LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


Gannett "Company Gal" Gets Fired in a Letter Left at Her Door: "And This is the Thanks I Got"

For 15 years, Marty Matthews has been a "company gal" at WTSP/Tampa, anchoring the main newscasts at the CBS station, and when times got tight, she did everything the company asked to help tighten belts and get through until things got better. She says, "I even chose to take a five-day furlough in the 1st quarter to help them save money and a be a good ‘company gal.' And this is the thanks I got."

The thanks came in a manila envelope left anonymously at Matthews' front door. Inside, a letter from the station saying, essentially, you're fired. WTSP management told the St. Pete Times' Eric Deggans the letter was a last resort when efforts to reach Matthews in person failed. Seriously? Efforts to reach your 4 p.m. anchor "failed?" Do managers know where their own studios are located? The newsroom? These gutless people who can't even find the courage to look a person in the eyes and tell them what's happening... how did they fill the management ranks in this business?

WTSP/Tampa's Marty Matthews

WTSP/Tampa's Marty Matthews

Matthews called suggestions she was unreachable a lie: "They sure could find somebody to drive over to my house and leave a manila envelope here...why didn't they find time to ask me while I was in the office?" Matthews told Eric Deggans, who reports she struggled to contain her anger.

Am I missing something? I get that times are as bad as they've ever been in this business. And I completely understand that decisions will be made and good people will lose their jobs. What I have trouble with is the "have their agent tell them" or "wait until they finish the newscast and have security escort them out--oh, and make sure you get their bio off the site ASAP."

You'd think--in Matthews' case--fifteen years of service to a company would require a little something better than a letter dropped at the door by a person who took off without so much as knocking. When did local television become junior high?


LATEST LAYOFFS: KUSA/Denver Cuts Nick Carter: "It Was My Turn"

Gannett's top-rated KUSA/Denver continues its cost-cutting ways, laying off 24-year veteran meteorologist Nick Carter, effective Friday. Penny Parker at the Rocky Mountain News reports Carter got the news back in October and has had time to look for work, but the job market is, to put it mildly, terrible. "On one hand, it's kind of scary, but on the other hand there's always new opportunity," Carter told the Rocky. "Obviously, the (TV) industry is going through tough times and has had to reduce staff in many cases, it just made sense that it was my turn."

Carter's departure follows the release of top anchor Bob Kendrick, who was main anchor at 9News, but whose contract was not renewed after the November book. KUSA News Director Patti Dennis told the Rocky's Parker, "The difficult changes in the media industry are hard on everyone, and these contract discussion are never easy."


Gannett to Newsers: You Will Not Work, You Will Not Be Paid

The emails poured in from local newsers at Gannett stations Wednesday as they reeled from the company's latest effort to cut costs:  everyone's getting a week off, without pay:   "Today Gannett is implementing a furlough program across all U.S. divisions and at corporate headquarters. This means that most of our U.S. employees - including myself and all other top executives - will be furloughed for the equivalent of one week in the first quarter. This furlough will be unpaid. Unions also will be asked to participate," wrote Gannett CEO Craig Dubow in a memo to employees.

The upshot?  Everybody will take a week off, and they will not be paid.  The company calls it a "difficult decision."  The cold facts came as tough reading for employees who will be asked to kick in a week's pay to help Gannett:  "To be clear, a furlough means you will not work and will not be paid for furlough days.  Exempt, salaried employees must take one full payroll week within the payroll period.  Non-exempt, hourly employees may take five days at any pre-approved time before the last weekend in March."

Wow.  A tough financial punch, and everyone's taking it NOW. 

Gannett folk:  what's the reaction inside your newsrooms?