Archive for the ‘Morristown’ Category

Study: Two N.J. papers top GCI circulation losers

October 28, 2008

The papers in the troubled New Jersey group had the biggest daily and Sunday circulation losses across Gannett in the past six months, a Deutsche Bank study of newly released circulation data show. The Audit Bureau of Circulations data, released yesterday, were for the six months ended Sept. 30.

From the Deutsche analysis:

  • Biggest daily loser: the Courier News in Bridgewater: 26,805, down 14.7% from 31,414 a year before.
  • Biggest Sunday loser: the Daily Record in Morristown: 33,949, down 10% from 37,704.

The investment bank’s study includes almost every Gannett paper. Figures for the Asbury Park Press are incorrect, however; I’m trying to get the correct data from the study’s authors.

Want a copy of the full study? Download instructions, here.

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.

In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett

May 30, 2008

It sure is something to watch CEO Craig Dubow dismantle a 102-year-old company right before our eyes: rendering newspapers at corporate chop shops, while shipping untold jobs to low-wage countries — all in a shaky bid to keep Wall Street at bay.

Only yesterday, Dubow & Co. was at it again: laying off a steep 55 employees at the Asbury Park Press and three other New Jersey dailies — part of a regional group that’s lately appeared on the edge of freefall. And yet, the N.J. papers are only the latest to be swept up in what I imagine is now Gannett’s biggest retrenchment since World War II. (Dubow, to be sure, has been retailing it on Wall Street as the more April-fresh sounding transformation.)

In Phoenix, Arizona Republic workers are weighing a buyout offer that one of my readers says stinks. In Westchester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla., and beyond, advertising-production artists are terrified of being the next to lose jobs to Los Angeles-based 2AdPro, which is shipping their work to India as fast as Gannett will allow.

In the Broadcasting division, Gannett is eliminating graphics jobs in favor of consolidating work at a central “art house” in Denver. And the division is now being asked to adopt a version of the Information Center model that was supposed to boost online advertising revenue when it was rolled out across U.S. newspapers last year. (Gannett has been curiously quiet about whether the strategy is working.)

These are only recent examples; I’ve omitted many others that I know — and even more I hope to uncover in any reader responses I get to this post. I’ve been writing about Gannett’s downsizing since Dubow issued that scary Sept. 11 memo last fall. It’s not at all clear whether he’s now putting his pedal on the accelerator, with even more turmoil ahead for this summer. And I’m not expecting any clarity soon on that point. Why? Nowadays, the well-paid top brass don’t have time to deal with even basic questions.

So, if you’re wondering whether Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore is about to redline your job — well, don’t look for answers from We Work in a Bubble, Va. They’re already on their third round at the Kool-Aid Bar!

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: yesterday’s Republic, Newseum]

Donovan confirms layoffs, cites ‘adverse’ conditions

May 29, 2008

Asbury Park Press Publisher Tom Donovan told employees in a statement now quoted by his paper in a new story: “This is not a decision that is easy to announce at this, or any other, time of year.”

The story confirms earlier reports by my readers: Gannett has eliminated 55 jobs at Asbury Park and at three other papers in its struggling N.J. group. Today’s layoffs come three weeks after management offered voluntary buyouts to nearly 170 employees.

Donovan disclosed today that only 83 employees accepted those buyouts — triggering layoffs that had been warned if Gannett didn’t reach its targeted cost savings. The three other papers are the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick; the Courier News in Bridgewater, and The Daily Record at Morristown.

Employees losing jobs can apply for open positions at the papers. “It is my hope that the total number of impacted employees will be reduced as a result,” Donovan said.

Related: N.J. employees use Gannett Blog to report buyouts

[Image: this morning’s Asbury Park Press, Newseum]

Dozens of layoffs reported today at N.J. papers

May 29, 2008

Updated at 10:10 a.m. PT: “Your information was correct about the New Jersey layoffs,” a reader just told me in an e-mail. “I guess today is the first day of the rest of my life.”

Earlier: Several of my readers are now telling me that 55 employees were laid off today at newspapers including the Asbury Park Press, the Home News Tribune, the Courier News and The Daily Record. One reader says those who lost their jobs will be able to interview for open positions at each of the newspapers.

Any forced layoffs would suggest Gannett’s struggling group of six N.J. newspapers was unable to reach cost-savings goals when management offered buyouts three weeks ago to nearly 170 employees at five of the papers. Management had warned layoffs were likely if an insufficient number of employees agreed to leave voluntarily.

Can anyone confirm what I’ve been told — and add more details? Leave a note in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

How many N.J. staff sought buyouts by deadline?

May 16, 2008

A reader says 5 p.m. ET today was the deadline for employees at five New Jersey newspapers to apply for 166 buyouts offered last week as Gannett’s N.J. group struggles with especially sharp circulation declines. “Wonder how many took it,” the reader asks. “I know of at least six people out of one paper.”

I’ll bet lots of people want to know! 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.

And the most miserable New Jersey paper is . . .

May 12, 2008

[Misery loves company: carbon copied Frank Gannett]

Puh-leeze! Was there ever any doubt? Courier-Post staffers endured Poopgate and other conditions so bad, they threatened to file a complaint with the U.S. Labor Department, saying they were denied pay for overtime worked. For all that (and so much more!), Gannett Blog readers on Sunday named the paper, winner of the inaugural Frank E. Gannett Memorial Misery Loves Company Award.

But, you know what? If I ever returned to Gannett (hah!), I’d work at the Courier-Post. They’ve got moxie. Ich bin ein Cherry Hiller!
Here’s a breakdown of the 122 responses to the reader-suggested survey question: The most miserable N.J. paper is . . .
Note: Figures don’t total 100 due to rounding. (Plus, Blogger‘s survey widget sometimes has bad hair days.)

Anatomy of a blog: Don’t mess with Jersey!

May 10, 2008

Yesterday, staffers at Gannett’s New Jersey newspapers wasted no time leveraging this blog — and not for the first time. Using this link, they fired off notes, alerting us to news that management had suddenly offered buyouts to 166 staffers at five papers. They returned with more comments and links, giving all of Gannett a real-time lesson on how an employee-driven blog works.

Jersey Gannettoids have done this before: Moments after it was announced on Tuesday, a reader posted an internal memo, reporting that Skip Hidlay had been made permanent publisher for both the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick and the Courier News in Bridgewater.

But here’s the textbook example: Readers say Gannett is now reinforcing rules about wage and hour laws. That’s coming less than three months after the Courier-Post newsroom in Cherry Hill suddenly revolted, threatening a U.S. Labor Department complaint about unpaid overtime if Corporate didn’t take action. And they made sure their allegations got widespread attention — sending updates to me, in Brazil, where I posted them immediately to Gannett Blog.

[Image: Google Earth]

Donovan on buyouts: Revenue ‘well short’ of plan

May 9, 2008

Confirming a round of buyouts at Gannett’s flagging New Jersey newspapers, Asbury Park Press Publisher Tom Donovan told his paper today that offers were extended to 166 full-time employees at five of GCI’s six N.J. papers. Contrary to earlier reports from my readers, the Daily Record at Morristown is exempt.

The Press story does not say how many jobs Gannett seeks to eliminate in total. That was one of several questions I asked chief company flack Tara Connell; I have yet to hear from her. The story, however, suggests the company is not targeting a fixed number of jobs — but, instead, a dollar figure.

“As you all well know,” Donovan said in a statement, quoted by the Press, “the economy continues to struggle and as a result our advertising revenues have fallen well short of expectations. While we have maintained tight control of our expenses, a further adjustment is necessary.”

He warned that layoffs would be “necessary” if the papers don’t meet “targeted expense reductions.” The Press story does not detail which departments — news, advertising, etc. — are subject to the buyouts.

Donovan also is vice president of Gannett’s East Newspaper Group, a promotion he got amid a round of executive changes last August. Today’s offer went to employees over the age of 55, with 15 years’ service at the Press; the Courier-Post at Cherry Hill; the Home News Tribune at East Brunswick; the Courier News in Bridgewater, and the Daily Journal in Vineland.

Questions for staffers offered a buyout: What’s the deadline for applying? If your application is accepted, when must you leave your paper? 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 Courier-Post, one of the five papers hit by the buyouts, Newseum]

Breaking: Statewide buyouts said announced in N.J.; copy editors, others reportedly exempt

May 9, 2008

Update at 1:23 p.m. PT: I now believe the Associated Press has confirmed these buyouts, and should move a story soon.

10:26 a.m. PT: I’ve asked chief flack Tara Connell for comment.

10:09 a.m. PT: Another reader says each of the six newspapers in the increasingly troubled New Jersey group has its own number of buyouts to meet, based on the announcements rolling out today.

“Don’t know what those numbers are,” that reader says. “It’s a selective buyout not being offered to all employees who qualify (15 years of service and 55 or older). The publisher is generating the list of who is eligible. According to our executive editor, copy editors, designers and photographers are not eligible. Don’t know why, other than that those departments are already stretched too thin. Not illegal, but still seems unfair.”

Within Gannett, some of these six papers reported the company’s worst circulation losses when the March 31 Audit Bureau of Circulations figures were released, last week.

Earlier: I’m still gathering details, but here’s one of the many notes I received this morning from New Jersey readers: “They’ve just announced buyouts for all N.J. papers. In order to take the buyout, you have to be 55 years old with at least 15 years at the paper. They’re offering two weeks’ pay for each year of service up to a year’s pay. And folks will get benefits for a year as well. But not everyone who fits those parameters is eligible. No copy editors or photographers can take the deal. More details as they unfold.”

N.J. employees: How many staffers are eligible at your paper? And how many jobs is your paper trying to eliminate? Use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: this morning’s Asbury Park Press, Newseum. The paper is the largest, by circulation, of Gannett’s six N.J. papers]

Misery survey: Cherry Hill pulls ahead of the pack

May 9, 2008

As Gannett reportedly pushes buyouts today across its troubled New Jersey newspaper group, the Courier-Post at Cherry Hill, N.J., has moved into the pole position in my reader-suggested survey, seeking the most miserable among the state’s six papers. But it’s not too late to vote! The survey closes at midnight, Sunday; see the poll box at the bottom of the green sidebar, right. Monday, I’ll announce the winner of what I’m calling the first-ever Frank E. Gannett Memorial Misery Loves Company Award.

A breakdown of the 94 responses so far to the question: The most miserable N.J. paper is . . .

  • Asbury Park: 20%
  • Bridgewater: 24%
  • Cherry Hill: 29%
  • East Brunswick: 11%
  • Morristown: 4%
  • Vineland: 9%
Note: Figures don’t total 100 because of rounding.
[Photo: company founder Frank Gannett]