Archive for the ‘Burlington’ Category

Vermont: Snow, and silver lining to economic crisis

November 23, 2008

Jim Roettger stands at the top of the Super Bravo lift at Vermont’s Sugarbush on Saturday, his beard reflecting conditions as the 2008-09 ski season starts. The slowing national economy could benefit the state’s 17 alpine resorts, if more East Coast residents spend winter vacations closer to home, rather than at more expensive slopes in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, The Burlington Free Press says today. Photo by Mark Gould, Free Press, via Newseum.

Cutlines Only showcases Gannett website art. To e-mail suggestions confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

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Chatter: Oh, woe is you, little town of Burlington!

October 28, 2008

Chatter is an occasional peek at your comments. In today’s edition, readers compete for the title of Gannett workplace with the most pathetic holiday expectations.

Way up there in crunchy granola Vermont, a reader wonders: “How many GCI shops are having holiday parties this year? Bonuses? I work in Burlington. We haven’t had a party in 5-6 years, but every year for Thanksgiving we get a choice of a ham, block of cheese, turkey or some vegan thing. Simply outstanding.”

Moments later, a Garden State reader fires back: “You’re kidding me, right? We get nothing in N.J. In fact, we’re expected to walk to work, for miles, all uphill, in the snow, and with no shoes! And we like it!”

Then, from Somewhere Unknown in Gannettland, another reader insists: no, their Gannett workplace is the most pathetic! “This holiday season we will all get a Cornish game hen with pink slip stuffing!”

Finally, from a sturdy, Midwestern state: “Snow in N.J.? Wah, wah. Come live in Wisconsin; we had snow yesterday.”

Join the debate — or start a new one, in Real Time Comments.

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]

Calling Burlington: Merging copy, sports desks?

July 22, 2008

That’s what a Gannett Blog reader wants to know. The reader hears The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press‘ sports copy editing will be merged with general news copy editing, “to create one big happy ‘desk’ that puts the paper together each night. Nobody is happy about the impending merge.”

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.

Earlier: Burlington among papers boosting price 50%

Burlington among papers boosting price 50%

July 11, 2008

The Burlington Free Press is raising its daily cover price a whopping 50%, to 75 cents, the Vermont paper said today — the first in a wave of similar hikes across the company, my readers say.

Related update: As media shares plunge, Gannett stock tanks 4%

How will these price hikes satisfy already unhappy customers? 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.

Holidaze: Moms in the big house!

May 11, 2008

Holidays bring really dopey story assignments from editors desperate to fill the newspaper. But, hey: ‘Tis the season, right?

I plead guilty! Yours truly recalls the day when he, too, discovered there were women in prison. And some of them had kids! And that meant mothers behind bars — on Mother’s Day! (Frankly, I’m surprised I could only find two Gannett papers heaving that holiday chestnut into print today. Don’t worry: Father’s Day is June 15.)

The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.

The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

  • Story: Missing mothers
  • Mom: Patience Francis, 31, sold two hunting rifles to a federal agent for $160. Previous legal run-ins included an arrest for repeatedly stealing from a grocery store, plus a DUI. She has at least three kids.
  • Home sweet home: Dale Women’s Facility, Waterbury, Vt.
  • Obligatory cognitive dissonance: Save for the high brick walls and concertina wire, Saturday’s tea party was perfect.
  • Quotable mom: “Nobody told me I was special.”

Was it the assignment to spend Mother’s Day with a mom — who was a man, before her sex-change operation? Use this link to e-mail your worst holiday story assignments; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note, in the comments section, below.

[Images: Susan Hayward, in 1958’s I Want to Live!]

Datelines: Donuts delivered, lakes choked

March 6, 2008

Datelines is an occasional roundup of news topping Gannett websites.

Burlington, Vt.: Dinky Donuts is delivering freshly made treats to customers’ homes — at the crack of dawn. Monroe, La.: Louisiana’s lakes are being invaded by exotic vegetation that threatens to choke the life out of them. Indianapolis, Ind.: For the first time in nearly two decades, presidential candidates will be fighting over state’s delegates. Great Falls, Mont.: The snowpack across most of Montana is slightly above the average for this time of year, authorities say. Tucson, Ariz.: A 15-year-old boy says he shot his father in the back of the head because he wouldn’t let the teenager use the Internet.

[Image: this morning’s News-Star, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: Primary vote editions

March 5, 2008

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s victories yesterday, in Texas and Ohio, followed rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama‘s win in Vermont. Arizona Sen. John McCain, meanwhile, clinched the Republican nomination. How Gannett papers with a special stake in the primaries looked this morning:

The Cincinnati Enquirer . . .

The Burlington Free Press . . .

And The Arizona Republic.

[Images: Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: N.H. primary day papers

January 8, 2008

Today’s big running story is the New Hampshire primary, likely a make-or-break moment for sudden underdog Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. USA Today emphasizes planned online coverage of results tonight, turning its front over mostly to non-election news . . .

The Burlington Free Press in border state Vermont offers New Hampshire 101 — including tips on three towns to watch for early voting trends . . .

And The Arizona Republic notes that New Hampshire voters may decide the future of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain:

[Images: Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: The Burlington Free Press

January 6, 2008

This is today’s Burlington Free Press in Vermont; click on the image for a bigger view. Online, the Free Press desperately needs the major website redesign coming to all Gannett newspapers with the introduction of the new template already in use at papers like The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif.

Burlington’s site, just to start, seems to use every typeface and font color known to man, plus a few more. (See screenshot, below.) It’s such a jumble that it’s hard to tell the difference between advertising and news content. While that might be delightful to our friends on the business side, it weakens the newsroom’s editorial independence.

The Free Press’ videos sure reflect life in a rural state. For a cityslicker like me, watching hunters bringing in deer on the first day of rifle season didn’t go down so well with my Cheerios this morning! I can’t link directly to that video — or to any of the paper’s videos, however. Without those permalinks, videos are far less likely to go viral. And that’s a missed readership and revenue opportunity. The Free Press, like I believe all Gannett newspapers, still uses the Feed Room platform that’s about to be replaced with the new system supplied by a company called thePlatform.

The Free Press at a glance:

  • Publisher: Brad Robertson
  • Executive Editor: Mike Townsend
  • Founded: 1827
  • Joined Gannett: 1971
  • Employees: 272

[Image: Newseum]