Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

What happens to GNS after ContentOne’s launch?

December 13, 2008

Regarding the new editorial service that CEO Craig Dubow unveiled before Wednesday’s UBS conference, a reader tells me the following in an e-mail; can anyone else confirm — and add details?

The ContentOne concept, which management concedes has not been fully thought out, will also eliminate Gannett News Service, which has to date collected and edited stories from papers and put them on its wire for all to use. There may be a few reporters and editors left at GNS, but they would be part of ContentOne. GNS’s 60 employees will be able to ask for a buyout, but the terms and conditions of those buyouts won’t be revealed until early January. Gannett wants GNS to cover the Obama inauguration, so it is deferring the buyouts and layoffs until after the inauguration.

Tip: Small papers drafting two new contingencies

December 11, 2008

An occasional correspondent just sent the following in an e-mail; as always, proceed with caution, because I haven’t corroborated any of this: “Publishers at Gannett’s ‘non-top 30’ dailies have been tasked with preparing two new contingency plans re: total operating expenses — a 2% reduction, and a 4% reduction. Implementation, if necessary, would take place in the first quarter of 2009.”

Gannett owns 85 U.S. dailies, so this latest demand from Corporate covers about 65% of the community newspaper division.

Can anyone confirm — and add details? 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.

USA Today: Add up to seven more jobs eliminated

December 5, 2008

These seven are at the newspaper’s USA Weekend magazine, the Sunday-only insert, readers say in an e-mail and in this comment. The positions eliminated would be on top of the 20 job cuts already planned for USA Today‘s newsrooms. With 1,500 to 2,000 workers, USAT must have shed even more jobs, as the paper joins the rest of Gannett in trimming operations.

USAT staff: How many jobs have been eliminated in total? Please add your numbers to our paper-by-paper tally, or in the comments section, below. You may also e-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com].

[Image: the current issue features singer Beyonce on the cover]

Layoff stories: ‘She was the only one close to tears’

December 3, 2008

First in an occasional series of personal accounts.

I sat across from Executive Editor and heard words: restructuring, position, sorry, future. I said nothing. I listened to HR woman painfully recite her lines and all I could think was: her day is as bad as ours. She was the only one close to tears. I walked back to my desk to get my things and gave my colleagues a sad smile. I said nothing. I started forwarding emails to my editor, tying up loose ends and then I thought: just say nothing.

A look in someone’s eyes. A cardboard box on an empty desk. A final conversation. Please share your layoff story in two or three paragraphs. Post replies in the comments section, below. Or e-mail via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

R-r-r-ing! More layoffs by phone, readers say

December 1, 2008

(Updated.) Another reader just reported they were laid off over the telephone, in a comment that followed similar reports from a handful of other readers. Without identifying the state where they work, Anonymous@8:24 p.m. writes: “Just got a call from my manager. I am being laid off tomorrow and will be compensated for my time here, quite generously, but tomorrow we are letting go about 22 individuals. I feel relieved and sad.”

Yesterday, Anonymous@6:51 p.m. commented: “I am on the East Coast and am a manager and was just called tonight and told I will be terminated, but will still have to do some work before I can leave. My official (last) day is Dec. 19, and then I get my severance. I also have to sit with HR to fire the rest of my team. BTW, my entire group is going. Apparently, they have to start early so they can accomplish all this by mid-week.”

Earlier: We’re building a paper-by-paper tally of layoffs. Just three papers are listed so far; will yours be included?

Reader: Paper gives work to managers to avoid OT

November 29, 2008

In an e-mail to me, the reader describes “highly unethical if not illegal” H.R. practices at their Gannett newspaper. I’m withholding the paper’s name to protect the writer’s identity:

I think the ratio of salaried managers to hourly employees is off the charts. Lower-middle managers at our paper spend an incredible amount of time producing the paper. Most of them perform their actual scheduling and managing duties at the end of a 10-12 hour day producing the paper. These production duties often extend into six and seven-day weeks, especially during holidays and vacations, as the paper doesn’t want to give holiday pay to hourly workers, so they pressure managers to cover the shifts. Its ugly and miserable.

Does this happen in your workplace? 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.

Already laid-off? Bought out? Share your advice!

November 19, 2008

A reader is looking for Gannettoids who were recently laid off or bought out, to help current employees about to lose jobs in the newspaper division layoff now underway. “Any advice at all — from the spiritual/psychological to the extraordinarily practical and everything in between,” the reader said in a comment last night.

For example, the reader wants to know how to:

  • Behave on the day of layoffs
  • Deal with former co-workers
  • Get out of bed the next morning and soldier on
  • File for unemployment
  • Freelance/do whatever they found before landing a new job

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: Laid-off Gannettoids recall getting the bad news

[Photo: photographer unknown. I found it on this site, but it’s clearly an older photo — perhaps from the Dust Bowl. Do you recognize it?]

Layoff stories: How employees got the bad news

November 16, 2008

I’m collecting first-person accounts from layoff victims about what it was like to be called into an office and told you’re losing your job. Please tell your story, in the comments section, below. Following is a comment today, full of amazing details from a reader who got canned last year after 25 years in the business.

Friday afternoon, 1:55 p.m., I make my way to the conference room. Every head in the newsroom turns and looks at me, but no one makes eye contact — except my four buddies, who are making stabbing and choking gestures as I a pass. Waiting for me is the guy from HR and the assistant managing editor. What, no coffee swilling supervisor? A spineless pussy to the end! I was given two weeks of severance for every year of service, and three years medical.

I was told that if I waited a couple of minutes my personal belongs from my desk would be brought to me to carry out. I explained that wouldn’t be necessary and that I’m ready to go. They both had a puzzled look on their faces and looked at each other not knowing what to say, and I explained to them that I had cleaned out my desk a week ago. . . .

I heard the following Monday evening that they had to have keys made to open my file cabinets and desk drawers. In each drawer were 20 Xerox copies of my ass, each with a personal note to the Gannett guns, starting with Sue Clark-Johnson and working my way down to the assistant managing editor.

What’s your layoff story? Please post replies in the comments section, below. E-mail via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Reader: What do mid-managers think of layoffs?

November 15, 2008

Regarding the upcoming 10% workforce reduction, a reader writes in a comment today:

Jim, any chance of starting a thread for middle managers to weigh in on what they know and what they plan to do when the layoffs come down? We know very little, and I’m stunned our input isn’t being solicited. I don’t think I’m owed information in advance about what will be done, but I can’t imagine not asking for our thoughts. It’s crazy. I’m holding my breath. I’m driven, enthusiastic and productive, and I’m willing to gut through this if I have good people around me.

But if the layoffs are based on anything other than skill, if our best and brightest are among the casualties, then I’m gone. No question about it. I will not be surrounded by those who don’t care or can’t do what it takes to save us. That would be miserable.

What are other managers, particularly middle managers, thinking? Will you stay if the top editors make poor layoff decisions?

Join the debate, in the original post.

Poynter asks: How can journalism make money?

November 10, 2008

Making money is key to the survival of news publishers, Poynter Online’s Ellyn Angelotti writes today, in a post showcasing Gannett Blog as an example of using a tip jar to raise subscription money. And speaking of subscriptions, we’ve got mail!

To buy a $5 subscription online, please use the “Donate” tool in the green sidebar, upper right. Prefer snail mail? Send cash/checks payable to: Jim Hopkins, 584 Castro St. #823, San Francisco, Calif., 94114-2594.

Earlier: More Gannett Blog TV episodes on my YouTube channel