Tag: Courier-Journal

CJ owner Gannett chopping 2% of its workforce

It’s unclear whether those job cuts will come across all Gannett’s newspapers, including The Courier-Journal, or whether some will take bigger hits than others. The employment reduction, announced this morning in all all-points memo from the corporate office, comes amid forecasts that the company’s ad revenue plunged more than 12% in the third quarter, just ended; the actual results will be released Thursday.

Gannett doesn’t break out employment by subsidiary, so it’s unclear how many people work at the CJ. Company-wide, Gannett employs about 18,700; a 2% cut would be equal to about 375 jobs.

Here’s the memo from Gannett CEO Bob Dickey:

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing to share with you some critical moves we are making this week and offer some context about how they are important for our company. We have made strides in building a strong and unified culture. Honesty and transparency are cornerstones of that culture, and I am committed to both.

Over the past 16 months, we have worked hard to execute our strategy with purposeful moves:

  • expanding our footprint with the acquisitions of Journal Media Group and North Jersey Media Group.
  • creating high quality journalism, while building one nationwide news organization with the launch of the USA TODAY NETWORK.
  • leading with digital with the acquisition of ReachLocal, a best-in-class digital marketing services company, to name just a few major achievements.

These moves are central to our transformation into a leading, next-generation media company. The positive impact of these efforts will take time, which in the near-term requires us to assertively manage our costs. What’s required is not easy and I do not take it lightly.

We made the decision to reduce about 2% of our workforce across the organization, including at headquarters. We will communicate with the majority of those affected by the end of the day on Oct. 25, with actions completed by the end of the week.

We will all feel the loss of great colleagues. Each and every one of you has my deep gratitude for your many contributions to the success of our company. Actions like these are difficult, but I remain steadfastly committed to reinvesting in our employees and the capabilities required to sustain and grow our company so that we may continue to serve our customers with excellence.

Over the next 18 months, we will continue to build our scale and invest in important digital capabilities and experiences – such as critical e-commerce infrastructure and significant upgrades to our digital content platforms. I appreciate your continued commitment to the company and the future we are building together.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts, questions and ideas with me. I have created an email box specifically for your feedback at AskBob@Gannett.com.

Bob Dickey
President and CEO

Storm clouds gather over CJ owner Gannett Co.

Newspapers are suffering an accelerating drop in print advertising, a market that already was under stress, forcing some publishers to consider significant cost cuts and dramatic changes to their print and digital products, according to a new Wall Street Journal story with implications for The Courier-Journal and the broader Louisville media scene.

cj-october-21
Today’s Page One.

Jefferies stock analyst John Janedis has forecast an even more difficult calendar third quarter. Last month he lowered his estimates for Gannett Co., forecasting a 12.5% drop in combined print and digital ad revenues.

We’ll see how accurate he is when Gannett reports third-quarter results next Thursday morning.

Wall Street is worried. Gannett’s stock traded at a new 52-week low this morning, $10.16, before easing back into the black.

The figures will come after a recent management shake-up at the CJ, where top editor Neil Budde quit unexpectedly last week. Published reports said management believed too much emphasis had been placed on digital vs. the print version. That’s hard to fathom, however, when newspapers face more and more competition from online upstarts such as Insider Louisville.

CJ top editor Budde is out, effective immediately; paper to ‘sharpen our focus on investigative journalism’

Neil Budde‘s abrupt resignation was announced this morning in an email to staff from Publisher Wesley Jackson, who didn’t provide an explanation for his departure. Budde, who is about 60, had been in the job since September 2013.

neil-budde
Budde

Budde leaves as the paper faces heightened competition from legacy rivals such as WDRB and from new ones: WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, and digital standalone Insider Louisville.

In his email, Jackson said: “We will sharpen our focus on investigative journalism and the urgency of all our coverage while doubling down on our goals of building new audiences and engaging them digitally.”

Jackson didn’t say whether any other staffing changes were in the works.

CJ owner Gannett Co. is ramping up efforts to coordinate news coverage among the approximately 100 dailies in the chain by having reporters from different sites work together on projects with a more national scope. The Louisville paper’s shakeup also comes as Gannett draws closer to buying Tronc, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and seven other big dailies plus 160 smaller weekly and monthly niche titles.

Jeff Taylor, the top editor at the CJ’s sister paper, the Indianapolis Star, will serve as interim editor while a permanent editor is found, according to Jackson.

Schnatter dumps another 86K Papa John’s shares; and U.S. economy added 156K jobs in September, weaker than forecast

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 9:24 a.m.

PAPA JOHN‘s CEO John Schnatter continued unloading shares in the pizza giant, selling another 86,000 on Wednesday and Tuesday for $6.6 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. That trade followed Monday’s, where the executive sold 73,637, and are in accordance with a trading plan he adopted early last month.

schnatter-stock-sales

The chain’s shares closed yesterday at $75.41.

In other news, the economy added 156,000 jobs last month vs. a forecast 170,000, the Labor Department said. The jobless rate, meanwhile, rose to 5% from 4.9% in August, according to the agency (multiple news accounts).

Courier-Journal owner Gannett Co.’s bid to acquire Tronc, owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other papers, could wrap up in the next two weeks if all the due diligence now underway checks out, sources tell the New York Post. “There is no disagreement on price, but there is still some [work] to be done,” one source close to the situation told the New York tabloid (Post).

The Post report follows an earlier one at Politico, which speculated the deal could be announced as early as this week.

CJ owner Gannett’s new head of investigative reporting: ‘They want someone who is exclusively focused on investigative work’

As The Courier-Journal’s owner advances on a takeover of the Los Angeles Times and more than 160 other titles, it has promised it won’t take a top-down approach to managing news at the company’s existing chain of more than 100 papers.

chris-davis-gannett
Davis

A big test of that pledge comes with one of Gannett Co.’s newest editors, Chris Davis, hired for a new position leading the company’s chain-wide investigative reporting. He joined the company in July from the Tampa Bay Times, where he edited two Pulitzer Prize-winning projects.

In a new interview, Davis talked to industry trade site Columbia Journalism Review about what he sees in the future for the CJ and Gannett’s other dailies. Here’s an excerpt:

cj-september-7-20176
Today’s paper.

What do you think this new position says about Gannett’s journalistic ambitions now and in the future, especially as the company continues to refine its strategy?

To me, it’s a clear signal that the editors here are putting journalism first, particularly investigative journalism. They could have hired all sorts of people, but they wanted someone who could come in and really drive the most important kind of journalism, which is watchdog and investigative work. I think it shows a clear commitment, and it was one of the reasons I was intrigued at the outset. They want someone who is exclusively focused on investigative work to be in a top-level position. I think that says a lot.

Read the full Q&A here.

Follow the money: A trail of footnotes and government documents leads to Insider Louisville’s front door

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

In business journalism, some of the most interesting news shows up in fine-print footnotes in documents companies file with government agencies. Hospital and nursing giant Kindred Healthcare is great example. Last spring in a statement to stockholders, it disclosed two special payments to top executives: $6 million to then-executive vice chairman Paul Diaz in connection with his leaving the CEO’s job, and $250,000 to Chief Financial Officer Steven Farberto help him escape a high-profile dispute with a Glenview neighbor. But to uncover that, you had to follow three different footnotes on a table showing how much they got paid overall.

Insider Louisville logoThis leads me to another footnote, of sorts — one that appeared on a story today at Insider Louisville, the online news site launched in 2010, and to a document I’ve run across at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Together, they open a window on who’s investing in Louisville’s news media at a time when the once-dominant Courier-Journal has been losing influence amid steep staff cutbacks, shifting the balance of power in Kentucky’s biggest city. They underscore the importance of news outlets everywhere telling readers who’s behind the scenes, and about any conflicts of interest owners may pose for their publication. (I’ve got disclosures of my own.)

This morning, at the bottom of a long story about the Humana Foundation, Insider Louisville editors added this disclosure: “One of the five directors of the Humana Foundation is David A. Jones Jr., an investor of Insider Louisville.”

David A. Jones Jr.
Jones

Jones is one of Louisville’s more influential residents. He’s on the board of directors of Humana itself, and his father, David A. Jones Sr., is a co-founder of the insurance giant. Jones Jr. is a partner at Chrysalis Ventures, the Louisville venture-capital firm he founded in 1993, and he’s chairman of the elected seven-person board overseeing the Jefferson County Public Schools. (Here’s Chrysalis’s portfolio of company investments; it doesn’t show Insider Louisville, which suggests this was a personal investment.)

Tom Cottingham
Cottingham

To be sure, close readers of Insider Louisville have known Jones was an investor for several years. In August 2014, owner Tom Cottingham told readers he’d brought in three new minority investors he knew from a prior venture: Jones; Doug Cobb, the former Greater Louisville Inc. CEO, and Jon Pyles, now the site’s vice president of marketing. The story — which carried only a “staff” byline — didn’t say how much they’d invested, nor the exact size of their stake. Cottingham said he remained the majority holder.

Douglas Cobb
Cobb

Now, though, an SEC document filed in April offers more clues about the publication’s investors, whom we learned this summer include a prominent heiress to the glittering Brown-Forman whiskey fortune. I can’t find any mention of the regulatory filing on Insider Louisville’s website, nor in any other media outlet in Louisville. My readers may well correct me after I publish this post; in any case, this is certainly the first time I’m writing about it.

The April 12 document shows that Insider Louisville LLC raised $975,000 from 12 investors in a $1.5 million stock offering that drew the first investment March 31. It didn’t identify the investors by name, however, and it didn’t say how big their stakes were. The first $450,000 was to pay down an undisclosed amount of debt, according to the document; anything left over would go to any of its directors: Jones, Cottingham, and a third named Jamie Wilson. (Who’s Wilson? I haven’t figured that out; maybe one of my readers knows.)

Minimum investment: $25K

Continue reading “Follow the money: A trail of footnotes and government documents leads to Insider Louisville’s front door”