Gannett watchdog will shut down his blog

Gannett watchdog Jim Hopkins has spent a lot of time and money running his blog dedicated to keeping a close eye on, and usually criticizing, the company. Not anymore. Come Oct. 1, Hopkins said on an entry on his blog on Tuesday, he will “stop active management.”Here are the relevant excerpts:

I had planned to post this on July 1, the start of the third quarter. In fairness to my more than 10,000 monthly readers, however, I’m moving up the publication date. …

My plan did not, however, anticipate the rate at which readers would post comments: I am now anticipating at least 50,000 over the next 12 months. For both news-gathering and ethical reasons, I am committed to reading them all.

That would be OK, except the tone of comments shifted in December — for entirely understandable reasons. Many of Gannett’s 41,500 employees came to understand what was taking place in the company. They are now fear-filled, desperate, angry — even suicidal, on occasion. Blogging can be very stressful, of course, Now, I’m finding it may be psychologically harmful, too.

This is not about Corporate winning or losing; this is about adhering to my plan. …

I intend to lock the blog in place, with all content and comments visible. No more comments will be allowed, nor removed. Basically, Gannett Blog will become a point-in-time snapshot of a Fortune 500 company in transition. I hope to find a permanent custodian for the content, in lieu of Google’s Blogger division.

Help a starving business reporter

They moved your markets. Now you can move their bank accounts.

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers, or SABEW, is hosting an event next week at Columbia University’s School of Journalism to help business journalists who have lost their jobs or found themselves in other tough straits because of the biggest story on every business reporter’s beat — the financial crisis. Here is the text of the invitation:

Former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor and ProPublica founder Paul Steiger, and New York Times Business Editor Larry Ingrassia invite you to join them at an event to benefit business journalism and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

SABEW needs your support to help displaced business journalists and train business journalists for the digital age and new media landscape. Among SABEW’s programs are a revamped job listing site, a market for freelancers to find work, a mentor program for displaced journalists, teletraining on multimedia and business journalism topics, scholarships to attend conferences and training, and a revamp of our website to provide more robust services to members.

Dow Jones cuts back on benefits

The Wall Street Journal has been making plenty of hay about its rising circulation and the growing number of people online who are using the site, but parent company News Corp is cutting costs as the whole media business suffers from the recession. To that end, here is Dow Jones Chief Executive Les Hinton’s Monday memo on some benefits cutbacks that the company is instituting.

Dear colleagues:

Many companies are resetting their benefits in reaction to the economic challenges of the moment. Dow Jones has felt these same challenges and our business is far from immune to them. Unlike other media companies we have been able to avoid making changes driven by short-term necessity.

What we have done over the past year-and-a-half is to undertake a deep review of our entire benefits program. That review is complete, and today we are announcing a major change in our retirement programs. We are modernizing our approach to retirement savings and aligning our program with the market, News Corp. and our view of the future for Dow Jones.

The Wall Street Journal and the death of print

Now you know that the uncertain future about the survival of newspapers is news: The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page features an editorial castigating Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and others for supporting the notion of federal government aid or bailouts for the struggling business.

The Journal gives us a recap of some ideas that have been seeping their way into the public consciousness in recent months, including:

    Maryland Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s bill to allow newspapers to exist as non-profits. Sen. Kerry’s endorsement of a proposal by Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’s and Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s to let newspapers offset their net operating losses over five years instead of two. Sen. Kerry’s endorsement of some flexibility under the anti-trust laws, presumably in a way that would allow U.S. newspaper publishers to dream up some ways to force people to pay for the news they read online in a model similar to how the cable TV providers work with the people who provide the shows. We note that the editorial didn’t even cover Washington State’s tax break for newspapers, not to mention Connecticut legislators’ recent willingness to help rustle up buyers for some former Journal Register papers. But you might as well add them to the list of ideas.

The Journal’s answer? No! No! No! On what grounds?

from UK News:

Nostalgia makes a comeback in TV ad-land

The recession is bringing back the strangest characters.  Rising from their graves like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead are people we thought had been buried decades ago.

The Milky Bar Kid is one, Persil mum is another and, inevitably, the Hovis bread delivery boy struggling up his cobbled hill while the brass band plays on.

What next? Bing Crosby singing about Shell perhaps or the famous Smash-peddling Martians who thought it was so funny that Earthlings bothered to peel potatoes?

from UK News:

The London Evening Standard says “sorry”

Bleary-eyed commuters passing through Clapham Junction station in southwest London on their way to work this week were among the first to witness the opening blast of one of the most remarkable advertising campaigns to have hit the capital in recent years.******No, not Flu Man sneezing his germs all over us but a short message in huge black lettering that simply says: "Sorry for losing touch."******The only clue as to who is so publicly donning the hair shirt is a small drawing tucked away in the corner of the hoarding featuring the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus, the  logo of London's only paid-for evening paper, the Evening Standard.******The message is an attempt by the paper to reconnect with its readership now that it is under new ownership and will appear in the next few weeks on the side of buses and on the underground. Other slogans will say Sorry for being negative, for taking you for granted, for being complacent and for being predictable.******Not the hardest word at all then, though one that seems likely to cause considerable offence to the paper's former editor Veronica Wadley.******The campaign comes in response to market research, commissioned by the newspaper’s new editor, Geordie Greig, which found that Londoners felt the paper was too negative and did not meet the capital’s needs.******Russian tycoon and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev bought the loss-making Standard from the Daily Mail and General Trust in February and media analysts have long predicted it will become less right-wing in its political stance. Some expect it to go more upmarket in an attempt to distance itself from the free sheets which have cut so badly into its circulation.******But few can have predicted such a public confessional as this. The "Sorry" campaign will run for three weeks in the run-up to the 181-year-old paper's relaunch later this month.******After a year in which so many have been clamouring for a "sorry" from miscreants ranging from bankers to MPs and even debt-laden prime ministers, Londoners may actually soon find themselves becoming sick of the word.

Boston Globe, still alive

When we went to bed late last night, the state of play on The Boston Globe didn’t look so hot. Since then… it’s still not looking so hot.

The short story: Some of the Globe’s union appear to have reached tentative accords with the Globe and its parent company, The New York Times, which has threatened to shut down the money-losing paper if it doesn’t win $20 million in concessions. The Boston Newspaper Guild, which is on the hook for $10 million alone, said it has offered more than it has to, but it appears to not have been enough so far. The Times Co, meanwhile, said it would file a federal government notice that it intends to shut the paper. The big issue? Lifetime job guarantees that the Times wants to eliminate.

Here’s the latest from the sleepless reporters at its smaller competitor, the Boston Herald:

Newspaper Association cuts jobs, ditches print

I suppose that it’s natural that your representatives in Washington should be people who reflect their constituencies. In that spirit, there are reports out that the Newspaper Association of America — a tireless defender of print newspapers even as ad revenue crumbles all around them — is cutting the print edition of its magazine, along with half its jobs.

I’ve left messages with several NAA contacts, but in the meantime, We confirmed the news with the NAA — 39 jobs going away. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from a report on AOL’s Daily Finance site:

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) is the not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of over 2,000 newspapers and other print publications. Its roots can be traced back to 1887, and for many years its magazine Presstime has kept members up-to-date on trends in the marketplace. Therefore, it seems sadly ironic that the NAA is killing its print edition of Presstime. The magazine will now be available in an on-line version only.

Dear advertiser, please come home

Nobody likes to be wrong, including the people who run media companies. That’s why you haven’t heard them say things like, “We think the advertising market is recovering!” At a time when every day might bring a fresh descent into financial hell as financial companies and automakers totter, media companies reeling from ad revenue declines are hesitant to say that they’ve hit a bottom.

But consider some of the comments that Viacom executives made during their conference call with Wall Street bean counters this morning to discuss quarterly financial results. Here they are as they appeared in the alerts we sent out on the wire:


That sounds suspiciously like optimism. It also fits in with some of the comments that we’ve heard from newspaper publishers such as USA Today owner Gannett Co Inc. Magazine publisher and local TV station owner Meredith Corp had similar thoughts about the ad outlook.

Mr. Sulzberger, your son ROCKS

The New York Times’s hyper-energetic reporter Sewell Chan fielded a question in a Q&A about what it’s like working with Arthur Gregg Sulzberger on his City Room blog staff at Sulzberger is the son of Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and an heir apparent to the Times company.

Regardless of Sulzberger’s talent at City Room or in his previous reporting gig at The Oregonian, I’m not sure Chan had many options on how to answer the question. Here’s what he said:

Arthur Gregg Sulzberger joined the Times staff as a reporter, and he’s been working continuous news. He’s already been working with metro, and he’ll continue to work with metro. He has been absolutely impressive, gracious, smart as a whip, hardworking, full of energy, full of ideas, and has a great sense of language. His writing sparkles, and he’s a charm and a pleasure to work with.