Archive for the ‘Palm Springs’ Category

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.

Cutlines Only: A desert swimmer heads to Olympics

August 4, 2008

Rancho Mirage resident Lynette Lim practices with the Piranhas swim team in nearby Palm Springs, Calif., as she prepares to compete in the Summer Olympics, The Desert Sun said yesterday. The year’s No. 1 sports event begins Friday in China’s Beijing, with the opening ceremonies. Photo by Marilyn Chung, Sun via Newseum.

Cutlines Only showcases Gannett website art. To e-mail suggestions confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right. Or post a link in the comments section, below.

Hot Off the Press: Statesman Journal

July 11, 2008

Today’s print edition; click on the image for a bigger view. The paper named a new publisher yesterday — Desert Sun Editor Steve Silberman — as last month’s Friday Afternoon Massacre continued to roil Gannett’s top management ranks.

[Image: Newseum]

Salem’s Priester named Lansing State publisher

July 9, 2008

Brian Priester created a stir last fall when he publicly dressed down his own newsroom for failing to cover a Christian music festival while he was publisher of the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore. Priester, 44, was appointed to the top job at the Lansing State Journal yesterday; he replaces Richard Ramhoff, who was named publisher of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs as part of Gannett’s big newspaper division reorganization.

Priester had been publisher at Salem only since February 2007; that seems like an unusually short tenure. His move to Lansing, of course, creates an opening in Salem for a new top executive.

Quote-O-Matic Alert!
From the press release announcing Priester’s promotion, a classic almost-sounds-believable quote, courtesy of chief company flack Tara Connell; this one is attributed to newspaper division President Bob Dickey: “Brian’s rich background in marketing and circulation will be strong assets as he moves to Lansing. We have no doubt that Brian will be a fantastic leader and excellent new addition to the Lansing State Journal.”

Related: the State Journal‘s story about Priester’s appointment

Earlier: Lansing sorry about that state worker database

Salem staffers: What can you tell Lansing about Priester? Post your reply 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.

Friday’s massacre: Real change, or real retribution?

June 28, 2008

Companies facing a crisis shrink rapidly — first by eliminating front-line jobs (because there are so many), and only later chopping high-paid executives as management gets flattened. Sooner or later, that’s going to happen in Gannett, too.

But yesterday’s reorganization of the newspaper division sure doesn’t look like a flattening of management to me. If anything, this may be division chief Bob Dickey‘s way of vanquishing rivals for the job he inherited in February, from now-retired Sue Clark-Johnson. And as a Gannett Blog reader said last night, the timing of this announcement is worrisome: It comes just three days before the close of the second quarter — a period when earnings are likely to be just “awful.”

Under Dickey’s long-awaited reorganization, there are now four vs. five regional groups of uber-publishers reporting to him. In fact, Dickey (above) used the occasion to add two, new top positions to his division’s staff:

  • Evan Ray, 54, becomes senior vice president/finance and operations. He was chief financial officer of Phoenix Newspapers and group controller of the former Pacific Group. (I worked with Ray in Little Rock when I was business-news editor at The Arkansas Gazette, and he was vice president of finance.)
  • Michelle Krans, 46, becomes senior vice president/Strategy and Development. She had been publisher of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and vice president of the former Pacific Group.

Left behind in the dust: Denise “Poison” Ivey, 58, president of the Mid-South Group and publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. She leaves the company Jan. 1. Also: Babs “Dominatrix” Henry, 55, publisher of The Indianapolis Star and chief of the Interstate Group. She’s gone Aug. 1.

Of those two, Henry’s departure seemed especially welcome, based on the many comments on what might be called the Friday Afternoon Massacre. “This is the most joyous occasion for all of us in Indianapolis,” one of my readers said, in far more colorful language I won’t highlight here.

Henry (above) was certainly a Gannett lifer: She’d been with the company since 1974, when she started as a reporter at the Gazette-Journal in Reno, Nev.

So, what’s next?
Once you get past personal invective, think about the more important stuff: What does this reorganization mean for the future of Gannett’s most important and yet most troubled division — and for the company as a whole? “I have to imagine,” one reader said last night, “there is some strategic reason for doing this now, just before the end of Q2 and a couple weeks before the next earnings call — which has got to be awful, based on all indicators around the country.”

The comment continues: “All this ugly name-calling is wasted energy. I understand the impulse; I’ve worked for every kind of miserable Gannettoid you can name. But the whole industry is imploding because the money is draining away. Yes, the industry has been mostly complacent and technologically short-sighted for decades, but the audience has moved on and now it’s too late to save what used to be journalism.

“Brace yourself for a future where local news is a big collection of whatever the websites can scour up for free, with a little sprinkling of ‘investigative’ reporting as a fig leaf. Most of the customers are no longer willing to pay for more. No amount of hand-wringing or name-calling is going to change that.”

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

Related: the Courier-Journal‘s story about Ivey; the Star‘s about Henry

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.

In Palm Springs, video captures gay weddings

June 18, 2008

Note: To turn off the video, click on the button in the far-left corner at the bottom of this embedded player.

The Salinas Californian is just one of four Gannett newspapers in California featuring one of the nation’s biggest social and political stories of the year: Legal same-sex marriage, with the first weddings starting this week. For example, The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, a city with a large and growing gay population, published video and photo galleries that a reader says allowed faraway family and friends to watch the events “live” on the Web. Here’s one:

The Sun‘s video features something I haven’t seen in other Gannett videos: A crawling headline “zipper” along the bottom, like those on CNN and other cable news channels. On the downside, this is one of those video players that, once embedded on a blog or other webpage, auto-starts when the page is loaded. We. Hate. That. So. Much.

Thanks to a reader for suggesting this post! Got a video or other link to recommend? Post 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.

Datelines: Chicken fears, and a marijuana retailer

March 7, 2008

Datelines is an occasional roundup of news topping Gannett websites.

Salisbury, Md.: Small chicken farmers are growing wary of giant competitors. Hattiesburg, Miss.: Sen. Hillary Clinton is visiting, and the Hattiesburg American is live-blogging the event. St. Cloud, Minn.: Officials want to boost the area’s below-average foster child adoption rates. Palm Springs, Calif.: Two Cathedral City residents are determined to keep their medical marijuana store open; it has up to 600 customers.

[Image: the American, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: The Burlington Free Press

January 6, 2008

This is today’s Burlington Free Press in Vermont; click on the image for a bigger view. Online, the Free Press desperately needs the major website redesign coming to all Gannett newspapers with the introduction of the new template already in use at papers like The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif.

Burlington’s site, just to start, seems to use every typeface and font color known to man, plus a few more. (See screenshot, below.) It’s such a jumble that it’s hard to tell the difference between advertising and news content. While that might be delightful to our friends on the business side, it weakens the newsroom’s editorial independence.

The Free Press’ videos sure reflect life in a rural state. For a cityslicker like me, watching hunters bringing in deer on the first day of rifle season didn’t go down so well with my Cheerios this morning! I can’t link directly to that video — or to any of the paper’s videos, however. Without those permalinks, videos are far less likely to go viral. And that’s a missed readership and revenue opportunity. The Free Press, like I believe all Gannett newspapers, still uses the Feed Room platform that’s about to be replaced with the new system supplied by a company called thePlatform.

The Free Press at a glance:

  • Publisher: Brad Robertson
  • Executive Editor: Mike Townsend
  • Founded: 1827
  • Joined Gannett: 1971
  • Employees: 272

[Image: Newseum]

How Gannett is replacing you with a robot

December 26, 2007
[Screenshot of today’s “carousel” from the Desert Sun homepage]

Update on Dec. 27: There’s now a lively debate in the comments section, below, about this post. You don’t have to register to leave a comment. But I moderate all comments before they’re published.

Gannett and other publishers have been using technology to automate work almost since the industry was born. One of the last big waves was pagination, which let newspapers eliminate high-paying jobs in the composing room by shifting work to the copy desk. Now, as Gannett rolls out its new website design across the company, technology increasingly is replacing work done by reporters, editors and photographers, too. Here’s how.

That screen shot, above, shows the “carousel” at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif. It’s a software feature in the new website design that presents a selection of three stories with artwork that automatically rotate on the site every few seconds. A newsroom staffer loads the stories and art. Then the software takes over, efficiently refreshing the page around the clock.

Now, a smart publisher will tell newsroom staffers that automating lower-skilled tasks frees them to do smarter work — like First Amendment-driven investigative projects. But I’m not betting the farm on that. The carousel is just one way Gannett is using technology to replace work done in newsrooms. Here are some others:

  • Photographs, videos, community news stories, comments and other user-generated content that readers give to Gannett for free. It’s just a matter of time before papers and TV stations start using reader-submitted stuff as main features online, in print and in broadcasts. (Maybe that’s already happening.) Who needs photogs and reporters when readers will do the work for nothing?
  • Databases. Those data centers Gannett is adding to websites can be good resources for readers. But they also pay dividends to publishers after the initial set-up cost: Databases “report” information to readers — but don’t expect pay raises, vacations and other benefits. Even better: They won’t unionize!

Got other examples of technology replacing newsroom talent? Use this link to e-mail me. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Hot Off the Press: Asbury Park Press

November 22, 2007

This is today’s Asbury Park Press; click on the image for a bigger view. Press reporter Margaret Bonafide is one of Gannett’s growing number of mojos. Bonafide told News Watch she lives and dies by her Treo, a brand of smartphone. “The ultimate multi-tasker,” she wrote in September. “I can make phone calls, take photos, send e-mails and connect my laptop to the Internet to transmit photos or video. The speed is about DSL quality.”

Online, the Presswebsite may be the most jumbled, impossible-to-navigate site I’ve seen in Gannett so far. Attention editors: Run, don’t walk, to launch that new much-easier-to-navigate version now in beta!

And about that new site: I’ve noticed that some Gannett newspapers are shifting to a new template — the one being considered by the Press. Looks like the Des Moines Register and the Desert Sun both use it; how do you guys like it? More questions: Didn’t all the papers already switch to a new design earlier this year, when reader commenting was added? Why are sites changing again? What’s the timetable? And will this template be used companywide? E-mail tips, snarky letters, suggested links, etc.; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

The Press at a glance:

  • Publisher: Thomas Donovan
  • Executive Editor and Vice President/News: Skip Hidlay
  • Founded: 1879
  • Joined Gannett: 1997
  • Employees: 1,492

[Image: Newseum]