Gannett takes a hike

Dateline: Fri 21 Oct 2011

News from the Indianapolis Guild, which is attempting to negotiate a contract with Gannett management in this city:

"A day and a half of contentious bargaining over a new Guild contract ended Thursday after Gannett’s corporate lawyer walked out of the talks in a huff.
"The abrupt conclusion to the second round of talks ended with no agreement in sight and the sides still far apart. 
"Gannett still stands on its proposal for no pay increase and a vague plan to outsource jobs from our design desk. The Guild is still seeking a restoration of the 10 percent we gave up two years ago, cost of living increases and other language to improve working conditions.
"Gannett senior counsel Scott Feldman walked out of the talks Thursday less than an hour after they resumed, taking The Star’s human resources director, Olivia Lamelle, and Star administrative editor Todd Moore with him.
"Feldman, who has done nearly all the talking on The Star/Gannett’s behalf, led the walkout after being peppered by the Guild’s bargaining team with questions about details of Gannett’s proposal to outsource 6 to 8 design jobs.
"Feldman has criticized every aspect of the Guild’s proposals for being too general or too vague, and pressing for examples that make them necessary. But when the Guild’s team asked probing questions about the timing of the design outsourcing and the nature of the work Gannett would like to leave in Indianapolis he packed up his things and left the bargaining table. 
"The talks will resume next month.
"A key highlight of Wednesday’s talks came when the Guild pressed Feldman to open The Star’s financial books to show cause for a continued wage freeze. But Feldman rejected the request, even when the Guild offered to agree not to publicly disclose the information.
"A few other themes from this week’s discussions:
*Feldman dismissed the notion of cost of living increases, saying it is Gannett’s position that an employee shouldn’t get a raise “just for staying alive another year.”
*Feldman said the Guild shouldn’t try to make the layoff process more complicated and burdensome for The Star by seeking an advanced notice before future layoffs, even if such a warning might enable the Guild to prevent The Star from giving out bad severance information, as happened this summer.
*Feldman vigorously argued that the newspaper should be able to publish unaltered press releases in news positions and opposed a new language proposal that would further insulate journalists from doing advertorial work.
"The Guild’s bargaining team put in a stellar effort to stand up to such ridiculous assertions and make the case for better pay, for ethical journalism and to oppose the outsourcing plan.
"There’s much work to do to give our positions a chance for success -- more advertising efforts, more leafletting efforts, and a focused campaign of support from the political, business and faith communities. And we will be calling on your help.
"The Guild’s bargaining team included: DuJuan Carpenter, Emily Kuzniar, Michael Pointer, Adam Yates, Carl Sygiel and Bobby King. They were advised by The Newspaper Guild’s sector representative, Jay Schmitz."


hendy [Member] said:

And closer to Murdoch, they become.

2011-10-21 21:18:45

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I hope not, Hendy. Tapping phones is a crime, even in Indiana. Rupert just settled with one English family for $3.2 million. His personal fortune ismassive, for now: at that settlement rate, he can afford to allow editors to tap into a few thousand more phones, before he has to alter his lifestyle. (sigh)

"Surviving another year." If that's a direct quote, the lawyer's got nothing on Scrooge. I mean, I know that's the corporate mentality, and it's prevalent in today's right-wing biz envornment.

But it's a cruel and candid look inside the minds of some of these assholes.

Anyone who survives a year under these Draconian work conditions, deserve snot only a raise, but perhaps--a medal.

Mr. Feldman: if that's your true inner-compass, best zip it. That line may come back to bite you.

And I ponder this: will that bargaining strategy, make it to the coveted position as one of 2-3 local stories in the Sunday "Biz" Section? Maybe a profile on this stellar example of corporate greed.

2011-10-22 05:45:36

ruthholl [Member] said:

I struggle to come up with adjectives vicious and bad enough to describe how evil Gannett is, and how terribly short-sighted. They may prevail in the marketplace, but they have lost their way and if they have any soul, it's long gone.
Foul Gannett.

2011-10-22 11:39:20

Matt Stone [unverified] said:

It's a broken system. Even the good reporters can't produce much, not because they don't want to, but the resources and support just aren't there

I suspect editorial has shot down so many stories that people have stopped proposing them. This is noticeable in the quality of reporting when someone leaves the star and then goes to another publication. Almost always goes up.

and there are good reporters at the star. Plenty. Many. I'd even go to say most. Jon

And I certainly don't fault them for staying there as long as they can. Jobs are scarce, (print) journalism jobs even moreso.

2011-10-24 00:09:42

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Matt: I don't understand this line: good reporters can't produce much.

Balderdash. Did someone cut out/off their spines, their brains, their fingers to type?

Are you telling me that if you're a reporter, and write a good article a day, it won't get published?

I've been trying for months to get to the bottom of this "production" issue, and can't seem to get a handle on it. I would love to be wrong, but it continues to look like lazy reporters abound.

Please tell me I'm wrong.

2011-10-24 06:21:51

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Even the good reporters can't produce much."

This one is hard for me to figure out as well, TTT.

I have a friend who is a reporter at a mid-size newspaper in Indiana. His newspaper is all about profit-margins, too.

But reporters there are expected to crank out two or three bylined stories a day.

It's hard for me to understand the concept that while The Star is cutting jobs, expecting reporters to work more hours for less, pay, etc. etc. - that it would be discouraging reporters from doing the work they are being paid to do.

I guess I need to be enlightened.

2011-10-24 12:47:01

Matt Stone [unverified] said:

My theory, and it's only a theory, is that there are certain stories the Star won't pursue, for whatever reason, or don't give it the type of support that other news outlets will.

There's no shortage of stories that were given a great amount of camera time (for TV) or ink (for the IBJ) in other media, but the Star only touches upon it in a Behind Closed Doors column, or Tully casually dismisses the story in a few sentences in one of his columns.

If the resources, time, and support aren't going to made available to the reporters of the star, then they just aren't going to be able to compete and get great stories produced as often as Kenney, Millz, or McQuaid.

It does happen once in a blue moon. A reporter is driven enough, and through a combination of luck and an odd level of support from Ryerson, something REALLY worth reading gets published.

But all too often, they're beaten to the punch.

2011-10-24 22:23:38

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Okay, Matt, I get you now. You're not talking about day-to-day reporting, you're talking about running down the stories that don't originate from press releases.

You are certainly right that not much of this is seen in The Star these days. It has been said that sports media in Indianapolis should wear cheerleader outfits on the job, but I think Gannett would also like this to apply to its entire news department staff.

2011-10-25 12:42:15

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