Archive for the ‘Reno’ Category

Post box in hand, please send me your papers

November 10, 2008

Regarding the snail-mail address I established for folks who don’t want to buy $5 subscriptions online, a reader says today: “What if, along with the money, I included an actual hard copy of my Gannett-owned newspaper? If enough of us did this, you’d get a collection of all Gannett papers. Not that the collection would be worth much, but you could critique papers as they came in, look for what one paper is doing right, highlight some good writing, look for themes or patterns among Gannett papers, etc.”

Terrific idea! And you don’t even have to buy a subscription to send a copy of your paper. In any case, I happily accept cash! Please make any checks payable to me.

Jim Hopkins
584 Castro St. #823
San Francisco, Calif. 94114-2594

Prefer buying a $5 subscription online? Please use the “Donate” tool in the green sidebar, upper right. Any amount appreciated! Post feedback in the comments section, below. Send e-mail to gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com].

[Image: today’s Reno Gazette-Journal, Newseum]

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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]

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.

A figure so bad, the company won’t make it public?

April 30, 2008

Gannett’s online revenue growth at its domestic newspapers is apparently pretty bad. For the second consecutive quarter, GCI has refused to publish growth rates in a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The latest report, for the first quarter, was filed today.

Those rates had been declining through 2007’s third quarter — the last time the company disclosed them. At that time, online revenue was growing at just 11% — about half the industry average. Now, ask yourself: If the figures reflected well on management’s vaunted Information Center model, wouldn’t Gannett publish them in, like, 72-point type? (For the record, I asked chief spokesperson Tara Connell, again, whether the company had discontinued publishing these rates. Her response: “We don’t publish every number.”)

[Image: today’s Reno Gazette-Journal, Newseum]

Quotable: Ward Bushee on leaving Gannett

April 3, 2008
“I think it’s the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced.”
— former top Gannett editor Ward Bushee, in a new interview with American Journalism Review, on his surprise move earlier this year to the San Francisco Chronicle

Cutting biz news a publisher’s no-brainer

February 4, 2008

The Reno Gazette-Journal and the The Cincinnati Enquirer are among newspapers that have eliminated standalone business sections, Talking Biz News says, as publishers look for more ways to cut costs. And no wonder: Those pesky business news reporters threaten revenue streams from major advertisers if they write negative stories. If you were a publisher desperate to trim expenses, wouldn’t you take a hard look at the business news department, too?

(A side note: One of the things that’s always killed me about the Gazette-Journal is its willingness to kow-tow to powerful local casinos by using the more palatable term “gaming” when referring to that industry. Who’s the paper fooling? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say they go to Reno to “game”?)

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Gazette-Journal, Newseum. The paper’s lede story says: “After cutting their teeth in Nevada, this year’s presidential candidates will take on the rest of the Mountain West on Tuesday, the biggest single day on the nominating calendar.”]

Breaking: Top editor Bushee quits Gannett

January 25, 2008

The money-losing San Francisco Chronicle just announced that Arizona Republic Editor Ward Bushee (left) will be its new top editor. “Ward brings a wealth of news experience and journalistic vision to the Chronicle team,” Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega, a former long-time Gannett executive, said in a statement. “He has long been recognized as an editor who instills strong journalistic values, integrity and sense of community at the newspapers he leads.”

Bushee, 58, is coming to one of the nation’s most challenging newspaper markets. Northern California has become Ground Zero for many of the technology trends hurting papers. On a percentage basis, the 365,234-circulation (daily) Chronicle has lost more subscribers in recent years than virtually any other U.S. paper. Plus, it lost up to $100 million in 2007 alone — leading to speculation that it might be the first major U.S. paper to go Web-only.

Separately, the Republic announced that Executive Editor Randy Lovely, 43, (left) will replace Bushee. The Republic is Gannett’s biggest-circulation paper after USA Today.

Bushee is one of the most honored and most influential editors in Gannett. But much of his success is tied to his long-time patron, Sue Clark-Johnson, the Newspaper Division president who recently announced plans to retire in May. What’s more, the Republic — once a star in the Gannett constellation — has lately been a drag on revenue because of the collapse of real estate prices in Phoenix. I suspect as well that a big chunk of Bushee’s compensation has been in Gannett stock options that are now worthless, another reason to leave GCI.

Bushee has been with Gannett 21 years, Chronicle owner Hearst noted. He was named Editor of the Year three times and 11 times won the company’s President’s Ring, awarded to outstanding top editors. Under his leadership, Hearst says, the Reno Gazette-Journal and The Arizona Republic respectively were honored with Newspaper of the Year awards.

Republic staffers: Use this link to e-mail feedback and tips. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Photos: Bushee, Gannett; Lovely, Republic]

Election focus shifts to Michigan, Nevada, S.C.

January 10, 2008

With a combined seven newspapers and one TV station in those three key battleground states, Gannett is now well-positioned to be a bigger presidential campaign player in the crucial weeks ahead.

Michigan is a battleground for Republicans regrouping after New Hampshire’s surprise upsets. “This race is about Michigan right now,” Kevin Madden, a Mitt Romney spokesman, tells The New York Times today. The state’s weak economy will be a major issue in Tuesday’s primary. Gannett’s five Michigan papers are led by the Detroit Free Press. GCI also owns WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids. The Free Press says GOP candidates “would do well to keep one fact in mind: Michigan has as many unemployed job seekers as Republicans had voters in Iowa and New Hampshire combined.”

For Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the immediate focus are the Jan. 19 Nevada caucuses. They’re shaping up as the “head-to-head test of the strength of both these candidates,” the NYT says. The Reno Gazette-Journal said today that mining and the residential foreclosure crisis will play big roles in the caucuses.

And in South Carolina, Gannett’s Greenville News says GOP candidates “still standing after two bruising contests began assembling at Myrtle Beach to prepare for tonight’s nationally televised debate, a scene-setter for the state’s Jan. 19 primary.” The News has loads of video on the candidates, too. “South Carolina is going to be a turning point in this nomination process,” Republican candidate Mike Huckabee of Arkansas says, according to today’s Washington Post.

[Image: this morning’s Free Press, Newseum]

Breaking: Top executive Clark-Johnson leaving

January 10, 2008

Sue Clark-Johnson (left), a 40-year company veteran, has been president of Gannett’s Newspaper Division — the biggest source of revenue, and of challenges — since September 2005. The company just announced she’s retiring in late May. CEO Craig Dubow says in a statement only that a successor “will be named later.”

No matter who takes the job, the domino effect is likely to ripple across the company, as most publishers ultimately report to the Newspaper Division chief.
I would have bet money not long ago that Clark-Johnson’s successor would be Robert Dickey, head of the Pacific Newspaper Group, a portfolio with publications in Arizona and I believe 12 other mostly western states. Dickey also is chairman of Phoenix Newspapers, which publishes The Arizona Republic. His elevation could still happen, although the Arizona, California and Nevada markets have lately been a drag on Gannett’s performance.
Dickey joined Gannett at the Reno Gazette Journal in 1989, where he was retail ad manager and ad director. Department of Hmmmm: Clark-Johnson and Dickey have a shared career trajectory: She also was publisher at Reno, then Phoenix, before becoming Newspaper Division president. (Note: In an earlier version of this post, I referenced Republic publisher John Zidich, when I meant Dickey. That’s what happens when you blog too fast and rely on a confusing Corporate page!)
Another possible successor: Craig Moon, publisher of USA Today. There’s also Barbara Henry, publisher of The Indianapolis Star. But if the company wanted to make a really bold move, it would reach outside Gannett to someone with a completely non-print news background.
Clark-Johnson is just 60. “This is the right time to return to my life in the West — to my family and community,” she said in the company statement. “I am greatly looking forward to the next stage of my life, which I expect to be as rewarding as the last 40 years have been.”

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Images: Clark-Johnson, Gannett; this morning’s Arizona Republic, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: Reno Gazette-Journal

December 19, 2007

This is today’s Reno Gazette-Journal; click on the image for a bigger view. Leveraging “reader-generated content” like crazy, Gannett newspapers this month are encouraging hundreds of thousands of readers to submit holiday photos. Here’s one from the Reno paper’s site; kind of reminds me of a Diane Arbus shot:

One of the most popular send-us-your photo categories: Christmas light displays. The Gazette-Journal has a clever twist: The paper is using Google maps to plot reader-recommended displays so they’re easier to find. “If you have a holiday display or know of one,” the paper asks, “take a picture and submit it to us.” That’s smart!

The Gazette-Journal at a glance:

  • President and Publisher: Ted Power
  • Executive Editor: Beryl Love
  • Founded: 1870
  • Joined Gannett: 1977
  • Employees: 400

[Image: Newseum]