Archive for the ‘WUSA’ Category

WUSA-TV: Union deal paves way to hire ‘mojos’

December 12, 2008

Under an agreement this week with labor unions, Gannett’s broadcast flagship will become the first station in a major market to replace crews with one-person “multimedia journalists,” who shoot and edit stories single-handedly, The Washington Post says today. The station — which is running last in the local ratings — also plans an across-the-board cut in reporters’ salaries as it increases their responsibilities. Multimedia journalists will earn 30% to 50% less than what traditional reporters have been earning, with salaries topping out at around $90,000 annually, the Post says, citing sources it doesn’t identify at the station.

WUSA: What’s as much fun as watching paint dry?

December 9, 2008

How about a live feed of construction work on the on-air set for Gannett’s flagship TV station? It’s being webcast by Mogulus, the video service GCI invested in back in July. Passing along the link, Anonymous@6:05 p.m. says in a comment:

“The newsroom has been torn apart for new furniture and configuration as it transforms into the ‘Information Center.’ Some question spending money on new furniture, even though it’s needed, when you are downsizing staff.”

NYT: As TV ratings plunge, it’s anchors away

December 1, 2008

Some on-air talent in top markets can still command million-dollar salaries — like Chuck Scarborough on WNBC in New York, The New York Times says today in a new story. But the high-profile jobs are becoming more vulnerable to market forces roiling local TV, analysts say. “The ratings for the broadcasts have gradually eroded over the years,” the story says. “The typical late newscast now reaches 12% of viewers watching TV in a given market, down from 21% 10 years ago.”

In October, Gannett’s KUSA-TV in Denver dumped anchor Bob Kendrick (left); he’d been with the station since 2003. The month before, WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C., didn’t renew anchor Todd McDermott‘s contract; he was reportedly paid at least $500,000 a year.

Has your GCI station dropped a pricey anchor? Please post replies in the comments section, below. E-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

KUSA-TV anchor out; more on-air talent at risk

October 29, 2008

The 23 TV stations (or is it now 22?) in the broadcasting division aren’t immune to this week’s job reductions. In what a reader says will be the first in a wave of news anchors getting the boot, Denver’s KUSA-TV just dumped Bob Kendrick (left); he’s been with the station since 2003.

“He’s the first in a few that will be rightsized in the next few weeks,” a reader says. “Now, he wasn’t outright fired, but he was told his contract would not be renewed. This sucks for Bob, since he’s a talented newsman, and well-liked in the newsroom. When we signed him five years ago, he had an offer from MSNBC, but took Denver because of the quality of life over New Jersey.”

My reader continues: “This is going to be happening across Gannett TV this week. Last May, the broadcast TV scumbags made a tour across the U.S., and called for ‘focus groups’ to watch the talent at each station. They gave a bullshit reason for doing it, but even then we knew it was to cull the herd. Call in your other broadcast informers – it’s going to be a lousy week for TV anchors!”

Earlier: WUSA-TV saves $500,000 with one-anchor desk

WUSA-TV extends record — for highest turnover!

September 22, 2008

Gannett’s flagship TV station abruptly appointed yet another news director last week — the latest in a string of six general managers and eight news directors since 1996 at the CBS affiliate, a reader tells me. “I suspect that is the national record,” the reader says.

In a memo on Thursday, General Manager Allan Horlick told staff: “It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce that Lane Michaelsen has joined WUSA-TV as vice president/Information Center. Lane’s journalistic credentials and successful career track record speak for themselves, and I know you will all join me in welcoming Lane to his new position.”

In fact, Michaelsen’s credentials don’t speak for themselves, given his predecessor’s mysterious exit, my reader says: “Big questions surround the overnight departure of Mike Ward last Monday. Ward reportedly quarreled with General Manager Allan Horlick over a restructuring of the newsroom that included the firing of an anchor as well as other changes.”

My reader’s note continues: “Lane has served as a Gannett news director in the past. Credited with improving ratings at both Little Rock and Tampa. Though in both cases cutbacks at other stations as well as new and successful syndicated shows (one that replaced a newscast in Tampa) must be taken into account. Most recently, it was Michaelson who traveled the country instructing newspaper reporters in the art of videography. He is a proponent of ‘one-man-band’ journalism, where one person does it all.

“Since almost every move at WUSA and every manager at WUSA has been continually second-guessed by those in McLean, Va., it makes sense that the second-guessers are now running the place. Michaelson insisted the decision to take the quickly vacated WUSA job was his alone. Most guess it was part of a corporate downsize and that Ward was the odd man out.”

D.C., Tampa, Little Rock staffers: What more do you know? 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: recent screenshot of WUSA’s homepage]

Documents: GCI eliminating 275 finance jobs; Asheville, WUSA-TV among first 11 taking hit

September 19, 2008

The company will eliminate the accounting and other jobs as part of the previously disclosed creation of two national shared service centers in Springfield, Mo., and Indianapolis, according to internal documents I’ve just obtained.

The documents were provided by a Gannett Blog reader who requested anonymity. They describe in detail the timetable and scale of the plan to consolidate finance work at newspapers and TV stations in a bid to cut costs as Gannett wrestles with declining revenue and profits. Previously published reports gave only a broad outline of the project.

The plan calls for a combined 11 papers and TV stations to be used as pilot sites starting last month, the documents show, with completion of the entire project expected by March 2009. About 55 jobs will be created at each of the two new centers — for a net job loss of 167 positions, the documents show. Gannett now employs about 46,000 in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

“The termination dates for employees losing their positions are determined by the implementation timetable,” one of the documents shows. “As a site begins migrating their activities to the national shared service centers, employees begin losing their positions.”

The documents say the first 11 pilot sites are the papers at Asheville, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Springfield, Mo.; Mountain Home, Ark.; Jackson, Miss., and Hattiesburg, Miss. The TV stations are WGRZ in Buffalo, N.Y.; WUSA in Washington, D.C.; WTSP in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn., and KTHV in Little Rock.

In sharing the documents, my reader says: “This is top secret. You have to protect my identity! So many people are frustrated because Gannett is keeping this such a secret. People just want an idea of when this transition is going to happen at their units. These people are not stupid — they know there’s a schedule out there somewhere, so why not share it — even if it’s tentative. So, here it is. I’m not sure if Gannett is on schedule or not. Do with it as you feel is appropriate.”

All readers: Can you provide confirmation — and further details? 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 Asheville Citizen-Times, Newseum]

Tip: WUSA-TV saves $500k with one-anchor desk

September 16, 2008

Regarding more budget cuts in Gannett’s 23-station broadcasting division, a reader told me the following about the company’s flagship, in Washington, D.C.: “All of Gannett’s TV stations are under tremendous pressure to cut salaries and jobs. Graphic artists are out — master control techs are out — those tasks are now centralized. Two-person teams of reporters and photojournalists are now replaced by cheap, young people who agree to do both jobs.

“But if you want to see how a station saves some real money, look at the biggest station in the group — with the biggest payroll. WUSA-TV, Gannett’s troubled flagship station in Washington, found a quick and easy way this month to cut another half million bucks from the payroll. Channel 9 did not renew the contract of anchor Todd McDermott. He was not replaced. The 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. newscasts now have only one anchor (all other D.C. stations have anchor teams). Three years ago Todd replaced veteran WUSA anchor Gordon Peterson; it was reported back then that Peterson was making at least a million bucks. Todd was hired at half that salary, but now he’s gone, too.”

Earlier: Layoffs hit the TV division, too

Has your TV station seen big budget cuts? 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.

Is GCI broadcast adopting NBC’s Art House model?

April 25, 2008

In a productivity move, NBC centralized graphics production at a single facility, Art House, in Fort Worth, Texas; it now serves all of the giant network’s TV stations. As other broadcasters take similar steps, a Gannett Blog reader says GCI’s broadcasting division will likely be next.

“Gannett’s version will be online soon — probably after the major stations (KUSA, WUSA, KARE and KSDK) get more familiar with the Avid Interplay/ISIS media management and figure out who to rightsize,” the reader says.

Art House is a familiar consolidation strategy. It mirrors Gannett’s selling papers that can’t be clustered; the consolidation of photo processing at a central toning facility; the shift of customer service to the “Centers for Excellence,” and the centralization of copy editing and design at some Wisconsin papers. Plus, of course, Gannett is offshoring newspaper advertising production jobs, under a contract with 2AdPro of Los Angeles.

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.

Hot Off the Tube: WUSA-TV

April 25, 2008

A screenshot from the website of Gannett’s flagship television station, in Washington, D.C. WUSA at a glance:

  • President & General Manager: Allan Horlick
  • Founded: January 16, 1949
  • Joined Gannett: 1986
  • Employees: 233
  • Weekly audience: 1,895,000 TV households
(Confidential to all Gannett Broadcasting staffers: I’ve done a miserable job writing about you and yours. This is my first attempt at focusing more on Gannett’s crucial 23 TV stations, from WLBZ in Bangor, Maine, to KPNX in Phoenix. But I need ledes!)

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.