Robert Annis' letter to Gannett in NUVO

Dateline: Thu 08 Dec 2011

The hits just keep on coming. This is on Facebook today.  Love it. Thank you, Robert Annis, for speaking for former Star employees who share your sentiments and frustration and anger.

"An open letter to Gannett CEO Gracia Martore:

"You probably don't remember me; I was one of 62 employees who were laid off at The Indianapolis Star last June. Of course, 700 other employees across the country also were let go around the same time, so I forgive you for not being able to put a face to a name.

"I wish I could say I was shocked when I heard you had asked many of the remaining employees to take yet another one-week unpaid furlough less than two months after your predecessor, Craig Dubow, walked away with a $37 million retirement package. But then again, this is Gannett we're talking about.

"It's not like Craig didn't deserve that money, just like he deserved the more than $16 million he made in salary and bonuses the previous two years, as thousands of employees were let go or forced to take unpaid time off; he did some special things during his tenure as Gannett's fearless leader. Look at the stock price, which went from about $10 a share to more than $75. Oh, wait a second, that's backward — Gannett stock actually dropped by $65 a share. Just the same, not many CEOs can say they managed to do that.

"I felt for Craig as he left the company. Physical ailments are tough, just ask the pressroom guys or the reporters who can't afford their health insurance premiums after you cut Star newsroom employees' salaries by 10 percent a few years ago. I don't think the cause of his back pain was ever made public, but I'm guessing it had something to do with that enormous golden parachute weighing him down and not the crushing guilt that he was raking in so much cash at the expense of hard-working employees across the company.

"I apologize for any glaring mistakes; it's 3 a.m. as I write this and like any good journalist, I'm nothing without a great copy editor. Of course, the current reporters are going to be finding that out soon enough, after you outsource the copy desk jobs to a hub in Kentucky. But why stop there? Why not ship the jobs to India or China or somewhere they don't even speak English at all? After all, it's not like a copy editor based in Louisville is going to automatically catch when, let's say, Pennsylvania Street is mistakenly referred to as Pennsylvania Avenue. That might embarrass the old guard — Pennsylvania is the street the Star is located on, in case you're wondering — but I don't think you or the rest of the executive crew at Gannett's headquarters in McLean, Va., are capable of shame.

"I'm proud of the decade I spent working at the Star. I was never going to win a Pulitzer, but I was dedicated, hard-working and genuinely loved my job ... mostly. I used to tell friends and co-workers I loved being a Star reporter, but hated working for Gannett. Everyone knew what I was talking about. You've taken a once-respected, but still extremely profitable, newspaper and wrung every last cent you can from its withered husk.

"The media landscape is constantly changing, but you and the others at Gannett HQ seem content to remain on a sinking ship, looting the fine silver and tossing random crewmembers overboard. I would consider you and the rest of Gannett's leadership (term used loosely and with a bit of a smirk) common whores, setting aside any concept of morality and ethics for money, but that's an affront to prostitutes everywhere. At least when one of their clients gets screwed, he's walking away with a smile on his face. Parasite might be more appropriate, as company executives continue to suck workers dry.

"But it's no longer my problem. I've moved on — bitter, late-night screeds not withstanding — to new challenges, with my head held high. I don't think you or Craig can say that.

Robert Annis"


Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Robert Annis: my new hero.

Gannett simply reflects the trickle-down mentality that has pervaded this nation since Reagan. Three decades of worship at that altar is what it took to bring our economy to its knees. It would've happened sooner but it took that long to wreck home values and expose the wretched mortgage fraud that mirrors the rest of this corporate mentality: the execs make the bucks, f*** rules, f*** the customers, double-f*** the employees.

Trickle-down. Nice. It never works--unless you're doing the trickling.

2011-12-08 06:38:54

hendy [Member] said:

The best revenge is living well. Wallowing in the late night with even well-written screeds can be a sign of depression. Crap happens to a lot of us. Depression can get you down. Getting back up makes a huge difference. That said, TTT is right.

Get it out of your system. You're not going to change a single GD thing. But it's healthy to get rid of that vile and venom. You see, TheStar is killing itself. It'll be mostly gone soon, an auto-pilot sort of thing. The deeper tragedy is that no one is springing up to grab the standard out of their weakened hands and run with it.

It doesn't take much. Not much is left there; the equivalent of a suburban newspaper of not long ago. Lots of lofty promises (lies) have reduced it. They have some great writers. They, too, will be picked off, one by one, because the machine doesn't produce good writers, it produces profits for Gannett execs and sometimes, for shareholders. If you expect the machine to do something differently, you're telling yourself a lie. Don't do that.

2011-12-08 07:37:51

ComputerWheels [Member] said:

Tell The Truth - glad to see someone shares my view of the Reagan era down to today. IMHO, Bill Clinton, otherwise known as President Slimebag, pretty much delayed the crash.

Meantime, Gannett's not likely to invest much in its non-USA Today newspapers. The focus has changed, and Wall Street approves. Forbes cites these good points for investors:

* Solid investment strategy: Gannett’s investment in non-traditional media is paying off with an increase in internet audience.

* Efficient management: The Company has an efficient and well-regarded management, which is critical for its long-term growth.

* Repayment of debt: Gannett remains focused on the repayment of debt rather than on acquisitions or the repurchase of shares.

* Strong brand recognition: The Company has strong brand recognition, particularly with its flagship daily, USA TODAY.

2011-12-08 10:23:40

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Hendy, I agree with your assessment (and also TTT about trickle down). Though Mitt Romney thinks "corporations are people," we all know that large corporations are machines. They have no heart, no soul, no concern about hurting people. They remind me of The Borg in those Star Trek movies. I guess another metaphor would be that they are like sharks - having a focus only of killing and consuming other creatures.

It will be interesting to see what ultimately comes out of this Guild activity. I'm sure Gannett isn't concerned, but there is a psychological benefit to yelling "ouch" when pinched.

2011-12-08 10:46:00

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Ruth and all. I apologize in advance for going a bit off-subject here, but I wanted to share a portion of a communication I just got from a Christian social justice organization called Sojourners (a wonderful organization in my book). It does speak to the Power Elite who run this country, including corporations like Gannett:
"Today Rick Perry condemns government help for the poor while encouraging churches to help out— but his most recent tax records show that he only gave one one-thousandth of what he made to his church. When he made $1 million, his total church giving was less than $100.

Herman Cain empathetically said that if people didn’t have jobs, it was just their own damn fault.

Michelle Bachmann, who regularly touts her evangelical credentials, was the first to attack Newt Gingrich for suggesting the country adopt a “humane” immigration policy.

And what about the GOP frontrunners? Mitt Romney has had little to say about compassion for the poor and marginalized. When asked about poverty-focused foreign aid his answer was to let China take care of it.

Last week, Gingrich said that America’s poor children, who live in the poorest places in the nation, have never worked or even been around anybody who has worked.

Such a harsh and alarming comment doesn’t show any understanding, empathy, or experience with poverty, low-income working parents, and how life feels at the bottom when people at the top keep calling you lazy. Nor did they demonstrate any knowledge of the facts — that three-quarters of those living below the poverty line actually have jobs, actually do work, but don’t make enough to support a family."

2011-12-08 13:57:27

hendy [Member] said:

Lack of empathy.... narcissism.... sociopathy..... hmmm.

You're right WB. But this is a comedy. If you try and understand the incredulous, you'll go crazy yourself. Better to laugh.

I'm thinking of a blog entry along these lines. I'll let you guys know. It's a dark comedy, like when you google: Santorum and Savage.

This is why I think Obama wins, unless a dark horse emerges. There are some actual brains left among the conservative cognoscenti-- but could they attract votes? Methinks naught.

Social justice is a swear word. Ask Glenn Beck. Run and hide when you hear its evil spirit whispered. This is a symptom of what you see, WB. Calvinism at work. Now get out of bed and get back to work, slacker. Your medical bad news is no excuse. Work at a McDonalds. You don't need kidneys to function there. In fact, it means you'll take less breaks. So-- off with you! Slacker!

And I hope you feel better. I wish I had something to cheer you up. How about: the less time spent in anger regarding the madness of politicians is more time to spend listening to good music.....

2011-12-08 16:48:24

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Amen, Hendy. Solitude. Good music. And good books. Speaking of which:

Chris Wallace has a new book about Jack Kennedy. It's fascinating.

The older I get, the more I realize, in whatever context, we need libraries: in our own homes, online, or in neighborhoods. It's one of the few places left where personal inquisition/research is celebrated and honored.

Well, that, and Ruthie's blog. Halleluyerrrr.

2011-12-10 06:38:53

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Check out this website:

My buddy Dee Bonner was three times named the best newspaper cartoonist in the state of Indiana even though his cartoons appeared in a small daily newspaper. He is a life-long Democrat social progressive. Now retired, but maintains this website as he nears age 70.

Look into his Archives link on the website and check out his recent series of cartoons on the Romney theme of "Corporations are people."

Absolutely brilliant.

2011-12-10 15:48:50

BigPoppa [Member] said:

Looks like an editor somewhere missed a few things here...|newswell|text||p

Bold, all-caps notes for additional details in the story.

2011-12-13 07:21:03

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