Archive for the ‘Clarksville’ Category

Clarksville: 37 said laid off as printing shifts

October 8, 2008

The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tenn., will move its printing to the nearby Tennessean, effective Nov. 30, Anonymous@1:55 p.m says — five weeks after area publishers’ jobs were combined in another money-saving consolidation move. The 37 Leaf-Chronicle production jobs eliminated are on top of nine others in “creative” (I believe that’s advertising production), the reader says. Laid-off workers got one week of severance pay per year worked, the reader says.

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

Dying for business: GCI and SCI turn to ‘clustering’

September 5, 2008

[Clustering Inc.: Actor Michael Hall as Fisher family member]

Gannett and funeral home chain giant Service Corporation International have more in common than nearly identical stock trading symbols (GCI vs. SCI). As portrayed in the hit HBO dramatic series about the struggling Fisher family mortuary, Six Feet Under, they share similar business models, too.

The Houston funeral corporation grew by snapping up small, family-owned funeral homes clustered near each other. SCI would then strip the newly purchased mortuaries of most of their assets. Excess hearses and limousines would be sold; instead, one fleet would serve all the homes in the cluster. A single family member would be retained on contract as a figurehead manager, to create the impression nothing had changed. But virtually everyone else — embalmers, cosmeticians, etc. — were laid off. A single embalmer could handle the work at several homes; ditto for limo and hearse drivers, too. With its growing size, SCI could negotiate better deals on coffins, embalming fluid, advertising and other supplies.

Substitute publisher for mortuary manager; newsprint and ink for coffins and embalming fluid, and you’ve now got Gannett’s newly emerging business model: clustering. Group newspapers near each other, then drive down costs — and shore up profits — by combining operations. A single publisher oversees multiple newspapers. Ditto for advertising, IT and production directors. The latest example of that strategy: The elimination of the publisher’s job at The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tenn., which until a week ago was held by Gene Washer, the paper’s long-serving top executive.

In business lingo, this is called a rollup — as in rolling up many small ventures into a single big one. How has this strategy worked for SCI? Not so well; the chain overpaid for too many mortuaries in order to establish a dominant market position. The company’s shareholders paid the price from the late 1990s until just recently.

Earlier: Documents reveal value of dumped newspaper

Related: Big business can’t swallow these little fish

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: yesterday’s Leaf-Chronicle front page, Newseum]

Gannett eliminates publisher’s job at Tenn. paper

September 4, 2008

In an anticipated budget-cutting move, GCI has asked the publisher of the Murfreesboro newspaper to also lead The Leaf-Chronicle in nearby Clarksville. Andrew Oppmann takes over the duties of Gene Washer, 68, who retired last week after 45 years at the Leaf-Chronicle — 13 under Gannett ownership. Amid consolidation of many high-paying publisher’s jobs, Gannett Blog readers had speculated that Washer’s position would be axed.

Oppmann has been publisher of The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro — about 90 minutes from Clarksville, the Leaf-Chronicle says, in a bare-bones story that details little about him. Oppmann joined Gannett in 1994, according to a GCI link I found on his family’s website. (Nice to see a digitally savvy publisher, BTW!) He and has family will continue living in Murfreesboro.

A Clarksville newspaper reader was skeptical about the appointment. “He’s doing two jobs at once?” the reader wrote in a comment on the paper’s story. “I wonder what the official reason is for that besides cheapness.”

Gannett’s Tennessee papers

  • Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville: 21,253 daily, 24,551 Sunday
  • The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro: 14,635 daily, 18,159 Sunday
  • The Jackson Sun, Jackson: 31,596 daily, 36,915 Sunday
  • The Tennessean, Nashville: 162,911 daily, 224,318 Sunday

[Image: yesterday’s Leaf-Chronicle front page, Newseum; circulation data, 2007 Annual Report to shareholders]

Tenn. pub’s retirement spurs consolidation chatter

August 29, 2008

Gene Washer‘s retirement today as publisher of The Leaf-Chronicle has readers here wondering whether Gannett may use his departure as an opportunity to do away with the top job at the daily in Clarksville, Tenn. Washer, 68, leaves after 45 years at the newspaper — 13 under GCI ownership. A replacement for Washer “will be named soon,” the paper says in a very (!) long story, quoting Ellen Leifeld, publisher of The Tennessean in Nashville, and vice president of Gannett’s South Newspaper Group, which includes the Clarksville daily.

But with GCI cutting costs by asking publishers to oversee multiple papers, Gannett Blog readers are speculating on this open-comments post about what’s next in Clarksville:

  • “If you have another Gannett paper near by, you might have a shared pub. A few papers are already putting a pub over more than one paper.”
  • “Nearest Clarksville is Nashville, where the publisher has her hands filled already. . . . The retiring Clarksville publisher is 68, three years beyond normal retirement age, and kept around to allow GCI to figure out what to do. I gather he got fed up waiting for a decision after three years. The big game plan, I once heard, involved folding both the Leaf-Chronicle and the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal into the Tennessean, despite the distances involved. Think that plan still alive, maybe part of the move towards creating statewide newspapers in Arizona, New Jersey and Tennessee. Stay tuned.”
  • “Putting middle Tennessee together a long-time GCI dream. Dickson, Gallatin, Henderson, Fairview and Ashland already under the Tennessean, so it would only be a small step to bring in Clarksville and Murfreesboro. The problem is that the Tennessean‘s presses are already contracted out to other publications, including Nashville Scene, City Paper, and the Nashville Business Journal. Cramming the other publications would be very difficult, but would save a huge amount of money. Since Gannett is looking for cost savings, I’ll bet they will go ahead with this plan and work out the difficulties afterwards.”

Gannett’s Tennessee papers

  • Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville: 21,253 daily, 24,551 Sunday
  • The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro: 14,635 daily, 18,159 Sunday
  • The Jackson Sun, Jackson: 31,596 daily, 36,915 Sunday
  • Tennessean, Nashville: 162,911 daily, 224,318 Sunday

[Image: a recent screenshot from the Leaf-Chronicle‘s homepage; circulation data, 2007 Annual Report to shareholders]

More big circulation losers among GCI papers

May 1, 2008

Within Gannett, The Californian at Salinas had the single-biggest loss in daily circulation — 13.6%, to 15,957 — as of March 31 vs. a year ago, the new Deutsche Bank analysis shows.

Among Sunday papers, the dubious No. 1 honor went to The Leaf-Chronicle at Clarksville, Tenn.; its circulation cratered 15.9%, to 22,438, DB’s report shows.

Other notables: The Journal News at White Plains, N.Y., plunged 10.9% daily, to 108,863; Sunday: 7.3%, to 125,829. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle fell 5.1% daily, to 148,858; Sunday: 4.7%, to 199,533, the report says.

Did your paper disclose its circulation figures to employees, after they were published Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations? Leave a note in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: this morning’s Californian, Newseum]