Gannett iPhone FAQ: ‘What am I expected to do with this new device?’

This FAQ for Gannett journalists receiving iPhones was distributed today at the chain’s papers.

FAQs for journalists receiving iPhones

In late December, USCP President Bob Dickey announced a substantial investment in tools and training to help you – our journalists – fulfill your jobs more effectively. With these tools and training, we can move faster and more nimbly to deliver the news and information our readers expect in new and unique ways.

The biggest chunk of this investment is for smart phones and related accessories. We have chosen to equip many of our reporters and photographers with iPhone 4S, the gold-standard in smart phone technology. This FAQ is designed to address some of the many questions you might have:


Why am I getting an iPhone 4S?
USCP evaluated current technology and determined that iPhone 4S is the most appropriate smart phone to support our initiatives. The iPhone is the technology leader for the tasks and workflows a journalist performs now; moreover, as we place more emphasis on creating content for specific devices (smart phones, tablets) iPhone 4S gives us the most flexibility and power to deliver compelling content across platforms. The combination of hardware on the phone, software/apps, network connectivity, variety of service providers and integration with other tools and systems Gannett uses are what led us to decide on purchasing iPhone 4S as opposed to other phones that use other operating systems, app marketplaces and carriers./CONTINUES

Why choose iPhone over a device that runs Android?
At launch and over time it’s important for Gannett to manage apps and workflow via a consistent technology. Our training and support will be much better if we focus on one device with one operating system. Android devices do indeed have solid capabilities; however, the wide variety of versions plus, plus inconsistent functionality by vendors/devices, ruled out Android for our initiative.

Who else is getting an iPhone 4S?
This investment is targeted at front-line reporters and photographers.

What am I expected to do with this new device?
The iPhone 4S is meant to enable you to do better, more timely journalism. Of course it is useful to have phone, text messaging and email capabilities for communicating with sources and colleagues. But there are also many basic functions of a smart phone – voice recorder, video camera, still camera, etc. – that enable you to capture notes or imagery you can use in your reporting. And the phones can run specialized apps that do nearly anything – help you capture and annotate public records, transcribe interviews, map your way to a scene, listen into a police scanner, find nearby sources who are broadcasting their locations, tap into social media channels, do reverse lookups on phone numbers, perform background checks, etc. We will recommend apps that can do all of these things – and show you how to use them – but that shouldn’t limit you. You’ll find all sorts of ways to power your journalism using this device, and we encourage you to boldly experiment.

Does my iPhone function as a wi-fi “hotspot?”
Yes. iPhone 4S can “tether” and become a wi-fi hotspot that can get several devices, including laptops, online at the same time. We have contracted with the carriers to add this capability to our plan.

What if I have an existing aircard or wireless hotspot device?
We don’t want to pay for internet access on two devices, so we will want to decommission your existing aircard or hotspot in favor of using the iPhone for this purpose.

Plans and phones: Common scenarios

Why am I being asked to share my phone number, vendor information and existing device type?
Deploying more than 1,000 iPhones is a complex task. The costs are significant and we must carefully manage the inventory while at the same time avoiding paying for soon-to-be surplus phones and plans. Local Information Center and IT management will be checking and double-checking inventory to ensure we have the right equipment in the right hands and aren’t double-paying.

I currently have a phone/smart phone that the company owns, and for which the company pays the bill directly. What happens to that phone and plan?
Where practical we will cancel your old plan and transfer the company-owned number into a new plan as we have negotiated packages suitable for the increased use of data services. Local IT and IC resources will attempt to cascade plans/devices that we should retain, such as an Android phone purchased recently.

I currently have a phone that I own, for which the company reimburses me/gives me a stipend. What happens to that phone and plan?
We are moving away from stipends and into this new scenario where the company pays the full bill directly to the service provider. It is your own personal choice whether to keep your personal device and plan in addition to this tool for work. We will not be paying “kill fees” for employees who elect to terminate a personal contract early; that’s a personal choice. In many cases, dropping a personal contract and paying a kill fee will net out as a better outcome for the employee. (Even if you have to pay an early termination fee, for most people this will result in less money spent over the year because we’ll be eliminating any payments you have to make each month that goes above and beyond your stipend.) Our goal is to standardize the phones and have pay for only one phone per reporter/photographer.

I like my non- iPhone device. Can I just stay with that?
If the company owns the device, the answer is no. iPhone is the only device that can do all the things we want you to be able to do. (One concrete example from among many: Uploading video clips to your local site’s Brightcove player is only supported by an iPhone app.) Also, iPhone is the only device for which we have training, support and unlimited data lined up. If the device is your own and you pay the bill for it, the company will issue you a fully paid iPhone 4S. It’s up to you whether you want to continue keeping your personal phone (at your own expense). If you do away with your personal phone and want to keep your phone number, we will be glad to transfer that number to the iPhone. Of course, if you leave the company we will give that number back to you.

I have a company-owned iPhone 4 or 4s. What happens to that phone?
If the iPhone 4/4S is company-owned and provided by AT&T or Sprint we will leave it in place. If the company-owned iPhone is on Verizon or another carriers, our goal is to move you to Sprint. We understand that there will be unique, market-specific circumstances where another carrier is the most appropriate to our needs; we’ll deal with that scenario through local IT representatives.

I have an iPhone 4/4S that I own myself. Can I just get the company to start paying for that?
Yes. If you have a personal iPhone, Gannett will take over the contract for you if you want. If the iPhone 4/4S is personally owned and sourced from AT&T or Sprint we will transfer the number and plan to company ownership as soon as practical. Personally owned iPhone 4/4S models from other vendors will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

I have a personal iPhone. I don’t want the company to take over the bill but I do want to get/continue to get a stipend. Is that an option?
You are at liberty to keep your personal device and keep paying the bill yourself. If you do that, we’ll issue you a company-owned iPhone, which we will pay the bill on. We will only pay for the bill on one phone and are doing away with stipends.

I have a personal smart phone (other than an iPhone) for which I get a monthly stipend. What happens in that situation?
We are doing away with stipends and moving toward company-owned, company-paid smart phones. If you are among those getting assigned an iPhone, you will have to decide yourself what you want to do with your personal phone. The company will not pay termination fees on personal contracts. But if you do decide to terminate your personal contract, you can elect to port your number over to the new Gannett-owned phone. Even if you do pay a termination fee, generally this will net out to a better deal for you since you won’t have to pay a monthly contract above the amount you have been getting as a stipend.

If I don’t currently have a company cell phone, what’s the procedure for getting an iPhone 4S issued to me?
A regional and/or local IT person, in conjunction with your top editor, will reach out to you soon if you are among those who are getting a phone. This process will start within days and be complete within a couple of weeks.

If I currently possess a company-owned phone, what do I need to do to get moved over to a new iPhone 4S?
A regional and/or local IT person, in conjunction with your top editor, will reach out to you soon if you are among those who are getting a phone. This process will start within days and be complete within a couple of weeks.

What will happen to my “cascaded” phone?
Depending on its age, model and condition, we may well find a new home for your “cascaded” phone elsewhere in the company where one person’s “old” phone might be an upgrade for someone else. What carrier is my new iPhone on?

Most of our new iPhones will be on Sprint; we have planned for a limited number of exceptions with other providers. Our preference is to get as many people on Sprint as possible because their pricing is the most favorable. Where Sprint’s coverage is spotty, we will deploy other solutions on a case-by-case basis. (We will work with your local and regional IT people to determine which is best.)

Can I keep my existing phone number, and who owns that number?
Yes, you can keep your existing number. If you have a company phone right now, we’ll move your number over to the new phone. Local IC management will help identify the user/phone number/vendor information needed to schedule the phone number transfer.If you have a personal phone you want to get rid of, and you want to move your number over to the new iPhone 4S, that’s fine too. For billing purposes that number will technically become Gannett’s property; Gannett will transfer ownership back to you should your role change and you no longer require the iPhone or you leave the company.

Personal use

Who owns the new iPhone?
The company has purchased and owns the phone.

What about personal use of the new iPhone?
For many people, it’s both practical and cost-effective to use their work-issued smart phone for reasonable personal uses. Many people who have a company-owned cell phone wind up not even having a personal one. That’s fine. Since the data and text plans are unlimited, using the phone to accomplish personal communications and web access when it doesn’t interfere with your work is perfectly acceptable. The total cell phone minutes for the company are capped, but again, it’s OK to make use of this company resource for reasonable personal calls. As for storing personal data like photos and music, it’s much the same story. If it doesn’t interfere with using the tool to accomplish your work, then it’s OK. If you start running out of space on your phone because you have too much personal date (music, photos, etc.) storied on the phone, then it’s time to trim the personal data back. These phones are meant first and foremost for work.

Apps, software, iTunes, iCloud

What kinds of apps should I be using?
There are so many possibilities, and more coming out every day. Part of our ongoing training will be to highlight apps that your fellow journalists are finding helpful, and then show you how to use them for the best results. While we’ll recommend some apps as worthwhile, there won’t be a rigid standard set.

How do I download apps, get them paid for and keep them up-to-date?
To get apps on your phone, you’ll need to set up an account with iTunes/App Store account with Apple. ( When you download apps, they go straight onto your phone and are ready to go. You can also set them to automatically update when new releases come out. We recommend installing iTunes on your computer so you can sync your phone and back up all its contents to your computer. This also will give you another easy way to download and update apps if you prefer doing that from your desktop and not on your phone.

To pay for apps, just turn in the receipt and get reimbursed as you would any other expense. (It should go without saying that the company will only pay for apps that you are using in your day-to-day job. If you download Angry Birds, Limbo, Words With Friends, etc., you have to pay for those yourself.) You can set it up so Apple sends you a receipt for every app you buy, or they can send you one total bill however often you want. iTunes/App Store accounts are tied to individuals, not companies, so this account will be in your name and you’ll need to put your own credit card in to purchase apps.

What if I already have an iTunes/App Store account?
Our recommendation is to establish a separate account for work, just to make everything easier and more streamlined – not just for the company, but for you as well. However, we won’t force you to do that. If you want to use an existing account, that’s OK.

Will I use iCloud?
Possibly, but not right away. This is a new service Apple offers to help back up data and sync different devices without a bunch of specialized wires and software. We need some time to evaluate how iCloud might fit in to an enterprise environment like ours.


What sort of training will be available so I can learn how to use the iPhone 4S?
Apple products are well-known to be user-friendly and intuitive, which will make mastering the basics easier for everyone. But we realize that for you to take maximum advantage of what the device can do, we need to furnish a wide range of training.

A cursory search of YouTube or other sites will reveal iPhone training tutorials in great abundance. There is no reason for us to duplicate those. (We will provide links to a selected number that are worth watching.) The original training pieces we are producing right now are brief videos that will focus on how to use iPhone 4S to execute specific journalism tasks in the contexts and workflows that are specific to a Gannett reporter or photographer. All of these will be catalogued on the Virtual Campus. The first series of these will be available Feb. 2; we’ll continue to add more (and alert you to new additions) at least through the summer.

We will also be delivering training in a range of other formats. These include quizzes, practice exercises, “leave-behind” learning aids, office hours with experts, guest presentations by third party trainers and any other support as needed. We want you to know we will help you be successful, and will be there for you when you need help.


What happens if I break or lose my iPhone?
It will be up to the local site to repair or replace the phone, which means that money will have to not be invested in something else locally. Of course, we realize that accidents do occasionally happen. The company policy is we will repair or replace one company-owned phone per employee per contract cycle; that period averages about two years. When we bought these phones in bulk and in connection with new accounts we were opening, the cost was manageable. But to buy a replacement phone without establishing a new contract can cost upwards of $800. The upshot: Please do your utmost to avoid losing or breaking the phone!

What are the specs of my device?
iPhone 4S with 16 GB of capacity, an 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording, running the latest version of iOS. Here’s more detail:

Who can answer other questions I might have?
First, ask your local IT person or editor since they will have had some additional briefings. If you still have questions, e-mail USCP News Executive Mackenzie Warren at XXXX



1 comment
  1. We’ve been doing this at the Northern Michigan Review group (a Schurz owned group) for over a year. It’s funny to us that Gannett is getting all this press about it (like no one has ever done it before), when we have been doing it for a while.