Friday, June 24, 2011

The rape & pillage of Gannett continues by its own executives

While the 14 employees laid off at the Tennessean in the latest round of Gannett Corporation's "downsizing" did not approach the bloodbaths in Indianapolis and Louisville, it is no less an indicator that the reliability of traditional sources of news is also shriveling. The layoffs are the latest zulu in a war of attrition in the media connected to how they do and don't report news and to how they stage their influence with power and wealth. Those laid off are pawns who were FUBAR from the start.

Here's part of the reason Tennessean employees never stood a chance:

[Gannett] paid Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow $9.4 million last year -- double his 2009 pay -- as the company laid off hundreds of workers and imposed wage cuts on thousands more. His pay included a $1.75 million all-cash bonus.

Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore got $8.2 million, more than double her $4.0 million in 2009, according to the new shareholders proxy report filed this afternoon with federal regulators. Her pay included a cash bonus of $1.25 million.

The bonuses were awarded partly on the basis of cost-cutting that included layoffs, unpaid furloughs and other austerity measures, the report says: "The company achieved substantial expense reductions through a variety of efforts, including continued centralization and consolidation efforts and salary freezes, positioning the company for growth as economic conditions improve."

The proxy report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed pay for GCI's six highest earners. The other four were:

  • Chief Financal Officer Paul Saleh: $2.9 million; includes a $225,000 bonus, after joining GCI last November.
  • U.S. newspapers president Bob Dickey: $3.4 million, including $600,000 bonus. (His total 2009 pay: $1.9 million.)
  • USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke: $2.5 million, including $375,000 bonus. (Total 2009: $1.9 million.)
  • Broadcasting President Dave Lougee: $2.2 million, including $450,000 bonus. (Total 2009: $1.3 million.)....

Dubow's and Martore's pay last year is the most they've earned in a single year, a review of previous proxy reports shows.

Their seven-figure paychecks came despite a poor performance for the company's stock.

This is all consistent with untrammeled capitalism in America. I'd say the latest round of lay-offs are designed to further windshield executive pay.

What kind of drag are executive salaries on the news corporation? This kind:

Let’s guess that Gannett’s cost-per-employee it’s laying off is about $75,000 each. That’s $53 million. So Dubow & Co. could fund the salaries of 40 percent of the fired by becoming lowlier millionaires.

I would think the sheer brutality of the corporate slough would put to bed any pretension about newspapers shining lights into dark corners and giving voice to the voiceless. Matt Pulle sings the elegy:

The Tennessean, as we know it, is dead. If that sounds a tad melodramatic, let me explain: The days when our daily deserved, at the very least, your intermittent attention over coffee because for all its gaping flaws it was the dominant news source in town, well, I think those days are gone. Who knows what happens next? Maybe 10 years from now the paper will consist of little more than recipes and slide shows of Jason Aldean.

Tuesday’s news that Gannett was giving up on journalism and slashing 20 positions from the Tennessean’s newsroom as a part of a broader company-wide purge signals a new era for the paper, one of flickering relevance and frivolous content, one where you can go a week without picking up the paper and not skip a beat.

It may be dead, but the deathwatch we've been on has been slow and arduous.


  1. "...signals a new era for the paper, one of flickering relevance and frivolous content, one where you can go a week without picking up the paper and not skip a beat."

    That's a new era?

  2. The Tennesean is an absolute joke.

    Who cares?

  3. xj96jeep took my comment

  4. Gannett has long been ruining newspapers. The concept of public service first with profit motive a close second disappeared when the Wall Street took charge of newspapers and media in general.