|Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Step Three: Send out a series of news releases announcing these changes via PRNewswire at the same time Gilbert is communicating them to his staff.
"The Deseret News Unveils Bold New Direction for Newspaper," my personal favorite of the three releases, carefully buried news of the layoffs at the end of the three-page release, following a proclamation of Gilbert's "pioneering content initiatives," the DNews' commitment to its (new) mission and values (ad naseum), and praises from "world-class" and "renowned thought leaders" across the nation.
The other two news releases indicated that editor Joseph A. Cannon and publisher Jim Wall had both chosen to "pursue other full-time personal and professional opportunities," facts that were not mentioned in the paper's own article ... which coincidentally, was also posted during Gilbert's meeting with staff. One could infer that posting this article was Step Four of Gilbert's plan.
Gilbert also unveiled a five-part plan, "to become a leader in the industry and a model for change." The plan's steps are to:
1. Integrate the paper's staff with KSL's staff
2. Increase coverage from "strong journalists" on issues audiences care about
3. Take direction from the newly formed Editorial Advisory Board ("industry and thought leaders")
4. Launch Deseret Connect, which will depend upon writers and editors, "across the nation with impeccable credentials and the highest respect of their peers" to provide content
5. Create a digital team that is up to the challenge of competing with "innovative new media companies in the country"
@dilewis I am declaring #dnewsq a twittastrophe.
@Bill_Frost I will be holding a press conference on MySpace later to answer none of your questions. #dnewsq
Considering #5 in Gilbert's list of steps to "become a leader in the industry and a model for change," many of us were shocked at the failed social-media attempt.
... Gilbert went to the brave new world of the Internet this afternoon, which he preaches an affinity for, and basically got pantsed during a live Twitter interview. He fled the scene with zero questions answered and a whole lot of frustrated tweeters.
I'm assuming by now you've read all the rumors about what will be happening to the Deseret News. Now it's time to hear the truth.
There is no sugar-coating the bad news. Like a lot of other newspapers in America, this one has to cut costs, and that means cutting people; real people with bills to pay and families to feed; people I've grown to love and respect through many years (I've been here since 1986).
The problem isn't a lack of readership. Far from it – print circulation is holding steady and on-line circulation is booming. Readership grew by 20 percent in 2009, the best of any paper in the country.
No, the problem is the Internet has sapped ad sales. It has put a big dent in the business model that has sustained newspapers for more than two centuries, and that's a permanent change.
So here are the awful numbers: 57 full-time and 28 part-time employees got pink slips today. That's 43 percent of the paper's workforce. Several of them will be asked to remain for a few months to help the paper transition, but then they will be let go.