Archive for the ‘Westchester’ Category

Poughkeepsie to print in Westchester; 45 jobs lost

November 6, 2008

The Poughkeepsie Journal in New York will be printed and distributed by The Journal News in Westchester — 64 miles south — starting in early January, Publisher Barry Rothfeld told employees today in a memo forwarded to me. The 45 jobs eliminated are separate from the 10% staff reduction announced last week.

Poughkeepsie’s deadlines will be moved up after the switch; given the 128-mile round trip between the cities, it’ll be interesting to see the impact on final sports scores and other late news. “Logistical details about printing in Westchester are being worked out,” Rothfeld’s memo says, “although you should know that Westchester has good experience printing other daily newspapers, produces quality products, and I expect good cooperation between the two units.”

Blog birthday: How you take power from Corporate

September 11, 2008

[Gannett headquarters, McLean, Va.]

Corporate won’t participate with Gannett Blog because it says I engage in “rumor mongering and sensationalism,” as spokeswoman Tara Connell told Columbia Journalism Review in a recent story. Unfortunately, that shows Gannett hasn’t learned much since former newspaper division president Gary Watson sneered at my concerns that GCI was too wed to print, after I questioned him during a 1995 meeting with his eventual successor, Sue Clark-Johnson.

Like blogger Paul Gillin, I suspect Connell is just following orders from the woman I’ve been told is her boss: Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore — Gannett’s de facto CEO. I give former USA Today managing editor Connell more credit: She’s not so dumb as to think the Internet and blogging are just fads that will fade away.

And yet: Connell is responsible for employee communications, which makes me wonder how she claims to do her job without addressing workers here. It’s not like Corporate offers an alternative. Today, exactly a year after my blog went live with this post, the nation’s No. 1 newspaper publisher still doesn’t publish a Corporate blog of its own. Think about that: Even as Gannett orders its papers and TV stations to create more digital offerings, with fewer employees, Connell and News Department chief Phil Currie (inset) defiantly refuse to do the same.

As we say, not as we do
For example, look at today’s edition of Currie’s News Watch. Why isn’t that weekly newsletter published as a webpage with instructional videos, commenting tools, and other interactive features? Why does Corporate think it’s OK to adopt an attitude that reeks of, “do as we say, not as we do”? Please don’t whine about having too much work already. You’ve never accepted that excuse from the field — preferring instead to heap more work on employees, while ignoring questions about their being forced to work illegal, unpaid overtime.

Gannett workers hunger for more information. Tuesday, when Corporate disclosed a big newspaper division reorganization, employees raced here for more details. Traffic surged near record highs. Some of you came for my analysis of the 100 management layoffs.

But most of you came to learn from each other. I happily became a bit player here long ago: This blog’s power has little to do with me — and everything to do with you. That’s exactly what I hoped for a year ago. As I told a fellow blogger recently, I started Gannett Blog so employees would have a safe place to share information about the company, without fear of reprisal from management, as they prepared themselves for a vastly changed industry.

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 Journal News in Westchester, Newseum. The paper lost most of its operating committee members in Tuesday’s newspaper division reorganization]

What’s next: Papers merging? No cuts at USAT

September 10, 2008

Updated at 4:21 a.m. ET, Sept. 11. Developments after yesterday’s big reorganization of the newspaper division, where about 100 marketing, finance, circulation and other influential executives were laid off; updated as needed:

More newspaper mergers?
The elimination of so many operating committee jobs at certain newspapers suggests that some papers may be effectively merged with others in their regions. For example, The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., gave up five senior positions — the chiefs of production, human resources, information technology, finance, and sales and marketing. (The head of the advertising department retired, too, but that position will be filled.)

“Almost the entire operating committee wiped out in Westchester,” a Gannett Blog reader here said yesterday. “Does that mean a merger with Poughkeepsie is a done deal? Will two executive editors be needed?”

USA Today escapes layoffs again
Gannett’s flagship newspaper apparently didn’t give up a single job yesterday, as near as I can tell — the second time it has escaped recent Corporate-mandated cuts. Last month, USAT didn’t lose any clerks, reporters or other employees when GCI eliminated 1,000 jobs at its community newspapers through layoffs and attrition.

To be sure, USA Today lost about 50 positions when circulation duties were consolidated in May. And the paper gave up 43 newsroom employees (I was one of them) late last year. At least three other big GCI papers — in Cincinnati, Detroit and Phoenix — also avoided further cuts last month, by persuading a sufficient number of employees to take buyouts.

Still, it’s noteworthy that USA Today, one of Gannett’s two biggest worksites (the other is The Arizona Republic) continues to withstand cuts roiling the rest of the company.

Related Gannett Blog posts

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 Journal News, Newseum]

Rochester’s Kane named new Indy Star publisher

July 16, 2008

Updated at 5:43 p.m. ET. Gannett just announced that Michael Kane (left), vice president of the company’s East Publishing Group and publisher of the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., has been named Interstate Group president, and publisher of The Indianapolis Star. Kane, 49, replaces Barbara Henry, retiring Aug. 1, after the Friday Afternoon Massacre. Kane joined Gannett in 1992, when he was hired as marketing manager at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. In comments, below, he’s getting good reviews: “Michael is a class act,” one reader says.

Related: the Star‘s story, plus the Democrat and Chronicle‘s

Earlier: Ooh, la, la! Rochester ‘threesome’ a surprise hit. Plus: the Democrat and Chronicle‘s school textbook probe

Fun facts about Babs!
The sex-survey lovin’ Henry has ginormous feet, according to newspaper division President Bob Dickey, who told the Star today: “Michael has huge shoes to fill.”

Rochester: What can you tell Indy about Kane? And who’s going to replace him at the Democrat and Chronicle? 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.

[Photo: Democrat and Chronicle]

Memo: Westchester raises mileage rate to 43 cents

July 12, 2008

From an e-mail sent yesterday by Journal News Publisher Mike Fisch: “We understand that the rising gas prices are causing a hardship for many of our employees. In an effort to improve this situation, a change will be made in the gas reimbursement rate. Effective July 14, 2008, the gas reimbursement rate will increase 5 ½ cents, from .37 ½ cents to .43 cents per mile. The reimbursement rate for all miles driven over 250 miles in a week will also increase, and the new rate will be .35 cents per mile.”

Forwarding Fisch’s memo, a reader says: “How kind to raise a measly five cents to 43 cents, when the IRS rate is now 58 cents.”

Earlier: Citing gas prices, IRS hikes mileage to 58.5 cents

Why your publisher and boss are so crabby today

June 30, 2008

The Friday Afternoon Massacre reordered the troubled community newspaper division, creating one less management region — and putting publisher’s jobs into play at Indianapolis and Louisville.

“Who’s going to Indy and L’ville?” a Gannett Blog reader asked over the weekend. “I’ve heard rumblings that the new senior vice presidents (Evan Ray and Michelle Krans) will replace all the community newspaper VPs. Can’t be any worse than the motley group they have got there now. Most are washed-up, do-nothing part-timers, anyway.”

The Indianapolis Star and The Courier-Journal — two of Gannett’s single-biggest employers — will be affected the most quickly. But the changes announced by division President Bob Dickey inevitably will ripple across all of the company’s 84 community newspapers. That’s why you may be seeing a nervous look on your boss’ face this morning.

Indeed, staffers at The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., are already looking over their shoulder, a reader says, after Publisher Mike Fisch told them in a Friday memo: “Not a day goes by that you don’t read or hear of the financial difficulties daily newspapers are experiencing as they adjust to these new realities. In Gannett and more specifically at The Journal News we’re experiencing many of the same things as others around the country.”

Shoring up finances, Fisch said, the paper will cut expenses by “at least 4%” over the next six months — a “significant” reduction. “We will do this in a host of ways. We will hold open positions that are vacant, and review each one to determine whether it’s strategic or critical to fill. We will redeploy staff to critical strategic areas for news coverage, sales, and other strategic priorities.”

What’s the outlook at your newspaper? Your replies, 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: this morning’s Star, Newseum]

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]

Say cheese! Was he on ‘E’ when they shot his mug?

May 15, 2008

Eric A. Markowitz, 22, is one of two upstate New York men facing felony drug charges, after state troopers discovered more than 800 pills of the feel-good party drug Ecstasy in their car during a routine traffic stop, The Journal News says.

(Note to self: Smiling for a police mug shot is good. Grinning ear-to-ear? Maybe not so.)

Reader: Corporate’s ‘useless’ bigwigs unaffordable

May 14, 2008

Regarding a Journal News employee laid off yesterday as Gannett offshores more advertising work to India, a reader comments: “The papers in the Gannett chain simply can’t afford to continue propping up useless and unnecessary bigwigs at corporate headquarters. They are pure overhead, in their own words a drag on earnings, adding no value whatsoever. At this stage of the game, they are in self-preservation mode, knowing full well that the chain model no longer works. They won’t initiate a breakup, a la Knight Ridder and Tribune, because it would jeopardize their jobs. What needs to happen is for the outside directors to take charge and hire an investment banking firm to weigh their options. Time to sell the papers and stations to the highest bidders.”

Join the debate, in the original post.

Reader: ‘I lost my job yesterday’ to India offshoring

May 14, 2008

I receive heartbreaking e-mails like the following several times a week now, as Gannett eliminates more advertising production jobs — shifting that work to India under a contract with 2AdPro of Los Angeles. This note came today from a Journal News employee who says three generations of his family have worked at the Westchester, N.Y., newspaper:

“Just wanted to say thank you for doing this blog! I lost my job yesterday due to outsourcing to India. I worked in the ad design department at The Journal News at Westchester County, N.Y. . . . I had almost nine years of service to the company. My father, who got me the job, had 38 years of service, also in advertising. My mother, stepmother, sister and grandmother all had worked for the Journal News in one way or another! It used to be a fun place to work. . . . All I felt was sadness for those left behind, waiting for their turn, and a bitterness to the powers that be that have destroyed a once vibrant and interesting newspaper!”

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.