Archive for the ‘Binghamton’ Category

Elmira: A publisher quits at an unusually young age

October 1, 2008

And this one was publisher over two Gannett papers in New York. Monte Trammer (left) had run the Star-Gazette in Elmira — Gannett’s first newspaper — since 1999, and the Ithaca Journal since last year.

Replacing Trammer: Sherman Bodner, who is the top executive of Gannett’s Central New York newspapers group. In addition to Elmira and Ithaca, the group includes the Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton. Central New York announced a big work consolidation in July.

Trammer, one of Gannett’s few minority publishers, is only 57, according to a Star-Gazette story yesterday that says his last day will be Saturday. His departure at such a relatively young age led some readers here to wonder whether he jumped — or was pushed. “Is this voluntary?” Anonymous@3:17 p.m. asked in yesterday’s Real Time Comments. “Will this be the trend, allowing publishers to retire versus getting canned? Just seems to me there is more to this story. Anyone have the inside track here?”

Anonymous@5:16 p.m. replied: “I started with Gannett in 1987 and in 1988 the publisher ‘retired’ — wink, wink. I know of at least five Gannett publishers who retired like that. These are people I actually know, who told me it was a retire/resign or we fire you — and here are some benefits to make you go away. There are many more I suspect; all corporations do this with top executives.”

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.

[Photo: Star-Gazette]

Detroit: Only 116 volunteers for 150 buyouts

July 23, 2008

Raising the specter of layoffs, the Detroit Free Press and two sister operations fell well short of their target to reduce employment by 150, according to memos sent yesterday by senior executives. The buyouts, among the biggest by any Gannett business, originally came with a starkly worded warning about possible layoffs if there weren’t enough volunteers by the July 18 deadline — last Friday.

The Gannett-owned Freep, plus The Detroit News and the joint operating agency publishing both papers, first appealed for volunteers in late June. At the time, CEO Dave Hunke warned that “the environment in which newspapers operate continues to worsen rapidly.” His June 23 note also said: “If the voluntary offer doesn’t result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs.”

Yesterday’s memos did not mention involuntary layoffs. Also, the memos reported conflicting totals on the number of volunteers, and did not give a complete breakdown of where the buyouts were falling by department. Human resources chief Kristi Bowden of the Detroit Media Partnership said 116 volunteers had offered to be voluntarily laid off. (The joint operating agreement partnership publishes the Freep and the formerly Gannett-owned Detroit News.) News Publisher Jon Wolman cited 115 volunteers. Both memos said all buyout applications had been accepted.

There are plenty of other questions, too: “What are the terms of the buyout? What are they offering?” a reader asks in a new comment, below.

I’ve e-mailed Bowden, asking if layoffs are now being planned.

Wolman said 11 of the 115 applications came from the News. Bowden’s memo didn’t say how the other applications were divided among the Freep and the Detroit Media Partnership’s executive staff. (Gannett sold the News three years ago to MediaNews Group as part of a complicated deal that included Knight Ridder papers.)

Buyouts amid rapid retrenchment
In his memo, Wolman said the buyouts come as the news industry overall shrinks to contend with a worsening economy. “Even so,” he wrote, “the public’s appetite for news content is enormous and growing, and we will reorganize our efforts here to maintain strong coverage. Even with a smaller staff size, I’m confident we can develop innovations that drive our coverage even higher than it is today.”

Last week alone across Gannett:

  • The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., laid off 36 and eliminated 10 unfilled jobs.
  • Three Central New York papers cut about 10 jobs in a consolidation of ad sales and online operations.
  • The Arizona Republic offered a second round of buyouts.
  • The Honolulu Advertiser laid off 54.
In Detroit, eligible staff were active, benefit-eligible employees who were at least 45 years old, with 10 years’ service as of Friday, July 18.

Is your Gannett paper, TV station or other business cutting staff through buyouts or layoffs? Please post your replies — along with relevant memos — 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.

Earlier: My advice on why you should take a Gannett buyout. Plus: Next buyouts won’t be so generous

[Image: today’s Freep, Newseum]

Three N.Y. papers consolidate online, ad sales

July 18, 2008

Gannett’s cost cutting spread yesterday to central New York, where newspapers eliminated top management and other jobs in a reorganization of online operations and advertising sales. The papers are the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, The Ithaca Journal, and founder Frank Gannett‘s first title — the Star-Gazette in Elmira.

The Central New York Group’s shifts follow a second round of buyouts this week at The Arizona Republic, and layoffs at The Honolulu Advertiser, amid a steep plunge in Gannett’s second-quarter profits.

Binghamton Publisher Sherman Bodner didn’t disclose the exact number of jobs cut in the e-mail he sent to staff about 5 p.m. “The economic climate for our industry remains challenging, and we continue to explore changes that provide economic or strategic advantages,” Bodner said. “We made staffing reductions in our information centers, in our building/facilities departments and in information technology.These were difficult choices, made only after close consideration of other options.”

His e-mail says one manager will now be in charge of the three papers’ online operations, and the number of online-only staff is being reduced, and based at Binghamton. Also, ad sales at the three papers will now be run by a single sales director, Bodner’s note says.

Together, the three papers employ fewer than 800 workers.

Job cuts at your GCI business? Please post a note 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: today’s Press & Sun Bulletin, Newseum]

Reader: Advertisers won’t like offshoring

January 29, 2008

With little fanfare, Gannett is moving advertising production work to the land of rock-bottom wages, India — raising red flags for a Gannett Blog reader at the Pensacola News Journal. GCI has contracted with 2AdPro in Los Angeles to produce ads for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Press & Sun-Bulletin (left) in Binghamton, N.Y., and other papers. “We are not doing a wall-to-wall replacement like some other newspapers,” Austin Ryan, vice president of production, told the trade publication Newspapers & Technology. “But we do believe we can gain some economies and we will be rolling this out at other properties that make sense.”

The Pensacola reader asks: “Is this the new norm? It has resulted in layoffs (of course). If the local ‘small-town’ advertisers here, who are very patriotic, get wind of this, the backlash could be a disaster. Not to mention the sales reps are pissed because the ads look like shit.”

The question du jour: How long before Gannett starts offshoring newsroom jobs?

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Press & Sun-Bulletin, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: N.H. primary shocker

January 9, 2008

New Hampshire election officials had barely finished counting votes last night when pundits were dubbing senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John McCain of Arizona the Comeback Kids. Here’s how some Gannett papers played news of the presidential primary upset on front pages this morning.

The Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y., led with a strong victory photo of Clinton that I saw on a lot of fronts:

The Detroit Free Press hung bunting; I’m not so crazy about the blue and red backgrounds surrounding the lede photos . . .

And Florida Today played the story big while also sticking close to its bread-and-butter focus on space news: