Archive for the ‘Pensacola’ Category

Pensacola: Florida papers win big high court ruling

October 25, 2008

Led by the Pensacola News Journal, Florida newspapers have won an important legal victory protecting them from lawsuits challenging accurate reporting that might cast someone in a bad light.

From a story yesterday in the Tallahassee Democrat: “The Florida Supreme Court, in a pair of rulings, said libel and defamation lawsuits offer enough protection and refused to recognize false-light invasion of privacy as grounds to sue. The decisions served to uphold a lower-court ruling that tossed out an $18.3 million judgment against the Pensacola News Journal and its parent company, Gannett.”

Ivey, and Corporate politics
Wasn’t this the lawsuit that landed then-Publisher Denise Ivey in Corporate’s doghouse, before she was briefly liberated by now-retired newspaper division chief Sue Clark-Johnson? Ivey, publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., is reportedly now back in Pensacola as a consultant — a victim of June’s Friday Afternoon Massacre.

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.

Pensacola: An experiment (with Ivey?) continues

October 19, 2008

The Pensacola News Journal is apparently still experimenting with producing two different front pages: One for home delivery, the other for rack sales aimed at young readers. Meanwhile, former long-time Publisher Denise Ivey is heading back to the paper as some sort of advisor, a tipster says: “Just heard the word ‘consultant’ being thrown around. Sounds like she’ll be making a list.”

Ivey, you’ll recall, was Pensacola publisher from 1994 to 2006, when she was named publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and president of the former Mid-South Group of Gannett papers. Ivey lost those two posts during June’s Friday Afternoon Massacre. Arnold Garson of Sioux Falls, S.D., replaced her as Louisville publisher, and the regional authority was moved to the newly formed South Group in Fort Myers, Fla. Ivey was bumped up to the newly created Louisville position of chairman, until her scheduled Jan. 1 retirement.

Like Gannett’s other three Florida papers, the News Journal is in trouble over its exposure to the real estate collapse. Florida is one of four states (Arizona, California and Nevada are the others) that have lost enormous sums of housing-related advertising in the past year — a loss that has pulled down Gannett’s overall revenue and profits.

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.

Hot Off the Press: Day 2 of Pensacola’s new design

September 9, 2008

That’s today’s front page; bigger view here. The Pensacola News Press continues its experiment with two editions — this one, for single-copy sales only, to appeal to younger readers.

[Image: Newseum]

New Pensacola look a glimpse of future GCI papers?

September 8, 2008

[Experiment: launch today of new single-copy look; bigger view]

Gannett is quietly experimenting with a new front-page design just for single-copy editions. It’s a change meant to attract increasingly elusive young readers, 18 to 34 years old — especially, women. If the new look unveiled today by the Pensacola News Journal is a hit, it could be adopted by the other 83 papers in the community newspaper division. “If the single-copy design is a hit, other papers will be picking it up, too,” a tipster says.

News Journal top editor Dick Schneider explained the changes in a post on his blog: “Those who purchase single-copy newspapers will see a significant difference on the front page, as we design the top part of the page to highlight the most important stories of the day.” Home-delivery copies maintain their more traditional look.

Chasing lost circulation
The Pensacola experiment comes as surrounding Escambia County suffers a dramatic economic slowdown, tied to the area’s depressed real estate market. Like all newspapers, Pensacola is struggling to recover lost advertising revenue and circulation, especially among young readers. Pensacola’s circulation is 57,148 daily, and 71,139 Sunday, according to the 2007 Annual Report to shareholders.

In today’s design debut, the top half of the front page — which is what would-be readers see in a newspaper vending-machine’s “window” — looks more like a features front. Three “stories” there are really summaries of articles on inside pages.

For example, the federal government’s seizure yesterday of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is presented as four bulleted items (inset, left): What happened. Who will it help? Who won’t it help? What could happen?

Appealing to different readers
The main “story” on the top half — “Stay or Go?” — is about why young local residents are considering leaving the area, a good topic for an edition targeted at young readers.

Demographics are driving the change, Schneider says:

  • Single-copy sales are about 18% of overall circulation. Buyers are mostly young; 42% are between 18 and 34 years old — the largest single group.
  • Home delivery customers are a bit older; about three-quarters of Baby Boomers have their newspaper delivered to their home or office. They like the traditional feel of newsprint, as well as the traditional look of the newspaper.

Pensacola is the only newspaper I know that’s now experimenting with this design. Is your paper considering a similar change? What’s your reaction to today’s new single-copy-only News Journal? 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]

Bridezilla II: ‘Jilted’ ex-Gannett HR director talks!

July 25, 2008

Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET: Former Pensacola News Journal human resources chief RoseMary Shell also talked to NBC’s Today about her $150,000 jury award Wednesday. Shell had sued her ex-fiance for breach of contract after he canceled their engagement last year. She told Today‘s Meredith Vieira: “I felt like justice was really done.”

Shell’s breach of contract suit revealed her pay in Pensacola, Fla., where she worked for a short time in 2006, before following her fiance to Gainesville, Ga. Shell now makes $31,000 a year at North Georgia College & State University. Here she is in an earlier interview, via The Associated Press.

Earlier: CEO Craig Dubow‘s transformative job hunting tips

Bridezilla tales: What’s an HR director get paid?

July 24, 2008

Around $133,000 a year — at the Pensacola News Journal, anyway, according to a jury decision yesterday involving a former Gannett human resources chief who sued her fiance for breach of contract after he canceled their engagement.

The case involves jilted bride RoseMary Shell; ex-fiance Wayne Gibbs; the News Journal, and the formerly Gannett-owned Times in Gainesville, Ga. From the Times story: “Shell testified that she quit a job paying $81,000 a year in Pensacola, Fla., to move back to Gainesville and be with Gibbs after he proposed in October 2006. In December he left a note in the couple’s bathroom expressing second thoughts about the marriage, and he broke off the engagement for good in March 2007. Shell, who now makes $31,000 a year working for North Georgia College & State University, sued the following June.”

Yesterday, the jury sided with Shell, awarding her $150,000. In their deliberations, jurors considered Shell’s total compensation: Her $81,000 salary; a 15% annual bonus, and benefits valued at up to $40,000. Total: about $133,000 yearly. “She should have stayed in Florida,” juror Delita Smith told the Times. “I would, if I had that high-paying job.”

Noted: Gannett owned the Times from 1981-2004, when it sold the paper to Morris Multimedia.

Got an offbeat Gannett tale to share? 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.

Reader: New Colorado pub shows Ivey’s clout

June 5, 2008

Newspaper division President Bob Dickey‘s pick this week for new Coloradoan publisher reflects the growing influence of Louisville uber-Publisher Denise Ivey, a reader tells me, in an e-mail that points to one other Ivey protegee who also got a top job. “Looks like a continuing purging of the innovative initiative of Sue Clark-Johnson for the bean-counting metrics of Dickey — which has been Ivey’s claim to success,” the reader tells me in an e-mail. “Suggests a much more corporate, bottom-line driven initiative by Dickey than the innovation that SCJ was trying to push.”

Join the Coloradoan publisher debate, in the original post.

Ivey was named president of the Mid-South Group in early 2006; some critics have waggishly tagged her Poison Ivey.

Related: ‘Demoralized in Kentucky’

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]

Lost readers: Why we gave up on News Watch

May 20, 2008

An employee at a paper in the Midwest told me that he stopped reading the weekly News Watch for the same reason I (mostly) stopped. Under chief honcho Phil Currie (left), the News Department spiked two features in the newsletter that we liked most — an easy-to-shop list of job openings at each of the 85 dailies’ newsrooms, and a rundown of new hires. “When they were listed,” the reader said in an e-mail, “it was a weekly must-read to get a bit of a feel for the company, for other sites — maybe think about other opportunities. Now, as you say, it’s just Kool-Aid for the executives.”

For me, the newsletter’s roster of reporters, editors and other employees moving into new jobs was my local-local Gannett news fix: I liked seeing where former co-workers landed.

I noticed the change when Gannett substituted its CareerBuilder employment website for the old list of jobs that, at a glance, once showed openings companywide. I suppose that move was designed to promote CareerBuilder, while also reducing costs associated with creating the special list for News Watch. I don’t know why the newly-hired feature was dumped, though.

Hello, Gander? It’s Goose, calling
News Watch desperately needs a revamp to make it more, well, 21st century. I’m thinking of digital improvements like those we recommended last week for the Daily News Summary. Interactive tools so readers can offer feedback. Video showing how, say, an artist created a graphic. How about a team News Watch Blog edited by the News Department? In other words: How about the News Department using the very digital tools it insists the community newspapers adopt? (Don’t have time for all that time-consuming Internets stuff? Well, tough shit! And welcome to our work-off-the-clock world. Hah!)

Consider last Thursday’s edition: The top editor at the Pensacola News Journal, Dick Schneider, writes about his paper’s asking readers for money-saving ideas to help them through rocky economic times in Florida’s poorest urban county. Schneider’s content is OK; it’s the one-dimensional presentation that’s nuts. His piece is basically a text document; I count one embedded link, to a three-week-old Schneider column in the News Journal, inviting readers to participate.

His News Watch piece doesn’t include an e-mail address, so readers could contact him with feedback and follow-up questions. What’s more, the article is illustrated with what I finally realized is a screen shot (inset, above) of a Gannett News Service story that appeared in the Pensacola paper, apparently as part of its new money coverage plan. Want to read it? Don’t look in Schneider’s article for this easy-to-add link; the News Department didn’t include that, either.

Do you read News Watch? Got any other examples of ways the News Department and Currie could improve their digital support? Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail feedback; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Hot Off the Press: Pensacola News Journal

March 31, 2008

This is today’s Pensacola News Journal; click on the image for a bigger view. The paper offers a smart angle this morning on how the slowing economy is hurting more vulnerable workers. “Even in the best of times, workers who depend on tips for a substantial part of their income — food servers, bartenders, cab drivers and hairdressers — often struggle to keep afloat,” the paper’s Troy Moon writes. “But as gas prices, food prices and retail prices attest, these are far from the best of times. Folks are holding tighter to their wallets as the economy gets rockier. Just ask your favorite waiter or waitress.”

The News Journal at a glance:

  • Publisher: Kevin Doyle
  • Executive Editor/Director of Content and Readership Development: Dick Schneider
  • Founded: 1889
  • Joined Gannett: 1969
  • Employees: 420
  • Circulation: 57,148 daily; 71,139 Sunday

[Image: Newseum]