Coming soon….the Milwaukee USA Journal Today Sentinel.

Typically a newspaper’s publisher and editor are replaced to facilitate all the change. “They like to have their own people in place, who are more familiar with corporate culture. Plus it’s a chance for people within the company to advance,” Hopkins notes.

“In recent years the company has gotten more top-down,” he adds. Yikes.

All national and international news for its papers is supplied by USA Today. The local paper and its local coverage is simply wrapped around USA Today. It not only saves money on any national reporters a newspaper might have once had, but saves money by not needing editorial staff to put the national/international section together.

Not many editors — in the traditional sense — are used. Writers for a particular beat may make story decisions (within Gannett guidelines) and a “writing coach” or “content coach” may edit stories by various reporters. In an attempt to appeal to younger readers, newspapers may have a “beverage reporter” (covering beer and the bar scene) and fashion reporter, while the state capitol desk might get just one reporter.

To get a sense of how much the Journal Sentinel’s staff might be cut, I compared its current editorial staff (editors, writers, photo, design and online people) of 117 people with Gannett papers in two mid-sized cities. The Louisville Courier Journal, in a metro area of 1.3 million, has just 63 total staff covering these same functions. The Indianapolis Star, in a metro area of 1.76 million people, has 89 staff covering these functions. Given Milwaukee’s metro population of 1.55 million, you’d expect the staffing to fall somewhere between the other two cities, meaning the Journal Sentinel loses in the neighborhood of 35-40 staff.

But considering that Gannett also owns 11 other newspapers in Wisconsin (more than it owns in any state but Ohio), there may be other reductions in overlap it achieves between the Milwaukee paper and the 11 smaller publications.

Odds are the people let go will be the most veteran, highest-paid staff, the ones most knowledgable about the community they are covering.

6 Responses to Coming soon….the Milwaukee USA Journal Today Sentinel!

  1. John Casper says:

    Big Labor can’t get its message out. I hope the AFL-CIO makes an offer.

  2. mywifesafarmer says:

    It’s always bad when good people lose their jobs, and Gannett Corp. is a master at cutting, especially editorial staff. (Their papers are often badly copy edited, for example, and their stories are usually cookie-cutter, i.e. USA Today style — lots of meaningless graphs and no context) Gannett Corp. is not in the newspaper business at all; it’s in the easy money business.
    That said, the JS for sometime has been busy promoting right-wingers like Walker and Vos and Ryan. It does this outright in the kinds of stories it publishes, their content and headlines, and in how quickly it “disappears” negative stories about Republicans from the front page of its Web site. Speaking truth to power and looking out for the average citizen by exposing corruption in politics? Nope. Fourth estate they’re not. So, if some of these so-called “journalists” lose jobs, I will have a hard time caring.
    For anyone who’s left, there’s going to be a new corporate master in town. Meet the new boss.

  3. Duane12 says:

    How sad is the fate of two great newspapers of the past,The Journal and the Sentinel!

    I delivered both as a south side teenager many years ago.

    I mourn their passing.

  4. Hal Apeno says:

    I went through a Gannett takeover and it wasn’t pretty. Everything Hopkins said is true.

  5. John Casper says:

    Per what I wrote above, the AFL-CIO can’t get its message out. A strategic alliance with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (300,000 Sunday print subscribers) would give them a digital, podcast, and print footprint.

    In April Journal Communications’ Chairman Steve Smith could sell the EW Scripps deal ito MJS workers/shareholders, because the new entity, Journal Media Group, (JMG), didn’t have any debt.

    Six-months later, what changed?

    Not the value of the real estate holdings.

    “The Journal Media Group owns some significant real estate assets in Wisconsin and in the other states in which it does business. The value of the company’s real estate may represent a considerable portion of the purchase price, since the intangible and goodwill assets of news organizations are virtually worthless today.

    A quick calculation shows the assessed value of Journal real estate in the Milwaukee area totals some $30 million. That’s more than ten per cent of the amount Gannett paid for the entire company.

    The Journal Sentinel headquarters downtown is assessed at about $9 million. An adjacent property, home to Major Goolsby’s tavern is assessed at over $1 million. The Journal Sentinel printing plant in West Milwaukee, located on 41 acres, is valued at $20 million.”

    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2015/10/09/plenty-of-horne-journal-sentinel-will-lose-all-local-control/

    The MJS hasn’t won its ninth Pulitzer.

    “Journal Sentinel Pulitzer Prizes: Newspaper has won the journalism prize eight times dating to 1919”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/90618044.html

    The deal hasn’t closed, but why is Gannett proposing to buy now at $12/share ($280,000,000 in Gannett stock), when JMG’s stock has been as low as $6/share? Is it a co-incidence that Gannett’s acquisition comes immediately after the crash of Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign? Is Gannett the wing nut’s back up plan for turning Wisconsin red?

    The AFL-CIO claims north of 12,000,000 members. Could an alliance or purchase of the MJS (Why would the AFL-CIO want the other, smaller JMG properties?) dwarf the New York Times and Wall Street Journal? Per the Nieman link, the New York Times has one-million digital subscribers, not sure how many print. The Wall Street Journal has fewer digital-only subscribers, but more print subscribers http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/04/newsonomics-the-wall-street-journal-is-playing-a-game-of-digital-catchup/ )

    As a basis for comparison, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250-million in cash. That helps keep Amazon arm-pit deep in federal contracts (they’re building the CIA’s cloud). The MJS still has a Washington, D.C. bureau, but it’s just one reporter, @WisVoter . To get the full value of the MJS, the AFL-CIO would have to enhance that.

    @megkissinger1 (Imminent Danger: A call for action: Let’s confront mental health crisis and save lives) http://www.jsonline.com/news/134341463.html , @fauber_mjs “Testosterone courses downplay risk” http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/testosterone-courses-downplay-risks-lead-to-overuse-in-older-men-b99595151z1-333591801.html , and @danpatrickegan’s reporting on Lake Michigan
    are examples of MJS reporters who’ve done national reporting.

    With a flexible, decentralized, evolving approach, ownership of the MJS allows each member union, each local, each member to have their own digital space. The eventual goal would be for each union and each local to take increasing responsibility for its web content. AFL-CIO could contract with the authors of a book like, “Return on Engagement: Content Strategy and Web Design Techniques for Digital Marketing,” for training and where needed, builds.

    “Is MJS software the content management template for all union papers? The MJS is already set up to handle subscribers. Does that evolve into how dues are collected?

    Would Amazon, give a year’s subscription to their “Prime,” product to every MJS subscriber at no charge? Google, eBay, and Walmart are competing with Amazon. “Google Shopping to Counter Amazon Testing ‘Buy Now’ Button, Other Enhancements to Build Online Commerce Site” http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-preps-shopping-site-to-challenge-amazon-1418673413 “Walmart Announces Big Online Sale Competing With Amazon Prime”
    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/walmart-announces-big-online-sale-compete-amazon-prime-day-n391186

    Would they match Amazon’s offer? What about music? Do Apple, Rhapsody, Spotify offer discounts? Would Netflix give a discount?

    In terms of retaining and increasing the 300,000 Sunday print subscribers, is there room for compromise? If the print edition went all Big Labor, all the time, it might lose a lot of subscribers in Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties.

    Would a billionaire such as Nick Hanauer, @NickHanauer , an outspoken advocate of reducing income inequality, have interest?

    “Beware fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming”

    https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming?language=en

    If so, could the MJS’s business reporting be ramped up to challenge Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal?

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