Gannett Co. Inc. owns the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, where I worked from 1974 to 1998. Newspaper work was good to me, and Gannett was good to me, but I’m glad I was able to retire when I did. I am reminded why I’m glad as I read this by David Carr in the New York Times.
Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett’s chief executive [on Oct. 6]. His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.
Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.
Given that legacy, it was about time Mr. Dubow was shown the door, right? Not in the current world we live in. Not only did Mr. Dubow retire under his own power because of health reasons, he got a mash note from Marjorie Magner, a member of Gannett’s board, who said without irony that “Craig championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information.”
But the board gave him far more than undeserved plaudits. Mr. Dubow walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits. That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years.
And also this, by Peter Lewis, formerly of the Des Moines Register, New York Times, Time magazine and Stanford University journalism school.
Mr. Dubow … required many employees to take unpaid leaves of absence, and instituted pay freezes. He referred to this as “increasing workplace efficiencies.” … …
Mr. Dubow managed to keep earnings high, according to analysts, by cutting costs (i.e. people) more aggressively than any other company in the media industry. Gannett refers to this as “workplace restructuring.” … …
Gracia Martore, who replaces Dubow as CEO, said: “We will continue our relentless quest to provide trusted news and information and will actively support the people and businesses in the communities we serve.”
These people are lying. The corporate goal is not to serve the consumer; it’s to maximize profits and pay packages for top executives. Can anyone argue that Gannett newspapers and journalism are better today, and that news consumers are better served?
How did Mr. Dubow and Gannett serve the consumer? They laid off journalists. They cut the pay of those who remained, while demanding that they work longer hours. They closed news bureaus. They slashed newsroom budgets. As revenue fell, and stock prices tanked, and product quality deteriorated, they rewarded themselves [with] huge pay raises and bonuses.
via Words & Ideas.