Archive for the ‘Cincinnati’ Category

Cincy: News hole slashed; at least 30 said laid off

December 10, 2008

The amount of Cincinnati Enquirer space allotted for content other than ads — the “news hole” — will be reduced by six pages on Sundays and a combined 30 pages across other weekdays beginning the week of Dec. 28, top editor Tom Callinan told CityBeat in a story out today.

Callinan also acknowledged that his paper didn’t publish details of a recent layoff at the paper — even though many smaller Gannett papers mustered the resources to disclose their own plans. CityBeat, citing sources it doesn’t identify, says “at least 30 people — including 13 in the newsroom — were let go.”

CityBeat‘s figure would bring jobs cut in Gannett’s latest layoff to a total of 1,934, based on Gannett Blog reader reports for 68 of 85 newspapers.

Callinan says the news hole reduction “most likely will be accomplished by eliminating the newspaper’s separate Life section, once known as Tempo, and folding it into the Local News section. The Enquirer already eliminated its stand-alone Business section last year as part of cost-cutting moves.”

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

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Ohio law firm launches site devoted to GCI layoffs

December 9, 2008

(Updated.) Minnillo & Jenkins of Cincinnati almost certainly started the website — GannettLayoffs.com — to gather new clients. Although the firm says it specializes in personal bankruptcies, the new site highlights the rights of laid-off employees under state and federal law.

“Signing a release, separation agreement, severance agreement or similar document may waive these rights and bar you from enforcing your legal rights, so it is important to understand the rights you may be waiving,” the firm says on GannettLayoffs.com.

Minnillo & Jenkins is at least the second law firm that has shown particular interest in Gannett and labor law, including possible violations of wage and hour regulations. Note: I’m not endorsing either firms’ work.

Attorney: Cincy laid off my wife
After this post went up, several readers accused me of promoting a law firm trying to make money off the misery of Gannett employees. Now, an attorney at the firm, Erik Laursen, has jumped in.

“My wife was just laid off by The Cincinnati Enquirer,” he writes, in a comment. “I also worked as a journalist before becoming a lawyer. As my wife asked me questions about her severance, I thought that she can’t be the only person with questions. This is why, after careful consideration, we chose to focus some of our efforts toward Gannett employees.”

Ethics 101 — Commercial interests
There’s an interesting debate in this post’s comments section, over the ethics of my posting anything about law firms soliciting business from unhappy current and former employees. Join in; you’ll be glad you did!

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.

Toll punches through 1,900; big dailies still missing

December 7, 2008

Gannett has eliminated 1,904 newspaper jobs in a mass layoff that moved into high gear last week, a new Gannett Blog survey today shows, as employees who survived the cuts now look ahead nervously to vastly changed working conditions.

At the urging of readers, I’ve added positions lost from separately announced press shutdowns in Asheville, N.C., and Clarksville, Tenn. (left). Our survey now includes 67 of 85 newspapers in this layoff round.

Still, papers that are missing or have incomplete figures include three of the company’s biggest individual employers: USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. Combined, those papers plus other worksites with missing figures employ as many as 5,500 of Gannett’s approximately 30,000 newspaper employees.

Gannett has estimated it will have cut about 2,000 jobs at the mostly small papers in its community newspaper division, once this layoff round is done. That estimate would cover Cincinnati — but not USAT or Detroit, because they’re managed in a division of their own, subject to separate budget-cutting goals.

Survivor: ‘No cavalry is coming’
Whatever the final tally, employees who escaped layoff now face a new reality. “Those left behind — at medium and small properties, anyway — are going to be crushed by the additional workload,” Anonymous@12:20 p.m. wrote today in a new comment. “I already put 10 additional hours in this week (exempt; no OT, of course), and that was nothing, because the hard workers who were laid off had worked ahead as always. . . . This week, we will begin to feel the real loss, as it is all on us and no cavalry is coming.”

There’s more: “I am not looking for sympathy. I know I am extremely lucky to still have a paycheck, and I know any number of unemployed journos out there would change places w/me in heartbeat. I am just saying that being a survivor is going to be very rough indeed, and I don’t believe we will stay on this melting iceberg very long.”

We’re tallying job cuts, paper-by-paper. Is yours included? Please post figures on our list, or in the comments section, below. You may also e-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com].

[Image: today’s Leaf-Chronicle front page in Clarksville, Newseum]

Mail: From Cincy, an increasingly rare commodity

November 26, 2008

Recent snail-mail from new subscribers included a bonus: a copy of The Cincinnati Enquirer, featuring a story that’s sadly familiar to many of us: “Faces of the newly jobless.”

Please support this blog with a voluntary $5 subscription; see the “Donate” tool in the green sidebar, upper right. Or, send cash/checks payable to: Jim Hopkins, 584 Castro St. #823, San Francisco, Calif., 94114-2594.

The insiders: Debating ethics of leaking documents

November 8, 2008

Reporters know whistle-blowers play an indispensable role in uncovering abuses of power in government and business. One of the most famous examples: Former tobacco executive Jeffrey Wigand, who helped journalists use secret company documents to show that Brown & Williamson of Louisville, Ky., intentionally manipulated nicotine levels to make its cigarettes even more addictive.

Still, plenty of my readers — including some who’ve never worked in a newsroom — are troubled by the idea that Gannett employees leak memos and other company documents to me.

Anonymous@6:47 p.m., who says they’re a former Gannettoid who was never in management, commented recently: “I support you and the blog, but I still believe that sending non-public company information is a violation of the ethics policy. It’s not a First Amendment right, which some folks here have tried to argue; just look at the reporter from Cincy who cost Gannett $10M when he stole voice mails from (Chiquita Brands). Sending company e-mails to a third party is identical to that.”

Gannett encourages its reporters to aggressively monitor public and private power. Does that obligation stop when it comes to GCI itself? 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: Russell Crowe played Wigand in the 1999 film, The Insider]

Cincy McCain endorsement: a tortured correction

October 29, 2008

Oy vey.

Calling Asheville: Is Dubow still coming today?

October 21, 2008

And if CEO Craig Dubow does meet with Asheville Citizen-Times employees today, as a reader suggested, could you please tell us what you hear from him? Last Friday in Louisville, Ky., and in Cincinnati, Dubow told employees about another round of layoffs.

Asheville: Please post 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.

Stock sinking, Dubow said raising specter of layoffs

October 18, 2008
Less than a week before management reports to Wall Street, Gannett’s shares have sunk to fresh lows — swinging the spotlight on CEO Craig Dubow, after he reportedly disclosed plans yesterday for more layoffs in as little as 10 weeks.

Dubow told Courier-Journal employees in Louisville, Ky., that another round of layoffs is in the works, according to reader comments here, and details I’ve gathered from people familiar with the matter. Dubow didn’t give details on Friday, other than to say the new cuts could come by year’s end. An employee in the meeting said Dubow himself raised the subject of layoffs, without prompting.

“He brought it up and said he wanted to be as transparent as he could be and answer any questions,” the employee told me in an e-mail.

Dubow and his team are reportedly reviewing contingency plans for sharp budget reductions — up to 7.5%, possibly more — in the newspaper division. The timetable is unclear; this may be part of the 2009 budget review. Or Corporate might apply them to the current budget, which would almost certainly require layoffs.

Whatever the timing, I would think Dubow would want to preview details with Wall Street analysts during next Friday’s third-quarter earnings conference call. Big strategic shifts also require approval of the board of directors. The board, with Dubow as chairman, is likely to begin its quarterly two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Any job cuts would follow the layoff of 100 newspaper managers last month in a reorganization of the newspaper division. Those layoffs followed 1,000 jobs eliminated in August in the revenue-losing newspaper division.

A new round would not be surprising, given the economy’s direction (see: toilet) — and Corporate’s prior warning two months ago, in its layoff instructions to publishers: “If advertising and circulation revenues continue to decline, further payroll reductions may be necessary.”

Ad revenue slide accelerates
The newspaper division, which employs about 30,000, accounted for 65% of Gannett’s $1.7 billion in operating revenue during the second quarter. But the division is hemorrhaging ad revenue, the No. 1 source of GCI’s income and profits — further raising the stakes in next Friday’s third-quarter earnings release.

Following are changes in newspaper ad revenue from a year before; the list starts with last year’s first quarter, when revenue first started falling:

Visits paving way for news?
The third quarter probably isn’t going to look a lot better. And all that will pale alongside what the fourth quarter delivers. We’re three weeks in, banking crisis and all, and it’s not looking pretty.

Yesterday, Dubow and newspaper division President Bob Dickey also met with Cincinnati Enquirer employees, before heading to Louisville. And a Gannett Blog reader said today that “some very important folks from Corporate” are due Tuesday at North Carolina’s Asheville Citizen-Times. This suggests Corporate could be softening up the field for big news. (Or it may just be a busy travel week for McLean, Va.)

As Dubow met employees Friday, Gannett shares touched new lows. The stock closed at $10.79, up 12 cents, after trading as low as $10.40 earlier in the afternoon. Still, that capped one of its worst months since I began tracking GCI: shares fell 40%, according to Google Finance. In contrast, the battered S&P-500 Index fell a smaller 22%. (Chart detail, inset; bigger view).

Is Corporate scheduled to visit your paper or TV station in coming weeks? 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 Louisville Courier-Journal, Newseum]

For today’s Dubow visit, a plumber named Joe

October 17, 2008

(Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET.) In an anonymous comment, a reader says CEO Craig Dubow spoke of more layoffs as soon as year’s end during a meeting today with Louisville employees. I have not corroborated this on my own. The reader’s comment: “He was cornered at the end of the meeting by a handsome young man about when the layoffs would occur and how large. He said that the numbers were still being worked on and that sites and the UK had to be visited, but that it would probably be before the end of the year. We didn’t know if that is when the numbers would be known or when the actual layoffs would occur.”

(Earlier.) Back in the days of the old “on-site” visits, the Idaho Statesman once published results of an inaugural Idaho Poll to impress then CEO John Curley and other potentates visiting from Corporate. (It was the pricey poll’s first and only appearance.) Carpeting long in need of repair was fixed. The lobby was spruced up. As business news editor, I was told to make sure Gannett’s stock listing was correct in that day’s paper. You can imagine all the other headaches we faced in this “company’s coming” drill.

Fast forward to today, when CEO Craig Dubow and newspaper division president Bob Dickey are reportedly visiting The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and then The Cincinnati Enquirer, 100 miles northeast in Ohio, for a series of meet-and-greets with employees. Readers here posted questions they’d like Dubow to answer, including: “Do you read the Gannett papers?” (I’d love to hear him answer that one!)

Louisville, Cincinnati: What can you report from your 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.

[Image: this morning’s Enquirer, which Dubow and Dickey would be expected to read closely. The front page features the nation’s current “talker” of a story: Joe the Plumber of Holland, Ohio, now enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, 200 miles north of Cincinnati]

Chatter: A Currie & Co. sighting at Asbury Park

October 4, 2008

On your minds in yesterday’s Real Time Comments: Corporate suits are in the house, and shares are in the tank.

Much chatted-about incoming top Editor Hollis Towns was reported on site at the Asbury Park Press earlier in the day, greeting a News Department delegation led by Phil Currie. “All metro editors in some big planning meeting that lasted for hours,” Anonymous@8:22 a.m. said. “Currie and Kate Marymount also on site, apparently to pick some brains. Any first impressions of Hollis?”

Plus: Would there be a blowback if anyone noted Gannett’s shares dived 6.8% at the close? “Shhhhh,” wrote Anonymous@4:31 p.m. “No one mention that the stock closed at $15.18 today because that one idiot always complains that we mention it when it does bad but we don’t mention it on the days it does good. So please, no one talk about it because I do not want to hear him crying.”

Join the debate, in the original post. Or, launch a new topic in today’s Real Time Comments.