Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Gannett Follows Through on Pink Slips

Send by email
Friday, July 10, 2009

In May, Gannett closed the Tucson Citizen as a print publication. In Gannett's latest cutbacks, publishers said they were determined to withstand the recession. Above, Associated Press reporter Art Rotstein, left, and Renee Horton ask Gannett spokeswoman Kate Marymount about the Tucson shutdown. (Credit: P.K. Weis/Tucson Citizen) 

Local Editors Say They Tried to Protect Newsrooms

Employees at Gannett Co. properties got pink slips on Thursday as the nation's largest newspaper company - and one considered an industry leader on diversity issues - followed through on an announcement that it would cut 1,400 jobs, about 3 percent of the work force, to cope with a prolonged slump in advertising revenue.

The cuts affected the company's community newspaper division, which does not include USA Today or the Detroit Free Press, which have had their own staff cutbacks.

"Got laid off today. Just exhausted," Karyn Collins of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Park Press said on her Facebook page.

Collins, a staff writer and style editor, told Journal-isms, "I truly loved what I was doing . . . I'm hoping to stay in journalism but I'll be exploring all my possibilities."

Some of the other journalists of color affected included, according to colleagues and Web sites following the cuts:

Ralph Zubiate, online news reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix; Bobby Boos, content/platform coordinator at the Republic; Theresa Cano, online platform manager at the Republic; Marcia Hammond, Republic copy editor for features; Randy Tucker, assistant business editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer; Tabari McCoy and Terron Austin of the Enquirer's now-defunct CinWeekly staff; Steven Sharp, page designer at the Enquirer; Jacqueline Sergeant, managing editor of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press' 40¬?74¬? magazine; Jacqueline Thomas, assistant managing editor for features at the Indianapolis Star; John Hawn, features copy desk chief at the Star; Rasheed Fazle of the Star's online operation; Marisol Gouveia of the Star's features copy desk; Berlinda Bruce, an online editor at the Greenville (S.C.) News, and Andy Alderette, editing and presentation editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"Hawn ran a seamless copy desk and is an extremely hard and proficient worker. Marisol had a future there, until this," Indianapolis blogger Ruth Holladay wrote on Thursday.

"Two sad days completed at 5 p.m.," Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan said on his Facebook page. "Total layoffs 101. Pray for those who lost jobs. Pray for those who remain to do even more work. Pray the economy turns around. We have [had] enough of this. We want to focus on stories."

The Enquirer's publisher, Margaret Buchanan, posted a notice on the paper's Web site that 101 jobs were eliminated. It was a message directed foremost at advertisers.

"Naysayers have predicted our demise many times over those years, but today The Enquirer reaches 64 percent of local adults every week, or 803,800. Enquirer Media does not have an audience problem. Nearly two-thirds of the market will read our newspaper this week. It's the economy," she said.

Not all of the papers were forthcoming in informing readers about the cutbacks.

Among those that were: the Des Moines Register, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Indianapolis Star, the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press, the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal and the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

"No reporters lost their jobs," the Lansing State Journal assured readers in a story by Melissa Domsic.

In Des Moines, Laura Hollingsworth, president and publisher of the Register, said, "Our goal was to minimize impact on our reporting staff and we achieved that. We remain invested in and committed to providing the depth and quality of news and information Iowans have always depended upon. We will serve Iowans now and for years to come as a multimedia information company."

'While these expense reductions are distressing, I assure you that we've worked hard to preserve as many of our employees as we can,' said Clarion-Ledger President and Publisher Larry K. Whitaker.

Indianapolis editor Dennis Ryerson "said today that the cuts reduced newsroom management by about one-fourth. He said newsroom functions would be re-evaluated in coming weeks. 'We recognize that we can't continue to do all that we've been doing,' he said. 'There will be strategic changes. There will be newsroom changes.'" Ryerson said, according to the Star story.

"He added that the newsroom would continue to focus on certain core areas, including watchdog journalism, economic and business reporting and sports reporting."

The Courier-Post told readers that Gannett "has eliminated 106 full-time and 19 part-time positions at its six newspapers in New Jersey due to the continued impact of the recession."

"Local news reporting and watchdog journalism remain priorities for The News-Press and news-press.com," said Vice President and Executive Editor Terry Eberle of the Fort Myers, Fla., operation, which eliminated 30 jobs, in that paper's story.

At the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., which eliminated 64 positions, Publisher Ali Zoibi "said efforts were made to minimize the impact on 'journalists who cover our community and the advertising representatives who are helping us grow revenue.''

Gannett reported in September that its newsrooms - now "local information centers" - "have held the line on percentage of staffing for people of color, and that the percentage of managers has slightly increased. The 19.5 percent in staffing and 20.8 percent in managers of color have kept the numbers at record highs."

. . . Life After Layoff Takes Off for Ex-Herald Editor

Michael Ottey, laid off in March as assistant world editor at the Miami Herald as the paper cut 19 percent of its workforce, is leaving the StatesMichael Ottey for Europe. 

"Last month, I launched a public relations venture - Ottey Media International - just to sort of test the waters, and it has taken off faster than I anticipated," Ottey, 50, wrote to Journal-isms on Friday.

"I am happy to report that at the end of the month I will be leaving for Europe, where I will work with my first big client, an emerging software company, to help shape its message to an American market. I will also provide its staff with training on how to deal with media. I will be largely based in The Netherlands, but will travel across the continent for at least the next two months.

"I look forward to the challenge, and while I will give this job my all, I am also being honest with myself: once I get back to the United States I will decide if PR is what I'd like to pursue in earnest. PR is a tough, highly competitive business, and it's been made even tougher in a recession. I am still weighing other options and mulling over new opportunities - in and out of journalism - that have been presented to me.

"For more on OMI, go to http://www.facebook.com/l/;www.otteymedia.com or e-mail mottey (at) otteymedia.com."

Captive Journalist Says She Broke N. Korean Law

"One of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea and accused of illegally entering the country has told her sister they broke the law, prompting the United States on Thursday to urge Pyongyang to grant them amnesty," Eric Walsh reported for Reuters on Thursday. 

"Laura Ling and Euna Lee of the U.S. media group Current TV, were arrested in March near the China-North Korea border while reporting on the trafficking of women. They were convicted of 'great crimes' in June and sentenced to 12 years hard labor.

"Lisa Ling told Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA that her sister Laura told her by telephone on Tuesday that she and colleague Lee had violated North Korean law and needed help from the U.S. government to secure amnesty.

"She quoted Laura Ling as saying: 'We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help. We need our government's help to try and get amnesty because that really is our only hope.'

"Soon afterward, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly called on North Korea to release them on grounds of 'amnesty,' implying for the first time that the U.S. government believes they committed an offense.

"Previously, the State Department had called for their release on 'humanitarian' grounds and had not acknowledged the possibility of any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Friday that a scholar who visited the North says North Korea has delayed sending the two journalists to a prison labor camp in a possible attempt to seek talks with Washington on their release.

Ling and Lee, are being kept at guest house in the North Korean capital and have not yet been sent to a prison camp as called for in their sentences, University of Georgia political scientist Han Park told South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, the AP said.

An editor told cartoonist Darrin Bell, speaking of this "Candorville" strip, "I can't let you do this." Bell wrote, "It had all the urgency of an intervention." He subbed the last two panels.

Quick Save From Editor on Michael Jackson Strip

"'Candorville' cartoonist Darrin Bell has revealed on his blog an alteration to his July 7 cartoon that was requested by the Washington Post Writers Group. The subject? Who else? Michael Jackson," Editor & Publisher reported on Thursday.

"The strip was part of a running series in which the deceased King of Pop visits the dreams of the strip's main character, Lemont Brown. As Lemont and Jackson wait to board a train, the subject of Jackson's bizarre personal life, including the accusations of child molestation brought against the singer in 1993 and 2005 comes up.

"The original strip has Jackson saying to Lemont, after Lemont describes the effect Jackson's music had on his life, 'I sure did touch people, didn't I?' Lemont responds, 'So you admit it?' The final panel depicts Jackson and Lemont saying 'What?' to each other.

"'My editor [Amy Lago of the Washington Post Writers Group] sent me an e-mail a few days before [the] strip was going to press saying "I can’t let you do this,"' Bell wrote on his blog, candorville.com. "It had all the urgency of an intervention. My editor was refusing to let me OD. She was pouring my vodka down the drain.'

"Bell rewrote the last two panels for publication. The third panel of the published version features Lemont saying, 'What the heck. You entertained me so I'm willing to overlook your stupid decisions, your possible depravity, and your embarasing naivete. In the last panel Jackson responds, 'Thanks,' with Lemont saying 'It's the least I could do.'

"'I had to come up with something that would fit the existing art and I had about ten minutes in which to do that,' Bell wrote on his blog. 'It still works. In fact, all I did was replace the offending last two panels with an earlier draft of the strip, so this is still something I wanted to say.'"

Paris-Michael Katherine ackson, left, Prince Michael Jackson I and Prince Michael Jackson II on stage during the memorial service for Michael Jackson at Staples Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, (Pool photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press)

NABJ Leader Blasts Story on Jackson's "White" Kids

"The writer of the story on abc.com titled, 'How Will Michael Jackson's 'White' Kids Get Along With Black Family?' is in dire need of a history lesson on African-Americans," Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in a statement on Thursday. 

"Anyone with 20/20 vision can see the variety of shades that encompass African-American people. It's a false issue considering the growing number of bi-racial and blended families here in the United States and it — by its title — suggests race somehow is more important than being surrounded by a loving and supportive family.

"The article includes this text: 'But, living with their black relatives may require some adjustments.' Are you serious? By all accounts these children have known no one else but their black relatives during their young lives.

"If this article is the result of the competition to get more Michael Jackson story angles — all the time — the editorial staff at abc.com need to take a step back and reconsider the message they are sending. Headlines create perception and perception can become reality, and the perception of NABJ is abc.com is out of touch and uninformed."

Filing From Ghana's "Hotel Obama"

NBC digital correspondent Mara Schiavocampo filed this report on the new "Hotel Obama" in Accra, Ghana, in preparation for President Obama's visit there. Other journalists of color on Obama's trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana have been writers Michael Fletcher and Robin Givhan of the Washington Post, Post photographer Marvin Joseph; correspondent Suzanne Malveaux of CNN, correspondent Ron Claiborne of ABC and NBC producer Athena Jones. EbonyJet.com announced it will be live blogging the trip in association with the Africa Channel. CNN said anchor Anderson Cooper will interview Obama and join him on a visit to Cape Coast Castle, the site of a dungeon where slaves were held before they were shipped west, and that Cooper's coverage will be joined by Dr. Sanjay Gupta from Haiti, where Gupta will be reporting on the slave trade.

AP to Try Reader Feedback on Sotomayor Coverage

"As news organizations roll out their coverage plans for Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings next week, some interesting innovation is coming from a player some critics have labeled stodgy: the Associated Press," Ian Crouch wrote this week on Niemanlab.org

"AP is promising readers insider access to the toughest ticket in Washington with the Twitter feed AP_Courtside. Some tweets will respond to reader questions and suggestions, while others will link to AP blog coverage on Yahoo News or to the news agency’s traditional content.

"Perhaps most noteworthy, however, is AP’s promise that readers will 'direct our coverage.' Though the Yahoo blog won’t be up until hearings begin next Monday, the Twitter feed is already soliciting reader feedback . . ."

"This all stems back to a larger project that we’re working on to open up our coverage and engage users,” said Jim Kennedy, AP's vice president and director of strategic planning. “We are looking to do things beyond writing stories, taking pictures, and shooting video. This big question here is: can a news agency have these kind of interactions even as it supplies content to our customers?”

Paper Couldn't Pull Section With McNair Interview

"It is every newspaper's nightmare when it comes to pre-printed sections — and ads. You print the section days ahead of time. But in between the production date and distribution date, something changes a story," Joe Strupp wrote Thursday for Editor & Publisher.

"That happened with The Tennessean in Nashville. The paper's weekly Wednesday zoned section — "A.M." — is printed on Fridays, with some of the copies for non-subscribers packaged with ads and shipped out Saturday.

"One of the zoned weeklies, 'Davidson A.M.' for the paper's Davidson County area, carried a front-page story on former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair opening the first of several restaurants. The 'Gridiron9' eateries bear the number he used in his playing days. It even included an interview with McNair in which he said he hoped to open more of them.

"But when word spread of McNair's tragic death in a murder-suicide Saturday, Tennessean officials had a dilemma. Some 134,000 copies for non-subscribers had already been package[d] with ads and shipped for distribution. . . ."

Meanwhile, columnists weighed in on the circumstances of McNair's death and other recent publicized sex scandals. On July 4, the married McNair was shot to death in his sleep by his 20-year-old girlfriend, who then shot herself in the head, according to authorities.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact journal-isms-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and tell us who you are.

Special thanks to The McCormick Foundation for its generous support of the Journal-isms column.

 

Comments

The Obama hoax

Newspapers are in the tank because journalist are not asking the tough questions and they are in the tank with the ventriloquists who are controlling them. I am still waiting for the vetting proces of Obama to take place. Instead a read an op ed piece in yesterday's paper reminding me of the remark Chris Matthews made about tingling up his leg. Why don't you pretend journalists investigate and find out why Obama is spending almost a million dollars on legal fees hiding the following facts about himself: His kindergarten records, his Punahou school records, his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles, his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, his passport, his medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records, and his adoption records. If Obama is a legitimate american president, then you could be the first to write a real biography about him. If you want to be a true newspaper then you will forge ahead. Do we need to waite for the National Inquirer to shame you into revealing the news......remember John Edwards?.....It is my contention Obama is a fraud.....prove me and millions of silent americans wrong.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.