Archive for the ‘Sioux Falls’ Category

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.

Readers: Major press printing woes in Louisville

October 1, 2008

Two notes over the past week hint at a dicey situation new Publisher Arnold Garson may now be facing since becoming The Courier-Journal‘s chief executive in August. The writers — including one who says he’s a local union officer — describe problems with press maintenance, heavy newsprint waste, and loss of commercial printing jobs at the paper, which has one of Gannett’s newer print operations.

“We’ve heard Louisville is close to losing a commercial job,” Anonymous@7:29 a.m. said in Monday’s edition of Real Time Comments. “Anybody know? Ad sales people going bananas here.”

That followed an e-mail from a Mike Heine, who says he’s a Louisville pressman, and an officer of GCC/IBT Local 619M; Heine’s been with the paper 10 years. “Here in L’ville,” he writes, “we have an $85 million facility that is crumbling. We’ve seen the page counts, and press runs go down for some time now. Lost 30 thousand in 10 months. If we are to keep our jobs, we need commercial work, and lots of it. Problem is, nobody in newspaper world is real good at commercial planning.”

Heine says part of the problem stems from a showdown the union had with human resources chief Randi Austin. “Preventive maintenance is a must, but we don’t have manpower. Company illegally laid off two press operators last winter; during grievance meeting, Randi Austin told us it was not our job to tell them when to do maintenance, but that they would tell us when we could.”

Garson has a history of run-ins with unions, my readers have told me. I wonder if this is why he was sent to replace Denise Ivey after the Friday Afternoon Massacre?

Earlier: New Louisville pub’s age raises tenure questions

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

Sioux Falls: Video humanizes a suicide ‘epidemic’

September 24, 2008

The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls has published a terrific public-service examination of rising suicide rates among the Sicangu Lakota people, on the Rosebud Reservation in south-central South Dakota. The three-day series ended yesterday.

“Since 2005, at least 28 tribal members — most of them teens and 20-somethings — have killed themselves by hanging, overdosing on drugs or slashing their wrists,” the paper says in part one, published Sunday. “Sports stars and student scholars are among them. So are the broken spirits born of alcoholic and impoverished homes.”

Last year alone, the paper says, “the reservation’s suicide rate soared to 141 per 100,000 people — and a staggering 201 per 100,000 for males ages 15 to 24, what some experts call among the highest incidence in the world. That’s well above the national average: 11 to 12 per 100,000. “It is an epidemic,” said tribal President Rodney Bordeaux, whose tribal council declared a state of emergency because of the suicides. “The professionals tell us this kind of thing is cyclical. But we’re going on three years now. We want it to stop.”

Multimedia: video, photo galleries

The paper publishes video (above) by reporter Steve Young, who interviews a mother of a suicide victim, plus young people who survived suicide attempts. That’s a great addition on a subject as emotional as suicide — and quite an accomplishment.

Historically, suicide rates have been highest in the Mountain States — a fact that often surprises outsiders who think of the area as too peaceful to bring about such a sad end to life. I wrote about suicide in a project, too — at the Idaho Statesman in Boise, so I appreciate the Argus Leader‘s multimedia, something we didn’t have back then.

Facts on figures
The paper correctly describes suicide rates — rather than numbers of suicide, an important distinction when comparing data across population groups. Rates are typically expressed in a number per 100,000. I’ve often seen much bigger media get that wrong. For example, they’ll report that last year’s murder rate rose to 57 from 43 in 2006. They mean the number of cases rose to 57 from 43.

A Gannett Blog reader recommended this series. Got some good work worth spotlighting? Let’s hear about it! 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: yesterday’s front page led with the final installment in the suicide series, Newseum]

New Louisville pub’s age raises tenure questions

August 7, 2008

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET. Newly appointed Courier-Journal publisher Arnold Garson is 67, an age when many Gannett executives have already retired. (Indeed, I believe mandatory retirement for GCI CEOs and board members is 65.) One of my longtime readers — a former newsroom employee who once worked for Garson, and would work for him again — reacted the same way I did when Corporate announced yesterday that he’s moving to Louisville, Ky., from the publisher’s job at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The move is a mystery to me,” the reader told me in an e-mail. “I thought he intended to retire in Sioux Falls. Don’t know why he would move unless Gannett is going to sell the paper.”

My reader was likely speculating about GCI’s selling the Argus Leader. But I drew a different conclusion: Perhaps Gannett sent Garson to Louisville as interim publisher, assigned to run the paper while Corporate peddles it to possible buyers.

Now, that would be a tough sale, given the collapse in the market for newspapers over the past year. Still, I’ll speculate on one possible buyer: very well-connected local businessman David Jones, co-founder of healthcare giant Humana Inc. of Louisville. (Jones is a longtime friend of my parents, and he welcomed me to Louisville when I worked at the Courier-Journal in 1996-2000. But I’ve had no contact with him or anyone familiar with his thinking since I left Louisville.) In any case, another reader discounts my scenario, writing in a new comment: “David Jones is too smart to buy into a failing business like the newspaper industry.”

By Gannett’s nomadic-executive standards, Garson had deep roots in Sioux Falls — another reason to wonder about this new move. He’d been publisher there since 1996, and is leaving behind a family retreat where he spent weekends during the summer: a cabin on Iowa’s Lake Okoboji, east of Sioux Falls.

Will Garson buy — or rent?
If I were a Courier-Journal employee, I’d watch to see if Garson buys a home in Louisville — rather than renting one. Here’s why: In Little Rock, Ark., when I worked for the Gannett-owned Arkansas Gazette, we were puzzled when Corporate sent in its third publisher in a desperate attempt to save the failing paper — or so we thought.

Mo Hickey arrived in the spring of 1991. But instead of buying, he rented a condominium. His family stayed behind wherever he was living at the time, and I recall Hickey’s commuting back there on weekends. About six months after he came to Little Rock, we learned the true reason for his posting: Gannett shut down that money-losing paper, selling its presses and other assets to the crosstown competition. About 700 of us lost our jobs, in what I believe was the single-biggest layoff in Gannett’s history.

There are no doubt many Courier-Journal employees who would welcome new ownership. Many staffers there still recall working for the Bingham family, owners of the paper and other media properties until 1986, when they sold to Gannett amid a high-profile dispute among Bingham siblings.

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 Courier-Journal, Newseum]

Sioux Falls’ Garson named new Louisville publisher

August 6, 2008

Arnold Garson, the top executive at the Argus Leader since 1996, has been named the new president and publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Garson replaces Denise Ivey, leaving the company as a result of the Friday Afternoon Massacre. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Garson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from the UCLA, the Courier-Journal says in a new story.

In Sioux Falls, top Editor Randell Beck replaces Garson as publisher, Gannett says.

Garson was named Gannett’s 24th Manager of the Year in April, an award for “management skills, leadership, innovation and business ability,” Gannett said in a press release.

You know the drill, Sioux Falls: What can you tell Louisville about their new publisher? 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: Praying about their next publisher in Louisville

[Image: today’s Courier-Journal, 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.

Hot Off the Web: The Des Moines Register

June 11, 2008

A screenshot of The Des Moines Register‘s homepage, taken moments ago, as the paper publishes updates of flooding along the banks of the Iowa and Cedar rivers that have brought disaster across the state’s northeast. Coverage includes photos of the devastating 1993 floods. Plus, the Register is offering video, using a player that lets me embed one of them, below:

Unfortunately, the Register is using one of the very annoying players that automatically starts when a page is launched. I much prefer the player type we discussed when South Dakota’s Argus Leader published that much talked-about Hillary Rodham Clinton video.

Thanks to a reader for suggesting this post! Got a feature 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.

Beck: Inside the Argus Leader’s Clinton ‘maelstrom’

May 30, 2008

Top editor Randell Beck faced a “maelstrom” after that Argus Leader editorial board meeting with Hillary Rodham Clinton, where she created headlines mentioning Robert F. Kennedy‘s 1968 assassination. The newspaper in Sioux Falls, S.D., did a great job: It quickly published video of her remarks, plus a transcript, drawing a surge of readers when the video spread to cable and broadcast TV.

“Visits were up nearly 40% from the previous month,” Beck writes in yesterday’s edition of the weekly News Watch, published by the News Department. “Unique visitors jumped nearly 160%. At last count, the video had generated more than 1.2 million viewed minutes.”

Beck says he learned three big lessons from the experience: Streaming video works. Editors must be ready for a video to go viral. And the medium’s transparency is a good thing.

Gander? It’s Goose — again
As we discussed the other day, News Watch could be a rich multimedia showcase for Gannett’s best work — an online classroom to discuss outstanding journalism. (I’m not afraid of competition!) For example, look at Beck’s piece yesterday: He’s writing all about a video, plus associated stories — without News Watch providing so much as a single link, so readers could easily watch and read on their own. Hello! Linking and embedding aren’t hard. Look what I’ve just done here:

(Confidential to Phil Currie: Little annoys the community newspapers more than Corporate’s piling additional digital work on already overstretched newsrooms — when you guys can’t seem to use the most basic technology tools yourselves.)

[Image: this morning’s Argus Leader, Newseum]

Appleton tells an old story — with new digital twists

May 25, 2008

[Big Appleton: Cory Chisel and band member Adriel Harris]

You know this story well: A young musician from the heartland takes a leap of faith, traveling to New York City in search of fame and fortune. Wisconsin’s Post-Crescent tells that story today, but with multimedia angles that transform this package into a nearly textbook-perfect example of contemporary digital journalism.

Writer Eric Klister and photographer Sharon Cekada trace the journey of guitarist Cory Chisel of Appleton, Wis., on his way to a crucial performance last month at a small New York nightclub. Chisel, 26, and his Wandering Sons band got an RCA Records contract last year, a deal that made him the first Appleton musician in more than 30 years to sign with a major label.

“You might think this would be the quintessential story of a small town boy’s journey to the big time, and you would be right — to an extent,” Klister says of that nightclub date. “Chisel is indeed humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime chance. But when it’s time to play music, he exudes the confidence of a performer who’s seen it all. If there was anything working against him on this leg of his improbable journey, it wasn’t awe or self-doubt — it was a stuffy nose.”

The video shot in New York is quite good: It’s well edited, overlaying voice and music on moving and still images — just the right story-telling format for a subject with both action and sound. And that brings me to one of my few quibbles: the Post-Crescent uses a video player, common across Gannett websites, that doesn’t allow me to embed the video here — something I was able to do with that Argus Leader video we read about Friday. The Post-Crescent player doesn’t include an easy-to-grab permalink, either.

On the plus side, however, the paper smartly organized the Chisel package on one page (screenshot, below), where you can find all the elements: stories; video; posts from Klister’s Valley Jams Blog; photo slideshows, and downloadable MP3 audio clips. It all points to Chisel’s concert next Friday in Appleton, with his Wandering Sons.

The Post-Crescent at a glance:

  • Publisher: Genia Lovett
  • Executive editor: Dan Flannery
  • Founded: 1853
  • Joined Gannett: 2000
  • Employees: 473
  • Circulation: 52,005, weekdays; 65,568, Sundays

A Gannett Blog reader suggested I write about the Chisel package. Do you have an example of good work at a Gannett paper or TV station? Leave a note in the comments section, below. Or to e-mail me confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Photo: Sharon Cekada, Post-Crescent; today’s front page, Newseum]

Hot Off the Press: Argus Leader

May 24, 2008

Today’s front page, reporting the headline-grabbing interview yesterday between editorial board members and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Argus Leader videotaped Clinton’s remarks, publishing them with a user-friendly video player to pull in even more readers from across the Web.

Note: Click on the image for a bigger, more readable view.

[Image: Newseum]