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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top management x 3 quits SJ-R

Tonight's State Journal-Register breaking news page:

State Journal-Register publisher, editor, managing editor resign

Three top executives at The State Journal-Register have announced their resignations effective Dec. 14.

Publisher Sue Schmitt, editor Barry Locher and managing editor Robert Pope each cited personal and professional reasons in notices to the newspaper staff today. Each also said the decisions were voluntary and were reached independently.

“We know our positions on the newspaper's masthead give us more visibility in the community than many employees, but we hope that not too much emphasis is placed on the choice to leave,” Schmitt said. “We did not make this call because of an insider's view of something catastrophic just over the horizon.”

Schmitt said the resignations were unrelated to the purchase early this year of The State Journal-Register by New York-based GateHouse Media Inc. from longtime owner Copley Press Inc. The purchase also included The Peoria Journal Star, The Courier in Lincoln, and The Galesburg-Register Mail. GateHouse later bought The Rockford Register Star from Gannett Co. [...] (link tomorrow; hopefully)

It's hard to believe it's not related. You don't have to have insider knowledge to know Gatehouse is a losing proposition. (Peoria Pundit Media: GateHouse continues to lose money.) Could there be something catastrophic over the horizon? Who knows. I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe a better headline would be "Top management bails on sinking ship."

Edited later to add re this: "Schmitt said the resignations were unrelated to the purchase early this year of The State Journal-Register by New York-based GateHouse..." I can only imagine the skull crushing pressure from on high to put a positive spin on this exodus -- for the remaining employees, advertisers, and readers. But, I totally do not buy that statement. I'd be surprised if anyone else does.

I'm trying real hard not to saying anything too wildly speculative or mean here.

Newspaper = trust. I think they just lost some.

Edit one more time for the link: SJ-R: Newspaper’s publisher, editor, managing editor resign, By TIM LANDIS, BUSINESS EDITOR

(Listening to "If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right" as sung by the late, great Illinoisan, Luther Ingram.)

Posted by Marie at November 20, 2007 8:03 PM

Comments

losing barry locher is catastrophic of itself.

Posted by: t-rexx at November 20, 2007 8:33 PM

Why should anyone be surprised?

First step acquire business.

Assure everyone that the plan is to grow, not to dismantle.

Subjugate a handful of upper managers while the initial assessment is made on who to get rid of first.

First rumors begin to leak about coming changes.

First resignations take place - usually upper managers who were soon to be let go anyway, or who have the resources not to wait and watch the destruction of the company they helped to grow.

Middle, and lower level workers try to disappear while dreading having chosen to ever work at the company.

One or two select departments are eliminated - usually human resources, accounting, payroll, key departments that can be consolidated, or spun off.

Announcements are made that this was done for reasons of efficiency, and that while more changes may need to be made that the future is brighter for those remaining because well, the deadwood has already been eliminated.

Not long after middle managers begin resigning.

And then the big announcement.

Those who can retire leave, those with skills leave, those who can't stay.

Finally the entire office is closed down with operations located in some central office in another state.

That central office is eventually closed when the business is sold off.

The business that managed to make a profit for years is now gone forever, and the building sits vacant for years.

No one says anything because they signed confidentiality agreements, and fear being sued.

It's just an investment, and once it's been destroyed it probably won't have the resources to resurrect itself.

Those who are wealthy from ownership make the money, and those that earn their wealth from labor get screwed - it's an old story.

I'd say SJ-R is history as we knew it.

Posted by: JeromeProphet at November 21, 2007 1:26 AM

I predict that coming up next, despite all official insistence to the contrary, will be massive layoffs just in time for Christmas. Oh well, maybe they can all apply for Friend-in-Deed assistance.

Seriously, though, something is really, really wrong if a new publisher who moved here all the way from California just over a year ago decides to bail out.

And just when they were getting good at covering real issues in the 18th District Congressional race too. I guess Gatehouse wants to reduce them to a rag like the Journal Star (which may escape such cuts only because their newsroom is union). If that happens, then bloggers and the Illinois Times will be the only places to go for real news in this town : (

Posted by: Bookworm at November 21, 2007 1:56 AM