Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No surprise, but still a shame

The Cincinnati Post will close at the end of the year. All the speculation about whether it would survive in one form or another is ended. Will anyone miss the Post? Circulation was down below 29,000, and the Post wasn't doing a good job of keeping the Enquirer honest, so I don't know why anyone will miss it.

Could Scripps trade something in its portfolio to Gannett for the Enquirer, to keep a newspaper presence in its home city? And would Scripps bother to keep its headquarters here in Cincinnati? Those are questions not answered by the story in the Post, and I don't expect the Enquirer to ask those questions. There seem to be fresh rumors about a trade, but I'm not on the edge of my seat waiting for it to happen. Why would we expect Scripps to run the Enquirer any better than it ran the Post?

Read the Post story, and see how long it takes for it to mention the fate of the newsroom employees. Another question not answered is whether the Enquirer will take on any of them.

Two tidbits come out of the Post story. The first is that Post's profits from the JOA have been declining, which indicates also how far the Enquirer's profits have fallen -- but Gannett is still making tens of millions of dollars here, and that begs the question why have staff and resources been cut so far? And look at the circulation numbers at the bottom of the story: It looks like the Enquirer's circulation climbed during the years when Larry Beaupre was editor, then tumbled after the Chiquita debacle.

42 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Post should have died years ago. What other town our size has two dailies?

As for the Enquirer, it is also doomed unless it realizes quickly that lowering standards also makes the barriers to entry smaller, too. If simple Web stories are the future, why do we need the Enquirer? What's so special about them? I'll start a blog, hire stringers, pay them per story hit and be done with it.

Also, something that doesn't get said much on this (excellent) blog ... most Enquirer reporters now just aren't very good. The best ones have either left or been emasculated to the point where they gave up caring.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Whig said...

I happened to pick up a copy of Friday's Post while changing planes in Hebron (since, obviously, Mr. Whig has passed from the Cincinnati scene like King's News and The Wheel).

It was like seeing a frail, emaciated relative on its deathbed. And it makes me sad.

I read the Post all the time when I lived in Cincinnati since I already knew what was going to be in The Enquirer.

It's sad, too, because it goes back such a long way, and as the old saying goes, it takes four Cincinnatians to change a light bulb - one to change it and three to talk about how good the old one was. Hell, The Post acquired the assets of the Cincinnati Times-Star back in 1958, a paper which twice tried to buy The Enquirer.

But wow - $14 million profit in 2006? That's a tight ship.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous mr. whig said...

also, this just in: CINCINNATI NEWSPAPER GUILD STILL BREATHING, BUT JUST BARELY

http://tinyurl.com/2ptetn

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And over at the Enquirer, plans are being drawn for yet another round of staff reshuffling, and resulting reductions of coverage. The newspaper's top management, it seems, is oblivious to the carnage it is creating.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will always remember the Post for its spunk. The Enquirer is nothing but a cog in the Gannett Corp. wheel. Gannett beats up on Margaret Buchanan for failing to meet profit demands. Buchanan beats up on Tom Callinan for failing to cut newsroom jobs fast enough. Then Callinan beats up on his skeleton staff for missing stories. Hopefully we'll have regime change from Buchanan-Callinan and see the paper hire people who know better than to make the finished product worse and worse.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious ... Is Buchanan good at her job? I hear she's demanding ... she likely isn't given much slack from corporate ... would she have been a good publisher in the old days -- motivating, tough and a strong public face?

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer on Buchanan is interesting.

In the old days, whenever that was, she might have been a better performer. She is tough and demanding, though her ego sometimes gets in the way of communication.

She is not a frequent sight in the newsroom -- the best publishers know their presence there makes people nervous. But she does scare the beejesus out of Callinan.

She fusses about a lack of sophistication in the paper, but then allows Callinan/Towns to dumb the living crap out of the product (I personally find the lifestyle presentations to be offensive and the Page 1 philosophy is kindergartenish at best).

Worse, she thinks Towns is a star. enough said there.

On the other hand, she is aware of the competition and she knows when the paper has been beaten on a story.

So for what it's worth, I think she's like a lot of people in the business these days -- wants to do the right thing but is driven by the corporate BS. Gannett is infamous for its news strategy buzzwords that do more to turn off the juices than to get them cooking.

But Buchanan is a decent woman and a tough manager, and that's to her credit.

She would rise much higher in the eyes of the rank and file if she would dispatch some of her top managers to the gulags into which they rightfully belong, and make a statement that whatever the new world of journlism becomes, the best interest of Enquirer readers and the city of Cincinnati will be served.

I know many people have made up their minds that will not happen. I confess I approach such ideas with skepticism as well.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buchanan showed sound judgment when she listened to the pleas of the tortured features staff and ordered the demotion of the former slavemaster Sara Pearce. Callinan is too timid and too much of a short-timer to make a tough call like that himself. He simply takes too much pleasure in holding court with his yes-people direct reports and would never, ever fault himself or his lackeys with the Enquirer's suicidal swim to the readerless ocean bottom. Most organizations FIRE inept leaders. The Enquirer apparently has a special incentive program to find and keep them.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Margaret is surrounded by ineptitude on her staff. The problem is the poorest in decency and judgment skills are long-time Gannett and were here prior to Buchanan's arrival.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many good people has the Enquirer news staff lost since Buchanan/Callinan came to town?

And how many were lost specifically because of these issues?

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anybody name names?

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, any ineptness surrounding Buchanan is her fault as she’s been here long enough to ultimately be held responsible for the overall sad state of affairs at the Enquirer today.

She’s changed sales management and VP’s of sales (and their practices) so much during her tenure that you almost need an accountant to keep track. And, anyone with a bit of knowledge of the company’s inner workings knows that she’s involved in employment activities throughout the company at numerous levels – and, you’d need an accountant to keep track of those numerous changes as well.

Few would argue that she’s not bright, but clearly many question her leadership skills and abilities. And, in regard to decency, let’s not forget that she’s a long-term Gannett employee and that her behaviors not only set the tone for how people are treated but also in how many decisions are made.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is quite true that her executive meetings are priceless as one department head or another jockeys for position to do the maximum amount of kissing-up allowed by law.

And, those same people are happily willing to nail each other at her meeting table for the various failings of the company. The blame game is well-established.

That culture finds its way throughout the company. News meetings frequently employ tactics of blame and intimidation. That's a fact.

It's one of the reasons so many reporters (and editors) have been turned off by Enquirer self-promotion that the newspaper is an exciting, cutting-edge place to work.

It is a place where professional standards and goals are laughed at as outdated, unnecessary, where quick and cheap has been made an art form and where cover-your ass if the chief operating slogan. The result is what you see.

If it sells in Cincinnati, then by gosh the Enquirer has the right formula. But the toll on its employees is dreadful, even shameful.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, many people will miss the Post. Just because management made poor decisions, that doesn't mean the people on the "bottom" didn't care. I always felt a lot of sincerity amongst the journalists when I worked there. It was a very fulfilling experience.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even at half, and less, of The Enquirer's size, The Post used to kick ass. Their reporters were the street fighters of Cincinnati journalism and relished beating the big boys.

I can recall The Post just trashing The Enqy, beating it with a stick, on many occasions: Zimmer nuke disaster; Home State and the savings and loan crisis; Pete Rose; breaking the DeCourcy property tax scandal and getting him run out of office; etc.

And, who else was going to cover Charlie Keating (brother of then publisher Bill) and the national S&L crisis? While the Enqy was running stuff inside, Post reporting from LA, Phoenix, D.C., producing a six-part series pointing out all the Cincinnati ties, etc.

The Post has not been the same in years, but journalists are always best served when they have to look over their shoulder on what might be gaining on them -- the competition.

The Post always had more spunk, and was more of a friend to the blue collars, than the blue-nosed Enqy.

It will be missed.

-- 30 --

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who becomes the Enquirer's chief competition now? TV? (Not that they worried too much about the Post) ...

3:28 PM  
Blogger Newsache said...

We'll never get the full story on the closing of the Post. The Enquirer hasn't covered it, and if they did, they might find evidence that Gannett sabatoged the JOA. The Enquirer story and today's lame-as-usual editorial chalk up the Post's demise to trends such as changes in media consumption habits, because the Enquirer can then blame its own troubles on the same trends while glossing over the mismanagement that magnified and accelerated those troubles. That goes for both papers. The Post was occasionally a thorn in the side of the Enquirer, but it hasn't been a formidable competitor for more than a decade. I think we'll miss the Post of 15 and 20 years ago, and not what it is today. Richard Boehne should have been asked some hard questions about how Scripps has handled this the past 20 years.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want names? I don't know that anyone keeps a list of the writers and photographers who left since Callinan was demoted from Phoenix to Cincinnati, but start with these:

Deb Jasper
Spencer Hunt
Robert Anglen
Kristina Goetz
Kevin Aldridge
Dan Sewell
Ken Alltucker
Michael Roberts
Kakie Urch
Rick Green
Erica Solvig
John Byczkowski
Dan Klepal
James Pilcher
Reid Forgrave
Marilyn Bauer
Byron McCauley
Matt Leingang
Rosemary Goudreau
Marla Rose
Jennifer Mrozowski
Michael Snyder
Steven Herppich
Craig Ruttle
Sarah Conard
Brandi Stafford
Nikki Kingery
Christy Arnold
Maggie Downs
Cindi Andrews
Larry Nager
Kevin Osborne
Terry DeMio
Feoshia Henderson



Turnover is typical at newspapers because better opportunities always lie elsewhere. In the Enquirer's case, people often choose to move to a smaller paper or leave the profession rather than rot under Callinan, who has privately professed to adhering to Andrew Grove's philosophy of maintaining fear among workers. Many of the above preferred to have stayed put.
Some on this list were embarrassments (Goudreau, mainly), but many of the others were horses. Because Callinan doesn't think the public wants longer, hard-hitting stories about political figures, institutions and companies whose friendship is dear to the Enquirer, he eliminated the investigative reporting beat (Anglen) and created an environment that led to the departure of all three reporters with computer-assisted reporting skills (Alltucker, Byczkowski, Pilcher).

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are far more than the 34 listed above. That is only a listing of writers and photographers and doesn't account for editors, copy editors, graphics, support staff or any department outside the newsroom.

My guess is that there have been at least 80 from the newsroom and hundreds company-wide under Buchanan.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Few more gone:

Byron McCauley
Annie Blair
Brian Schwanner
Amy Whitaker

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And...

Carrie Garzich
Melvin Mooring
Amy Sutton
Dan Sewell
Yasmine Nourjam
Charles Fry
Barbara Lowell
Charles Jones

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So who becomes the Enquirer's chief competition now? TV? (Not that they worried too much about the Post) ..."

There are two websites that have really impressed me lately, http://www.cincinnatibeacon.com - they have a printed edition now, and http://www.cinplify.com - it is a local news website that it driven by the community.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous mr. whig said...

I see things at The Enquirer never change. I am flabbergasted by the comments here. I mean, Jesus Christ on a pogo stick! It's as if passing up an opportunity to stay was the best decision of my life.

The joint sounds like people are emotionally clinging to life rafts (with a view).

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well duhhhhhh

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Departures from Online

Matt Bauer
James Bottroff
Chris Ainsworth
Jon Baker
Amanda Fritsch

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[online] Don't forget Dan Mahan and Sarah Meyer

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re the lists of those departed ... puh-leeze!

1. Dozens of people leave during any given period of a few years.

2. A third to perhaps half those names are those of some of the most inept, lamest "journalists" I've ever come across.

There are ways to quantify this trend, but naming these names ain't it.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's crap. Most of these people left discouraged, beaten down by frankly stupid management.

Some saw the writing on the wall about the Enquirer's dismantling of really important parts of paper.

You know about the turmoil in he features section. Did you notice how many of the losses were top business writers and editors? How can the paper of record for Procter, Kroger, GE and Toyota slash the staff and dumb down its coverage? Ask the sports editors how they manage to get by with a tiny staff that can't even cover Ohio State. The deluded Enquirer has failed the community and failed its own employees.

Professionals who land there find that out to their horror that they have landed in a journalistic dung heap. The city of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky deserve A LOT better.

But with the industry as a whole in turmoil, Enquirer management is in the catbird seat. Don't like it that we're turning the Enquirer into the world's biggest shopper? Find another job, if you can.

Yes, people leave for lots of reasons. But at the Enquirer, most of them are leaving for the wrong reasons.

So let's cut the crap.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Business Courier must be just giddy with what's happening at the Enquirer.

I'm told the sport department phone lights up during football season when there is only AP coverage. Angry local readers expect the local paper to cover the state's flagship university, especially since UC is about as interesting as a bowl of oatmeal. The Enky doesn't have the sense to recognize that it has to cover UC because it is the local school, and Ohio State because there is intense local interest.

In this case, the Enquirer has lost its grip on what's local. Not real smart.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reposting to add dropped reference to Ohio State.

The Business Courier must be just giddy with what's happening at the Enquirer.

I'm told the sports department phone lights up during football season when there is only AP coverage of Ohio State. Angry local readers expect the local paper to cover the state's flagship university, especially since UC is about as interesting as a bowl of oatmeal. The Enky doesn't have the sense to recognize that it has to cover UC because it is the local school, and Ohio State because there is intense local interest.

In this case, the Enquirer has lost its grip on what's local. Not real smart.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooh, yeah, the enquirer really coulda been something if only rosemary goudreau hadn't left.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and barb lowell! yeah, those were the days of hardhitting excellence!

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. So not EVERYBODY who left was Pulitzer material.

But lots of quality went out the door too.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Newsache. What's up with the Enquirer's lunch program on August 14 "INSIDE THE ENQUIRER’S LOCAL INFORMATION CENTER"? I've seen a flyer that says "The Enquirer’s Editor and Vice President of Content
and Audience Development, Tom Callinan, and other editors will speak about changes inside the newsroom and the way the Enquirer and its Web site look at its evolving role in the community as a facilitator of conversation as well as a news source. From the Data Center to the breaking news team, community conversation, Enquirer video and new publications, we are responding to the 24/7 demand for news."

"A facilitator of conversation"? I thought they're supposed to report the news. Do they actually expect people to go and listen to what this guy has to say?

Well, they are bribing people with a free lunch.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The website had the Iles story up this morning and it abruptly changed. Iles is a convicted child molester and the Enquirer ran a story about him a couple years ago where he was portrayed as "recovered." Apparently, there are new charges. At first, today's story included a photo with his wife. Then that photo was removed.

Few questions: Was it his wife's daughter that is making the new allegations? If so, they missed protecting her identity completely this morning. If not, why was the photo pulled (the story was still the top position) as she was a big part of the story a couple years ago. Second, if the charges were brought up on March, why did he Enquirer wait until July to run this new one? The writing is also confusing. It reads as if the girl's mother knew about the first incident in one county and then let a second incident happen but then quotes from that mother contradict that. What is up with that?

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:24 PM

If indeed there is a way to quantify this trend without naming names, please do. If you are working on it, let us know. If not, maybe the memorial of names should continue.

Also, even though there have been some personal gabs at a few of the individuals that have left and percentages of those considered less than excellent, the enquirer is getting worse. Seen an award lately?

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An Enquirer memorial. Love it. "To those who dedicated their lives to exposing the truth and casting a light on injustice, only to be sacrificed at the altar of corporate profits by bonus-happy managers seeking president's rings."

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it too. Made some edits to the inscription just as a thought:

"To individuals who made it out (one way or another) and those that continue to toil after or as they continue dedicating a significant stretch of their lives to exposing the truth and casting a light on injustice, only to be sacrificed at the altar of corporate profits by bonus-happy managers seeking president's rings."

Love the idea.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next five names are:
Pat Murphy
Brian Speiss
Maureen Kelley
Anne Elizabeth Dillon
Jason Bennett

Sure there are more.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous mr. whig said...

"To those who made it out (one way or another) and those, thoughly humbled, demoted or reassigned, that continue to dedicate a significant stretch of their lives to exposing the truth and casting a light on injustice, only to be sacrificed at the management by objective altar of corporate profits by bonus-happy managers seeking president's rings."

Because whether you know it or not, management by objective is the scourge of the modern newspaper. This is how The Enquirer does things. Goals are set, and bonuses are staked on those goals. So keeping the 4 bedroom/3 bath house in Clermont County depends on those goals being met. And if they're not...hello Silverton.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A pack will never run faster than the lead dog.

11:49 AM  

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