More Pink Slips at News-Journal Today?

Filed in National by on June 21, 2011

We are receiving as yet unconfirmed reports that some major News-Journal staffers have received pink slips today, and that Gannett has purged hundreds nationally today as well.

Any word from our ‘inside’ and , hopefully, still employed, sources?

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  1. Jason330 says:

    U.S. newspapers division President Bob Dickey distributed the following memo today:

    CONFIDENTIAL CONTAINS PROPRIETARY BUSINESS INFORMATION – NOT FOR PUBLIC DISSEMINATION

    June 21, 2011
    To: All US Community Publishing employees
    From: Bob Dickey

    As we reach the mid-point of the year, the economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations. We have made continued progress on the many initiatives underway to seek new sources of revenue, build a world class sales force and better serve our customers through watchdog reporting and stronger Sunday newspapers. While we are seeing improved circulation results and audience growth, weakness in the real estate sector, slow job creation and now softer auto ad demand continue to challenge revenue growth in the division.

    National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends. Each of our local media organizations faces its own market conditions, challenges and opportunities. Therefore, it has been up to each local publisher to determine his or her unique course of action.

    While we have sought many ways to reduce costs, I regret to tell you that we will not be able to avoid layoffs. Accordingly, approximately 700 employees within USCP, or about 2% of our company’s overall workforce, will be let go. Publishers will notify people today and we will make every effort to reach everyone by end of day. It is important to note that these decisions do not reflect individual performance and we thank and respect those employees for their work. We will do everything we can to help them and to minimize the impact on our other employees going forward. In an effort to reduce the number of people being let go, there will be furloughs in the coming months but they will be limited only to those on the USCP corporate payroll who make over a certain salary. You will be notified by your publisher if you are among this group.

    These have been extremely difficult and painful decisions to make. I know the impact is felt by everyone within USCP and companywide.

    I appreciate and thank you for all that you do to create and deliver award-winning journalism to our customers and communities every day. Even under these challenging circumstances, I know you will continue to do so and your efforts are greatly appreciated by our customers and colleagues within Gannett.

    As always, please feel free to email me directly at rdickey@gannett.com with any questions you may have.

    Regards,

    Bob

  2. Jason330 says:

    That was from Gannett Blog.

    A commenter added this, but not sure if it is Wilmo DE or Wilmington NC

    Anonymous said…

    In Wilmington: Assistant Managing Editor. Photo Editor. News Clerk.

  3. Jason330 says:

    Today’s cuts came after many newspaper workers took one-week unpaid furloughs during the current quarter. And they come three months after GCI disclosed that Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow got paid $9.4 million last year — twice what he earned in 2009. Other senior executives also got huge raises, company documents show.

  4. donviti says:

    I blame the Unions

  5. cassandra m says:

    Other senior executives also got huge raises, company documents show.

    Would that include the guy in charge of the NJ Editorial Page? Because that is clearly a job they no longer need.

  6. anon says:

    gee, maybe thats why none of the reporters at the News Journal are willing to take on the secret womens prison (at the male prison) in Sussex. Our legislators dont even know it exists and are believing what the powers that be tell them. We have women ready to talk (as long as they arent revealed). These women have counted more than 60 women down there, showering in front of male guards is the least of it. And yet, all the legislators refuse to investigate and are accepting what “anonymous people” are telling them. Legislators are being told there are only 15 women and they are in a work release program or waiting to be transferred to the womens prison in New Castle…a bold faced lie. I thought I had a reporter from the NJ interested in investigating, but since this went down, he/she hasnt returned calls.

  7. nemski says:

    No doubt, dv, the unions are to blame. But I’d add Obamacare, HBO, the homosexuals, and Alex’s Lemonade stands to the list of those at fault.

  8. jason330 says:

    Also, ACORN, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the birth control pill, and Harry Potter.

  9. donviti says:

    No doubt, dv, the unions are to blame. But I’d add Obamacare, HBO, the homosexuals, and Alex’s Lemonade stands to the list of those at fault.

    Dang it, I didn’t even think of Lemondade stands. Must be that indoctrination stuff I had heard about a year ago

    Also, ACORN, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the birth control pill, and Harry Potter.

    Isn’t it twilight now?

  10. donviti says:

    I’d like to blame Vance Jones too and that broad Shirley that tried to take all those poor white farmers land grants

  11. anon says:

    Ron Williams was laid off today.

  12. La Narcolepsia says:

    anon, for real? or are you just teasing us?

  13. anon says:

    I wouldn’t kid about shit like that. He’s gone.

  14. Yes he is. Multiple sources now confirm.

  15. anon says:

    Also laid off were the assistant managing editor; the photo editor; a copy editor; a newsroom clerk; and a staffer from Spark.

    Several other positions in the newsroom, including multiple reporters’ jobs, have simply gone unfilled over the last few months as people have left.

  16. MJ says:

    Hate to see him lose his job, but he wasn’t that good anymore. Maybe he can go work for Celia Cohen.

  17. phil says:

    “yes he is” means what?

    anon is kidding, or Ron williams is gone?

  18. C’mon, Phil. Must I explain what ‘is’ is?

    Williams is gone.

    MJ could be on to something. Maybe Tom and Sherry can pony up (money, you pipples are just so-o-o-o sick) to have their exploits celebrated in print.

  19. The Gannett blog has a link to a spreadsheet. According to the spreadsheet, 12 have gotten axed in Wilmington, DE.

  20. jason330 says:

    This has been the works for a while. Gannett’s “ContentOne” is designed to populate local papers with content from Crystal City, VA. There will be a skeleton crew kept on to try and give the papers a local feel, but it will be pretty thin.

  21. MJ says:

    Actually, the only reason I buy the dead tree edition on Sundays is for the grocery coupons.

  22. jason330 says:

    The spreadsheet gives a current total of 428 sacked. That number is supposed to go up to 700.

  23. jason330 says:

    Nothing on the NJ site BTW. I thought maybe it would get a passing mention.

  24. mediawatch says:

    Might not have had anyone around to write the story.

  25. anon40 says:

    Hate to see him lose his job, but he wasn’t that good anymore. Maybe he can go work for Celia Cohen.–MJ

    Was RW ever “good?”

    RW was an ardent defender of the Gordonberry regime & often terribly misinformed by his “sources” in leg hall & NCC government. He’s been an old blow-hard for the last 20 years. I’m surprised he’s survived this long at the NJ.

    On the upside, perhaps Ron’s stupid idea of a DE State Highway Patrol will die w/ his column. The LAST thing DE needs is yet another segment of the State Police assigned to a specific task with a very narrow focus. I like the idea of cops in schools, but it’s idiotic to tie a given trooper to a given task. Detectives & investigators excluded, of course.

  26. mediawatch says:

    You will never see Williams working for (or with) Cohen.

    Was he ever good? Yes, back in the ’70s, when he was covering the General Assembly. Of course, back in the day, the NJ had one reporter covering the House, one covering the Senate, another covering the governor (all out of the Dover bureau) with Ralph Moyed and Bill Frank in Wilmington digging for stories before the Dover team could nail them down.

    And it didn’t hurt Ron that his father-in-law was Bill Gordy.

    Lately … well, he’d have done a lot better if he had talked to the people he was writing about rather than his know-little “sources.”

  27. anon40 says:

    Thanks, mediawatch. I was ten years old when the ’70s ended & I’m quite sure I wasn’t reading Ron’s column at the time. However I WAS reading Royko in the Philadelphia Daily News…

  28. Dana Garrett says:

    Well, this is a sad story. I hate to see people lose their jobs unless their behavior was particularly egregious. I think that when people of the news media are lost, the public will almost certainly be harmed. I don’t see how the part-time, mostly volunteer class of on-line news & commentary reporters and editors (e.g. bloggers) can, on the whole, provide the time, financial resources, and legal resources to pursue news stories at the depth that a professional class of reporters and editors can. I wish it weren’t that way, but I am afraid it is.

  29. Jason330 says:

    Nothing in today’s Dead Tree Edition about the cuts.

  30. skippertee says:

    In the business section there’s a blurb about company wide cuts due to the usual suspects.

  31. Jason330 says:

    20 at the NJ let go so far according to the Gannett Blog spreadsheet.

  32. Couldn’t agree with you more, Dana. A vibrant press is by far the best check on unfettered corruption and power. The News-Journal has actually been doing quite a good job in this area the past couple of years.

    I don’t know about you, but a lot of what I try to do is to amplify what the best reporters are reporting, to try to explain why it’s important. That’s why I link, link, link. Reporters deserve credit for their work, and should be encouraged by the likes of us.

    There’s no way that we can begin to fill the shoes of full-time reporters, even if and when we ‘break’ a story from time to time.

    I sure as bleep wish that the industry could come up with a business model that increases, rather than eviscerates, top-notch reporting. Blogs like ours demonstrate that there’s a demand, yet the trend is not the industry’s friend.

    Of course, once Gingrich and his ilk pushed through legislation that, in effect, turned newspapers (and TV & radio stations) from essentially public trusts into pawns in corporate shell games controlled by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, what we see today was perhaps inevitable. Call it planned obsolescence.

  33. Geezer says:

    The key to a new business model would be to get rid of the corporate structure that Gannett’s local papers support. Each newspaper is put together for its local audience; the national corporation adds nothing that customers would ever notice. No value added at considerable cost — sound like a business model that would ever work?

  34. Jason330 says:

    Gannett is moving in the opposite direction. More bland national content (that is developed with the demands of large advertisers in mind) and less local reporting.

  35. John Manifold says:

    Former Delaware newsman Rick Edmonds:

    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/business-news/the-biz-blog/136091/gannett-layoffs-are-a-leading-indicator-of-a-permanently-shrinking-newspaper-business/

    Metro papers like the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News that have adopted a high price/high quality circulation strategy know readers will not be satisfied with skinny papers that have little worth reading. … [Gannett's strategy] risks accelerating losses of print circulation and, in turn, print ad revenues, still significant.

  36. Geezer says:

    Thanks, John.

    The graf after the one you quoted contains this: “Newspapers, though still at least modestly profitable, are much smaller businesses than they were five years ago. Probably for good.”

    “Modestly profitable” means that, once the corporate shackles are shed, those newspapers could serve their local communities again, instead of a giant profit-sucking vampire corporate structure.

  37. anon says:

    Make no mistake: The News Journal is not losing money. It is still making money. After all, it’s still the paper of record, sort of, the only way you can be sure to reach most of Delaware. It’s just not enough of a profit for the greedheads.

  38. Frieda Berryhill says:

    My coffee in the morning would test like water without the News Journal …At my age the obit page gets read first. Now where else could I get THAT news.
    Good luck to all of you at the Journal. After 50 years I would miss you terribly. I used to buy both papers when you had a Morning and Evening Journal Most folks probably don’t even remember that.

    Hey, thanks for the spell check here LOL

  39. Gannett is doing the opposite of what it needs to do. They need to hire MORE reporters and scour for more interesting human interest stories. they need to hire BETTER web development, they need a damn app for smartphones. Wouldn’t you love to get TNJ on your IPhone for a monthly subscription fee?

    They’re doing it wrong.

  40. Have you seen the want ads for News Journal Social Commerce hires? They are starting what seems to be a separate web site for some kind of weird competition-prize-QVC-like thingie? Who knows.

    I can only imagine that all online marketing efforts should be tied to their news site and seek to drive business and advertizing there. ??

    I don’t see any reporters being laid off. There’s at least one new reporter on board whose name starts with an X. What is hurting them are the forced revolving ‘lay offs’ that keep good beat reports off of their beats and have demoralized good employees.

    I am personally glad to hear that Williams has written his last column – will he reappear like John Taylor in some think-tanky-wonky job for the special interests he serves?

    Rhonda Graham is a clear-headed and smart lady who will hopefully more regularly replace his muddled idiocy.

  41. mediawatch says:

    Nancy,
    You’re seeing a lot of new bylines because they’re called “summer interns.” Those names will disappear on or before Aug. 15.
    They cut the reporting staff to the bone in the previous rounds of layoffs.
    They couldn’t take much more out of the newsroom — but they did take out a woman with 40 years of service as a news assistant who made life easier for countless editors and reporters. She took care of the little stuff — the briefs, the calendar items, the little notices that we need in our daily paper when we’re finished reading about politics, crime, big business and schools.
    And they took out an assistant managing editor (the managing editor was already gone), wiping out two levels of management between the top guy (Ledford) and the folks who have the responsibility of putting out the paper seven days a week.
    It’s a shame, but they still haven’t figured out that they abandoned their core mission — and what they do best — delivering Delaware’s real news day after day, and decided instead to create a magazine that mimics Delaware Today, a tabloid that outdoes Out & About in pandering to bar-hoppers, and specialty pubs about pets and toddlers.
    Imagine how much stronger journalism in Delaware would be had those resources been dedicated to producing real news.

  42. Geezer says:

    The AME was a real workhorse, too.

    The decision you reference, MW, was not made at the Delaware or even the regional level. Gannett’s problem is that it grew accustomed to operating profit margins that were never really sustainable.

    As far back as the 1980s, during Gannett’s six or seven years of constant growth every fiscal quarter, the hollowing out had already begun. It was unnoticeable at first; Gannett made a specialty of buying properties like Wilmington, where a single integrated staff was putting out both morning and evening papers. Rather than kill off one paper immediately, they did it slowly, creating the illusion of growth. In truth, profits were growing but revenue wasn’t, except for the escalation in ad rates.

    Earlier, I asked what value Gannett management adds to its print properties. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, what it added was the misguided idea that if newspapers emulated TV news, they would be more popular. Ignoring the fact that most people complained that TV news stories were too short to impart understanding and consisted of too much fluff, they chose to shorten stories and cover fluffier “news.” Then came a top-down initiative called “News 2000,” which consisted of 10 building blocks in a pyramid shape. I think it was supposed to illustrate the 10 points of good journalism, but it mainly reminded employees that they were slaves engaged in constructing a massive monument to outsized egos. All the while, journalistic efforts were funneled into multi-story packages designed to impress contest judges but indigestible for readers. It suited the executive editors, none of whom since the 80s has had any background in Delaware.

    In short, the devotion to quality Delaware journalism was never in long supply. Ledford is more devoted to it than most of his predecessors. I suppose that with no AMEs left, he can indulge his penchant for micromanagement to his heart’s content.

  43. Frieda Berryhill says:

    Nancy….thanks for a good laugh here,
    I never heard of a
    think-tanky-wonky job
    Where can I get one like that ?

  44. DEIdealist says:

    Just as we’re seeing blogs like Huffington Post, Politico, and others increase in influence on the national level, so too are sites like this one growing more and more popular on the state and local levels as newspaper readerships decline.

  45. anon says:

    More layoffs are coming, and more errors will creep into the paper, when Gannett shifts to its “design hub” plan, which will have most East Coast papers designed in Asbury Park, N.J., and shipped back electronically to be printed locally. Deadlines will move up, which means fewer breaking news stories and fewer late sports scores. And when there’s a power outage or Internet problem in Asbury, there will be no newspaper here in Delaware.

    I wonder if they will let Ron have a farewell column.