Blood on the newsroom floor. . .survey and sales

The results of the system-wide employment engagement survey conducted by PwC for Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher and would-be buyer of the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers of Tribune Publishing, was emailed to staff earlier this week.

It’s noteworthy for a telling pair of bullet point sets [via Romenesko]:

The 5 questions with our lowest amount of favorable responses were:
* I have opportunities to achieve my personal career objectives.
* I feel confident that my organization will achieve its strategic goals.
* I would recommend Gannett to friends and family as a great place to work.
* I receive regular feedback and coaching on how well I do my work.
* My supervisor encourages risk taking within my organization.

Our 5 most favorable response questions were:
* I know what is expected of me at work.
* I understand how my job contributes to the success of Gannett.
* I have an open and honest relationship with my immediate manager/supervisor.
* I intend to stay with Gannett for at least another 12 months.
* My supervisor is interested in the well-being of employees.

Nothing could be more telling about the fate of the American newspaper business.

The Gannett reporters are clearly afraid to do what reporters do best: taking risks with the support of a congenial working environment, the kind you’d invite friends to join because it’s so damned fun and you’re working in an environment where your dreams can come true.

Instead, Gannett employees toe the line, albeit with the help of bosses they see as sympathetic [we suspect because they are keenly aware that they’re constrained by the same limits imposed on their staffs] and are resigned to their fate, a deadly combination when it comes to inspiring good reporting.

As for Tribune Publishing. . .

The outfit that owns the Los Angeles Times, a paper that once claimed the nation’s largest daily subscriber base, the Chicago Tribune, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and some other notable mastheads, has taken a desperate and somewhat pathetic measure as pressure mounts among shareholders for the sale to Gannett.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The owner of the Los Angeles Times has a new name and a newly elected board, but it’s still dealing with some old business: dissatisfaction from some shareholders with its decision to spurn a buyout offer from rival Gannett Co.

Although precise numbers weren’t available, a sizable percentage of Tribune shareholders – perhaps close to 40% — voiced disapproval with the company by withholding votes from its slate of board candidates, according to Gannett.  One investor filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying the company’s board has failed to act in shareholder interests.

Meanwhile, the war of words between the two companies continued, with Tribune blasting Gannett’s “symbolic” and “feeble” campaign to sway shareholders to withhold votes. Tribune said its board was elected with support from the majority of shareholders.

Following the vote, Tribune Publishing, the Chicago company that owns The Times, the Chicago Tribune and several other daily newspapers, said Thursday that it would change its name to Tronc Inc., taking the name from technology that executives have said will be crucial to the company’s turnaround strategy.



The new brand sounds like the cry an obese goose might make after hitting the ground in an unsuccessful effort to take wing.

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