A wild animal caught in a trap

Dateline: Thu 29 Jan 2009

chewing its foot off on a freezing day. Unsuccessfully, since the hunter arrives before the act is complete. A coyote, once wild and free, now ragged and despised? Sounds about right...

Maybe it's from living in the country for eight years, but that's the image that comes to mind when I consider what is happening in Gannett right now, based on what I read on Jim Hopkins' Gannett blog.

In essence, the company -- we used to talk about newspapers, but no more -- is being chopped down. Here is what Hopkins wrote:

"(Stripping it down)... is what Corporate has been doing at an ever-quickening pace for more than a year now: Stripping Gannett of all but its most profitable, revenue-producing parts, in preparation for this final passage. The restructuring has now assumed greater urgency, following the credit crisis and September's Wall Street meltdown.

"We get a fresh progress report on Friday, when media stock analysts expect the company's fourth-quarter financial report will show another double-digit profit plunge."

Gannett shares, says Hopkins, are down 80 percent from a year ago. The call center in Louisville, Ky., which fields customer inquiries and complaints for 22 papers (including those in Indiana) has been busy, reading from "company-prepared scripts this month, describing the slow dismemberment.." of the 22 papers.

OK, the wild animal motif is over the top. But it's visceral, and that is what is happening to papers.

Be sure to read Gannettblog tomorrow for an update, after Gannett CEO Craig Dubow speaks to financial analysts following the 4th quarter earnings release.

The info will be webcast, Hopkins reports, so you can even watch it live at 10 a.m.



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