Dayton Daily news still can’t sell papers- layoff time (again)

On the same day the “iTeam” blows a mole hill into a mountain with the $3000 trash pickup, the “market vice president” Julia Wallace sent out the following request for about 22 people over 55 to hang up their careers because Cox can’t figure out how to produce a product worth paying for:

October 10, 2013

Dear Staff:

Today, we are offering select Cox Media Group Ohio employees in newspaper content and newspaper sales a Voluntary Separation Plan (VSP). This is an effort to reduce our newspaper expenses to meet the 2014 budget.

Despite the hard work and dedication of employees throughout the company, the newspaper business continues to undergo significant challenges due to the changing media landscape and our local economic conditions. Our 2013 newspaper revenue is down, and we expect that trend to continue into next year. We must scale our business to better align newspaper revenue and expenses.

Our goal is to achieve staff reductions voluntarily, so we have put together a plan that we believe is very generous and will be very appealing to eligible employees. To be eligible, employees must work full-time in CMGO’s newspaper content and sales departments in salary grades 6 through 10. They cannot have retired from Cox before and must meet the following criteria as of October 31, 2013:

  • Have at least 10 years of pension vesting service under the Cox Enterprise, Inc. pension plan and
  • Be at least 55 years of age

Employees have until Friday, November 22, 2013, to submit their decision. That will also be their last day of work if they accept the offer.

It has been almost five years since we last offered a Voluntary Separation Plan and it is not a decision we make lightly. If we do not reach our reduction goal, we will have involuntary layoffs within all areas of the newspaper, including content and sales.

This is a challenging time for newspapers financially, but it is also an exciting time to be in the media business. Our newspapers are important, relevant and valuable to hundreds of thousands of local residents. Our television and radio stations are No. 1 in the market, and we are expanding our digital businesses. CMG Ohio is the leading media company here, reaching more than 90 percent of the Dayton/Springfield DMA.

We will continue to strive for the highest level of journalism, community service and entertainment; to innovate in the digital space; and to leverage the power of all of our brands to drive audience and revenue.

If you have questions, please contact Toni Mitchell or another member of her Human Resources team.

Regards,

Julia Wallace
Market Vice President

Here are some tips for Ms. Wallace-

  • Your senior people are the ones with the institutional knowledge about this community- you lose many more of them and you won’t have people that can find their way to the dump without a GPS.
  • Producing a website for News Radio, TV and for the paper is 3x the work- to do the same thing. Hint: a screen, is a screen, is a screen- TV, iPad, smart phone- one site is all you need- and to state the obvious- more traffic to one site means more ad revenue.
  • If you don’t know who is reading, watching, commenting, and listening- you aren’t worth a dime to advertisers. Giving people access to content- gives you access to their demographic info- which in turn gives you the chance to target ads precisely- which pays more. Wake up and stop playing tease with your paywall.
  • Besides Archdeacon, you have very few people that can tell a story. Better writers sell more papers. Same goes for photos- but you are very lucky to have a crew of shutterbugs like Jim Witmer who can make anything look good. Try using more photos online, tell the story with words and pictures.
  • And last but not least, printing the dead tree edition is stupid. Buy all your subscribers Kindles and stop wasting money and gas making bird cage liners.

If you want to hire someone who not only knows how to find the stories, and get eyeballs, and understands interface design- you’re reading his post right here. I’d be happy to show you how to keep some people employed by producing something people want to pay for to read/watch/listen to.

Sorry for those left slaving in the Cox slammer- you deserve better leadership. And Julia, resign from the Dayton Development Coalition board- no real publisher would allow themselves to be bought by the lobbyists. Drones won’t save us. Repeat after me, Drones won’t save us. Cheers.

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14 Responses

  1. Gene October 11, 2013 / 9:50 am
    You like Coco’s. You eat there. Perhaps you conduct business with them. Therefore free trash pick up is ok. If it were some other business you did not care about it would have been wrong. Yep you are ripe for a political career. Now comes the “Gene, the difference is…” bullshit. ahhhhh… Give me a little time and I will copy and paste about 200 posting where DE basically cries when services are free. Again, here comes the big  “it’s ok bc they live and work here and the CEO does not make a million dollars and blah blah blah blah blah…” you just lost my vote if you don’t think this is a big deal.

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  2. David Esrati October 11, 2013 / 10:26 am

    No Gene- I didn’t say Coco’s was OK- and yes, they do business with me and I eat there. It’s just on the grand scale of things- the Dayton Daily misses the real stories so often it’s embarrassing.

    And admit it, you weren’t going to vote for me anyway.

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  3. j0n October 11, 2013 / 12:13 pm
    uh, you lost me with the “drones” rant. but i digress.
    you make some good points, and yes, it probably is a good idea to fire all the printers, and truck drivers, and delivery boys who make the print edition happen. that wouldn’t be nice, but it’s probably necessary. perhaps they could hire you to write snarky termination letters.
    of course, once they finally ditch the print edition — which is, as you suggest, probably the right thing to do — they w ill be left to rely on online advertising revenue alone. i wonder how many reporters and editors they will be able to employ then. is there evidence anywhere of a large, metropolitan daily subsisting on advertising revenue alone? perhaps the dayton daily news should follow the Patch model.
    the bottom line: it’s not as simple as you think. they’re in a tough stop. they’ve made mistakes, no doubt, but it’s just not as easy as you think.

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  4. David Esrati October 11, 2013 / 12:43 pm

    @Jon- the publisher is in bed with the Dayton Development Coalition- who spout the all drones, all the time- as if they are the second coming to solve all economic woes of the area.

    There are no delivery boys to fire- they are all “independent contractors”

    The printers can print something worth delivering. The DDn isn’t it.

    As to ad revenue- if you don’t know who is reading- and you can’t target ads- you don’t make money. If you have looked at the print edition there isn’t much left in terms of advertising- except for Realtors, Car Dealers and Jewlers buying gold. Once you combine the TV, Radio and Paper websites- the traffic there should be pretty incredible- and if the content is good- should offer the best way to reach Dayton households.
    Patch had no content- and no audience. Comparing it to Cox- with the number one TV station, the only newspaper and a news radio.

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  5. Hall October 11, 2013 / 12:43 pm
    Is it legal to only offer buyouts to those over 55 ? It would be interesting IF NO ONE takes the offer and then when Cox has to pick, no way in hell they can target those who are 55 and up !

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  6. Justin October 11, 2013 / 5:09 pm
    I’m so glad you have this business model figured out! Saving the media biz one step at a time, right? Except that …WHIO-TV, WHIO Radio, The Dayton Daily News and DaytonDailyNews.com have 4 completely different audiences with very different uses and tastes. Should your new “catch-all” website feature Rush Limbaugh and Herman Cain prominently, as WHIO listeners prefer? Should it be nothing but weather, weather, weather as the top story as WHIO viewers prefer? What about traffic? That does great with streaming and early morning TV and radio? Does that move the forefront every A.M.? Or should it lean a bit left and progressive and put nothing but long, in-depth (and detail-oriented) stories front and center as Sunday newspaper readers like? 
    Here’s a tip: Many companies have tried this and failed miserably because when content appeals to everyone, it appeals to no one. People go to any particular website for a singular goal. I don’t go to Yelp! hoping to find restaurant reviews and the best route to get there, the best place to park, the best theater to hit afterwards and what the crime rates are in the neighborhoods along the way. That would be overwhelming and difficult to maintain. Niche products will always topple catch-alls. Ask anyone on Google Plus (or find someone on Google Plus). In the meantime, report the news and keep your “tips” to yourself. Cheers.

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  7. David Esrati October 11, 2013 / 5:23 pm

    @Justin- Actually- they don’t have 4 different audiences- they have about a million different ones- that’s the point of the web- it should be customized for each user. You did notice the part about knowing who your audience is?
    When you look at the WHIO TV local news- it’s often the same content as the paper- and vice versa – you don’t need different sites. But, Justin, that’s ok if you think you know it all, and claim this has been done elsewhere- because it hasn’t. News is news. Rush isn’t news and neither is Herman Cain. Those are programs.

    Thanks for your input.

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  8. Dave C. October 12, 2013 / 12:22 am
    The DDN just $uck$. It absolutely, 100%, totally, completely $uck$. Time to nuke it. Past time, really.

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  9. Ice Bandit October 12, 2013 / 6:25 am
     
    Should it be nothing but weather, weather, weather as the top story as WHIO viewers prefer? (Justin)
    …great idea,  Justin. As long as it is the definition of cute Erica Collura doing that commentary. Fact is, if Erica started her meteorological report by saying “brace yourself Dayton, three F-5 tornados are bearing down on the Gem City, followed by the remnants of a Cat-5 hurricane, a tsunami and a seismic incident of biblical proportion,” that info would pass thru the Old Bandito’s left auditory canal and out the right one, while staring at that perfect face with a facial contortion resembling catatonia and drooling like Pavlov’s pup. Yeah, it probably wouldn’t do much for informing Miami Valley viewers, but it would sure provide fantastic fantasy fodder for us old men…

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  10. Karen October 12, 2013 / 8:56 am
    Reading the DDN or NY Times on my Kindle is not a good experience.  I much prefer reading the  print  edition as I drink my morning cup of coffee. I also have fun reading the Sunday ads.  It’s amazing all the things I do not need but I do need to find out what is on sale at CVS and Aldi.

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  11. Dave C. October 12, 2013 / 11:53 am
    The WHIO website is free, and does a fairly decent job of covering local news.
    —————-
    Once more, with feeling : Nuke the DDN! 

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  12. Diane October 12, 2013 / 6:32 pm
    Go to Google News. Click on the Miami Valley link on the left. That produces a very good representation of local news stories, and it’s free.

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  13. Hall October 12, 2013 / 11:41 pm
    Ice Bandit: You’ll be extremely disappointed to hear that Erica is leaving WHIO. 

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  14. David Esrati October 21, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    Sorry IceBandit- here is the official word- you’ll have to watch Cincy TV now-

    Erica Collura announced she was leaving WHIO-TV after being there since August 2010. Her last day was Oct. 13.WHIO viewers have seen several of the usual faces changing in the last two weeks. The weekend morning and evening shows both have new anchors.Collura said she was leaving on her Facebook page, and is going to WKRC in Cincinnati.

    via Meteorologist leaves WHIO-TV – Dayton Business Journal.

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