Archive for the ‘Brevard’ Category

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

November 18, 2008

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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Calling Brevard, other staff: What’s Dubow saying?

November 17, 2008

Gannett CEO Craig Dubow is reportedly on the road again this week, visiting Florida Today this morning/afternoon before (I believe) hitting The Greenville News in South Carolina, and The News-Press at Fort Myers, Fla. So, what’s he saying during employee 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.

No sale in Daytona after blog said deal imminent

October 16, 2008

Updated at 7:23 p.m. Oct. 17, the day of the purported sale announcement. Nothing yet on the paper’s website about a new owner.

The Unofficial Daytona Beach News-Journal Blog, which has been tracking the Florida paper’s pending sale, carried a comment saying a deal was due — amid speculation Gannett may be a bidder. “All I can say is, I sure hope it’s not Gannett,” a Daytona blog reader replied. “Take it from a Gannett employee.”

Tip: GCI ‘seriously’ interested in Daytona paper

September 27, 2008

Reviving speculation that GCI’s in a buying mood again, a reader says in an e-mail: “Gannett seems to be seriously looking at the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Several corporate suits were in town recently and a select group of operating-committee members from Brevard went on a field trip.”

The Daytona paper has been on the sale block since April, when the majority owning Davidson family was forced to find a buyer after losing a costly court challenge brought by minority owner Cox Enterprises. Last spring, two readers here wondered if Gannett might be interested; yesterday’s e-mail, plus an anonymous comment from a second reader, was the first I’d heard about GCI’s possible interest in the paper since May.

It would be noteworthy if Gannett was shopping again. There’s been little market for print papers in some time: values plunged amid increased uncertainty over the industry’s prospects, and the broader economy’s further weakening. Three months ago, for example, Dow Jones & Co. shelved plans to sell its smaller Ottaway Newspapers chain. Buyers fear getting burned by paying too high — which is what happened when private investor groups scooped up the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the The Philadelphia Inquirer at the wrong time.

But Gannett may be a uniquely well-placed suitor for Daytona because it already owns Florida Today, 90 miles south in Brevard County’s Melbourne. GCI could boost profits by eliminating duplicate jobs at the papers, in human resources, accounting, production and editorial. The papers could share printing. And a single publisher and editor could oversee both titles — Gannett’s direction, with its clustering strategy.

Of course, GCI already has its hands full in Florida, the source of so much revenue loss because of the battered real estate market. But that could force the Davidsons to sell at a really bargain price.

The News-Journal has been through several layoffs since the Davidsons offered it for sale. The paper’s site says it employs 850 — which sounds high, based on Gannett metrics. Dayton’s daily circulation is about 100,000, so it averages about 90 employees per 1,000 readers. Florida Today‘s is closer to 80 per 1,000 readers. (These are very rough calculations, based on publicly available data that may be out of date.)

The News-Journal says it is Florida’s last family owned paper; the Davidsons have controlled it since 1928.

At a glance
Daytona: 100,000 weekdays, 120,000 Sundays
Brevard: 79,000 weekdays, 95,000 Sundays

Daytona, Brevard staffers: What have you heard? 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.

Related: A blog devoted to the Daytona paper, although it looks like it’s on hiatus.

[Sources: circulation, News-Journal and GCI’s 2007 Annual Report to shareholders; today’s front pages, Newseum]

Weakened storm Gustav lands west of New Orleans; hundreds of employees publish live news coverage

September 1, 2008

[Army National Guard members patrol the 5th District today after Gustav skirted New Orleans, in this USA Today photo]

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET. Gannett employees from Louisiana and Mississippi, fortified by teams from Florida, Des Moines, USA Today and elsewhere, are covering Hurricane Gustav‘s landfall today, publishing videos and other news reports live and real-time. As millions fled inland, The Times in Shreveport, La., and other sites streamed live storm video.

Watching the story unfold, Gannett Blog readers cheered: “GREAT JOB SHREVEPORT!!!!!!!! The best paper in Louisiana, and the best operating committee and publisher in our company,” one said in a comment, below. “You guys are doing a great job covering the storm.”

[Storm updates: The Timeshomepage, moments ago]

Do you know co-workers there? Wish them well! Please post your notes 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: Gustav revives the overtime-pay debate

[Photo: Rob Curtis, USA Today]

Detroit: Freep’s Andrews is leaving in a buyout

August 25, 2008

Detroit Free Press Executive Editor Caesar Andrews, one of Gannett’s most prominent minority news executives, is taking a voluntary buyout and will leave the Freep, effective Nov. 10, the paper reports today: “Andrews, 49, joined the Free Press in September 2005 as part of the new management team after Gannett bought the newspaper from Knight Ridder. He said he is taking a voluntary buyout and is unsure of his next career move, but he expressed interest in journalism education and civic foundations.”

Andrews joined Gannett in 1979, as a staff writer at what’s now Florida Today at Cocoa, Fla. In a mid-afternoon memo, top editor Paul Anger said Andrews would continue with all the duties and responsibilities of executive editor until that date.

The memo continues: “Caesar told me at the beginning of his outstanding tenure here that for years he had considered making a career change, and there could come a time when he would decide to do something else besides editing. I had hoped that time would never come, and we’ve delayed making this announcement in the hope that he might change his mind or that another challenge could be found in the company.

“Caesar has his own thoughts that he will share with you. Here’s one more from me:

“We could have had no better editor, partner, colleague and friend than Caesar these last three years, through much change, many challenges, and much incredible journalism. We all know that, and I feel personally and deeply indebted to him.”

In a note of his own, Andrews says:

“By the time I depart in early November, I intend to have expressed my personal gratitude to the many people who made my three years in Detroit as fulfilling as just about any stage in my career.

“More than once I have marveled at my good fortune to work at a place as legendary as the Free Press. The talent on this staff is outstanding. So is the journalism, some of it among the best I’ve ever witnessed.”

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: today’s front page, Newseum]

Florida Today M.E. Stover named top editor

July 21, 2008

Long-time Florida Today Managing Editor Bob Stover (left) was named the paper’s top editor today. He replaces Terry Eberle — who recently took the top newsroom post at The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla. Today says Stover has worked for Gannett since the mid-1970s, although I thought he joined the company with GCI’s purchase of the now-shuttered Arkansas Gazette in 1986.

Earlier: Sixteen years later, Little Rock mafia rises in GCI

Sixteen years later, Little Rock mafia rises in GCI

July 11, 2008

Updated on Oct. 4. With the promotion of Kate Marymont (left) to a top News Department job in April, the number of former Arkansas Gazette employees in influential Gannett positions has grown even more. That’s ironic, of course, because many suits at Corporate would just as soon forget that bitter Little Rock chapter. About 700 employees lost their jobs in 1991, when GCI pulled the plug on the paper — likely the single-biggest job loss in Gannett’s 102-year history. (Yes, Virginia: newspapers really do fail.)

CEO Al Neuharth bought the Pulitzer Prize-winning daily in 1986 at a deep discount, during his victory lap as he was leaving Gannett. Five years later, in October 1991, GCI closed the Gazette when its annual losses approached $30 million in a bruising newspaper war with the crosstown Arkansas Democrat. The Gazette‘s assets were sold to what is now the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (Only three months ago, Editor & Publisher named the Democrat‘s Walter E. Hussman Jr. as the trade publication’s Publisher of the Year.)

Marymont was the Gazette‘s metro editor. Other Little Rock survivors still tied to Gannett include former finance vice president Evan Ray, just promoted to senior vice president/finance and operations amid last month’s Friday Afternoon Massacre; USA Today Publisher Craig Moon, who was the Gazette‘s publisher (and frequent jogger*); Susie Ellwood, then marketing director, and now general manager of the joint operating agency publishing the Detroit Free Press; former production director Austin Ryan, now vice president/production in the newspaper division; former Managing Editor David Petty, now publisher of The News-Star in Monroe, La.; the advertising department’s Larry Whitaker, now publisher of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and the finance department’s Joe Williams, now the Clarion-Ledger‘s finance director; former state editor Bob Stover, now executive editor at Florida Today; and former copy desk chief Jill Fredel, now assistant managing editor at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. (And me: I was the Gazette‘s business news editor, before leaving for Boise, then Louisville and San Francisco, where I finished my Gannett career at USA Today.)

I’ll bet I’m missing other Little Rock alumni. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Related: a Gazette oral history, featuring an “I know nothing” interview (.pdf!) with Neuharth, in May 2000

[* “jogger” is an extremely obscure-but-pertinent reference; image: my Gazette employee ID photo, taken in October 1987]

Who will replace ‘class act’ Eberle at Brevard?

July 3, 2008

Florida Today‘s next editor will have a tough act to follow, based on the comments I’ve read about Terry Eberle, the newly appointed top editor at The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla.

Eberle is a class act,” one reader said yesterday, after his move was announced. “Many Gannett editors at larger papers won’t give the time of day to editors at smaller papers. Eberle treated all as equals and was always willing to share advice. He doesn’t lead with his ego like many in top editing ranks at Gannett metros do. His record at Florida Today is a good one. He’s one of the best editors in the company — part of a cadre of quality folks that is diminishing in numbers by the day.”

A lauded editor, at a bigger paper
Eberle will now lead the newsroom of a somewhat larger paper: The News-Press‘ daily circulation is about 84,000 vs. 79,000 at Brevard. Sundays, it’s about 101,000 vs. 95,000. I don’t know the cast of possible Eberle successors at Today or at other Gannett papers. Anyone want to take some guesses?

Employees aren’t the only ones who’ve lauded Eberle’s work, of course. He tied for editor of the year in the 2006 Best of Gannett awards. Judges noted the speed with which Today switched to the then-new Information Center model. “In a year of extensive transition, Terry provided outstanding leadership. . . . It was a remarkable job,” their citation said.

He’s bound for another Florida paper that grew in stature within Gannett for its early work on the Information Center model. Under the editor Eberle replaces — Kate Marymont, now in Corporate’s News Department — the News-Press became the public face of GCI’s efforts to merge online and print news gathering: The Washington Post featured the paper in a fairly glowing page-one story, in December 2006.

Related: Eberle’s November News Watch article on how new technologies are shaping decisions by editors to publish once-verboten stories — like news about bomb threats at public schools.

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: this morning’s Today, Newseum]

Brevard editor Eberle moving to Fort Myers

July 2, 2008

Updated at 7:05 a.m. ET, July 3: Who will replace ‘class act’ Eberle at Brevard?

Earlier: Terry Eberle leaves the top editor’s job at Florida Today to lead the newsroom at the up-and-coming News-Press on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Fort Myers paper is now reporting. He replaces Kate Marymont, recently promoted to Corporate’s News Department. Short iPhone post; will update. (Florida Today‘s story is now up.)

Brevard staffers: What can you tell Fort Myers about Eberle? Post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.