Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Publisher's claim that "we're strong despite layoffs" has a hollow ring to beleaguered staff (updated)

Over the weekend, The Rock Hill Herald published a glowing report of the Herald's performance in a piece by publisher and president Debbie Abels titled, Despite tough economic times, The Herald remains strong.

Abels acknowledged challenges of layoffs and declining print circulation, but told readers the product has been improved and online readership is growing.

I've been told that the Herald staff, decimated by layoffs and required to produce more with fewer resources, had a tough time recognizing Abel's glowing description of the reality that faces Herald employees every day now. Some incredulous employee stared at Abels' piece and asked, "Can you believe this??"

Hat tip: email, photo credit: Rock Hill Herald

Update: Jeff Jarvis warns about newspapers who claim all is well.
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36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've known Debbie Abels for 32 years. She's totally unqualified to be a publisher and no one - NO ONE - likes her.

Anonymous said...

They all say the same thing. Must be a script from Gary. Nobody believes the crap they say anyway.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if she ever gets together with her buddies from the Charlotte Observer, Liz Irwin and Ann Caulkins, for group affirmation. "They like me, I know they really like me!"

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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McClatchy Watch said...

Deleted some abusive comments.

Anonymous said...

What is it with these McClatchy publishers? They are starting to look alike to me. Zieman also has a pasty complexion, beady eyes, scary hair, and a smug look. I think this ‘Publisher’s Ickiness’ strain must be catching, you can throw Melanie Sill in for that same look, as if she is a publisher in waiting.

John Altevogt said...

"Deleted some abusive comments."

Strange, we don't seem to be missing anything.

Anonymous said...

I think Debbie Abels is a total Nebbish, but her once elitist position has no doubt turned into a nightmare job. If I were in her shoes, the thing that would bother me the most would be watching qualified and talented people pushed out the door to nowhere. She knows what is out there for people that have been loyal and hard working employees. Too bad it counts for nothing in the McClatchy world of greed. Save your own ass Debbie, everyone knows why that is so important.

Anonymous said...

“NO ONE - likes her” [Debbie]
Most of the KC Scar commenters say no one likes Zieman either. I wonder if publishers are disliked in general, or this crumbling of a whole industry falls partly on their shoulders? Where were they when truth and integrity went by the wayside?

Anonymous said...

I don't know Debbie Abels, or whether she is qualified. But I don't blame her for listing the successes the paper has had. Yes her column is one sided, but readers do fear their community paper will go out of business. Do I wish McClatchy would have handled things better? Of course. I'm a former McClatchy employee who happens to own a family owned community newspaper. My dog is not in this hunt. But I think people should be allowed to point out a positive like online and newspaper readership combined as never been higher.

Anonymous said...

But I think people should be allowed to point out a positive like online and newspaper readership combined as never been higher.


If it were true, yes. But it is not. It is a lie being perpetuated with creative trickery and gimmicks to raise their hit counts. My favorite is the McClatchy paper that suddenly wiped all their accounts and forced people to re-register. Then they forgot all about wiping the totals and added the new count to the old. Presto! 'We're Growing!' They like us, they really like us!

Anonymous said...

What some don't know is that Debbie was originally the VP of HR at The Charlotte Observer. Then, in a surprising move that decimated most of the senior management team, she was moved around from one department to another, for what logical reason we don't know. She made a pit stop in the advertising department, took each rep out to lunch to pick their brains about "the state of the union" and how things in their world could be made better (at least that's what we were told at the time!), then, as suddenly as she appeared, moved on to the next stop in her "world tour", never having changed a thing.

Anonymous said...

She sounds like Baghdad Bob.

Anonymous said...

A techno friend of mine says to find out if McClatchy is counting the times their site is 'refreshed' as a new hit. Old trick, employees that must work from the web site can account for thousands of hits, doubled yet again. Once one realizes dishonesty is a McClatchy certain, nothing seems out of the possibility of their deranged minds.

Anonymous said...

Re: “she appeared, moved on to the next stop in her "world tour”

That is how we felt in NC. Melanie Sills should have been fired from the N&O, but instead she was promoted, and moved to the Sacbee. Of course we can readily see how well that worked out. My outrage at the dishonesty of Sill is the main reason I still follow the McClatchy company. I could not believe such a lack of integrity could be found in the Obama-in-the-tank media, and it only got worse by the day. I am still astounded that what I saw could be true. It is sickening, truly sickening to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Debbie that readership is higher, why should I believe anything she says?
------
Resonding to:
"..point out a positive like online and newspaper readership combined as never been higher."

Ray said...

There are other jobs available...move on!

http://www.linkedin.com (networking for professionals)
http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to the perfect jobs)

For those looking for work, good luck!

Anonymous said...

Debbie was moved around from one department to another…
***
There is more to know about this bit of information. The dirty little secrets in a company are always intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Folks, lets be real. It's all about who is on the A list and who is not. Don't hate Debbie because she is in with the crowd. Job security is job security- doesn't matter how you get it. many people aren't qualified to be in the positions they are in but they are in them just the same. get over it and move on.

Anonymous said...

This is not about the Publisher, this about the paper trying to appear positive. We all know it is smoking mirrors and so do they as well as the customers. But it is worth the effort. Most companies report in percentages so that customers never really see the numbers. All of us who work at the paper know circulation is down, wages are frozen, people are laid off, others are being worked to death and so what if people are veiwing the product for free...

Anonymous said...

Smoking mirrors?

Anonymous said...

Debbie is evil and conniving and always has been.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to qualified to be a publisher just on the friend list.

Anonymous said...

Debbie is being allowed to operate that way. you still don't get it..

Anonymous said...

All papers have been using all means to expand there circulation numbers, this includes online hits using employees as mentioned earlier. Another example is free publications that are delivered to non subscribers but may be included in the total circulation numbers.

This type of practice has been going on for some time, not just in the newspaper industry. Its news to some of you folks, but not new.

Debbie is doing what she is told, like all publishers and that is feeding us b.s. They can not be honest with the staff because they are offical company spokesmen and can effect the market. They will not come out and say, "yeah, we are @#$# jump ship now!!!

when i like to get a better feel of where we are at, i go into the publishers office for a 1v1 meeting to get his real opinion off the record. But that was in good times, now i do not need the publisher to tell me how bad it is. Again , Headline may be news to some of you, but nothing new.

P:

Anonymous said...

So, kneepads are standard issue for publishers?

Anonymous said...

Also, a lot if not all publisher statements or anouncments to the staff are created at corperate headquarters and then sent out to the publisher. So, i would not blame the publisher for doing what she is told. That said, i do not know Debbie personally and it could very well be she is ruthless, spineless, unqualified waste of space that humped her way to the top.

Anonymous said...

I have started to think some of these women were promoted for one reason only, they were ‘liberal’ females needed for the diversity/minority quotas at the time. The truth may be that getting rid of these bag-hags is not all that easy. If they were removed for any reason, a lawsuit would follow, with their yada, yada, yada, discrimination BS, that nearly everyone has witnessed by now. Someday, perhaps being fired will be an equal opportunity as well, but it sure isn’t equal now. Look around and see who is still standing.

Anonymous said...

I grew up thinking women didnt belong in any leadership roles, it was the gereral thought of the community and back then even spoken in public places with ease.

During my carrier, i would say that i was wrong, everyone was wrong and we have come a long way in seeing the truth.

Which is women and men both make great leaders.

So i would not say all these women are "bag-hags".
thats just ignorant thinking my friend and your train of thought is becomming obsolete.

Im a redneck who lives out in the stix and even we all are not that ignorant anymore.

Not to say some of them are not , and i'll use your term, "bag-hags" but no way all of them.

So we think Debbie is a bag hag because of 1 poster who mentioned that she jumped around departments to get to the top? Well, guess what a lot of folks do.

p:

P:

Anonymous said...

Hello! The ABC readership numbers are audited. It's pretty hard to fudge those ABC guys. They are anal to the max.

At my paper we had huge circulation copy losses but readership is holding basically steady because of the websites. A main reason we had huge losses in copies is that we quit doing all the free giveaway stuff. Maybe Anon 5:52 doesn't have the current information that newspapers are stopping this type of circulation because it costs lotsa money to give copies away free. This is a focus industry-wide.

So I definitely buy the readership is up, circulation is down story.

It's pretty sick the way other posters are accusing everyone from circulation supervisors to website managers of dastardly conspiracies. Hate McClathcy all you like, but please -- don't presume to drag a lot of honest folks through the mud in your zeal to pin wicked deeds on MNI.

Anonymous said...

P writes, “So i would not say [all] these women are "bag-hags".

I went back and read the post you responded to, and the poster said, “I have started to think [some] of these women..”

But that didn’t suit your narrative I guess. Little word changes to change the meaning of a comment, and demean another person's opinion. That is some classy stuff all right.

Anonymous said...

Hello! The ABC readership numbers are audited. It's pretty hard to fudge those ABC guys. They are anal to the max.




Save it sam. ABC numbers have been cooked for years and still are.

Web trickery and phony hit counts are the norm not the exception so just put a sock in it. We see it every day. It isn't hard to figure out. All you have to do is check the stacker count and compare it to the stated circulation. Then I just need to sit back and wonder why I have to have the paper as my home page and why I have to log back on every 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

P writes, “So i would not say [all] these women are "bag-hags".

"I went back and read the post you responded to, and the poster said, “I have started to think [some] of these women..”

But that didn’t suit your narrative I guess. Little word changes to change the meaning of a comment, and demean another person's opinion. That is some classy stuff all right."

He was reffering to all the women that get jobs because they are just that, women. I dont agree with that policy but its true management will look to diversify. though i dont agree with it anymore, it gave a lot of women an opertnuity that they probely would never get and a lot of these women made and continue making find leaders. to generalize all those women as "hag-bags" was incorrect and i pointed it out. Moreover he was reffering to the topic at hand thereby including Debbie into the mix of "hag-bags" this may be true but consider the facts, 1 poster mentioned that she jumped from department to department to get ahead. From that post alone, folks assumed she humped her way to the top. The fact is most people do department hop to gain new oppertunities but not all of them did it by humping. wOOt

I read his post fully and was responding to his opinion on the headline. You, little troll, are not adding anything to this discussion. Istead you are looking for any reason to agrivate other posters.

Have a nice day.

P:

Anonymous said...

If someone in management sucks, it's because they suck. Man or woman, no difference.

It would be more helpful if there were actually examples of poor judgment/bad leadership here.

Like .... laying off reporters who deliver the core product.

Buckling to the pressures of auto dealer advertisers because they didn't like an editorial cartoon.

Ignoring the potential revenue stream from the unused printing press. Someones got to crank out all those Asian and Latin broadsheets I see all over the place.

Why not run insane cheap ad rates for local shops? Cover the crap out of high school sports, school programs and small town community events.

Be the small town paper again. People will read it if you write about their lives.

Anonymous said...

"Be the small town paper again. People will read it if you write about their lives."

I 100% agree with this statement. The question is who has the guts to start it? None of corperate papers will, they have long lost this fundemental aspect about the paper. I am not sure if even reporters know how to get REAK local news anymore.

I would like to see the front page being local headlines with national news secondary and world news a 1 page summery. National and world news is easy to come by either through the internet or national daily publications.

A local paper should be just that, local.

P: