Archive for the ‘Cherry Hill’ Category

Commentz Korner: Would you delete this one?

October 9, 2008

[It appeared at 12:01 p.m. today on the Courier-Post site]

Updated at 4:51 p.m. ET. It appears the original comment has now been taken down. Earlier . . .

The story today in the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J.: “A 14-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man were injured but are expected to recover after being shot in broad daylight Wednesday in the city’s Fairview section, according to police. The shooting occurred at about 3:20 p.m. at Alabama and Chesapeake roads just off Yorkship Square. The girl sustained a graze wound to her ear and neck. The man was shot in the leg. Both were hospitalized, but police said their injuries did not appear life-threatening.”

The comment by a reader named PleaseGFY: “Grazed her right ear? Damn. Just two or three inches to the left and there’d be one less breeder in that hellhole city. If she is 14, then she is due to deliver the first or her welfare-sucking brood soon.”

The question: Will the Courier-Post allow that comment — and the equally ugly follow-ups — to remain on its site, given Gannett’s stated commitment to all things diverse? Stay tuned!

Earlier: The Cincinnati Enquirer site still offers women that comment on how to deliver blow jobs. How customer service-y is that?!

Got a comment that made it past your editors? Write Commentz Korner from a non-work computer via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Monday Recap: Special Unsinkable Dubow Edition!

August 25, 2008

[The band plays on: Shares have plunged since Dubow became CEO]

With so many new readers, here’s a chronology showing all the fun we’ve had since Craig Dubow became CEO three years ago.

May 25: Waking briefly from a deep slumber, the board of directors discovers the Internets, and concludes that Gannett is going to hell in a hand basket. Reportedly turned down by its first two outside candidates, the board settles on No. 3: Dubow (left), head of the TV division. Gannett stock closes: $75.31 a share.

Nov. 2: Dubow reveals a major part of his strategic plan to save the company: Reorganize GCI’s newspaper newsrooms around the newly created Information Center model. “This looks an awful lot like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” writes a certain blogger, who’s privately tracking Gannett. Stock closes: $58.25.

Dec. 29: In one of the first labor-management skirmishes over the Information Center idea, top executives at The Indianapolis Star (left) back down over demands that newsroom employees write advertorials.

March 16: Shares tumble more than 4%, to $55.76, as GCI warns profits will sink. A Morgan Stanley stock analyst says: “Revenues look to be far from reaching some sort of a trough, and until we see some indication of stabilization, we would steer clear from owning the shares.”

July 24: The board approves a 29% hike in the quarterly dividend, the single-biggest increase since 1995. Summering in the Hamptons, Wall Street is unimpressed. Meanwhile, the bubbling U.S. mortgage crisis grows worse and — unknown to most employees — begins to emerge as the biggest threat to Gannett’s future.

Aug. 10: Dubow denies a Wall Street Journal report that says top management is preparing GCI for a sale. Stock closes: $47.37.

Sept. 11: In an alarming memo, Dubow warns that progress is coming too slowly, and hints at a big downsizing: “This is the hard part. This is where transformation gets really difficult. I want to begin talking with you more about this process and what it means. I can’t take away all the pain and doubt, but I can help lead you through it.” Also, Gannett Blog emerges from stealth mode, appearing in public for the first time.

Oct. 24: Former NBC News president Neal Shapiro named to the board of directors.

Nov. 8: Private investment company Brandes Investment Partners doubles its GCI ownership, for the first time claiming an 11% stake. Gannett Blog traffic surges. Stock closes: $40.44.

Dec. 7: In a dramatic downsizing, USA Today buys out 43 newsroom employees, nearly 9% of all — losing some of the No. 1 circulation newspaper’s high-profile staffers. (Those outmoded digital dinosaurs included a guy with an idea for blog. Oops!)

Jan. 10: One of the company’s most powerful executives, newspaper division chief Sue Clark-Johnson, announces plans to retire; she’s later replaced by Phoenix GCI executive Bob Dickey (left). The next day, former USA Today reporter and editor Jim Hopkins reveals he has been the anonymous editor of the nascent Gannett Blog.

Feb. 15: The Poopgate scandal grabs headlines, as Courier-Post employees in Cherry Hill, N.J., threaten a U.S. Labor Department complaint if they don’t get paid for overtime they have worked.

Feb. 28: The 2007 Annual Report reveals that GCI’s workforce plunged 7% in the previous year, to 46,100. Looking ahead to 2008, Dubow promises: “I assure you, you will see progress.” Stock closes: $30.23.

March 13: Gannett discloses that Dubow was paid $7.5 million in 2007, including a $1.75 million bonus. Employees are outraged: “Gannett stock plummeted almost $50 a share inside of a year and he gets a $1.75 million bonus? And reporters and editors are making due with less staff, less resources — I’m beyond shocked,” one says. Stock closes: $29.97.

March 26: Public documents reveal the company’s charitable arm, the Gannett Foundation, has quietly allowed Dubow and other top executives to steer nearly $424,000 to their pet charities — far from communities where the company does business.

May 29: Squeezing employees more, Gannett lays off 55 workers at the Asbury Park Press and three other N.J. newspapers.

June 9: The financial picture worsens: GCI writes off nearly $3 billion of its assets.

June 11: Gannett freezes its retirement plan. Furious employees heap blame on Dubow: “Kiss my ass,” says one worker. Stock closes: $25.99.

June 27: The Friday Afternoon Massacre reorders the troubled newspaper division, putting publisher’s jobs into play at Indianapolis and Louisville.

July 16: Gannett discloses that second-quarter earnings plunged 36% from a year ago. Dubow says the near-term outlook is grim. Investors panic: Shares trade as low as $14.70. Stock closes: $16.57.

July 31: Monthly traffic surges on Gannett Blog. The number of unique visitors climbs 21%, to about 17,500. Page views soar 41%, to about 144,000.

Aug. 13: Management grows more desperate, disclosing plans to lay off 600 employees and eliminate another 400 jobs in the troubled newspaper division. Shares briefly surge, but soon begin falling again.

Aug. 18: Gannett starts issuing pink slips. Enraged employees complain the layoffs are taking too long: “The way that management carried this out felt very much like a hit and run.”

Aug. 22: GCI says July revenue dived 12.3% from a year ago, as classified ad losses accelerate. Stock closes: $17.67.

Sept. 9: In a major reorganization of its troubled newspaper division, Gannett discloses it has laid off about 100 directors — heads of human resources, production, advertising and other high-profile jobs.

Oct. 1: Gannett says Standard & Poor’s has put the company’s long and short term credit ratings on credit watch, with “negative implications.” Dubow tries to calm investors: “Our underlying fundamentals remain strong and we continue to be a solid investment grade company.”

Oct. 24: GCI says third-quarter earnings plunged 32% on a worsening decline in newspaper advertising sales, spurring more job cuts by year’s end — and encouraging the once-unthinkable: slashing the company’s unusually generous dividend.

Oct. 28: Reeling from a second consecutive quarter of big revenue losses, Gannett announces plans to lay off 10% of its newspaper employees — up to 3,000 workers — by early December. Stock closes: $10.22.

Nov. 28: Internal Gannett documents show every company newspaper but Detroit’s was profitable as of the third quarter of 2007. Highest profit margin: the Green Bay Press-Gazette, at nearly 43%.

Dec. 3: Gannett has launched newspaper division layoff. Within days, employees have counted nearly 2,000 jobs cut. Stock closes: $8.87. (Closing price the day Dubow named CEO: $75.31)

And these are just the highlights (lowlights?) What have I missed? 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.

Layoff scenes: In Cherry Hill, ‘Spot News’ goes

August 20, 2008

A Courier-Post employee in Cherry Hill, N.J., reports that the paper’s last layoff victim was notified this morning. “Was he news? Slightly,” my correspondent says. “Was he advertising? A little. Was he circulation? Maybe. Marketing? Kinda sorta. He was Spot News, the Courier-Post‘s mascot. The now laid-off employee put on a 30-pound dog costume regularly to spend time in the community as the cute and cuddly face of the newspaper. He’s cleaning his locker out right now. You know things are bad when the mascot gets cut.”

Our correspondent continues: “In other strange news, I witnessed my first newsroom prayer circle yesterday. After the newsroom was notified it was spared, the metro editor summoned everyone into the conference room. He then asked everyone to pray with him for our colleagues who lost their jobs. I quickly exited the room. Other people also were pissed.”

What’s the mood like at your place? 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 Courier-Post front page, Newseum]

Olympics-sized coverage from two smaller papers

August 20, 2008

Part of a series of posts by Gannett Blog Olympics news analyst Ed Hutcheson, a pen name for one of my long-time readers. Ed, an employee at a GCI paper, will file occasional dispatches about Summer Games coverage. It’s all yours, Ed!

Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET. The Beijing Olympics are more than a week old, and so far, so good for Gannett’s coverage team. GCI’s plan is simple: Deliver coverage of hometown athletes to their newspapers, then complement it with broader coverage. Let the Associated Press do the rest. It seems to be working.

A byline count suggests a team of at least 16 reporters: 10 from metro and community papers, five from USA Today, plus Gannett News Service columnist Mike Lopresti. If two staffers from the smallest papers are any indication, Gannett and those hometown papers are getting their money’s worth.

Kevin Tresolini, a sports writer at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., covered at least seven sports, including swimming, field hockey, soccer and tennis, in his first week.

Tresolini describes the job on his blog from Beijing: “Most of what I write (is) Gannett-paper specific — a story about the wrestler for the Shreveport, La., paper, the weight-lifter for the Salem, Ore., paper, the women’s basketball player for the Nashville paper, the field hockey player for Cherry Hill, N.J.,” he says. “Wednesday at swimming, I popped out three different dispatches for three different papers on three different swimmers.”

Bob Berghaus, the sports editor at the Asheville Citizen-Times, covered softball, canoe/kayak, tennis, cycling, swimming and shooting in his first week. He’s also writing columns and blogging.

On his blog, Berghaus confesses that he went into a women’s restroom by mistake, ate some mystery meat, and passed out on his flight to China. On Friday, he wrote a column about how he tried to bend the rules at the swimming venue and didn’t get away with it.

Tresolini has blogged about dishes he has not eaten, spitting in public — and the smog.

Got a tip for Ed? 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.

[Images: yesterday’s front pages, Newseum]

In Cherry Hill, N.J., workers brace for bad news

August 18, 2008
“The mood here is grim. After worrying all weekend, we just want it to be over.”

— a Gannett Blog reader, commenting on Gannett’s mass layoff of 600 employees, starting today across the newspaper division.

Reader: If Cherry Hill dies, will any customers care?

July 12, 2008

Regarding my post about yesterday’s Gannett stock plunge, a reader says in a new comment: “I think it’s time to get realistic here and look at the true future (Gannett or otherwise). And the first question needs to be: Can small, localized dailies in markets (like New Jersey) that are overlapped with big city dailies really survive much longer in their present state? Seems to me it comes down to basic economics. And I hate to pick on Jersey, but if the daily paper disappears from Cherry Hill, will there be reader outcry? Or will people say, ‘well that’s a shame,’ and start reading the Philly Inquirer?”

Join the debate, in the original post.

Earlier: And the most miserable New Jersey paper is . . .

Gannett’s defenders wave the proverbial white flag

June 11, 2008

In a shift that started about a month ago, management and its supporters have largely abandoned defending the company before Gannett Blog‘s growing monthly audience of more than 10,000 employees and other readers. Even Gannett’s vice president for corporate communications, Tara Connell, has stopped, well, communicating.

Three weeks ago, for example, I asked Connell for an update on Gannett’s probe into employee allegations that the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., had failed to pay overtime due for hours worked. She still hasn’t responded. I draw several conclusions: The company hasn’t finished its examination. Or, overtime abuse continues in Cherry Hill (and, possibly, across the company) — and Gannett is unwilling to discuss publicly what is almost certainly an unlawful practice.

Now, I’ve always been wary of publicists. They’re not in the business of telling the full truth; they spin. When Connell left USA Today as a managing editor to become GCI’s top flack in 2003, then-CEO Douglas McCorkindale tellingly said: “I am confident that she and her staff will continue to do a terrific job communicating Gannett’s success story to its employees and to the world outside the company.”

Still, it’s a little sad to see management give up on trying to say at least something positive about the company. Yes, I’m often very critical of CEO Craig Dubow and his failing strategic plan. But I’ve tried to publish every pro-management comment submitted here. What’s more, many of the comments I’ve rejected have been anti-management. Perhaps the recent silence of management’s defenders is a sign of just how defeated they’ve become in the Gannett Tower.

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.

Quotable: Think your job is protected? Think again

May 26, 2008
“Truckers, mailers, pressmen, copy editors: beware; you’re not safe.”

— Anonymous Gannett Blog reader, in a new comment on how the Courier-Post handled a recent round of buyouts.

Reader: ‘A classic clusterfuck, Courier-Post style’

May 20, 2008

Updated at 8:03 p.m. PT: A reader says in a new note in the comments section, below: “I know of at least one Features reporter who was denied the buyout. This was a classic clusterfuck, Courier-Post style. How about approaching the most senior members of the staff, one at a time, until you get the desired number of acceptees?”

Earlier: Regarding big job cuts now underway at five New Jersey newspapers, a Gannett Blog reader says they’re “disgusted” by what happened at their paper, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill. “The initial offer, understandably, divided the newsroom into two tiers — the writers who were offered a buyout and the editors who were not,” the reader told me in an e-mail. “Much anger from veteran editors who complained they were not included. After achieving that demoralizing outcome, the C-P and Gannett have put a wedge between the people who were offered a buyout and the ones who received it.”

Join the lively debate on how many N.J. staff sought buyouts.

[Image: screenshot of the C-P’s home page, now reporting: “A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said today in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics’ most enduring figures. Kennedy is 76]

Reader: Here’s why N.J. employees took buyouts

May 17, 2008

Regarding the final tally of employees who applied for buyouts offered to 166 staffers at Gannett’s New Jersey papers, a reader says in a comment: “The exact number probably won’t be known anywhere until we come back from Memorial Day and start asking, ‘Where’s [insert name here]?’ What is interesting are the various reasons people have had for taking the buyout. I’ve had a stream of people coming by my desk or sitting with me in the cafeteria or going out for drinks after work to talk it out and get advice or validation.”

Why did some employees favor a buyout? Read the rest of the reader’s comment, in the original post.