Gannett fires bloggers

Dateline: Thu 16 Sep 2010

Word is out that the Indianapolis Star will no longer pay its "community bloggers" -- people who write about their neck of the woods and receive a very small amount of income in return. ($5 a blog post is one figure I've heard).

However, Gannett will take their work and use it -- for free.

Cheap cheap cheap. Once again, Gannett is showing it absolutely knows how to ruin newspapers: kill the spirit and the integrity. The whole megillah -- pfft.

On another matter: has anyone else noticed how lame the Star's web page is? It's been redone, and it's looking very thin and a little constipated (you try to link to something and nothing comes up).

Sad day.





hendy [Member] said:

New content management systems are always tough to roll out, and links are broken to bits. The mechanics will improve, but it's a bit better than the old one. I wonder if it fits handily on an iPad..... seems like the format's tuned to it, rather than a computer screen.

2010-09-16 19:37:28

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It sucks worse than the original. It's sometimes difficult to load, inconsistent in that category. Fr two days, high school scores were linked to some outside-content page with last October's high school football results.

Simply awful.

2010-09-17 06:00:22

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

About The Star bloggers getting the shaft.

Once in awhile, I will have a young person
ask my advice about enrolling in journalism school to pursue a career in newspapers, magazines, etc.

I tell them that it is their decision and I can only speak for myself: but if I were a young person today, I'd rather prepare for a career at the post office rather than pursue a career of employment in the field of journalism.

Notice I didn't say "gainful" employment.
Switch the "g" to a "p" and you have it.

2010-09-17 13:29:25

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Pardon me, but none of the blogs was worth reading.

2010-09-17 20:33:14

Lynn Hopper [unverified] said:

Just a minute--you are stepping on my toes here! And I take offense. The blogs were community specific so if you aren't familiar with the community, perhaps they were not worth reading to you. But I felt I was providing a valuable service. Let me know what you do and I will see if it is worth anything.

2010-09-17 21:02:28

Whitebeard [unverified] said:


I am sorry you have been treated so badly.

I agree that you provided a valuable service.

2010-09-17 23:03:41

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Lynn: think about this, good writer that you are: who asked you to blog on their site? Who is the "they" in this case? They were using you. And pretty cheaply, too.

At the risk of offending our genteel host Ruthie (no offense intended): blogs on a newspaper site...think about were tricked into thinking you provided a valuable service.

The bar was pretty low.

Hope this doesn't cause a shitstorm. But come on, folks...Gannett has become the online version of the 24/7 news monster created by cable. Holes to fill. THe new website brings it all home: it's become the online version of calling AT&T or Comcast for help. Press 3 for customer service, press 2 for Afghan news, press 5 for suicide prevention, press 9 for fat-free menu help from Marsh...and good ole "Cynthia" will help you if you need a live human being. As soon as Cynthia finishes her morning prayers in Calcutta.

2010-09-18 06:52:09

hendy [Member] said:

TTT- things are more onerous than they appear on the surface. The problem is that publishers take advantage of writers in general, and most sites specifically. Today, the metric is the hit count. How many unique page views is the number to make. No numbers, no justification for ad placement. The quality is another matter, but qualitative web measurements are elusive at best, and occasionally fraught with fraud on both sides of the measuring stick.

I've been paid by hit count on one particular site. My second blog got over 250,000 uniques. Others barely registered. One has to write glaring heads and ledes to get search engine attention, along with lots of keywords. It's an art.

Many bloggers are paid on hit counts. No hits, no ads, no budget is the quid pro quo. I do voluntary writing on my own sites; I have two. The paid work that I did blogging was daunting, and being heard above the din wasn't easy. Building audiences was tough, too. It's as though you're your own publisher in a sense, as many characteristics of the results as a blogger are now controlled only by you; the publisher merely provides digital paper and a destination name-- and a paycheck if you're lucky.

2010-09-18 11:37:22

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Sorry, Lynn, but....
blogs just don't replace good old fashioned reporting.

And, you know that from your days on staff at The Star.

2010-09-18 13:59:07

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

...hit send too soon(sorry).

Gannett should be ashamed (not you).

You want local news to see daylight; Gannett just wants to get news on the cheap, and "hiring" a blogger is one way to do that.

2010-09-18 14:01:18

Lynn Hopper [unverified] said:

Reply to TTT: You are absolutely right. The Star where I loved to work is long gone. I guess I was just trying to hold on to the last shred of my profession, which leads me to reply to Ms. Cynical: if you ever did read Rita's and my blogs, you would know that basically we were just reporting. And not getting paid enough. Our fault, but there are so few places left to go, especially at our ages (Rita is much younger, of course). There are other news outlets where I live, but Rita WAS the voice of the Eastside.
Just to be fair, though, as time went on I got a little looser in my blogging and allowed my own voice in at times, which I would never have done just as a reporter.
Now that I'm over the shock (there was no warning it was going to happen) it feels kind of good to be free of Gannett.

2010-09-18 18:11:33

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Carry on, Lynn. There will be peace at the end of this journalistic journey...wherever you land.

Writing is critical. Don't stop. Journals have the benefit of being private and that's a good thing. Indpls. Monthly seems to have 1-2 freelance stories per month, on interesting subjects. Pick one and submit. Repeat at will.
Ditto the American Legion mag, headquartered here.

But this tip: when someone asks you to write, make sure it pays handsomely. In dollars, or in community service, or on tangible benefits. It's good for the soul. The opposite, alas, is not. But you just found that out, huh?

2010-09-19 06:40:18

Rita Rose [unverified] said:

@ Ms. Cynical: DID you ever read the blogs? As Lynn said, we WERE reporting, just in a different way and in a looser format. But we were reporting on our necks of the woods and not going a bad job, if I do say so myself. How about YOU put in 43 years at a newspaper and all you have left are freelance stories and blogs? That's what "journalism" is nowdays, and we old fossils were just trying to keep up and roll with it. For you to say they were not worth reading is insulting. Sorry, but we've had enough of that from Gannett. Lynn and I weren't just writers blogging, we were JOURNALISTS blogging. So, go fly a kite.

2010-09-20 13:44:25

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Blogs by bona fide journos like Rita and Lynn have different stripes than those authored by folks who never had to meet a daily deadline whilst keeping an editor happy.

Advice to those considering a journalism major: yes, do it, and polusco and economics, so you can find a lifelong career in public relations. I know many newspaper people who went on to more satisfying careers, remuneratively speaking at least, in PR or branding or marcom or advertising or whatever you want to call it.

And it should be clear by now that you cannot underestimate the venality of Gannett.

2010-09-20 14:14:22

VladTheImpaler [unverified] said:

If you're a masochistic youngster who must pursue a degree in journalism then just realize you'll be beating the odds to make it to retirement at a newspaper. Unless you're a Thomas Friedman or have a hyperthyroid condition a newspaper won't want you much past your 40s. It's sort of like Logan's Run, where once you hit 30 you're placed in a chamber and blown up. It wouldnt' hurt to pick a viable minor degree and to pursue it on the side lest you stick around long enough to be escorted to the career death chamber a few decades from now. Even the relatively thoughtful place where I toil now looks at (low) salary ahead of experience in picking new prospects.

2010-09-21 18:05:58

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