Hit list

Dateline: Tue 30 Jul 2013

The names of the 11 Indianapolis Star employees picked off in the newsroom have been circulating on Facebook.

Here they are:

Two custodians: Linda Davis and Paula Russell

Three clerks: Ralph Leonard, Tony Rinier and Spencer Venable

Three copy editors: Steve Plonski, Kim Rogers and Hal Wiley

One photopgrapher: Joe Young, who was part-time and also the archivist for photos for the paper

One graphic artist: Chris Johnson, also part-time

One assistant calendar editor: Becky Walter

Two managers: D. Todd Moore and Kevin Morgan

This does not include, obviously, the five people who lost their positions in advertising.

Some of us have long believed that Gannett practices age discrimination, targeting employees who are 50 plus for dismissal. The corporation pattern is to give a series of poor performance reviews, build a case against the employee and then blast him/her out the door. Since Indiana is a "fire at will" state, Gannett almost always prevails.

I do not know all faces behind the names on this list, but those I recognize are individuals who are 50-plus or 55 or so. 

Perhaps it is time for the Indianapolis Guild and/or some of these fired to contact an attorney about age discrimination. Lawyer Kathleen Delaney, who fights for workers' rights with pointed passion, successfully won the case filed by former Star columnist Susan Guyett against Gannett. Guyett was dismissed and told her job was being eliminated; then, within days, a replacement was named to cover the social/party beat. Guyett sued and won an undisclosed to the public settlement.

Those still working for Gannett in Indianapolis and elsewhere should not take their jobs for granted. A Meridian Kessler friend, Jim Garrettson, who blogs about city life, said Gannett contacted him as a subscriber and asked if he would still take the paper if it became USA Today with a page or two of Indianapolis news. He simply laughed.

I understand that newspapers today, for the most part, have failed to make the leap into the digital age. But someone should write a book on Gannett's miserable maneuvering to stay current at the cost of the very workers who provide the paper with substance. Gannett is a model in mediocrity, and anyone who leaves the operation, through whatever door or course, is better off.

In that sense, best wishes to those who are now free to pursue other interests.





Nicolas [unverified] said:

While watching an early episode of Third Rock From the Sun last night, I noticed that Harry was consulting TV Guide, which was once the largest circulation magazine in America. It has now dropped to 32nd place and will probably disappear altogether. Whatever one thinks of Gannett, it cannot easily buck the momentous changes brought by the Internet. The general purpose big city paper is probably doomed, but bland papers that lack any justification for consumers to buy them, are especially vulnerable. I hope the Kochs buy some major papers so we can see if controversy brings back readers. The sort of people who have been hired to run papers are unimaginative clones, whose primary concern is self-preservation through conformity.

2013-07-30 07:59:57

hendy [Member] said:

Last Sunday, the Herald Times here in Bloomington had a pretty thick register, full of advertising and promotion. The Internet works here, too.

What's the difference? Relevancy. The Star has become cold, tawdry, and with a few exceptions now and then, not very good at all. The lifeblood's been sucked away. The monopolistic attitude and fighting instinct has been replaced by "shareholder profits" as though it were a cash cow. It's barely a cash chicken at this point.

The Koch Brothers are perhaps the most evil individuals in the world today, IMHO. But they don't care about you and I. They are a cult unto themselves.

2013-07-30 08:58:11

Nicolas [unverified] said:

Big city papers are not doing as well as those in smaller towns, like Bloomington, no matter who owns them.

You comment about the Kochs is just flabbergastingly silly. Is this what you are learning from the Herald Times?

2013-07-30 09:24:01

farm girl [unverified] said:

Like you, I didn't recognize all the names, but those I did were shocking. Especially Becky. They will miss her! But Hendy has a point, which I realized way back when I stopped being embarrassed at working on a smaller paper. The hometown papers will last longer. Maybe not indefinitely, but they do give readers news they can't get elsewhere.

2013-07-30 11:23:38

Joe [unverified] said:

Indy's circulation is up, as is circulation revenue, right? If that's true, then Indy's failing is in the leadership of it's advertising department. I know you don't care about that part, but it does pay the bills - or in this case doesn't. The question to ask is how an advertising budget got approved, and then was missed so badly at the halfway point, that layoffs were needed. This was a local problem, and indicates a lack of proper leadership for the advertising division. I heard through the grapevine that the VP of advertising was shown the door this week as well, so maybe things will improve.

2013-07-30 13:32:03

Joe Soria [unverified] said:

The did show the former VP of Adv the door. Actually he slipped to down to Director. They just hired a gal from Lily as new VP of Adv. Two sales reps were part of yesterday's purge as well as the advertising photog. I'm sure she'll cost a few FTEs to jump from Lily.

2013-07-30 13:47:07

Shannon [unverified] said:

Marc Lebryk was also amongst the IndyStar's latest casualties. Marc has been a Star Advertising photographer for the last seven years, and now they have chosen to eliminate that position...leaving their clients without the service of photography, that of which they pay for in the advertising package. They did this to create more "digital" positions within the advertising department. As a former member of the digital advertising team, I can truly say what a mistake this is. Not only do they not have the expertise to manage digital professionals, but they also lack the resources to add value to the digital and print campaigns being sold. Writers, and photographers are two items that the paper decided to scale back, so what does that do for the core product? There isn't one, just a bunch of junior web designers under the rule of a sales staff that is told they need to sell more of LESS. They need a plan, but at this point it's almost too late.

2013-07-30 13:52:34

Shannon [unverified] said:

Yeah, and to Joe's point...let's not forget all the local special sections and custom publications that have been discarded as a result of skewed priorities. Soon there will be nothing left to read but homogenized AP content and honestly I can get that online without having to pay a subscription fee.

2013-07-30 14:00:47

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thanks to each of you for your information, insight and commentary.

2013-07-30 15:56:28

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

A brief observation: age discrimination is gaining much traction in Indiana. It's particularly bad in the field of education.

2013-07-30 18:02:37

ruthholl [Member] said:

Did not know that, Whitebeard. I know HR is very susceptible, too.
Do you have examples?

2013-07-30 18:29:24

John Howard [unverified] said:

I don't believe the Star needs the former Nordstrom's space. They could fit comfortably in one of the old distribution shacks around town where we used to go to get the papers for our routes.

Oh, but those are long gone.

2013-07-30 20:19:48

ruthholl [Member] said:


2013-07-30 22:24:15

Star newsie [unverified] said:

Bad performance reviews from Gannett, given to longtime employees who had previously done well at their jobs, started the paper trail to get rid of them. Most PIPs (performance improvement plans) were given to people over 50. Age discrimination rules in Gannettland.

2013-07-31 10:05:39

Joe [unverified] said:

I don't think it's age discrimination. I just think they ran out of cheaper people to fire. When you keep cutting, eventually you get to the bone.

2013-07-31 11:05:09

Joe [unverified] said:

I also find it interesting that so many Gannett properties - including Indy - are so quick to offer discounted subscriptions. All you have to do is call and complain and they reduce the rate you pay. I haven't had to pay the official rate for years now. How is that a good model?

2013-07-31 11:12:49

Steve [unverified] said:

I've been in the local/regional advertising agency biz for over 30 years and today I have no idea who to call to place an ad in the Indy Star for a client. I've had at least 6 new reps over the past 5 years. All of them forgettable, under-trained and not helpful. Indy Star wants reps to work directly with clients and keep the ad agencies out of the picture lest we counsel clients to not pay those high prices for low media value and declining readership.

2013-07-31 12:52:56

K. Paul Mallasch [unverified] said:

Indiana Today coming soon ... (I bet)

2013-07-31 12:58:48

ruthholl [Member] said:

I think K. Paul Mallasch may be correct. Jim Garretson, who blogs for Meridian-Kessler, said he was contacted by the Star and asked if he would continue to subscribe if the paper went to a USA Today format with local news. I also agree with Star Newsie that Gannett has a pattern of giving poor performance reviews to employees who previously had been doing well on reviews -- but once they reach a certain age, they are considered expendable. It must be about the higher salary. I believe the Guild is looking into this.

2013-08-01 16:24:23

John [unverified] said:

Please fire Dustin Dopirak of the Harold Times!

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