GateHouse began stripping the newspaper of any connections with the local community. Jobs that had been done in Norwich for decades were now farmed out so the new owners could milk every cent out of the publication, without adding anything of value.
When the printing was shipped off to Auburn, Mass., Publisher Ellen Lind, a holdover from the Gannett operation, explained it this way to her readers:
Those words were printed in the March 8, 2009, Bulletin. Ms. Lind did not write a column explaining the next step GateHouse took to cut costs. Five months later, the 62-year-old veteran publisher was kicked out the door, replaced by the newspaper's 39-year-old advertising manager.
The unblemished truth is, newspapers are changing. Some will survive and some won’t.
Here in Norwich, we’re working mighty hard to be on the list of survivors. Last Monday in this space, I wrote about the move of The Bulletin’s manufacturing operation to Auburn, Mass., next week. As a follow-up to those comments, I want to explain further the transition and the process.
A local team of approximately a dozen key people here at The Bulletin is working to redefine trucking patterns, ensure accurate electronic transmission of pages, working with preprint advertisers to make sure preprints are delivered to the correct locations and myriad other details.
Meanwhile, our colleagues in Auburn are performing press test runs, evaluating electronic transmission feeds, modifying production schedules and ensuring equipment and supplies are ready.
There will be some changes made to the paper as a result of this transition, changes we believe will make the paper better. We have never stopped trying to make the paper better, nor do we intend to stop. All the elements that are in the paper will remain, although it may be necessary to move some to other parts of the paper.
That step has landed GateHouse Media in federal court.
Ms. Lind's wrongful dismissal lawsuit, initially filed in state court, but transferred this week to U. S. District Court for Connecticut, outlines the way GateHouse gave her the old heave-ho.
Ms. Lind had never been given a negative evaluation and had received performance bonuses for the previous two years, but from the way GateHouse treated her, you would have thought she was caught skinny dipping in the company till.
"On July 31, 2009, plaintiff's manager, a younger male, Rick Daniels, president and CEO of GateHouse Media New England, traveled to Norwich from GateHouse Media's New England headquarters located in Massachusetts to advise plaintiff that defendants intended to temrinate plaintiff for cause
"At no time during plaintiff's employment with defendants was she informed of any deficiencies in the performance of her job duties.When plaintiff discussed the reason for cause with Mr. Daniels, demonstrating the underlying facts were not well founded, Mr. Daniels stated he would get back to her.
"On Aug. 5, 2009, Mr. Daniels returned for a second time to the Bulletin and informed plaintiff that she was 'at will' and no cause was required to fire plaintiff. Mr. Daniels then stated that plaintiff was going to be replaced by Paul Provost, a significantly younger (39 years of age) male who would take on plaintiff's duties because the newspaper was going in a new direction."
During a meeting five days later, according to the lawsuit, Daniels refused to tell her why she would not be capable of leading the newspaper in this different direction, and wouldn't even tell her what the new direction was.
Provost was announced as the newspaper's publisher in September 2009.
Mrs. Lind is asking for a jury trial and for damages in excess of $50,000, according to the petition.
GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun, and more than 300 newspapers across the United States.