Archive for the ‘Honolulu’ Category

Honolulu: Losses worsening, 32% pay cut sought

November 25, 2008

With revenue reportedly falling to lows not seen in 20 years, The Honolulu Advertiser is asking for even deeper payroll cuts, according to a union representing workers at the money-losing daily in Hawaii.

“Union and company negotiators met this week and made progress on a number of issues involving work rules and staffing levels,” the Hawaii Newspaper and Printing Trades Council said in a recent update. “However, the company reported that its financial situation has continued to deteriorate in the past two months and announced that it is seeking drastic new across-the-board pay cuts – up to 31.5%.”

The union quoted Gannett negotiator John Jaske saying that Advertiser revenue has “fallen to its lowest level in 20 years, causing the company to seek the pay cuts and another $4.5 million in other savings, including benefit and work practice changes.”

The union opposes these new company proposals.

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

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Honolulu: Land sale could net $20 million

November 8, 2008

Gannett plans to sell property next to The Honolulu Advertiser‘s Kaka’ako news building, in a renewed bid to cash in on real estate that’s been mostly unused since printing moved to Kapolei four years ago. “Based on prior sales in the area,” the paper says in a story, “the land conservatively could raise more than $20 million during a challenging financial time for the newspaper industry in which the Advertiser recently laid off 81 employees and is pursuing more cutbacks through voluntary job reductions.”

Honololu: Union says Advertiser now losing money

October 20, 2008

Scrambling to cut up to $10 million in labor costs, The Honolulu Advertiser has now begun losing money, as economic growth dives in tourism-focused Hawaii, a published report says.

“It’s never good news when an employer says they’re losing money and offers up the books to prove it,” Newspaper Guild officer Wayne Cahill told the rival Star Bulletin newspaper. “What they’re telling us is true.”

Cahill spoke with a union-hired accountant who inspected the Advertiser‘s finances, but was “bound by a confidentiality agreement against discussing specific findings,” the Star Bulletin story says.

The Star Bulletin report comes after Publisher Lee Webber offered another round of buyouts to employees through a memo distributed Friday; the note did not say how many buyouts the paper is seeking, the Star Bulletin says. Webber had said previously that the paper was looking to trim $5 million to $10 million from its budget.

Is your paper now losing money? Do you suspect that’s true? 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]

Canary in coal mine II: Honolulu — and, now, you?

October 15, 2008

First, I wondered whether The Honolulu Advertiser was leading the job-cutting train again when I wrote about the paper’s ominous memo to employees last week. “The execs are telling staff that $5 to $10 million has to be cut,” a reader just reminded me today. “Nothing will be spared: phone room, out; distribution, out. Slash and burn.”

Then, yesterday, we got a report that publishers across the company were being asked to develop “contingency plans” for budget cuts under three different scenarios: 3%, 5% and 7.5% — possibly more.

So, I’m putting those together — and turning to you. What do you hear about big budget revisions at your worksite? Your replies in the comments section, below, could be our early warning. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: today’s Advertiser front page, Newseum]

Canary in coal mine? Honolulu to cut more jobs

October 11, 2008

The Honolulu Advertiser has been one of the earliest papers to signal job cuts in recent months, so a brief story in today’s edition about more reductions next week caught my eye. Like the canaries once used by coal miners to signal disaster ahead, is the Advertiser telling us what’s next in Gannett?

From today’s story: “The Honolulu Advertiser has announced a new round of voluntary buyouts as part of a plan to cut expenses by $5 million to $10 million a year. Management at the Advertiser yesterday informed union representatives about the voluntary staff reductions and other work place changes but said details will be disclosed next week.”

The paper laid off 54 workers on July 16 — an unusual reduction then, because it involved relatively big layoffs, rather than buyouts. In hindsight, however, it appears the Advertiser may have been ahead of the curve. Less than a month later, Gannett announced 1,000 job cuts in the newspaper division — a round that eventually included another 27 in Honolulu.

Today, the paper’s story quoted Publisher Lee Webber‘s e-mail to employees: “We have a great team here at the Advertiser and I am confident we will all continue to work together, changing when and where we must, ensuring we grow our way into the future. Because of the continued deterioration in local, national and world economic conditions we are working toward a reduction of from $5 million to $10 million in expenses through work place changes.”

Webber’s announcement came less than three weeks after newspaper division President Bob Dickey reportedly led a delegation to Honolulu aboard Corporate’s jet.

What’s the budget-cutting chatter at your worksite these days? 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: Icebergs ahead, Gannett slides into uncharted waters. Plus: Our paper-by-paper list of layoffs.

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

Metromix: As more sites launch, how’s the pace?

October 1, 2008

[Rochester: a recent screenshot of its Metromix site]

Gannett and Tribune Co. announced an important partnership in October 2007 under which the two publishing giants would roll out a collection of entertainment websites called Metromix, aimed at 21-to-34 year-olds with “significant” disposable income. The goal was to spread the sites to more than 40 other markets — including the nation’s top 30 — by the end of this year; most of those new sites presumably would be where Gannett publishes papers or owns TV stations.

Now, nearly a year later, I’m wondering how the rollout is going — and what sort of impact it’s having on GCI papers that already have started their site. The Indianapolis Star, for example, is getting closer to replacing its award-winning Indy.com entertainment site with Metromix. The paper, now advertising for a new editor of digital content, said Monday that the new version would become the Star‘s “lifestyle channel,” according to a post by Indy.com’s Joey Fingers.

“Sex & Relationships, Money, Work, Tech & Gadgets, More Style and Fashion, and some other freaky little things,” Fingers wrote. “We will still be handling the local entertainment coverage, don’t worry. We just get to pull in their national content, their iPhone app, their Facebook Widget and so much more of their wholesome goodness.”

As Indy prepares to join the Metromix chain, I notice the sites are now in 26 markets — up from five when the Gannett-Tribune partnership was signed. Across Gannett, they’re now in Cincinnati; Des Moines, Detroit, Honolulu, Louisville, Nashville, Reno, Rochester, and Springfield, Mo.

To reach the year-end goal, of course, GCI and Tribune will have to launch in 14 more markets at a time when Gannett has fewer newspaper workers than it did when the two companies hooked up. That’s gotta be a further strain on editorial and ad sales staff, no?

One of Tribune Co.’s papers — the Chicago Tribune — started what is now Metromix, a collection of short stories and event listings focused on nightclubs, restaurants, TV listings and other stuff do do. When the partnership was announced, Metromix was already in New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Orlando, South Florida and other markets where Tribune Co. owned papers.

Like Gannett’s “moms” sites, and the growing number of new “pets” websites, Metromix aims to create a uniform collection of niche sites where ad sales staff can sell both local and national advertising. The national ads presumably would be made easier to sell because of the sites’ uniform design across all markets. (For the same reason, Gannett’s papers have now adopted identical G04 website templates.)

Existing worksites with Metromix: What’s the impact been since you launched? Other sites: When are you scheduled to Metromix? 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 Star front page, Newseum]

Flight to safety: Where was GCI’s jet on Sept. 9?

September 23, 2008

A reader says: “While the 100 or so operating committee members were being fired, where do you think eight of the corporate execs were? Check the corporate flight records, and see who was in Honolulu.”

My tipster has given me the eight executives’ names, but we’re both looking for further confirmation. Clever Gannett Blog readers know how to use online databases to track Gannett’s Corporate jet. We’d all like to know how to do such searches. Would someone out there please check flight records for the period around Tuesday, Sept. 9, when the company laid off about 100 top managers?

Earlier: Our paper-by-paper tally of laid-off managers

[Photo: I don’t have tail numbers for any current GCI aircraft. That’s picture of Corporate’s 1998 Dassault Falcon 2000, taken April 8, 2006]

Ramping up layoffs, Honolulu cuts another 27

August 26, 2008

Barely a month after abruptly laying off 54 employees, The Honolulu Advertiser says it will now cut 27 more jobs as it consolidates seven community newspapers into four. The cuts come as the paper remains embroiled in a contract dispute with a local affiliate of the Newspaper Guild.

The retrenchment involves the Advertiser‘s Pacific Media Publications arm, which produces PennySaver and Buy & Sell, as well as four of the paper’s seven community newspapers on Oahu, Publisher Lee Webber said in a memo last night. “This consolidation and workforce reduction is not a reflection of the fine work of our people,” his memo says. “Rather, it reflects the continued economic decline. The consolidation will reconfigure our company so it can thrive more efficiently and effectively for our customers as we move into the future.”

Combined with its earlier layoffs, the Advertiser will have reduced its workforce of about 700 by nearly 12% since mid-June — one of the highest rates among all Gannett newspapers in the recent round of 600 layoffs.

Earlier: Our paper-by-paper layoff list

[Image: today’s front page, Advertiser]

New Gannett budget cuts hint at huge job losses

August 6, 2008

Racing to shore up unprecedented losses in revenue and profits, Gannett is now quietly engaged in an aggressive new round of budget cuts that could wipe out as many as 2,300 jobs, or 5% of the company’s workforce.

The latest cuts were revealed today, when the Springfield News-Leader reported that GCI is consolidating finance and accounting for 67 of its newspapers and TV stations — moving the work to two new service centers at company locations in Indianapolis and Springfield, Mo. The shift will wipe out a net 167 jobs, the paper says — with the possibility of more consolidation to come. “Gannett may move other services at its more than 100 newspaper and broadcasting sites to the Springfield and Indianapolis service centers,” the story says.

Gannett hasn’t disclosed details of the new budget cuts, including any final target. The consolidations at Indianapolis and Springfield follow similar shifts involving customer service, photo-toning, TV station graphics, advertising art production, and copyediting work. The company’s silence has created even more uncertainty for the company’s approximately 46,000 employees.

“Anyone have a rough estimate of how many Gannett papers have offered buyouts now?” a Gannett Blog reader in Alabama said in a comment yesterday. “I’m in Montgomery, and we haven’t heard any talk of it, but the recent rash of buyouts has many people nervous.”

Rumors swirled last week that the company planned to ax perhaps 1% of payroll, based on June levels. But recent buyouts and layoffs in Cincinnati; Jackson, Miss.; Detroit; Fort Myers, Fla., and Honolulu, have been in the range of 5% of their workforces. If that higher figure were applied across Gannett, combined job cuts would be close to 2,300.

“Every newspaper will face this in the very near future,” a reader here says. “The ‘loser’ papers (those with publishers with the 60’s mentality of 30%-40% profit margins frozen in their brains) are the first to be affected. Cincy is a classic example. They have/had 900 employees? It’s a wonder they aren’t looking for 250 buyouts.”

Budget cuts at your Gannett workplace? Please post details 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 News-Leader, Newseum]

Detroit: Only 116 volunteers for 150 buyouts

July 23, 2008

Raising the specter of layoffs, the Detroit Free Press and two sister operations fell well short of their target to reduce employment by 150, according to memos sent yesterday by senior executives. The buyouts, among the biggest by any Gannett business, originally came with a starkly worded warning about possible layoffs if there weren’t enough volunteers by the July 18 deadline — last Friday.

The Gannett-owned Freep, plus The Detroit News and the joint operating agency publishing both papers, first appealed for volunteers in late June. At the time, CEO Dave Hunke warned that “the environment in which newspapers operate continues to worsen rapidly.” His June 23 note also said: “If the voluntary offer doesn’t result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs.”

Yesterday’s memos did not mention involuntary layoffs. Also, the memos reported conflicting totals on the number of volunteers, and did not give a complete breakdown of where the buyouts were falling by department. Human resources chief Kristi Bowden of the Detroit Media Partnership said 116 volunteers had offered to be voluntarily laid off. (The joint operating agreement partnership publishes the Freep and the formerly Gannett-owned Detroit News.) News Publisher Jon Wolman cited 115 volunteers. Both memos said all buyout applications had been accepted.

There are plenty of other questions, too: “What are the terms of the buyout? What are they offering?” a reader asks in a new comment, below.

I’ve e-mailed Bowden, asking if layoffs are now being planned.

Wolman said 11 of the 115 applications came from the News. Bowden’s memo didn’t say how the other applications were divided among the Freep and the Detroit Media Partnership’s executive staff. (Gannett sold the News three years ago to MediaNews Group as part of a complicated deal that included Knight Ridder papers.)

Buyouts amid rapid retrenchment
In his memo, Wolman said the buyouts come as the news industry overall shrinks to contend with a worsening economy. “Even so,” he wrote, “the public’s appetite for news content is enormous and growing, and we will reorganize our efforts here to maintain strong coverage. Even with a smaller staff size, I’m confident we can develop innovations that drive our coverage even higher than it is today.”

Last week alone across Gannett:

  • The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., laid off 36 and eliminated 10 unfilled jobs.
  • Three Central New York papers cut about 10 jobs in a consolidation of ad sales and online operations.
  • The Arizona Republic offered a second round of buyouts.
  • The Honolulu Advertiser laid off 54.
In Detroit, eligible staff were active, benefit-eligible employees who were at least 45 years old, with 10 years’ service as of Friday, July 18.

Is your Gannett paper, TV station or other business cutting staff through buyouts or layoffs? Please post your replies — along with relevant memos — 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: My advice on why you should take a Gannett buyout. Plus: Next buyouts won’t be so generous

[Image: today’s Freep, Newseum]