Archive for the ‘Green Bay’ Category

Euphemisms 101: How to sell cutbacks to readers

December 8, 2008
“We’ll walk you through some exciting changes we have in mind for our print and online editions.”

— the Green Bay Press-Gazette, in a published note to readers yesterday. The “exciting” changes include reducing the amount of news. Not mentioned: a year ago, the Press-Gazette had a 43% profit margin — the highest among all Gannett dailies.

Documents reveal double-digit profit margins at scores of papers now on verge of massive layoffs

November 28, 2008

We’ve always heard that Gannett newspapers racked up double-digit profit margins, even as bad times engulfed the industry. But I’ve never seen actual numbers until now, because Corporate keeps the performance of individual businesses a well-guarded secret.

I’ve recently had an opportunity to review margins for most of GCI’s U.S. newspapers as of a year ago (USA Today isn’t included). They’re disclosed in an internal report, the Cost & Statistical Summary, provided to me by a Gannett Blog reader; it covers the first three quarters (periods 1-9) of 2007. The reader asked to remain anonymous, citing possible repercussions if identified. The reader did not have more current data, for 2008. And the reader requested I not share copies of the report with anyone.

Green Bay: No. 1 at 42.5%
The numbers are startling — especially now, with Gannett poised to lay off perhaps thousands of newspaper workers next week in another bid to boost the company’s flagging stock. Every newspaper except Detroit’s was profitable a year ago — although some, just barely so.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette was the star. It had the single-highest profit margin: 42.5%. In other words, Green Bay kept 43 cents of every dollar it took in. The paper’s total ad revenue over the three quarters: $25 million. The report doesn’t disclose circulation revenue for any paper. Applied only to ad revenue, then, Green Bay made around $10.6 million during the period. (Will Green Bay lay off workers next week? We’ll find out.)

Now, some readers say these are, in fact, gross profit margins — that certain costs must still be subtracted before you can get to “net” earnings. That may be true, but the reports I’ve got just say “newspaper profit margin.” (See a screenshot of one report.)

The money-losing Detroit Free Press and the formerly Gannett-owned Detroit News are published by the GCI-controlled joint operating agency there. To be sure, several barely profitable papers may have dipped into the red since this report was published. The economy went over a cliff this year when the housing bubble collapsed, throwing the nation into recession. Yet, I imagine many of the papers listed below are still enjoying very healthy margins.

The Arizona Republic vies with USA Today as the company’s biggest revenue generator. (Since USAT isn’t included in these reports, the exact rankings remain unknown.) The Republic‘s margin was a solid 25.43%, on $319 million in total ad revenue during the three quarters.

Paper-by-paper: Margins, ad sales
Following is the performance of more than 80 U.S. newspapers over the first three quarters of last year, ending about Sept. 30. Gannett’s 17-daily U.K. Newsquest chain and the TV division aren’t included. Total ad sales are provided, but not circulation revenue. (However, circulation is a fraction of the newspaper division’s revenue: just 21% so far this year, says the third-quarter earnings report.)

Note that many newspapers are tiny revenue-generators. Also, names below are those listed in the report; some Wisconsin and Ohio papers are grouped together. To get a sense of an individual paper’s profit in dollars, multiply the margin against ad sales.

  • Alexandria, La.: 20.56% margin; $9.7 million in ad sales
  • Appleton, Wisc.: 32.47%; $22.2
  • Asbury Park, N.J.: 19.16%; $82.3
  • Asheville, N.C.: 23.49%; $20.6
  • Battle Creek, Mich.: 13.05%; $6.7
  • Binghamton, N.Y.: 32.64%; $18.1
  • Brevard, Fla.: 24.68%; $44.8
  • Bridgewater, N.J.: 10.04%; $13.3
  • Bucyrus, Ohio: 9.59%; $1.0
  • Burlington, Vt.: 36.21%; $21.3
  • Central Wisconsin: 24.25%; $16.2
  • Cherry Hill, N.J.: 9.83%; $40.7
  • Chillicothe, Ohio: 22.3%; $3.4
  • Cincinnati: 13.97%; $111.9
  • Clarksville, Tenn.: 26.01%; $8.9
  • Coshocton, Ohio: 4.67%; $0.9
  • Des Moines: 24.58%; $71.0
  • Detroit: negative 4.96%; $164.8
  • East Brunswick, N.J.: 16.07%; $19.6
  • East Wisconsin: 29.75%; $77.8
  • Elmira, N.Y.: 19.2%; $9.0
  • Fond du Lac, Wisc.: 8.02%; $3.0
  • Fort Collins, Colo.: 30.97%; $16.2
  • Fort Myers, Fla.: 29.99%; $66.3
  • Freemont, Ohio: 11.89%; $2.6
  • Great Falls, Mont.: 21.18%; $9.2
  • Green Bay, Wisc.: 42.5%; $25.0
  • Greenville, S.C.: 27.29%; $45.3
  • Guam: 40.39%; $11.2
  • Hattiesburg, Miss.: 16.44%; $7.3
  • Honolulu: 3.33%; $76.6
  • Indianapolis: 24.97%; $116.3
  • Iowa City, Iowa: 15.17%; $7.0
  • Ithaca, N.Y.: 16.01%; $5.8
  • Jackson, Miss.: 25.94%; $34.5
  • Jackson, Tenn.: 15.14%; $10.2
  • Lafayette, Ind.: 27.85%; $12.2
  • Lafayette, La.: 33.52%; $23.2
  • Lancaster, Ohio: 15.15%; $3.0
  • Lansing, Mich.: 23.22%; $26.7
  • Louisville: 19.33%; $78.5
  • Manitowoc, Wisc.: 21.12%; $4.7
  • Mansfield, Ohio: 31.39%; $8.3
  • Marion, Ohio: 26.04%; $3.0
  • Marshfield, Wisc.: 15.23%; $2.2
  • Monroe, La.: 15.09%; $10.6
  • Montgomery, Ala.: 27.83%; $22.1
  • Morristown, N.J.: 14.93%; $16.4
  • Mountain Home, Ark.: 20.25%; $3.1
  • Muncie, Ind.: 24.0%; $9.5
  • Nashville: 21.38%; $93.1
  • Newark, Ohio: 17.25%; $5.1
  • NNC Ohio: 22.09%; $37.0
  • Opelousas, La.: 33.0%; $2.6
  • Oshkosh, Wisc.: 31.15%; $6.8
  • Palm Springs, Calif.: 37.98%; $40.2
  • Pensacola, Fla.: 27.10%; $28.7
  • Phoenix: 25.43%; $319.2
  • Port Clinton, Ohio: 2.74%; $0.8
  • Port Huron, Mich.: 17.58%; $9.0
  • Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: 27.84%; $20.0
  • Reno: 34.90%; $42.8
  • Richmond, Ind.: 18.17%; $5.2
  • Rochester, N.Y.: 28.48%; $62.3
  • St. Cloud, Minn.: 28.16%; $17.2
  • St. George, Utah: 29.91%; $13.7
  • Salem, Ore.: 32.95%; $23.2
  • Salinas, Calif.: 7.44%; $8.2
  • Salisbury, Md.: 26.74%; $16.8
  • Sheboygan, Wisc.: 24.01%; $6.7
  • Shreveport, La.: 29.22%; $23.9
  • Sioux Falls, S.D.: 36.55%; $23.7
  • Springfield, Mo.: 37.50%; $28.8
  • Staunton, Va.: 25.56%; $5.4
  • Stevens Point, Wisc.: 19.81%; $2.4
  • Tallahassee: 25.55%; $24.3
  • Tucson-TNI: 28.26%; $67.7
  • Tulare, Calif.: 39.93%; $2.4
  • Vineland, N.J.: 19.15%; $7.1
  • Visalia, Calif.: 22.87%; $9.2
  • Wausau, Wis.: 32.11%; $8.7
  • Westchester, N.Y.: 14.84%; $79.1
  • Wilmington, Del.: 25.08%; $54.7
  • Wisconsin RAPI: 19.92%; $2.3
  • Zanesville, Ohio: 23.08% margin; $4.0 million in ad sales

Earlier: We’re building a paper-by-paper list of layoffs; just three papers are listed so far. Will yours be included when publishers disclose cuts next week?

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.

What happens once the layoffs are complete?

November 20, 2008

One of the more unnerving aspects of the secrecy surrounding the looming mass layoff is the immediate post-layoff impact on producing newspapers — especially through the end of next month, when these big job cuts take effect.

Here’s the problem. An untold number of newspaper employees will no longer be working in as little as two weeks; the final toll could easily be in the thousands. Corporate’s mandate is for a 10% workforce reduction by the first week of next month in a community newspaper division that now employs about 30,000.

Yet, many middle-managers — from advertising to circulation to editorial — have not been consulted about the timing or number of layoffs planned. Ditto, even, for some department heads. Given that information blackout, how in the world can managers figure out how to reorganize departments around fewer workers in time for these cuts to take effect?

What’s the plan for putting out your newspaper starting say, Dec. 3, when some departmental workforces could shrink instantaneously by 10% or more employees?

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: We’re building a paper-by-paper list of layoffs and job cuts; just two papers are listed so far, however. Will yours be included?

[Image: today’s Green Bay Press-Gazette, Newseum. The Wisconsin paper lost eight jobs in the August round of layoffs; its Corporate page says it now has about 376 workers]

Gannett offers buyouts across newspaper division

November 5, 2008

The company is now extending buyouts to as many as 30,000 newspaper employees, saying they can apply to be voluntarily laid off under the same terms to be offered in a planned 10% layoff early next month. Gannett’s move appears to be a humanitarian gesture, allowing employees to quit voluntarily in order to save jobs of co-workers who can’t afford to lose their positions.

Among the papers making the offer today and yesterday: The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.; The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin (left).

Volunteers there and elsewhere in the 84-paper community newspaper division would get one week’s pay for each year of service, up to 26 weeks. The deadline for applying is next Tuesday, according to publishers’ memos forwarded to me.

Green Bay Publisher Kevin Corrado‘s memo says: “Gannett has given the OK for each site to explore voluntary eliminations,” indicating this is, in fact, an option available to every paper. Yet, like Corrado, News Journal Publisher Curtis Riddle‘s memo cautioned that his paper won’t necessarily grant all buyout requests: “We must also work to preserve our operational strength as we go forward, so I cannot guarantee that anyone who volunteers will be accepted, but your offer will seriously considered.”

Reader: ‘Weasels’ in publisher’s offices
The offer hasn’t been made at all papers, however, a reader said this morning: “Why is it that publishers of some newspapers, such as Louisville, Wilmington, Honolulu and Rochester, take the high road and first look for volunteers to leave, thereby saving jobs for those who may not be willing or able to leave? To those of you who have publishers with at least that much compassion, consider yourselves lucky. The rest of us are left with weasels and worms in the publisher’s office who will let the designated department hit men do the dirty work so they don’t have to get their hands dirty.”

Earlier: Major deadlines in fast-approaching 10% layoff

Has your publisher offered these buyouts? 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: Newseum]

Breaking: Gannett says July’s revenue fell 12.3%; no change in downward trend; USAT improves

August 22, 2008

[Downer: July’s GCI revenue compared to earlier periods]

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET. Gannett just reported that last month’s operating revenues tumbled 12.3% from July 2007, as classified advertising losses accelerated. The revenue results were slightly worse than June’s 12.1% drop. Yet, they’re in line with CEO Craig Dubow‘s warning in the second-quarter earnings report.
Flagship USA Today bounced back: Its advertising revenue fell just 5.5% from July 2007, a big improvement over this June’s year-over-year 27% plunge.

Gannett’s classified advertising trend — especially real estate — only got worse last month, the new monthly statistical report shows:

  • Overall classified: down 25.2%. (June’s was down 21.6%.)
  • Real estate: down 38%. (June’s was down 34%.)
Investor reaction? Z-z-z-z-z-z. Gannett shares closed at $17.67, up 12 cents, amid a broad stock market rally, Google Finance says.

Gannett Blog Reax
From the comments section, below:

  • “Don’t look for improvement in August. Expected Olympics ads have not showed up, and I hear contracts for back-to-school have been miserable.”
  • “Let’s be clear about these results. Revenues are down, and have been declining, but Gannett is NOT losing money. All, or nearly all, properties are profitable. . . . The profit margins of at least three papers — Palm Springs, Guam and Green Bay — continue to be near, at or above 40%.”
Please post your reactions 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.

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.

At Unity ’08, the color of sponsorships is green

April 20, 2008

See: My disclosure, at the bottom of this post.

Four years ago, public documents show, the Gannett Foundation spent $125,000 to be one of the main sponsors of Unity, the huge quadrennial conference of minority journalists that’s become a major recruiting ground for new hires. As Unity ’08 gears up to meet in Chicago this July, the price of admission has soared: Gannett would need to spend $350,000 to claim the same sponsorship it brandished in 2004, conference marketing materials show. And that’s not even the priciest; Unity’s top sponsorship this year retails for a cool $500,000.

Gannett hasn’t publicly disclosed its Unity ’08 budget. But the company’s six-figure commitment the last time around demonstrates its devotion to workforce diversity, even in a time of industry turmoil. Gannett CEO Craig Dubow says diversity is a key part of his strategic plan. Indeed, Gannett’s legendary minority hiring, retention and promotion policies have long been among the industry’s most aggressive.

[Your name here]: $25,000
Unity offers a rare window on the bare-knuckled marketing around big journalism conferences — and the corporate entanglements that ensue. Organizers expect nearly 10,000 attendees. They’re pitching sponsors online in a 24-page color brochure (it’s a .pdf). Here’s an example: For $25,000, companies can sponsor a workshop, where they’ll get to “work with the Convention Program Committee on the topic.” That may explain the noontime panel discussion on July 24, The Diabetes Explosion: A Call to Action for Journalists of Color. It’s sponsored by drugmaker Novo Nordisk, which (coincidentally!) bills itself as a “world leader in diabetes care.”

Scheduled Gannett-sponsored workshops don’t look quite as venal, although a couple will sound familiar to company employees: Monetizing Your Website, and Multimedia Storytelling on the Cheap.

Unity ’08 is a joint production of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association. Unity’s president is Karen Lincoln Michel, Madison Bureau Chief at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The four groups claim a collective 8,200 members. Including the $125,000 Unity contribution, the Gannett Foundation gave the groups a combined $588,400 in 2001-06, the most recent public tax returns show.

Sounding presidential
Most years, the four groups hold individual meetings. But presidential election years are popular times for professional associations to combine forces for maximum audiences, in hopes of attracting candidates as speakers. For its July 23-27 meeting, Unity is promising appearances by the Democratic and Republican front runners. Yet, for many participants, the real action is the competition among hiring employers. Unity is boasting 151 recruiters and exhibitors, from ABC television to the New York Times Co. to Young Broadcasting.

The marketing brochure suggests Unity will slap brand names on just about anything nailed down. Pony up $400,000, and you can sponsor the Saturday night closing ceremony; your company’s name will be on all the event’s signs, and an executive from your outfit “will be invited to make brief remarks at the ceremony.” Too rich for your budget? McClatchy is spending $40,000 to get its logo on hotel key cards. At the other extreme, $1,000 will land you an e-mail “blast” — a message sent to all conference attendees who supply e-addresses.

My disclosure: I enjoyed attending the inaugural Unity, in 1994. But I did get into a kerfuffle during a panel discussion with a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, over gay employees organizing in newsrooms.

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Wisconsin weighs regional copy, design desks

March 10, 2008

Gannett’s 10-paper Wisconsin Newspapers group is considering a plan under which copy and pagination work would be merged into a regional operation, likely resulting in “significant” job cuts, an internal company document shows. Publishers discussed the idea at a meeting last Wednesday that addressed several topics — including consolidating work, according to a meeting agenda I’ve obtained.

The document describes “two possible consolidations. 1) regional copy desk and 2) page layout.” It says executives are “looking at severance costs, which are significant. They will be meeting to walk through the process. At this time, we’re not sure if there are any showstoppers.”

Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell declined to comment, calling the subject an “internal matter.”

The Wisconsin talks are the first concrete evidence I’ve seen of such a move within Gannett, although the company may already operate regional editing desks elsewhere. (See question, below.)

Consolidating all copy editing into giant regional or statewide desks has emerged as another way for newspaper publishers to cut labor costs at a time when revenue is falling. But critics say copy editors can’t do their jobs well when they work far from the communities their papers serve. (Mayor Smith? Smyth?) Gannett business partner MediaNews Group is a prominent proponent of consolidation.

A Gannett shift to regional editing would not be surprising. The company has made clear that it’s now favoring newspapers in its portfolio that are clustered together. Proximity makes it easier to share resources, a factor in GCI’s decision last year to unload five papers.

Some Wisconsin papers already share copy editing functions, a Gannett Blog tipster says. Geography makes the 10 Wisconsin newspapers good candidates for consolidating work: Eight of them are small afternoon dailies, within about two hours of each other. The biggest among the 10 is the morning Green Bay Press-Gazette, with 55,081 weekday subscribers, and 77,765 on Sunday.

Is your newspaper considering a move toward regional editing? Use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: Sunday’s Post-Crescent at Appleton, and the Press-Gazette, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: Green Bay Press-Gazette

March 5, 2008

Cover of the extra Wisconsin’s Press-Gazette published today, with a 12-page section devoted to the big local news that Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre is retiring.

Green Bay publishes Favre retirement extra

March 4, 2008

But Editor & Publisher asks whether quarterback Brett Favre’s retirement is worth a 12-page Green Bay Press-Gazette special edition.

Yepper, says Executive Editor John Dye. “It is one of our main news topics,” he says about Green Bay Packers coverage. “It depends on your perception of what a community newspaper is. We are already getting e-mails from people on where they can buy copies.”

The paper plans to distribute 50,000 extra editions beginning at about 3 p.m. CT through some 400 outlets, charging $1 per copy, E&P says. Dye said seven or eight pages had been built before today’s announcement that Favre, the 16-year veteran and Super Bowl champion, would not return for the next season.

[Hat tip, Romenesko; image: this morning’s Press-Gazette, Newseum]