine which company newspapers have just published a spring gardening story on, say, planting tulips. The story could then be downloaded, re-written to include more local information, then published online and in print, readers say.

Dubow and newspaper division President Bob Dickey talked about the same sharing of information when they visited employees last month in Louisville, Ky. “Someone asked if this meant eliminating AP, and they said that it would probably happen later down the road, but not immediately,” another reader says. “The impression I got was within the next 3-5 years.”

Connell’s credibility problem
An employee since 1972(!!!), Connell has spent the past five-plus years in the public-relations spin cycle, defending Dubow and other top executives even as their compensation skyrocketed while revenue and the company’s stock price tanked.

To be sure, Connell has worked editorial before: Prior to being named the company’s top publicist, she was a managing editor at USA Today before being replaced during a change in top editors. While her defense of Corporate has hardly been full-throated, I imagine her credibility among some editors is now pretty much shot. (Besides, if Connell moves back to edtorial, who’s going to make sure you-know-who doesn’t keep losing her BlackBerry?)

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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