The Denver Post is reporting that the Colorado Springs Gazette has let about a dozen employees go, including editor Jeff Thomas.
Filed under: Layoffs
If you have a pitch sitting with an ABC News producer, better follow up quickly. ABC announced today it will cut 300-400 news division staffers as part of a “transformation” to make the division leaner. The layoffs represent up to 25 percent of ABC News’ total staff.
UPDATE: PRNewswer spoke with ABC News President David Westin about the PR implications of the layoff.
CBS4 is shuffling the chairs on its morning news show, and the odd woman out is weather forecaster Stacey Donaldson. Michael Roberts at Westword has the details.
Denver’s loss is Toronto’s gain. David Milstead, the talented business and financial columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, has accepted a reporter position with Toronto-based Globe and Mail. Milstead would have been a strong addition to the Denver Post, but his candid coverage of the events surrounding the Rocky’s closing – and the Post’s own less-than-solid financial footing – seemingly cost him that chance.
Here is Milstead’s email announcing the news to friends and colleagues:
From: David Milstead
Date: September 22, 2009 3:44:43 PM MDT
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: Milstead update
I will be joining the Globe and Mail, Canada’s Toronto-based national newspaper, as a reporter in its Report On Business section. I’ll be doing something similar to what I did at the Rocky Mountain News – specialty finance coverage. (No column, however.)
The Globe and Mail competes directly with The National Post, which describes itself as a national newspaper, but fails to distribute in some provinces and has suspended publication of its Monday paper. The Toronto Star and The Sun provide local news in the market.
I consider myself fortunate to find a full-time job with benefits with an excellent newspaper that has a serious commitment to business journalism. The Report On Business has about three dozen reporters; the day I interviewed, it was 20 broadsheet pages. All told, the Globe and Mail has more than 300 newsroom employees and circulates about 330,000 copies a day.
My first day will be Nov. 2.
I believed from the beginning that I would face the choice of leaving journalism or leaving Denver, and thought it more likely I’d leave journalism. I had prepared myself for that possibility, and am somewhat shocked to be heading right back into the newspaper business.
It was not our goal or preference to leave Denver, and we will miss all the wonderful people we’ve met in the last eight years. We will keep in touch.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis danced on the grave of the Rocky Mountain News, and now U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has thrown a shovel full of dirt at the Las Vegas Review-Journal hoping it sparks something. Here’s a free PR tip: Quit publicly rooting for something that would be devastating to the hundreds of your constituents who are LVRJ employees and the hundreds of thousands who are subscribers.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan has laid off nine staff members in its second round of layoffs this year. The Denver Business Journal has the details.
Meteorologist Chris Dunn, who was let go from Fox31 last month, has been picked up by Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO-TV. Dunn is the station’s new weekday evening meteorologist.
Fox31 has told high school sports reporter Marcia Neville that her contract will not be renewed, making her the eighth television sports personality to be let go this year, according to the Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow.
Meteorologist Chris Dunn and reporters Audra Ensign and Charlie Brennan were among six laid off at KDVR/Fox31 yesterday. Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post has the details.
Meterologist Nick Carter, who was let go from 9News for salary reasons in January, has landed at Fox31.
Filed under: Layoffs
Could someone please explain to me how former KWGN/Channel 2 anchor Ernie Bjorkman can make the rounds on national media talking about his financial struggles after losing his anchor job? Today it was the Oprah Winfey show. The guy made $250,000 a year and within five months of being out of work he has to borrow $1,000 from a friend to cover his car payment. Seriously?
KMGH/Channel 7 won’t renew longtime Denver news reporter and anchor Steve Saunders’ contract, and his last day will be Aug. 15. Saunders, the son of former Rocky Mountain News media critic Dusty Saunders and the widower of Emmy-award-winning Denver television news producer Pam Saunders, spent the past decade at KMGH, and was at KWGN/Channel 2 for eight years prior to that. Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post has the details.
We’ve heard rumors for several days that 9News is dumping investigative reporter Paula Woodward, and now the rumor mill has Reggie Rivers out as CBS4′s weekend sports anchor. We’re starting a pool for the last Denver news personality over age 30.
The Denver Newspaper Agency today let go the first 40 employees of a planned 200-employee reduction.
Filed under: Layoffs
Here’s wishing best of luck to Colorado Media Matters’ Bill Menezes and his staff, who were let go this week after a national reshuffling that consolidated its operations in Washington, D.C. Bill will continue to consult with Media Matters for a couple of months, but will be looking for other opportunities after that.
Hearst announced today that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will morph from a print publication to online-only, starting tomorrow. But if you were looking for the online version to be as beefy as it has been, you’ll be disappointed. Hearst will staff the “new” PI at 20 people, down from 150 for the print version.
Fresh on the heels of the Rocky’s shutdown, Time Magazine offers its Top 10 List of Newspapers That Will Fold or Go Digital-Only (fortunately, the Denver Post is not one of them).
(Hat Tip: The Denver Egotist)
So, it’s been a week since we learned that Scripps would shut the Rocky Mountain News down. The most recent developments:
- The Denver Business Journal reports that Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group is “experimenting with producing a customized, printable electronic newspaper (that it) hopes to begin testing … this summer in an undisclosed market to be selected.”
- A number of former Rocky scribes are continuing to develop content that is being posted to IWantMyRocky.com.
- Michael Roberts at Westword reports on former Rocky sportswriter Tracy Ringolsby, who has migrated to the Web with his new blog, InsideTheRockies.com. Roberts also has an interview with former Rocky business reporter David Milstead, whose aggressive coverage of the the Scripps vs. MediaNews fight may have cost him a job at the Post.
Millionaire software entrepreneur turned U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who perhaps still hasn’t quite grasped the idea that he represents constituents, has offered an apology for his gleeful comments about the death of the Rocky Mountain News.
There is a fine line between being balanced and poking your advertisers in the eye. Given that Intrawest and Vail Resorts have both announced significant revenue declines and employee layoffs, I’m guessing they think this is the latter. Money quote:
“I started coming to Deer Valley in 1998,” says David Adamson. “I used to go to Colorado every year, but the snow in Utah is the best in the world, and the travel to and from L.A. is so easy.”
A tremendous behind-the-scenes look at how Scripps’ decision to close the Rocky Mountain News played out in the newsroom.
Filed under: GBSM, GroundFloor Media, Layoffs, Metzger, Pure Brand, Rocky Mountain News, Webb PR
Among those offering their thoughts on the demise of the Rocky Mountain News are Metzger’s Lisa Greim (a former Rocky business reporter who offers a touching eulogy for the paper), Webb PR’s Pete Webb, GBSM’s Steve Silvers, GroundFloor’s Ramonna Tooley and Pure’s Larry Holdren.
9News anchor/reporter Ward Lucas has decided to leave the station, and will anchor his last broadcast this weekend. Also, CBS4 is outsourcing its helicopter operations and, as a result, pilot/personality Mike Silva is being let go. Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post has the details on both.
Apparently The Denver Egotist’s recent recruitment drive has netted it a bunch of softies, because the advertising-focused site that helps Denver suck less, daily, is going all public servicey by trying to find jobs for PR/advertising/marketing/creative types who have found themselves unemployed. The details are here. And if you know someone who has lost their job, pass the word.
A profoundly sad day for Colorado – Friday will be the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News. Here’s the coverage:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
• Rocky Mountain News to close, publish final edition Friday
• The Rocky tick-tock of the internal announcement
• Scripps press release announcing the news
• Video of the Scripps CEO announcing the news to staffers
• Recession forced closure, Boehne says
• Friday last day for the Rocky Mountain News
• Through the years: A gallery of the Rocky
• Q&A on the closure of the Rocky Mountain News
• Ritter: Newspaper’s closure ‘sad’
• MediaNews statement on Rocky Mountain News
DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL
• Rocky Mountain News to shut down Friday
• Reaction to the Rocky shutdown
• Post to stand pat on ad rates despite Rocky closure
• Denver Newspaper Agency renegotiating $150M loan
• Singleton, MediaNews seen as potential buyer for San Francisco daily
EDITOR & PUBLISHER
• Rocky Mountain News to close after Friday edition
I WANT MY ROCKY BLOG
• Rocky will publish last paper Friday
David Milstead at the Rocky Mountain News reports that unions representing employees at the Denver Newspaper Agency have reached a tentative agreement on wage and benefit cuts that average 11.7 percent. According to Milstead, “Today’s tentative agreement includes salary reductions averaging 7 percent, 10 unpaid days off for most workers, the suspension of the 401(k) match, cuts in sick days and mileage reimbursements, and increases in health and dental premiums.” Layoffs are still a possibility if the agreement doesn’t yield the $18 million in concessions the DNA was seeking.
Michael Roberts at Westword has multiple sources telling him that the Denver Post has begun the process of cherry-picking Rocky Mountain News talent.
E.W. Scripps CEO Rich Boehne popped out of his hole this morning and saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of excruciating limbo for Rocky Mountain News employees. If I were Boehne, the first thing I would do, aside from using my bonus money to short Scripps stock, would be to hire David Milstead to calculate how much it would cost to shut down the Rocky, since apparently even 10 weeks after stating his intention to sell or shutter the paper he still has no idea how much it would cost to actually close it down. Ten weeks. Seriously. Oh, and Scripps employees nationwide will see pay cuts of 3-5 percent.
Citing budget cuts that forced his hand, Denver Post Editor Greg Moore announced the layoffs of six non-union employees: managing editor Gary Clark, political Web site editor Stephen Keating, assistant city editor Cynthia Pasquale, assistant design director Ingrid Muller, online director Mark Cardwell and systems editor Eric Strom. Michael Roberts at Westword has the details.
KMGH/Channel 7 anchor Bertha Lynn may be the next high-profile Denver television anchor to get the boot. Colorado Association of Black Journalists President (and 850 KOA executive producer) Amani Ali sent an urgent – and passionate – letter to members yesterday asking members to contact KMGH management because the station “is making a concerted effort to terminate the employment of Bertha Lynn” who “has excelled in spite of being taken off of the prime time anchor desk, moved around, and disrespected while being subjected to intolerable working conditions.” You can read the full letter here.
The most interesting predictions often are the ones that have a 2 percent chance of coming true. So in that spirit, let me offer this prediction: Scripps has analyzed the numbers and realized that it can outlast MediaNews Group if it is willing to suffer another tough six months. MediaNews Group will be forced to fold the Denver Post by summer, and the Rocky Mountain News will survive as the only major daily in Denver.
Will that prediction come true? Probably not. But if the economics of being the only newspaper in town work for MediaNews Group, they should also work for Scripps. And Scripps seems much better positioned financially to ride out a tough six months than MediaNews Group. We are just two days away from mid-February, which is a full month after Scripps initially implied a decision would be made about shutting down the Rocky, and there still has been no word on its fate.
It is hard to figure out which is in worse financial shape: the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Newspaper Agency. Post publisher MediaNews Group often seems to be teetering on the brink of missing its debt payments, the Rocky is almost certain to be shut down, and now Jeff Smith at the Rocky reports that the DNA needs to cut about $35 million through union concessions, roughly double what had been reported previously.
Fox 31 sports anchor Eric Goodman is the latest Denver television personality to be let go. Dusty Saunders at the Rocky Mountain News reports that Fox 31 “executives did not renew the contract of Goodman, who joined the station in October 2004.”
Boulder- and Miami-based ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky announced plans to lay off about 60 employees, or nearly 7 percent of its workforce, due to “the current economic climate (and) advertising budgets (that) are being reduced in virtually every industry.” It is not clear how many of the firm’s 500 Boulder-based employees might be involved.
As expected, Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group has expanded its employee furlough program, adding media properties in Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The program requires employees to take week-long unpaid leaves in an effort to reduce payroll costs. While the company has not yet required Denver Post employees to take furloughs, it is currently negotiating with the paper’s union representatives in an attempt to cut pay and benefits to the tune of $2 million. And you can expect the furloughs to be part of any deal that is reached.
Adding insult to injury, the Denver Newspaper Agency appears to be among those who have written off any future for the Rocky Mountain News. David “Screw a Job with the Post. If I’m Going Down, I’m Going Down with Style” Milstead has the details on a letter to advertisers that has been prepared by the DNA.
I removed Schenkein from the “Denver Agencies” list and its Tracked Changes blog from the “Blogs Worth Reading” list today. Schenkein was a blue-chip name in Denver, and a lot of great public relations people passed through its doors over the years. Here’s hoping that those who were with it at the end find other positions quickly.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the fate of the Rocky Mountain News could be decided within the next week.
Could a furlough program that MediaNews Group has instituted in California wind up sidelining some Denver Post reporters eventually? MediaNews is “requiring all nonunion employees who work at the company’s California newspapers to take one week of unpaid leave this quarter to help cut costs,” and a company spokesman says it is also considering requiring furloughs at its media properties outside California.
The Rocky Mountain News candlelight march to show support for the newspaper is tonight at 6 p.m. The march will begin at the Denver Press Club on Glenarm Place and end at the Denver Newspaper Building on West Colfax Ave. Details are here.
The news about the Rocky Mountain News is that there is no news. Mark Harden at the Denver Business Journal reports that Scripps “is maintaining its silence on its plans for the money-losing Denver daily — or if there’s an offer on the table for the newspaper.”
More than 200,000 jobs have been cut in the past month alone, 68,000 of which were announced today. The good news? Many economists predict that the recession will end after the second quarter of 2009.
9News meteorologist Nick Carter is the latest Denver television news personality to be axed due to the tough economy. Carter’s contract will not be renewed, and his last day on air will be this Friday. Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post has the details.
Ernie Bjorkman may have had a bigger audience in the past month as a vet tech than he had in his final six months as an anchor with KWGN/Channel 2. First, the New York Times profiled him as the face of what is happening to experienced (i.e. old and expensive) anchors, then 20/20 jumped on the bandwagon. Now, he will be appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (with Ted Danson) this Wednesday (3 p.m. on KUSA/Channel 9). So what does Bjorkman think of all this? He tells the Denver Post’s Bill Husted, “Getting fired has landed me more publicity than anything I’ve ever done in 26 years in Denver.”
By Jon Pushkin, APR and Gina Seamans, APR
The news about the News hit Denver’s PR community like a bombshell. Partly that’s because we spend a good deal of our time building relationships with members of the media. We get to know them as people and in many case we build friendships that go well beyond the newsroom.
So when the finality of the announcement that the News was on life support was delivered to employees matter-of-factly by the corporate decision makers in the Scripps company, we felt their pain as though it was our own.
We also had another eye-opening realization that was even more sobering. That is that newspapers and the journalists who work for them are disposable. It is one thing to make a business decision to sell or close a company that is not profitable. But in this case, the surprising thing is what the people making this decision failed to see: the value in the brand is worth more than the money they will save by closing the Rocky.
The equity in a 150-year-old brand like the Rocky Mountain News is priceless. Maybe you tweak the business model or make some significant changes, but you don’t just discard it. The intellectual capital represented by the talented journalists who work at the News is another valuable asset that the owners fail to appreciate. Rather than asking for options or even concessions, the owners are content to dispose of that asset as well.
A free and vibrant press is a core pillar of public relations. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Ethics states that “protecting and advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society.” Healthy communities and democratic societies depend on the free flow of information to help the public make informed decisions about important issues. The troubling trend toward eliminating newspapers and treating journalists as expendable will have a serious long-term impact on the health of our communities.
Blogs and social media and word of mouth are important sources of information but they are no substitute for professional news organizations. They usually have a particular perspective and they generally do not cover stories in the same in-depth way that a reporter would. In many cases, the people who provide the news through those channels are not professional journalists. They are not Clark Kent or Lois Lane or Damon Runyon or Jimmy Breslin or Thomas Friedman. They are just people with opinions who like to express them in public forums with other people who share those same interests. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not news. Too often it is just noise.
PRSA Colorado believes that the loss of the News would be devastating to our city’s culture and reputation. We call on the decision makers at Scripps to exhaust every potential buyer and to consider other creative options before they close the paper. We offer our assistance to help them explore these options and research reasonable alternatives. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the News and encourage them to keep the faith.
Disposing of a priceless brand and a valuable asset is not good business. It is just bad PR.
Jon Pushkin is president of Pushkin Public Relations and a past president of the Colorado chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Gina Seamans is a senior counselor at JohnstonWells and president of the Colorado chapter of PRSA.