Archive for the ‘Salisbury’ Category

New, in CJR: ‘Gannett vs. the Gannett Blog’

September 4, 2008

From a story just posted on Columbia Journalism Review‘s website:

“When the news broke, when clarity mattered most to the nearly 32,800 people working in Gannett’s newspaper division, the announced elimination of 1,000 jobs came not from its eighty-four Local Information Centers but from a blog run by a man vacationing off the coast of Spain.

“About 2 a.m. in Spain on Aug. 14, Jim Hopkins, a fifty-one-year-old spending his summer on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, checked his e-mail one last time before bed. A reader of his site, the independent Gannett Blog, had written to him from Maryland, where employees at the Daily Times of Salisbury had received a memo from the publisher: ‘Across Gannett’s Community Publishing division,’ Rick Jensens afternoon dispatch read, in part, ‘about 1,000 positions will be eliminated — about 3% of the workforce.’

“Six hundred of those eliminations would come through layoffs. The memo confirmed rumors that Hopkins had been tracking. He sent e-mails to Tara Connell, Gannett’s vice president of corporate communications; Jensen; and Greg Bassett, executive editor of the Daily Times. Bassett replied and didn’t dispute the news. Hopkins posted an entry that unfurls like a news story — it flashes a leaked memo, delivers hard numbers, and provides context. It’s a more thorough account than anything a Gannett paper published the next morning.”

CJR‘s story continues, here.

Here’s my favorite part!
It’s Connell’s response to CJR, of course:

“Gannett’s Tara Connell, in an e-mail last week, said the blog initially was an open forum, and the corporate office responded to Hopkins as it would to any journalist:

‘But over time, the blog has changed. When we asked the blogger to correct factual inaccuracies — nothing happened. Standards of accuracy and fairness were dropped in favor of rumor mongering and sensationalism. The attacks he inspired became personal, particularly against women in the company. For these reasons, we don’t participate.”’

Indeed, Connell has very occasionally asked me to correct what she called factual inaccuracies. But it is not true that I did nothing. I responded, by declining her request. On one occasion, involving my first Gannett Foundation post, I offered to reprint her objections — which I did, here.

As to her allegation that I inspired personal attacks — particularly against women in the company — Connell neglects to mention the following e-mail exchange, on May 2. I initiated it, under the subject heading: “A comment that should not have been published.” Click on the image for a readable view.

Earlier: My life, on Internet time

Please post your thoughts 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.

Gannett said laying off 600 newspaper employees; pub’s memo discloses total 1,000 jobs getting axed

August 13, 2008

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET on Aug. 14: The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., is among the first newspapers reporting layoffs on Thursday.

Earlier: A Maryland publisher told employees late Wednesday afternoon that Gannett is eliminating 1,000 newspaper jobs, or about 3% of the troubled newspaper division’s workforce — and that about 600 employees are being laid off, a Gannett Blog reader says.

The reader provided a copy of a memo that Daily Times Publisher Rick Jensen e-mailed about 4 p.m. today at the paper in Salisbury. “Across Gannett’s Community Publishing division, about 1,000 positions will be eliminated — about 3% of the workforce,” the memo says. “Of the 1,000 positions, about 600 employees will be laid off.”

Jensen would be the first Gannett executive to publicly confirm recent speculation that GCI is cutting jobs across the company — and the first executive to disclose details of such cuts. A broad downsizing would come as the nation’s top newspaper publisher reels from its surprisingly weak second-quarter earnings. That report sent Gannett shares plunging to new lows, further raising investor pressure on CEO Craig Dubow and his senior team.

No timetable given
I’ve asked chief Gannett flack Tara Connell for comment. I’ve e-mailed Jensen, and Daily Times Executive Editor Greg Bassett as well. Moments ago, Bassett e-mailed this reply, saying only: “Jim Hopkins is in my in box? All the way from Europe? I must be big time! Cheers!”

The memo does not say whether every one of the newspaper division’s 84 papers will reduce employment by 3% — or whether the rates might instead vary by business within what’s now called the U.S. Community Publishing division. The memo also doesn’t give a timetable for these division-wide cuts.

Several GCI papers have already made recent job cuts, but at a higher rate: 5%. The division’s dailies do not include USA Today, suggesting that any further reductions at Gannett’s flagship could be on top of the 1,000 jobs eliminated. U.S. Community Publishing employs up to 32,800 — the lion’s share of GCI’s 46,000 employees.

‘Decline in economic conditions’
Jensen disclosed the broad downsizing in a memo that tells his own paper’s 275 workers that some of them will lose their jobs as soon as next week.

“We’re being faced with another difficult round of position reductions because of the continuing decline in economic conditions,” the memo says. “Gannett has set payroll expense reduction targets for us and all other newspapers in the U.S. Community Publishing division, necessitating the reduction in positions. The targets were set based on our financial performance and previous reductions.”

The memo continues: “Our position reduction plan is now at Corporate for review. We expect to receive final approval by Monday, and affected employees will be notified by next Thursday.”

The memo also says “affected employees will be offered a severance package. Benefits include one week of pay for each year of service (52 week maximum); minimum two-week severance benefit; medical benefits will continue for the length of the severance period.”

Can anyone confirm — and add details? Have any other publishers cited the 1,000 jobs/600 layoffs figures in recent memos? 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: Blogger says Corporate’s silence on layoffs is telling

[Image: today’s Daily Times, Newseum]

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]