In secret, behind locked gates, our Nation's Oldest City dumped a landfill in a lake (Old City Reservoir), while emitting sewage in our rivers and salt marsh. Organized citizens exposed and defeated pollution, racism and cronyism. We elected a new Mayor. We're transforming our City -- advanced citizenship. Ask questions. Make disclosures. Demand answers. Be involved. Expect democracy. Report and expose corruption. Smile! Help enact a St. Augustine National Park and Seashore. We shall overcome!
I cover media companies, networks, podcasters and online streaming
Gannett, whose papers include The USA Today, Arizona Republic, The Detroit News, The Des Moines Register, and The Burlington Free Press, today announced that employees would face pay cuts and furloughs as advertising revenue dried up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to The Daily Beast, Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said in an email sent Monday to staff that employees need to make a "collective sacrifice" to keep the company afloat during the crisis. Pay cuts will begin as soon as this week. The Daily Beastquotes Bascobert as writing.
To avoid layoffs, Gannett employees will be furloughed five days a month through June. Top managers also will feel the pain. Bascobert won't take an annual salary while other Gannett executives will receive a 25 percent pay cut for the duration of the furloughs. A spokesperson for Gannett didn't respond to a request for comment.
Even without the pandemic, Gannett had plenty of challenges the declines in their legacy print businesses show no sign of endings.. The company sold itself last year to private-equity backed New Media Investments, the parent of GateHouse Newspapers, for $1.1 billion. The new company kept the Gannett name and publishes about 30 percent of all U.S. newspapers.
The Virginia company's situation isn't unique in the beleaguered news business.
According to Washington Post Media Columnist Erik Wemple, news organizations in about a half-dozen states and The District of Columbia are laying off workers and cutting worker's pay because of the pandemic
BuzzFeed, which struggled to stay afloat financially long before the pandemic, announced last week that its employees' salaries would be cut. Chief Executive Jonah Peretti aksi is forgoing his pay until the situation is resolved.
The timing of the cutbacks at Louisiana's Advocate newspaper is especially unfortunate since the state ranks third on a per-capita basis for COVID-19 infections.
"The growth trajectory shows Louisiana increasing its confirmed cases on the same steep angle as Italy and Spain, where the virus has become exceptionally widespread," according to The Advocate.
Online media, including sites associated with newspapers, have benefited from gains in digital subscriptions, though they haven't been enough to offset the drop in advertising revenue. Moreover, smaller publishers haven't been able to break the hold that Google and Facebook have on advertising.
The global pandemic will have a worse impact on advertising spending than the 2008 financial crisis, according to a recently released Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) survey of 400 ad buyers and other decision-makers.
According to the IAB, a whopping 70 percent of respondents have already "adjusted or paused their planned ad spend," while 16 percent are determining their next move. About a quarter of buyers have paused all their spending for the remainder of the first two quarters, while 46 percent have indicated that they have "adjusted" their ad spending during the same period.
I have covered the media industry for major news organizations such as CBS News and Bloomberg News on and off since around 2000. My specialties include debunking conventional wisdom and breaking news. I am passionate about telling great stories and have an obsession with facts that borders on the maniacal. During my career, I have crossed paths with Howard Stern, Joan Rivers, Hugh Hefner and Sylvester Stallone. I have the rare distinction among media writers of angering both Keith Olbermann and Cap'n Crunch. During my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my wife and son when I am not torturing myself watching Philadelphia sports teams.
Pitch v. United States should be decided by the United States Supreme Court. While the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled 8-4 against the plaintiffs, this case must urgently be decided.
Old civil rights murders, old corporate crimes, and other matters of interest to investigative reporters and historians are hidden in federal grand jury materials. When the Supreme Court reverses, I would like to obtain the grand jury records on an eight-year investigation of the ductile iron pipe industry, which was spearheaded by my late friend and former client, Senior Special Agent Robert E. Tyndall, Senior Special Agent with EPA Office of Inspector General. Despite overwhelming evidence, the department that calls itself "Justice" (as Prof. Michael Tigar calls it) fixed the use, refusing to allow an indictment because Ronald Wilson. Reagan was pro-trust. (Footnote: As revealed in Dan E. Moldea's book, Dark Victory, Reagan was a target of a federal grand jury when he was President of the Screen Actors Guild, probing his granting waivers to MCA to represent talent and hire them.)
From The New York Times:
Records in 1946 Lynching Case Must Remain Sealed, Court Rules
No one was ever charged in the killing of two black couples by a group of white men in rural Georgia, known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings.
A federal appeals court has ruled that grand jury evidence long sought by civil rights activists and historians in a 1946 mass lynching case in rural Georgia must remain sealed.
Despite the historical significance of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled Friday that federal judges do not have the authority to unseal federal grand jury records, except for a limited set of circumstances governing grand jury rules of secrecy.
The 8-to-4 decision reversed a lower court’s ruling in 2017 that the evidence should be unsealed. That ruling, which had been viewed as a breakthrough in the unsolved murders of two black couples in 1946 by a mob of white men in Walton County, Ga., was also affirmed in 2019 by a three-judge panel made up of members of the circuit court, which heard the case after the Justice Department appealed the lower court’s decision. Last June, the full court voted to rehear the case, which led to Friday’s ruling.
The victims in the lynchings, Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey, were dragged from their car at gunpoint on July 25, 1946, tied up and shot about 60 times at close range in the attack, which was widely considered to be one of the last mass lynchings in American history. It came to be known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings.
“I think history demands a full disclosure of the truth surrounding this important civil rights case,” Joseph J. Bell Jr., a lawyer who has fought for the release of the records for seven years, said in an interview on Monday.
Mr. Bell’s client, Anthony Pitch, an author and historian, had sued for the release of the records, which have been kept at the National Archives. Mr. Pitch died last year, so his widow has taken up the cause. Mr. Bell said he planned to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Why were 2,790 people interviewed?” Mr. Bell said of the investigation. “One hundred and six witnesses testified before a grand jury for 16 days and no one has been brought to justice?”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.
In a 2011 letter to a judicial rules committee, Eric Holder, then the U.S. attorney general, said that federal courts should be allowed to disclose grand jury materials of great historical significance. The rules committee opted not to proceed with the recommendation, the circuit court’s ruling said.
The killings took place about 60 miles east of Atlanta, where the Moore’s Ford Bridge crosses the Apalachee River.
Laura Wexler, who wrote a book about the lynchings called “Fire in a Canebrake,” a reference to the gunshot sound of thicket burning, said in an interview on Monday that the ruling was disappointing.
“Not being able to see those grand jury documents means there’s so many things we don’t know,” Ms. Wexler said. “How the hell was nobody indicted in this?”
Ms. Wexler, who has also been involved in the records fight, said that she wanted to know how the police and the F.B.I. handled the investigation and whether grand jury witnesses, some of whom were African-American, felt intimidated.
“What happened in that jury room?” she said. “I think the storyteller in me as well as the historian is just hungry for that. Without it, it’s just like the story ends in midsentence.”