News execs, others ‘seem to be some kind of club like Skull & Bones’

The New York Times
Of the 227 comments on David Carr’s column about Gannett and Tribune bonuses, “Why not occupy newsrooms?” most express outrage about the incentives paid to executives. Several comments were written by former Gannett journalists.

These comments were among those readers recommended most:

“I have always been mystified by the rarified ranks of the uber-execs who command these kinds of salaries in any industry. It seems to be some kind of club like Skull & Bones that once you are admitted, you are set for life.” —Richard Williamson, Dallas (recommended by 402 readers)

Bravo Mr. Carr. Perhaps your fellow journalists will read this and turn down the knee-jerk snark in the coverage of Occupy Wall Street. They are part of the 99% too. —Anne, Seattle (recommended by 297 readers)

Excellent piece. I worked at the Arizona Republic, one of the papers that Gannett has starved and shriveled to the vanishing point. It regarded Arizona not as a market to be served with public-service journalism but as a colony to be plundered to boost the stock price and pad the bonuses of the bosses back at hq in Virginia. There are still some great people at the Republic. But the paper isn’t a shadow of what it was pre-Gannett, when we aspired to be a great regional paper. Gannett isn’t interested in journalism. It’s a dreary widget maker, robotically looking for new ways to squeeze costs. The bonuses it pays to the widget boys are a disgusting example of corporate malfeasance at its worst.” —Jake, Washington, D.C. (highlighted)

Full disclosure: I am a former wage slave of Gannett. When my newspaper (The Newburgh Evening News) was sold out from under us many decades ago, do you know how we found out? From the Gannett News Service! It told its employees the same time it told the rest of the world that we were toast, nothing, out on the street. —Karen Garcia, New Paltz, NY (highlighted)

Your article is bang on! I worked for Gannett for three and half years. I did everything but stand on my head for them. They furloughed me “so there would not be any layoffs” and then they laid me off. It’s disgusting at the very least I can’t look Craig Debow in the eye and say “how dare you” and I’m sure my ex-bosses are part of the bonus trickle down. —Sherry, Charlotte, N.C. (highlighted)

Many of the comments focus on the “Occupy Wall Street” movement; several target PBS for wasting money and The New York Times for various offenses, including its own compensation system. There were also a few news lovers frustrated by other issues:

I would support occupying newsrooms as well, but for other reasons.

I am less concerned with salaries than with the way that news organizations function: where we at least sometimes used to see brave and serious reporting we now see an endless flow of he-said-she-said, where competing points of view however outrageously wrong are cravenly presented as falsely equivalent. Analysis seems forbidden. —RS, New York

Related: NYT’s Carr: Dubow’s six-year tenure was ‘a disaster’ (Gannett Blog) | ‘The media oligarchy in this country is, of course, very comfortably ensconced in the so-called 1%’ (Ad Age)

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  • Sarah Baldwin

    I would like to ‘Occupy Politicians’ who (for their own interests) have shifted our economy from ‘manufacturing’ to ‘consumption’ driven – slamming the job market for Baby Boomers… now if you are an educated person with experience you ‘get to’ work at Walmart as a greeter- that is, when you’re not hanging out at Starbucks. The wasted talent is pathetic.

    Business is now ‘run’ by  the1%-ers at the very top and the rest are young, much cheaper and inexperienced staff! In the case of newspapers and publishing… all workers are in ‘survival mode’ – the new ‘productivity boost’ means doing the job of 3 or 4 people! Everyone is afraid of losing their jobs….chronically exhausted – and completely stressed out! (and who can afford healthcare these days?!) 

    What needs to happen is an enormous demand for 100% MADE IN THE USA products…Media can make this happen through awareness ! This idea will then stimulate the job market and we will be able to help ourselves (since we now know the Financial Community won’t be helping us, tax payers who bailed them out) They are as negligent as the politicians eating all the cake and leaving crumbs for the rest of us – without even a broom in sight!
    Something dramatic needs to happen — we are in a death spiral that will be devastating to our children and grandchildren