Gannett Blog claims Citizen-Times has 23.5% profit margin; posts other Gannett papers’ numbers

Gannett Blog claims Citizen-Times has 23.5% profit margin; posts other Gannett papers’ numbers-attachment0

The Asheville Citizen-Times made 23.49% profit on ad sales of $20.6 million between January and September 2007, according to Gannett-watchdog blogger Jim Hopkins in a post here that details the margins and sales of more than 80 Gannett papers.

Hopkins says that the numbers were obtained from internal reports provided to him by a reader of his blog who asked to remain anonymous. His post provides no additional corroboration of the numbers.

“The numbers are startling,” Hopkins writes, “especially now, with Gannett poised to lay off perhaps thousands of newspaper workers next week in another bid to boost the company’s flagging stock. Every newspaper except Detroit’s was profitable a year ago — although some, just barely so.”

The Asheville Citizen-Times’ net profit from ad sales during the first nine months of 2007 would come to $4.8 million, according to Hopkins’ calculations.

It’s widely recognized that the economy and daily newspapers in general have fared much worse this year than last. While Hopkins’ reported figures do not indicate what Gannett papers are making this year, it’s likely to be a good deal less.

— Jeff Fobes, editor/publisher

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism.

4 thoughts on “Gannett Blog claims Citizen-Times has 23.5% profit margin; posts other Gannett papers’ numbers

  1. Jeff Fobes

    Ashvegas, in a second report, today further analyzes the situation at the Citizen-Times in light of Jim Hopkins’ blog.
    http://ashvegas.squarespace.com/journal/2008/11/29/gannett-blog-causes-stir-in-reporting-newspaper-profits.html

    Ashevegas: “The context, of course, is that Gannett and the Asheville Citizen-Times are slashing expenditures and cutting jobs right and left while trying to maintain said profitability. Gannett stock has dropped precipitously this year. The Citizen-Times has outsourced ad production jobs to India, laid off about 10 employees at 14 O. Henry Avenue, and announced the reduction of another 60 jobs at its Sardis Road production facility, which it plans to close in January. The newspaper also instituted a 50 percent price increase for the newspaper out of its racks — up from 50 cents to 75 cents for a newspaper.”

    Some C-T staff are posting comments about anticipated cuts on Dec. 3 and dreading the upcoming week.

  2. Kevin Boneske

    The negative impact that results from a monopolistic media takeover has become obvious in recent years in Northeast Wisconsin. For example, the Gannett Corporation’s buy-out more than 4 1/2 years ago of what were known for decades as the Algoma Record-Herald, Kewaunee Enterprise and Luxemburg News, which were replaced in 2007 by the “Kewaunee County News,” has brought about change for the worse with corporate cookie-cutter journalism placing profit margins over people.

    Along with the local staffing cuts, Gannett initially rolled out the Kewaunee County News in a tabloid-style publication as the megacorporation went “on the cheap” with less space for news and sports, before trashing the tabloid after only about a year of existence. The so-called “broadsheet” format that now appears also illustrates Gannett’s preference for superficial journalism.

    The year before Frank Wood sold out the newspapers he owned in Northeast Wisconsin to Gannett, former Door County Advocate editor Warren Bluhm, who is now the opinion editor for Gannett’s Green Bay Press-Gazette, described the Gannett Corporation as “the print equivalent of the Wal-Mart-style companies that swoop in, gobble up locally owned businesses and crush what’s left of local competition with predatory pricing and adherence to corporate formulas. Lord help any community that is ‘blessed’ to have its local flavor absorbed by Gannett.”

    While I held in high regard a number of the staff members who remained before Gannett’s “launching” of the Kewaunee County News, it is the megacorporation’s misguided management that has tainted what appears locally. For example, I witnessed how certain editors prefer being cozy with certain sleazy people in power, rather than publicly holding them accountable for disgraceful deeds.

    To put it simply and nicely, it was because of Gannett’s sleazy practices that I sought out employment elsewhere after more than seven years being a journalist for the former Algoma Record-Herald, Kewaunee Enterprise and Luxemburg News.

    When I wasn’t hampered by the heavy hand of Gannett’s misguided management, however, I enjoyed covering issues of interest to people in Kewaunee County. Individuals from across the political spectrum praised my election-related coverage, for example.

    I worked most of 2007 as a reporter in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, before returning to Northeast Wisconsin in early 2008 to begin another better-paying job than what I had in approximately 2 1/2 years working in the Gannett Empire.

    In 2007 I filed a labor standards complaint against Gannett with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development after the megacorporation resorted to smear tactics against me. The DWD found Gannett violated state employment regulations after improperly releasing false accusations about me contained in personnel records I disputed.

    While Gannett claims to promote journalistic “diversity,” the megacorporation arguably turned the newspaper market in Northeast Wisconsin into the Green Bay Press-Gannett, Kewaunee County Gannett, Door County Gannett, etc., etc. Hopefully other information sources, such as blogs on the World Wide Web, will provide true diversity by covering in-depth what Gannett would rather suppress or superficially present.

  3. Jeff Fobes

    Thanks, Kevin, for your comments about newspapering in Wisconsin; sounds pretty painful and frustrating.

    The current and ongoing upheavals are likely to result in an almost totally new mediascape, one with more publishers and more perspectives.

    An industry that grew lucrative and large now faces thousands of competitors and impassioned amateurs. While the turbulence will make our information flows frothy, what passed for news in the last few centuries has increasingly been bottom-line driven and aimed at building consumerism, rather than democracy.

    The new networked society is offering citizens more news, more views, and more opportunity to get involved. These are good things.

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