Let’s build a list: Other ways to give away $40,000

December 13, 2008

CEO Craig Dubow earmarked $40,000 in Gannett Foundation grants for endowed scholarships at North Carolina’s Western Carolina University. While we wait to find out where that money went, let’s think of other ways Dubow might have supported charity. I’ll go first.

The foundation’s Madelyn P. Jennings Scholarship Program offers one-time, $3,000 college scholarships to qualified children of Gannett employees. Why not double the award, to $6,000?

In 2007, the foundation awarded a grand total of just $42,250 in Jennings scholarships, public documents show. Add the $40,000 that went to Western Carolina, and foundation officials could have nearly doubled the awards to Gannett families.

Just think: Current and former executives have now directed more than $1 million in foundation money — often to pet charities, far from communities where Gannett owns newspapers or TV stations. Think of all the good the foundation could have done for Gannett families had it spent that $1 million on Jennings scholarships instead.

Now, your suggestions. Please post them in the comments section, below. E-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar.

Things people say when I ask them to join my posse

December 13, 2008
“I don’t know if it’s safe to be in your network.”

— a former colleague, accepting my LinkedIn request that he join my network of friends and associates. He was kidding. (I think.)

On that WSJ story, credit where credit is due

December 13, 2008

The lion’s share really goes to Gannett Blog‘s readers, who supplied all the inside dope, in comments and e-mail. As the rewrite guy, I just pulled all the information into a post that caught a reporter’s attention. Whether you call it crowdsourcing, or kibitzing — it works. It’s good to see credit in big national media like The Wall Street Journal, because it amplifies your voices well beyond this blog. (Plus, it makes a fun surprise for mom. Hi, Raine!)

What I’m doing right now

December 13, 2008

8:05 p.m., San Francisco time: Posting a photo of the blueberry muffins Sparky baked for dinner.

Friday | Dec. 12 | Got news, or a question?

December 12, 2008

Can’t find the right spot for your comment? Post it here, in this open forum. Real Time Comments: parked here, 24/7. (Earlier editions.)

Reports: Detroit dailies to curtail home delivery

December 12, 2008

Here comes The New York Times, now reporting: “The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are planning to stop home delivery most days of the week and print a pared-down version of their papers for newsstands on those days, according to people briefed on the plans. They will be the first major dailies in the country to take such drastic steps.”

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Gannett hasn’t made a final decision. The paper cites a source it did not identify. “But the leading scenario set to be unveiled Tuesday would call for the Free Press and its partner paper, The Detroit News, to end home delivery on all but the most lucrative days — Thursday, Friday and Sunday,” the WSJ says. “On the other days, the publisher would sell single copies of an abbreviated print edition at newsstands and direct readers to the papers’ expanded digital editions.”

The changes are likely to result in significant job cuts, the story says. “Because the Detroit papers will continue to publish daily electronic versions, the cuts are expected to come mostly, if not entirely, from outside the newsroom, according to sources,” the WSJ says.

Money trail: N.C. school officials decline to reveal whereabouts of $40K in Gannett Foundation gifts

December 12, 2008

Gannett CEO Craig Dubow recommended the company’s charitable arm give the money in 2007 and 2006 to Western Carolina University for endowed scholarships, public documents show.

Now, nearly two weeks after I first raised questions about the $40,000’s disposition, a senior WCU official has acknowledged that the public school doesn’t have a scholarship fund named for the Gannett Foundation. Clifton Metcalf, the university’s vice chancellor for advancement and external affairs, also concedes that WCU offers student scholarships named for Dubow and his wife Denise. In a telephone interview, however, he refused to say whether the foundation money went to the fund honoring the Dubows, citing university policy on privacy of financial records.

The foundation’s public income tax returns show that the gifts — two $20,000 grants — were given for endowed scholarships at WCU. (The school, in Cullowhee, N.C. , has 9,000 students, and is part of the taxpayer-supported University of North Carolina system.)

I examined the foundation’s newly filed 2007 return late last month under federal open-records laws. Last year’s grant came while Dubow urged fiscal discipline and shared sacrifice, as revenue and earnings began a steep slide, prompting layoffs that have now cost employees thousands of jobs.

Elite executive benefit
Dubow (left) earmarked the $40,000 under a special perquisite for select Gannett executives. Under that perq, the foundation imposes fewer restrictions on donation requests from top management compared to requests from average employees and the public. For example, rules applying to regular employees and the public say: “In any public acknowledgment or signage, be sure to note that this grant is from the Gannett Foundation.”

Last year’s WCU grant was among $320,000 awarded to charities recommended by Dubow and 15 current and former Gannett executives — including some of the highest-paid brass, my analysis of the tax return found. The 2007 grants were on top of $724,000 the foundation gave in 2004-2006 to charities favored by executives.

Now, to reiterate what I wrote before, the Dubows may very well have established and paid for their scholarship fund with their own money. In fact, the 2007 tax return shows the Gannett Foundation matched an unidentified employee’s $10,000 gift under the GannettMatch benefit. That could have been Dubow, ponying up for his own fund.

So, where’s the $40,000?
Trying to answer that question, I e-mailed the foundation’s executive director, Tara Connell (she’s also Gannett’s official spokeswoman) on Wednesday. I posed these questions:

  • Did the $40,000 go to the Craig and Denise Dubow scholarship fund, which is listed on this WCU page?
  • If not, which endowed scholarship fund or funds received the $40,000?
  • How did these $40,000 in grants advance the interests of Gannett’s shareholders?

This is the second time I’ve asked Connell these three questions; the first time was Nov. 29. As I post this, I have not received any replies.

Earlier: Documents reveal platinum benefit for top executives. Plus: other noteworthy exec grants, and: Gannett sells Indiana newspaper to fund foundation projects.

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.

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.

The Detroit posts have been brought to you by . . .

December 12, 2008

. . . crowdsourcing readers, and your frenimies over in the secret world of Gannett Blog.

Thursday | Dec. 11 | Got news, or a question?

December 11, 2008

Can’t find the right spot for your comment? Post it here, in this open forum. Real Time Comments: parked here, 24/7. (Earlier editions.)