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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Who gets credit for this headline in the Welland Tribune? Would the story have run had the dead deer been found in another lot? Who tipped off the paper? Reporter Allan Benner tells Romenesko readers:

I suggested “Dead deer at dead Deere plant”; the word “discovered” was added by layout to fit the space for the print version. My preference was “found” but it wasn’t long enough.

We noticed the picture posted on Facebook, and went out to investigate. The deer has been laying there rotting for at least a week. That alone would probably be enough to warrant a story if it was in a public location such as a schoolyard or park. But the deer/Deere connection certainly added to the story.

* Dead deer discovered at dead Deere plant (wellandtribune.ca)
* Earlier: Molson beer sales will drop now that Bill Eves is gone (jimromenesko.com)

New: “Fawn-ing headline writers!” and other comments on Facebook




The Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are offering more buyouts. “I think the following line is on the save/get key of every editor in America: This may be the last buyout we offer,” writes Globe editor Brian McGrory. “At some point, good or bad, that statement will be true.”

The upbeat part of his memo: “The company has no debt. We have no pension obligations, which were left with the New York Times. We don’t have an owner looking to ratchet up margins. We have an innovative spirit. We have a deep, deep reservoir of talent and ambition. We’re simply looking to turn a modest profit, which the ownership will then invest in the enterprise.”

The Post-Gazette union’s memo follows McGrory’s.

From: “McGrory, Brian”
Date: July 29, 2015 at 1:39:06 PM EDT
To: [Boston Globe staff]
Subject: Buyouts

Dear colleagues,

In the worst kept secrets category, the Globe is launching another buyout program next week, this one specific to the newsroom. Similar to last year’s, we’ll use it as an opportunity to direct more resources to digital, a vital undertaking. Different than last year, it will also help us cut costs as we continue our transformation into a predominantly digital, subscriber-based news operation that will thrive for many years to come. If we fail in our savings goal through buyouts, we’ll be faced with the difficult prospect of layoffs in September.

Everyone in the newsroom will receive a buyout letter as early as next week. There’ll be nothing terribly fancy about the math. It’s two weeks for every year of service – the same as severance. I think the following line is on the save/get key of every editor in America: This may be the last buyout we offer. At some point, good or bad, that statement will be true./CONTINUES Read More

Michael Kupinski, a Noble Financial Group analyst, told McClatchy executives during Friday’s earnings call:

“I wanted to check to see, to what extent has the Company used freelance writers at this point? Could there be an expanded use that could significantly reduce costs on the editorial side, or do you have some issues regarding the editorial side of the business?”

McClatchy CEO Pat Talamantes let operations vice president Mark Zieman respond. He told the analyst:

Well, we do use freelance writers now. We’re not using them as extensively as some of our peers, and we haven’t gone to use vendors, as the AP and others have, who sort of do automated writing on stories. We continue to look at all the options available to us, and our Vice President for News, Anders Gyllenhaal, has talked to several of those vendors.

So as the technology develops and the opportunities arise, we’ll continue to go down that road. But for local news coverage, which, of course, what we focus on, is make part of the business, it’s a little harder to use freelancers versus some of the uses that they are being employed for now with our peers.

McClatchy shares closed Monday at 85 cents, down 15% from Friday’s close. The newspaper chain last week reported 2Q earnings of $98,000.

* Transcript of McClatchy’s earnings call with analysts (Yahoo Finance)

New: Read comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers



David Sanford, who won a Pulitzer in 1997 for his story about battling AIDS, is retiring from the Wall Street Journal. “I have been at the paper for 35 years (on Aug. 4) and I have been working in the business for 50 years,” he writes in an email. “I think that’s enough. I have had a great time, and i appreciate my friends.”

In today’s follow-up email, Sanford writes:

Because I am retiring from the Wall Street Journal on September 1, many of my friends have tweeted a journal leder i wrote in 1996 or they have posted it on facebook. it has been tweted and retweeted by friends and strangers and posted on facebook so much in the past three days that it t is listed in our data as one of the most read stories in the wall street journal, in competition with today’s paper.

i hear it may be the oldest journal story to have made the lists. This does not distress me at all since i am proud of my leder, which won a pulitzer prize and seems to have helped people confronted in one way or another with AIDS. So setting a record of this sort is nothing but a point of pride for me. i appreciate my friends and am pleased generally to be leaving on a good note

* 1996: Last year, this editor wrote his own obituary (wsj.com)

Missoula County (Montana) Sheriff’s Department public information officer Brenda Bassett claims Missoulian reporter Kate Haake has misquoted her colleagues, and “often fails to give us adequate times to respond to her inquiries and/or will try to contact multiple people within our office in an attempt to get more information than what she can legally be given. In the past, she was been quite successful at it.”

So, it appears she’s an aggressive reporter.

Bassett, a former TV reporter, claims in a memo that she’s struck a deal with Missoulian management that prohibits Haake from contacting sheriff’s office employees by phone. “Kate has been instructed by her editor, to send all questions via email to me.” (Bassett’s memo is here.)

That’s news to Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin. She tells Romenesko readers:/CONTINUES Read More

Letter to Romenesko

A GateHouse Media employee writes:

The attached shiny new employee handbook does a lot of shitty things, but most deplorable are the reduction in the number of paid holidays from nine to six, and the increase in the threshhold for calculating overtime. [Non-management employees] are paid for 37.5 hours; now they can’t get overtime unless they work 40 hours.

Update – A former GateHouse manager writes: “GateHouse has recognized just the 6 paid holidays for years, and the OT policy has applied for years as well. Looks like some properties acquired by GateHouse are just getting the GateHouse Handbook implemented and are experiencing changes from what they’re used to. The link to the letter is addressed to Cape Cod Media Group and SouthCoast Media Group employees, who fall under the GH umbrella as of 2013.”

* GateHouse Handbook reflects policy changes (Google Drive)
* Earlier: GateHouse papers cut coffee service and office supplies (jimromenesko.com)

Gawker staffers started their week with this note from the editor-in-chief:

From: Max Read
Date: Monday, July 13, 2015
Subject:
To: Gawker Writers

Between Food Babe, O’Reilly, the Duggars, and the recent Reddit storms, we’ve had a good few months, but we’re coasting on our successes and slipping at the margins. Cucumber season is here, and it’s easy, in the wake of good stories and solid traffic, to get lazy and let the day-to-day work decline in quality. It’s also the worst time to do so. Keep the following in mind as you work:

1) Headlines — as I said in Slack the other day headlines are slowly getting lazier and more boring (on the one hand) or too cutesy and self-amused (on the other). If they’re too straightforward, they’ll put readers to sleep; if they’re too ironic or in-jokey, they’ll drive readers away. We can be descriptive and also intriguing, challenging without being alienating.

Headlines should inspire a reaction, tell a good story, express an opinion (ideally, all three!); as much as anything else, they’re a good gut-check to make sure your story has an angle or a point. If you can’t come up with a good headline for your post, you need to ask yourself why you’re writing it.

2) Glibness — is our worst and most frequent sin. You can be blunt and candid without being glib. Gawker is a very loud megaphone, and its history means it’s accompanied by set of often unfair expectations about tone and angle. When people assume everything you say is meant to be cruel or mean-spirited, a small amount of sarcasm goes a very long way.

This is as much a rhetorical strategy as anything. We can subtly and correctly acknowledge that Christian Audigier’s clothing was worn by horrible people, or that Reddit is a hive of scum and villainy (to name two recent examples we talked through in edits), without overburdening posts with weak or overwrought jokes. Commenters will always make the bluntest and most obvious jokes; let’s leave those to them.

3) Obsession — Our most recent big, excellent, smart stories–Allie on the Duggars, Ashley on Reddit and Victoria Taylor, Andy on the subway shooting, Keenan on Buzzfeed–have come because writers became obsessed–they came across a big (or small) story, dove deep, wrote it all down, and asked every question that came up–blogging the whole time. Even in cases where we aren’t able to break the news or get the scoop, obsession leads to the kind of smart, comprehensive, popular, can’t-find-it-anywhere-else stuff that we’re all proud of.

This kind of story-hunting obsession is the first that goes when we start feeling ourselves too much. (Or when we spend too much time dicking around in Slack.) Allow your obsessions to carry you; whatever you do, don’t ever throw up your hands and figure someone else will do it, or that we’ll get it next time. If you’re having trouble prioritizing, talk to me or Leah B and we’ll help. And generally, on all these points, avail yourselves of your editors and Politburo! We’re here to help.



“It’s really touching!” my tipster says of Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Casey‘s farewell note to colleagues. He’s right.

No matter what war zone or rich potentate I’d been writing about, when I came home to the trailer park for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t a Wall Street Journal reporter — I was my mother’s son, living in place she’d raised me in. Those trips home kept me from getting a big head.

From: Casey, Nicholas
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2015 6:56 AM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Subject: The House the Journal Bought

Hi everyone. It’s been eight years, but it’s all done now. I’m finishing my time at The Wall Street Journal this week. I’m heading to The New York Times.

I want to ask you to watch over some of the great leaders this paper produced like Bruce Orwall, Rebecca Blumenstein, Matt Murray. They were my guiding lights, and they can be yours too if they aren’t already. And keep an eye on what the great writers at this paper are up to, like Miriam Jordan and John Emshwiller; Joe Parkinson and Nour Malas; Bill Spindle and David Luhnow; Meg Coker, Jose de Córdoba, Gary Fields, Charles Forelle, Adam Entous, Gordon Fairclough.

It’s a hard time at the Journal now with many people suddenly going away this summer for all sorts of reasons around the Empire. I just want to say before I leave that even if it takes the gestation period of a llama to report your story, sometimes that’s the time it takes. I believe that llamas are noble creatures and it’s those llama-length stories that are remembered. Find new ways to write them!/CONTINUES Read More

Memo to the Gawker Media staff:

From: Nick Denton
Date: Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 3:06 PM
Subject: Gawker financials ahead of Hogan trial
To: All Staff

Hey, a heads-up that there will be a negative story on Gawker’s financial position by Keith Kelly in Monday’s New York Post. Kelly is the same guy who wrote of the “disgrace” of the hacking of Gawker in 2011. And the Editor of the Post owes us no favors, especially after John Cook [Tom Scocca, actually] called him a pig-fucking drunk. It’s payback time. We dish it out; sometimes we have to take it.

Anyway, we got out ahead of the slam by releasing company financials that would have come out in trial anyway. The more facts that are out there, the harder it is to twist the story.

The information has gone out widely, but here’s the Observer pickup.

Breaking: Despite Hulk of a Lawsuit, Financials Show Gawker Making Money, Moves

By the way, I know I’m deluging people’s inboxes with all this press pickup. I assume you’d all rather know more than less.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Nick

——–

Update: Here’s Keith Kelly’s story

Denver Post editor Greg Moore sent the memo below to his staff earlier today. Some key points:

* No one should assume he or she will be doing in the future what they do now. We are going to have to reassign some people after the buyout is completed.

* Beginning July 6, you’ll notice the Monday and Tuesday newspapers are smaller. These days were our weakest in terms of circulation and revenue.

* We want to create an Audience team that will sit (figuratively) between Digital and the content departments. This will include an expanded social media team that will also dig into our analytics in real time.

Colleagues:

When we announced the buyout, I mentioned there would be changes to the print product, our work processes and new assignments. I also said that there would be dialogue about some of these changes. We will start some public meetings to share ideas the week of July 13.

In the meantime, here is where we are so far.

Beginning July 6, you’ll notice the Monday and Tuesday newspapers are smaller. These days were our weakest in terms of circulation and revenue. Denver and The West will start on page A2 Monday through Saturday. It will remain a stand-alone section on Sunday. On Monday, we will go to a two-section newspaper. The A section will have DTW, Nation/World, and editorials and weather on one page. The B section will have Sports, comics, puzzles and a single page of TechKnow. We are eliminating the $mart pages.

Tuesday’s newspaper will be similarly slimmed down. It is already a two-section newspaper. We will keep Fitness to one page on the back of the Sports section. The editorial page and weather will remain where they are.

These “quick read” newspapers will require much tighter editing of stories and virtual elimination of jumps. We imagine fewer jumps off Page One and Sports with maximum lengths of about 20-25 inches on stories. The space savings are significant but these changes also allow us to realign people and processes. We are beginning to think about that./CONTINUES Read More