Archive for the ‘Diversity’ Category

USAT: Nearly half this year’s hires were minorities

December 6, 2008

(Updated.) The company’s flagship newspaper disclosed that figure as one of the most powerful minority journalism trade groups challenged Gannett to “review its diversity numbers,” once this week’s 2,000 newspaper job cuts are complete.

“We’ve actually been able to step up our commitment to diversity,” Brent Jones, USA Today‘s standards and recruitment editor, told the Maynard Institute’s Journal-isms blog. “We’ve had great success in recruiting in 2008, particularly at Unity. In fact, 48% of our hires this year were journalists of color.”

The Maynard Institute promotes diversity in media. Jones told blog author Richard Prince that, of 12 USA Today newsroom jobs cut this week, “two — or 16% of the cuts — were of minority journalists. That included one African American and one Asian American.” He did not identify them by name, Prince said.

Jones provided the figures as the National Association of Black Journalists issued its high-profile challenge Friday to the newspaper industry, Prince told me this afternoon. (When I first read his post, I thought Prince had called Jones after the NABJ issued its statement.)

NABJ singled out just one publisher: Gannett. The group, which claims 3,300 members, is the largest of four minority journalism professional associations. The other three are the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association.

Gannett, the nation’s No. 1 newspaper publisher, has been a major financial backer of the four groups through direct grants from its charitable arm, the Gannett Foundation.

Did USAT newsroom avoid layoffs?
In what I believe is the paper’s first official acknowledgement of how it reduced its workforce, Prince quotes Jones as saying in an e-mail: “A total of 12 journalists were laid off, including four voluntary layoffs.” Previously, USA Today had said it would cut 20 occupied jobs from its 450-person newsroom, because of Corporate pressure.

Jones’ statement suggests the paper avoided eight forced cuts. But he may only be counting reporters and editors as “journalists.” I know of at least one newsroom layoff involving a bureau office manager who didn’t produce content for the paper or website.

Whatever last week’s newsroom tally, USAT has yet to disclose the total number of jobs it cut across the paper amid Gannett’s nationwide 10% newspaper workforce reduction. USA Today employs between 1,500 and 2,000, making it one of the company’s three biggest worksites. The other two are The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, and the Detroit Free Press and its business affiliates.

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: Thursday’s USAT front page; I would have illustrated this post with Friday’s paper, but that edition isn’t in the Newseum‘s database]

Black journalists fire shot across Gannett’s bow

December 5, 2008

One of the most powerful minority journalism trade groups has just issued a public challenge to the company as it cuts 2,000 jobs in this week’s big layoff. Referring to Gannett’s Task Force on Newsroom Recruiting, Retention and Diversity, the 3,300-member National Association of Black Journalists says in a statement today:

“NABJ asks that this committee and others like it review Gannett’s diversity numbers after the conclusion of the most recent cuts. NABJ is willing to do our part. This organization is available to aid the industry in any way we can to recruit and retain black journalists. We must all work to reverse this disturbing trend. The question is: Will Gannett and other industry leaders continue their commitment to diversity in difficult economic times?”

As near as I can tell, Gannett was the only company NABJ singled out. In any case, it’s a safe bet the company doesn’t want NABJ — or any group — holding a National Press Club news conference to announce a you-know-what of newspapers, TV stations, and their advertisers.

Earlier: At Unity ’08, the color of sponsorships is green

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.

As Currie retires, debate grows over his legacy

November 22, 2008

In one of the least surprising developments in Corporate’s hush-hush executive reshuffling, top newspaper division content boss Phil Currie (left) has told colleagues in an e-mail that he’s leaving the company after more than four decades’ work.

Mark Silverman once accused me of burying the lead in an e-mail I sent to editors, so I won’t do it here,” Currie says. “I want you to know that on Dec. 31 of this year, I will be retiring. Given some vacation time I will be using over the holidays to be with my family, I expect my last official day in the office will be Dec. 19. I approached Bob Dickey about this in October, and he left it to me to choose the time of the announcement. I choose now.”

One of GCI’s most influential editors
A 44-year Gannett lifer, Currie did more than almost any other executive to shape the content of the company’s newspapers over the past two decades. He was not universally popular. Yet, Currie remained optimistic about the industry’s future, as this short February interview shows:

Currie has strong supporters — including Cincinnati Enquirer top editor Tom Callinan, who says in a comment today: “Before this thread dips below the home page and is lost to posterity: It is unfortunate that this good man who has done so much for so many and cared so deeply over the years is getting raked by anons who really do not know Phil. Say what you will about News 2000 and RLRN or whatever other Corporate program, Phil put readers first as well as the families of those of us who moved often. His legacy is rich with recruiting some very good journalists, advancing diversity and standing up for us when the bean-counters intruded into newsrooms.”

Currie’s legacy; what’s next?
When I worked for the community newspapers, publishers did not dare hire an executive editor — sometimes even a managing editor — without Currie’s blessing. He was a driving force behind Gannett’s more hare-brained quality control programs — from the original “News 2000,” to “Real Life, Real News.” Yet, his crowning achievement may be the now-failing Information Center business model, foisted on newspapers two years ago.

Kate Marymont will likely take on Currie’s responsibilities, a shift expected since the former News-Press editor in Fort Myers, Fla., got promoted to Corporate earlier this year.

(Confidential to Currie: That you would reference Tennessean top editor Silverman in one of your final e-mails only confirms you haven’t paid attention to what’s been happening in the field.)

Earlier: More video favorites on my YouTube channel

Please post your thoughts 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.

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.

Advice: What to do when your ship’s sinking

September 26, 2008
“Find ways to strengthen your diversity efforts on Information Center Web site.”

— headline in News Watch, Gannett‘s weekly newsletter for thousands of newsroom employees, Sept. 25, 2008.

Nervous glances: Corporate, Craig Moon — and me

August 28, 2008

[Glass palace: Gannett and USA Today headquarters]

Hardly anyone talked about Corporate at USA Today during the nearly eight years I worked for the company’s flagship — a big change from the three smaller newspapers where I was a reporter and editor in Little Rock, Boise and Louisville, Ky. At the community papers, Corporate — and that’s what people called it — hung over us like a big, ominous cloud. Top executives back at Arlington, Va., and then McLean, Va., after the company relocated in 2001, liked to say they always deferred to “local control.”

But that was complete and total bullshit. In newsrooms at the smaller papers, the editor or publisher would make sudden, odd requests that we do something. When we asked why, the short answer would be: “Corporate.” No more questions allowed.

Polished granite vs. threadbare carpet
It was entirely different at USA Today. The paper shared a luxurious building with Gannett — but that was it. USAT wasn’t subject to the onerous rules forced on the smaller papers: We rarely worried about diversity and mainstreaming, programs designed to feature more minorities in news stories. The quality control programs — News 2000, then Real Life, Real News — didn’t apply to us. There was much more money for business travel. And if you worked at the main office in McLean, you were cosseted in a gleaming glass office complex with granite floors, acres of stainless-steel details, a nice cafeteria, on-site gym facilities, a softball field and other amenities. The newsrooms where I worked employed nearly 500 often well-paid reporters, editors, artists and others.

Contrast that with the Idaho Statesman when I arrived in late 1991. The dirty, threadbare carpeting in the dimly-lit newsroom was literally held down with duct tape. Desks and chairs were old and battered. The closest thing we had to a cafeteria was the dreary, windowless “breakroom” with vending machines. Staffing was razor-thin: As the business-news editor, I had virtually no support from the understaffed copy desk: I edited and wrote stories; laid out the section, and oversaw page production in the back shop. I routinely put in 10- and 11-hour days, and worked most weekends. I got no overtime or comp time, of course, because I was in management.

Curley’s mysterious exit
USA Today started getting dragged into Corporate’s fold around 2003, when Publisher Tom Curley (left) — a likely successor to then-CEO Doug McCorkindale — bolted Gannett to become CEO of the Associated Press. (We were never told why, of course, but it appeared to follow a clash between the two executives.)

Craig Moon, publisher of The Tennessean in Nashville, replaced Curley. USAT staff began worrying that Moon would manage the newspaper more like one of Gannett’s 84 smaller titles: The budget would be reined in. Worker productivity demands would rise. In other words, USA Today would start carrying more of the load.

None of that surprised me. I had worked for Moon (left) once before, when he was publisher of The Arkansas Gazette for about two years, ending in early 1991, not long before Gannett shut down the paper amid a bruising newspaper war with a cross-town rival. By then, Moon had been promoted to Nashville, already on the road to Corporate.

I didn’t see Moon again for another 14 years years. By then, he’d been USAT publisher for about a year, and was making a surprise visit to the San Francisco bureau, where I worked as a business-news reporter. We had exchanged a few e-mails during the previous months about his impending choice for a new top editor, after Karen Jurgensen got bounced during the Jack Kelley scandal. I urged Moon to consider one editor in particular for the opening — someone other than the Tennessean‘s Mark Silverman; the rumor mill had placed Silverman on Moon’s short list. (Moon eventually hired Ken Paulson — but not before offering the job to someone else, I was told.)

Moon’s nervous look
On that day when Moon visited San Francisco, I don’t think he remembered that I worked in the office there. I buzzed him inside, then re-introduced himself. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed like an uncomfortable look crossed his face, as in: Uh-oh: A Little Rock survivor. I wonder what Hopkins remembers?

(Confidential to everyone: I remember everything. Maybe that explains some of the antics at yesterday’s USA Today staff meeting? Or, maybe he’s still pissed off about this.)

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.

[Images: headquarters, Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects; today’s USAT front page, Newseum]

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]

Hola, Wall Street Journal readers!

July 25, 2008

Thank you for following that WSJ Health Blog link. Now, please consider taking my where-do-you-work survey, near the top of the blue sidebar, right. You’ll be glad you did!

Unity: Gannett attendance way down from 2004?

July 25, 2008

Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET to correct hed: Regarding my post about CEO Craig Dubow‘s low profile at this week’s mammoth Unity ’08 minority journalism conference, a reader says: “Another sour grapes BS post. There are a number of Gannett executives here in Chicago. At least 15. Instead of constantly bitching, people ought to at least have some kind of constructive words rather than always tearing down and then lying about the rest. This blog has been going from bad to worse. The company appears to have a major presence here, is a major supporter, and comments like this do not help any cause except the few malcontents.”

A “major” presence, eh? From the News Department’s ever-reliable weekly News Watch newsletter:

  • Yesterday: “More than 200 Gannett journalists and executives from across the company are gathered in Chicago this week.”
  • Aug. 13, 2004: “Doug McCorkindale, chairman, president and CEO of Gannett, welcomed about 300 people to a Gannett rally before the formal start of Unity.”

Upcoming today
Dubow and other executives are to host a reception for GCI attendees. Other top dogs expected at Unity, according to News Watch: Chief Financial Officer Gracia “The Knife” Martore; human resources chief Roxanne “Insurance Audit” Horning; USA Today Publisher Craig “Other Craig” Moon, and broadcasting division head Dave “No Snarky Nickname Yet” Lougee.

Earlier: At Unity ’08, the color of sponsorships is green

Related: Unity President Karen Lincoln Michel of Gannett’s Green Bay Press-Gazette says diversity is “taking a back seat” to industry woes

Your latest bitching (hah!), 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.

Reader: CEO Craig Dubow’s profile low at Unity

July 25, 2008

Regarding the big minority journalism conference now underway in the Windy City, a reader says in a new comment: “You should have someone cover the Unity event in Chicago. I hear that none of the executives have shown their faces except for Bob Dickey and Chris Saridakis. At least these guys made the effort. I haven’t seen Dubow or anyone else from the upper echelon. We lack diversity in senior management. These fools pretend to care about us. Who are they kidding? They are just going to tell us how important it is to ‘recruit’ people like us and then they turn around and fire all of us!”

Earlier: GCI cuts cast doubt on diversity goals