Sunday, June 7, 2009

Former McClatchy employee: "it's time to fire Gary Pruitt"

At the Yahoo message board, a commenter claiming to be a former McClatchy employee says CEO Pruitt should be fired:

I call for Pruitt to be fired as an accountability act for his gross mis-management of the MNI balance sheet. Pruitt was in a one man auction with himself on the Knight Ridder deal, and he paid substantially more than any company was willing to offer. He was wildly optimistic on the future of newspapers, and based on his recent comments he expects the business to turn around once the economy does.

I call for him to be fired because I believe he is out of touch with reality. I have worked at MNI papers where he clogs up the internet pipes with his silly musically themed messages to employees, quoting lines from Lenny Kravitz or the Stones. I believe people on Wall Street saw these same messages and questioned whether he was serious about the task at hand.

Under Pruitt's watch the stock has tanked, it will be delisted, on the verge of bankruptcy, and no publicly stated plan on what the turnaround thesis is.

He got rewarded a $1,000,000 bonus for the Knight Ridder fiasco. I, and 4800 other employees, lost our jobs, our careers, our livelihoods, and our sense of self worth. So for me it is personal. His action resulted in an entire company being wiped out through excessive debt at exactly the wrong time.

As for his successor, she will have to decide where to spend what little capital they have on trying to maintain a local presence both in print and online. The industry is toast and will never, ever return to the level it once was. That is not Pruitt's fault.

The only hope for MNI in the long run is to be acquired by a Google or Yahoo or MSFT, organizations that understand the value of news gathering and how those stories are important in the news search components of their internet business. So the main skills the next CEO will have to have is an understanding of how best to get a company ready for sale, and how to extract the highest value to shareholders from that sale. Pruitt has proven twice (Cowles and Knight Ridder) that he's a lousy deal maker, so he'd surely settle for much less than the company's true value on a sale to Google, probably in exchange for a long term consulting arrangement.



Anonymous said...

Well, "She" lost me completely when "she" got to Google or Microsoft. Neither of these companies would have even the slightest interest in moving backward into a business model that demands 70 to 80% of your revenue going to physical plant. Not when they can set up individual offices in strip malls and hire their own to gather news for a fraction of the cost of today's Affirmative Action Wonders.

Dave D. said...

...Way too late to save MNI by firing anyone, even someone as annoying as Gary Pruitt.

...MNI can't be saved. Newspapers like MNI can't be " saved ". Eyes have gone elsewhere and won't return. That a former McClatchy employee can't see this is unsurprising and the key to their demise.

Anonymous said...

"Internet pipes" ?

That's where "she" lost me.

Anonymous said...

I swear Pruitt must have pictures of the Board of Directors having sex with animals to still be employed.

Anonymous said...

11:32 AM

There have been rumors of untoward goings on for years, but almost all are centered around Pruitt himself as the ring master.

Anonymous said...

Excellent and agreed. Pruitt should be profoundly ashamed of himself. His greedy arrogance, his narcissistic self-absorption and his gross mismanagement have led to a greater demise of McClatchy papers and their status on every level. He is outrageously out of touch that he thinks throwing in a Rolling Stones song makes him hip and on 'the cutting edge'. His minions are no better. Just this morning Eric Johnston, Publisher of the Modesto Bee, had only more worthless insults to add to a long line of injuries ( What planet are these morons on? How many times can we possibly hear how the industry is changing, how McClatchy papers are offering more online venues for news consumption, what an invaluable local resource the papers are, how newspaper employees should be proud and hold their heads up in the community, how once the economy turns around newspapers will rebound into glorious beacons of justice, journalism and the American way? It all smacks of self-aggrandizing self-importance from those who are grossly out of touch. Thank you so much Gary Pruitt, thank you so much Eric Johnston for informing us with your highly enlightened insight. Your words are pearls of wisdom that will comfort those who have lost their jobs because of you and will surely make those who continue to work for such kind, caring folks as you understand that their jobs are secure, their product is the best and that the future is rosy and filled with Disney movie rainbows and songbirds that sing the praises of McClatchy and its' triumphant leaders. And if you believe that I have some icebergs from Hell I'd like to sell you....

Anonymous said...

12:29 After reading the Facebook post you note in your comment ...

According to Eric Johnston's post today on Facebook it seems he would agree that Pruitt should at the very least resign. He compares the plight of McClatchy to that of ships under attacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. I'm sure we all remember the nobel and selfless act of Captain Phillips sacrificing himself for the safety and well being of his crew aboard the Maersk Alabama. Is Johnston suggesting Pruitt do the same for the benefit of his crew/company? BTW Mr Johnston, the crew aboard the Maersk Alabama did nothing to invite such an attack unlike like your fearless captain and his henchmen who have brought much of this pitiful situation onto themselves thru bad deals and poor decision making. It is insulting to all Americans that you make such a comparison.

And Johnston should quit whining about how McClatchy is being attacked by Wall Street and other analysts whose FORECASTS ,not OPINIONS are based on hard facts and numbers not some manufactured vendetta he seems to be hanging all his excuses on. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Eric Johnston what a F%#@&N joke
you need to resign your sorry ass as well. What a punk ass publisher he is. I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Anonymous said...

It is so unfortunate how you constantly attack Mr. Gary Pruitt. He is doing an outstanding job and we desire he remain as CEO. He and Mr. Obama are on a higher plane and we need to strive for that level.

Hail to the Chiefs!

Anonymous said...

Eric, Eric, poor deluded creature. You actually think that your employees, readers and advertisers believe all of the overcooked dog poop you keep trying to serve them. I have one word for you: STOP! Your employees are not happy--not with the company and not with your repeated attempts to blow smoke smoke up their BEEhinds. In your attempts to defend the company and it's standing in the community you have lost sight of one important fact: you have an empty building with employees who are now doing the jobs of 5-6 people apiece. Those who are left are working for less money thanks to the pay cuts. Many have seen their jobs farmed out to India, Sacramento, independent contractors or simply those who are least qualified but happen to have seniority.

Your readers, for the most part, despise the look, feel and overall poor quality of the paper with it's numerous mistakes, muddy ads and misprints--not to mention inconsistent delivery times now that the paper is in trucked from 80 miles away. How is it that you don't understand that people could care less about the content if it's given to them in a shabby looking wrapper?

As for your advertisers--well, I think the deep decline in ads in the paper is proof positive that those who are still in business are the least satisfied of all. What you state to be "concerns over the future of the Bee" are NOT concerns--they have already lost faith. They are displeased, disgruntled and pretty much fed up with the entire process. They don't like having their ads built in India, printed in Sacramento, and finding their ads (once printed) a muddy mess in a section they didn't want. And it is too late "to reinvent" as you put it (with online) because that ship sailed more than 10 years ago!

And no one is criticizing the journalists or the job they do. It is not about them. It is about corporate puppets trying to tell everyone how great the company is and how it is a vital, changing, springing-up-from-the-ashes new and improved version of what it was. We want the news--just not in the shrinking, dark, dirty, 3-hours late mess from a company that cannot get it together. Please, just hold up the white flag and concede. Then we'll respect you.

Anonymous said...

Just talked to an employee that is still working at the Modesto paper. She HAS to work a little while longer (for the benefits). She said the conditions are terrible as EVERYONE has to do the jobs of two, three or more people. No raises or extra compensation for the extra work, 401k matching have stopped, and it appears the higher ups are just grasping at straws to maintain some semblance of sanity and stability. The employees are still friendly and courteous to customers and each other but it is like a really big really dark cloud hanging over their heads.
The Modesto Bee building has been bought by Modesto Junior college and needed office space will be leased back to the Bee. No one knows what is going to happen to the printing press. I'm glad I'm gone from that place.

Anonymous said...

The Modesto Bee building has been bought by Modesto Junior college and needed office space will be leased back to the Bee.


Just wait till those left find out they are being replaced by, "hands on learning" and "interns" from their buildings owners.

Yep, it's coming.

Anonymous said...

Nobody else would take the job. He goes down with the ship.

Anonymous said...

OH NO! NO! NO! DO NOT FIRE THE TOOL PRUITT! The enamored board of directors deserves this megalomanic in their lives. I heard the older-than-ink publisher of the fresno bee, ray steele, elaborate for more than two minutes, in front of a large meeting of news and ad people, on what great looking man he was. Such a "trim physique" if i remember correctly? anybody else recall that one? All mgmt have a hard-on for this confirmed letch so let `em have dick. The sad truth is that the real journalists (not those purchased journalism degrees by inbred mcclatchy heirs) are paying with their lives for his deeds.

Anonymous said...

I agree the dismissal of Purdy Pruitt is called for but it will not save MNI. Howard would not have left if there was life in the corpse.
My concern is for the skeletal crews left in obsolete jobs like circ. and classifieds. These people are future Arby's employees. They need to get real, get retrained and get out. Like in 2009.
The murder of Knight Ridder was bad enough. To watch the snake that swallowed it now gag to death itself is perverse and depressing.
I bolted to get my master's in another field,
buh bye.

Jay Fredrickson said...

I was the person that posted on Yahoo and believe that Google will buy major newspaper companies like Gannett and MNI. There is still credibility in the paper's brand names that can't be replaced by "strip-mall reporters".
I have been calling for Pruitt to be fired for a year and have no problem admitting it.

Jay Fredrickson

Anonymous said...

Jay--your comments and candor are much appreciated. If only there could be that much forthrightness from those at the top. Whether you are a current or a former employee--it is beyond insulting to have the likes of Gary Pruitt and others in charge keep feeding everyone the same stinking pile of garbage--AS IF anyone believes it. Thank you Jay for pointing out the obvious.

Anonymous said...

There is still credibility in the paper's brand names that can't be replaced by "strip-mall reporters".

I strongly disagree. They have literally trashed their brand beyond value to companies like Microsoft or Google to the point that owning any major name would threaten their own strong brand.

Anonymous said...

Gary Pruitt should have been fired a two years ago