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?Unknown 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

- Ezra Klein on the NYT Now app

– Ezra Klein on the NYT Now app

* @CraigMod: Best NYT Now summary ever | NYT’s @jswatz reacts
* Ezra Klein: Is the media becoming a wire service? (vox.com)

Letter to Romenesko
From DENNIS WILEN: In April 2011, I was the editor of AOL’s Brentwood Patch in Los Angeles. (That May I was fired for alleged racism; you covered it.)

In April 2011, Donald Trump was making “birther” noises and I remembered that he had been in my class at the University of Pennsylvania. I looked for him in our college yearbook, but he wasn’t there.

Trump (but not his Penn yearbook photo)

Donald Trump (but not his Penn yearbook photo)

Although the story was popular, it never got as big as I had hoped. And I got fired a few weeks later.

Flash forward.

Earlier this week, Trump was bragging about his success at Penn’s Wharton School, contrasting it with Senator John McCain’s Annapolis performance.

Nancy Dillon, LA Bureau Chief for the NY Daily News, found my old story and called for comments:

TUESDAY: New York Daily News

Talk show hosts Roe Conn and Anna Davlantes of WGN in Chicago were next:

WEDNESDAY: “Donald Trump was my college classmate”

And last night I was on “Access Hollywood,” thumbing through the Penn yearbook looking for Donald:

THURSDAY: “Access Hollywood” (I start @ 1:55)

What have I learned?

* It’s possible to be briefly famous in 2015 for NOT KNOWING SOMEONE in 1967-68
* I was right about that story. And it outlasted Brentwood Patch. ;-)


Earlier posts:
* Where were you when Lance Armstrong walked on the moon? (jimromenesko.com)
* Correction: Nike cut ties with Lance Armstrong, not Neil (imediaethics.org)

Update: Read comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers

– h/t Matt Mendelsohn

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.david “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)

From a sheriff’s office memo about Missoulian reporter Kate Haake:

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.”

Brenda Bassett

Brenda Bassett

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,gate 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)


“I’m an older journalism student at MSU Denver,” writes Romenesko reader Melanie Rice. “I came across this listing on JournalismJobs.com today. …Are ‘older’ journalists not welcome to apply?”

I asked Kelly Hawes, who placed this ad for the Anderson (IN) Herald Bulletin, and he replied:

We should probably edit the language in our ad. Certainly any journalist of any age is welcome to apply. The message we’re trying to convey is that this is an entry-level position, ideal for someone seeking that first job out of college. It’s probably not an ideal opportunity for a candidate with a bit more experience. We’ll certainly consider an older applicant, and we’d be happy to receive an application from Melanie.

* Talented young designer wanted (journalismjobs.com)

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

From: Max Read
Date: Monday, July 13, 2015
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.