The problem is not that news is available for free over the Internet, the problem is executivss who don't value the news at all, people whose idea of attracting readers it to increase local news coverage by firing reporters and adding unpaid bloggers who may be local but usually write about non-local topics.
Gannett, the biggest newspaper company in the United States, has been axing people right and left today, including 15 at the Springfield News-Leader, where news is no longer the operative word- now everything is multi-media.
This is about the third round of layoffs Gannett has had, if memory serves correctly, and that is in addition to two weeks of unpaid furlough that Gannett executives required all employees to take.
Happily, even though we watch another pink slip parade taking place, it is comforting to know that some people will hang onto their jobs.
It is highly doubtful that the Gannett officials responsible for sending condoms and advertisements for erotica to potential college students in the Springfield area will ever have to worry about where their next paycheck will come from. If you remember the News-Leader actually wrote a story promoting the Student Welcome Pack without telling readers that it was a Gannett marketing scheme and the Welcome Packs gave the false impression that they were approved by Missouri State University.
No one will lose their jobs for that, after all, cross-marketing is the big thing with newspaper companies, excuse me, media companies, these days.
And who can forget the prudent decision Gannett officials made to award themselves millions of dollars in bonuses while their employees wondered if they would have jobs the next day. Obviously, employees need to get their priorities straight. McDonald's will have jobs available for them, but if the executives don't get their bonuses they might have to let the household help go or put off much-needed yacht maintenance.
As I wrote in the March 17 Turner Report:
The Tucson Citizen will print its last edition soon, and all Gannett employees are being forced to take a one-week unpaid furlough sometime during this quarter, but that is not preventing the company from awarding its five top executives, including CEO Craig Dubow, nearly $2 million in bonuses.
The company spent several paragraphs in a proxy statement filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission explaining why the officials should receive the bonuses, and why Dubow should receive a $1 million annual salary.
Some of the excuses offered included:
Mr. Dubow’s minimum annual base salary under his employment contract is $1.2 million. The Committee honored Mr. Dubow’s request to voluntarily reduce his annual base salary to $1 million beginning November 1, 2008 and continuing through 2009. Mr. Dubow has not received a salary increase since January 2006. Ms. Martore’s salary is the minimum amount payable under her employment contract and she has not received a salary increase since April 2006. The Committee also accepted Mr. Dubow’s proposal that Company and divisional officers, including all NEOs, would not receive base salary increases in 2009. The Committee agreed with management that these salary actions were appropriate in light of the challenges facing the Company’s businesses, including recessions in the U.S. and the U.K. and their impact on advertising demand, the decline generally in equity values and specifically the Company’s stock price.
And that was just the start of the excuses offered in that proxy statement for executives' decisions that lined their pockets at the expense of their employees, their profits, and their readers.
So the next time you hear one of those jobless Gannett wretches complaining about the company, just remember, Craig Dubow was willing to take a pay cut for his company. It's not easy for a CEO to make it on a million dollars a year.
This kind of thinking is what has devalued newspapers. The Internet hasn't killed newspapers, newspaper executivss can see the real killers every time they look in the mirror.