Archive for the ‘Vineland’ Category

Reader: ‘A classic clusterfuck, Courier-Post style’

May 20, 2008

Updated at 8:03 p.m. PT: A reader says in a new note in the comments section, below: “I know of at least one Features reporter who was denied the buyout. This was a classic clusterfuck, Courier-Post style. How about approaching the most senior members of the staff, one at a time, until you get the desired number of acceptees?”

Earlier: Regarding big job cuts now underway at five New Jersey newspapers, a Gannett Blog reader says they’re “disgusted” by what happened at their paper, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill. “The initial offer, understandably, divided the newsroom into two tiers — the writers who were offered a buyout and the editors who were not,” the reader told me in an e-mail. “Much anger from veteran editors who complained they were not included. After achieving that demoralizing outcome, the C-P and Gannett have put a wedge between the people who were offered a buyout and the ones who received it.”

Join the lively debate on how many N.J. staff sought buyouts.

[Image: screenshot of the C-P’s home page, now reporting: “A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said today in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics’ most enduring figures. Kennedy is 76]

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Reader: Here’s why N.J. employees took buyouts

May 17, 2008

Regarding the final tally of employees who applied for buyouts offered to 166 staffers at Gannett’s New Jersey papers, a reader says in a comment: “The exact number probably won’t be known anywhere until we come back from Memorial Day and start asking, ‘Where’s [insert name here]?’ What is interesting are the various reasons people have had for taking the buyout. I’ve had a stream of people coming by my desk or sitting with me in the cafeteria or going out for drinks after work to talk it out and get advice or validation.”

Why did some employees favor a buyout? Read the rest of the reader’s comment, in the original post.

How many N.J. staff sought buyouts by deadline?

May 16, 2008

A reader says 5 p.m. ET today was the deadline for employees at five New Jersey newspapers to apply for 166 buyouts offered last week as Gannett’s N.J. group struggles with especially sharp circulation declines. “Wonder how many took it,” the reader asks. “I know of at least six people out of one paper.”

I’ll bet lots of people want to know! Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

And the most miserable New Jersey paper is . . .

May 12, 2008

[Misery loves company: carbon copied Frank Gannett]

Puh-leeze! Was there ever any doubt? Courier-Post staffers endured Poopgate and other conditions so bad, they threatened to file a complaint with the U.S. Labor Department, saying they were denied pay for overtime worked. For all that (and so much more!), Gannett Blog readers on Sunday named the paper, winner of the inaugural Frank E. Gannett Memorial Misery Loves Company Award.

But, you know what? If I ever returned to Gannett (hah!), I’d work at the Courier-Post. They’ve got moxie. Ich bin ein Cherry Hiller!
Here’s a breakdown of the 122 responses to the reader-suggested survey question: The most miserable N.J. paper is . . .
Note: Figures don’t total 100 due to rounding. (Plus, Blogger‘s survey widget sometimes has bad hair days.)

Anatomy of a blog: Don’t mess with Jersey!

May 10, 2008

Yesterday, staffers at Gannett’s New Jersey newspapers wasted no time leveraging this blog — and not for the first time. Using this link, they fired off notes, alerting us to news that management had suddenly offered buyouts to 166 staffers at five papers. They returned with more comments and links, giving all of Gannett a real-time lesson on how an employee-driven blog works.

Jersey Gannettoids have done this before: Moments after it was announced on Tuesday, a reader posted an internal memo, reporting that Skip Hidlay had been made permanent publisher for both the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick and the Courier News in Bridgewater.

But here’s the textbook example: Readers say Gannett is now reinforcing rules about wage and hour laws. That’s coming less than three months after the Courier-Post newsroom in Cherry Hill suddenly revolted, threatening a U.S. Labor Department complaint about unpaid overtime if Corporate didn’t take action. And they made sure their allegations got widespread attention — sending updates to me, in Brazil, where I posted them immediately to Gannett Blog.

[Image: Google Earth]

Donovan on buyouts: Revenue ‘well short’ of plan

May 9, 2008

Confirming a round of buyouts at Gannett’s flagging New Jersey newspapers, Asbury Park Press Publisher Tom Donovan told his paper today that offers were extended to 166 full-time employees at five of GCI’s six N.J. papers. Contrary to earlier reports from my readers, the Daily Record at Morristown is exempt.

The Press story does not say how many jobs Gannett seeks to eliminate in total. That was one of several questions I asked chief company flack Tara Connell; I have yet to hear from her. The story, however, suggests the company is not targeting a fixed number of jobs — but, instead, a dollar figure.

“As you all well know,” Donovan said in a statement, quoted by the Press, “the economy continues to struggle and as a result our advertising revenues have fallen well short of expectations. While we have maintained tight control of our expenses, a further adjustment is necessary.”

He warned that layoffs would be “necessary” if the papers don’t meet “targeted expense reductions.” The Press story does not detail which departments — news, advertising, etc. — are subject to the buyouts.

Donovan also is vice president of Gannett’s East Newspaper Group, a promotion he got amid a round of executive changes last August. Today’s offer went to employees over the age of 55, with 15 years’ service at the Press; the Courier-Post at Cherry Hill; the Home News Tribune at East Brunswick; the Courier News in Bridgewater, and the Daily Journal in Vineland.

Questions for staffers offered a buyout: What’s the deadline for applying? If your application is accepted, when must you leave your paper? Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: this morning’s Courier-Post, one of the five papers hit by the buyouts, Newseum]

Breaking: Statewide buyouts said announced in N.J.; copy editors, others reportedly exempt

May 9, 2008

Update at 1:23 p.m. PT: I now believe the Associated Press has confirmed these buyouts, and should move a story soon.

10:26 a.m. PT: I’ve asked chief flack Tara Connell for comment.

10:09 a.m. PT: Another reader says each of the six newspapers in the increasingly troubled New Jersey group has its own number of buyouts to meet, based on the announcements rolling out today.

“Don’t know what those numbers are,” that reader says. “It’s a selective buyout not being offered to all employees who qualify (15 years of service and 55 or older). The publisher is generating the list of who is eligible. According to our executive editor, copy editors, designers and photographers are not eligible. Don’t know why, other than that those departments are already stretched too thin. Not illegal, but still seems unfair.”

Within Gannett, some of these six papers reported the company’s worst circulation losses when the March 31 Audit Bureau of Circulations figures were released, last week.

Earlier: I’m still gathering details, but here’s one of the many notes I received this morning from New Jersey readers: “They’ve just announced buyouts for all N.J. papers. In order to take the buyout, you have to be 55 years old with at least 15 years at the paper. They’re offering two weeks’ pay for each year of service up to a year’s pay. And folks will get benefits for a year as well. But not everyone who fits those parameters is eligible. No copy editors or photographers can take the deal. More details as they unfold.”

N.J. employees: How many staffers are eligible at your paper? And how many jobs is your paper trying to eliminate? Use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: this morning’s Asbury Park Press, Newseum. The paper is the largest, by circulation, of Gannett’s six N.J. papers]

Misery survey: Cherry Hill pulls ahead of the pack

May 9, 2008

As Gannett reportedly pushes buyouts today across its troubled New Jersey newspaper group, the Courier-Post at Cherry Hill, N.J., has moved into the pole position in my reader-suggested survey, seeking the most miserable among the state’s six papers. But it’s not too late to vote! The survey closes at midnight, Sunday; see the poll box at the bottom of the green sidebar, right. Monday, I’ll announce the winner of what I’m calling the first-ever Frank E. Gannett Memorial Misery Loves Company Award.

A breakdown of the 94 responses so far to the question: The most miserable N.J. paper is . . .

  • Asbury Park: 20%
  • Bridgewater: 24%
  • Cherry Hill: 29%
  • East Brunswick: 11%
  • Morristown: 4%
  • Vineland: 9%
Note: Figures don’t total 100 because of rounding.
[Photo: company founder Frank Gannett]

Cherry Hill, Bridgewater lead in ‘most miserable’

May 7, 2008

The Courier News at Bridgewater and the Courier-Post at Cherry Hill are far ahead of the pack in my reader-suggested survey, seeking to find the most miserable of Gannett’s six New Jersey papers. Check out the poll box, at the bottom of the green sidebar, upper right.

In early tabulations, the totals from 61 responses:

  • Asbury Park: 13%
  • Bridgewater: 29%
  • Cherry Hill: 32%
  • East Brunswick: 14%
  • Morristown 1%
  • Vineland: 8%

Note: figures don’t total 100 because of rounding.

Why the long faces?
The Jersey group has lately had a difficult time. The Courier News saw its circulation plunge 11.7%, to 30,620 — one of the steepest losses among GCI papers in the most recent reporting period. Publisher Ketan Gandhi forced it into a merger with the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick. Then, two months ago, Gandhi abruptly left Gannett under circumstances the company has never addressed. (His successor was announced only yesterday.)
And yet: Cherry Hill’s Courier-Post, at 67,258 daily, entered the match already down in the dumps!

Vote: Which N.J. paper is the most miserable?

May 7, 2008

Now, here’s an election we can really get excited about! Inspired by a Gannett Blog reader, I’ve just launched a special new survey, at the bottom of the green sidebar, right. Commenting on this post, the reader says: “Winner can have its IT department offshored to the part of Dubai shaped like N.J.”