Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Community Engagement Specialist: Are you good at goobledygook?

I think this is related to journalism, but this new job description, listed on the new MLive Media Group site had to be written by a marketing guru. I had my techno savvy youngest child translate the following job description because I don't speak technobabble and she says what they are seeking is someone to find people to write news for free in each community and to post questions and prompt people to respond to items on the website. What the job description doesn't describe is how much this person will make. The job is full-time but does it come with benefits. Kind of important info for a job applicant, doncha think?

Job Details

The Community Engagement Specialist will work with editors and content producers to keep consumers and user engagement at the center of all efforts while engaging users directly across all platforms. This position will manage and maintain news hub’s presence in social media and emerging platforms; work with community editor to develop and articulate institutional opinion pieces for web and print; conceive and execute public-facing events or other social opportunities to encourage public interaction with local news hub; and recruit and manage a network of local community reporters in a variety of subject areas.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Marketing, Public Relations or related field required
  • Minimum of 3 years experience working in communications, marketing, social media or a similar customer facing role required
  • Editorial/Media, Marketing, Customer Service experience, a plus
  • Strong project management, multi-tasking & organizational skills
  • Excellent writing skills and content creation/curation capabilities
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of online community platforms including social media and online presence
  • Ability to effectively communicate information and ideas in written and verbal
    format, and build and maintain relationships
  • Team player, with the confidence to take the lead and guide other departments
  • Demonstrated capability in capitalizing on high-value topics by engaging audiences in frequency and urgency
  • Understanding of the methods and tools used to deliver content across a variety of platforms such as Moveable Type CMS, SCC Budgeting and Archiving System, Smartphones
  • Understanding imperatives of multiple platforms – print, mobile, Internet, etc.
  • Proven ability to utilize a broad set of tools to tell stories and engage the audience
  • Mastery of social media and digital interaction
Duties and Responsibilities, work schedules and/or location may change based on evolving business needs
  1. Work dynamically with editors and content producers to maximize traffic around posts through interaction and engagement techniques:
  • Commenting in stories
  • Elevating comments to comment posts
  • Watch competing media for link-posting opportunities
  • Monitor media – local, mainstream and social -- for trending topics with local impact
  • Reader polls
  1. Manage and maintain news operation’s presence in social media and emerging platforms, in concert with overall state editorial strategy and protocol.
  2. Engage in comment streams as “voice of the organization,” in concert with established engagement protocols and editorial mission.
  3. Probe comments for use in opinion pages/blogs or for other situational content purposes and curate conversations that are of community interest.
  4. Work with community editor to develop and articulate institutional opinion pieces for web and print; budget and communicate with production center to meet print demands.
  5. Maintain engagement statistics for use by local market management and staff, and prepare analytic reports as required by Director of Metrics/Community Engagement.
  6. Conceive and executive public-facing events or other social opportunities to encourage public interaction with local news office.
  7. Conduct regular staff training sessions on community engagement techniques.
  8. Collaborate with community engagement specialists statewide on best-practices techniques, projects, staff training programs and other initiatives.
  9. Create engaging, interactive and optimized product offerings, leveraging the relationship between technology and customer data and insight
General office environment. Extensive computer use required. Some travel may be required. Ability to work flexible schedules.
The Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, physical or mental impairment, or any other category protected under federal, state or local law.

There is also a posting for a reporter position in Grand Rapids that is more straight forward. Unlike the above job description this one does not whether the position is full-time.

My favorite comment so far on the changes

Below I'm posting my favorite comment from the 125 so far on Publisher Dan Gaydou's announcement of the changes. Most entertaining are the frequent responses from the company about how they are going to amaze everyone with the new product in just three months. They are pleading for people to wait and see the magnificent product yet to come. This sounds vaguely familiar doesn't it? Let me think, what was it? Oh, promising to give us something we've never see before two years ago.

Remember what we received from that promise. We received crap, but most of us had seen crap before.

If you have a free half-hour check out all the comments on the post here. Remember that because of the wierd layout of MLive, you have to scroll down aways from the article to see the posted comments.

This from commenter Litterateur:

LitterateurNovember 04, 2011 at 10:58AM

The comments here about costs, home delivery and medium of delivery are entirely beside the point.
If the final product was worth it, I'd pay more. If the delivery medium of delivery changes, and the content is worth worthwhile, I'd adapt to it.

Restructuring is about downsizing. Downsizing is about eliminating people. If you have bad employees, you fire them. Period. If you're restructuring and downsizing, you're eliminating good people and working out ways to get more work from fewer people while doing your best to conceal that from your customers.

I've read every single comment up to this reply. If I read one more pathetic post from Bernie or Jeff from Booth, I'm going to cancel my subscription just for spite.

Bernie keeps posting "give us a chance" and "we think you'll be pleased." Really. Why? Spell out your intentions, and then I'll decide whether to give you a chance. And what part of "I want a daily newspaper on my front porch" is confusing you?

Jeff keeps posting about these popular features -- TV listings, puzzles. Really. You're thinking I can't buy a book of puzzles at the grocery story? Or get TV listings online? Besides, who really watches network TV anymore?

If my reason for subscribing is to get local news and information, how exactly is the MLive Media Group going to provide better content if you intend to layoff dozens of people?

You're guessing the local school board president will text you the dirt on the superintendent, and you'll hide it in the word jumble? That I'll get the latest on a serial rapist in my neighborhood, but only after I solve No. 2 across and No. 7 down?

I'm guessing that the point of the TV listings is to direct me to local TV news where, for the very first time ever, I might actually get news from the idiot box than from blank (editor's note: The spelling error was in the comment, not in my translation) ink on white paper.

How about being honest? You're laying off people because the economy is bad, you're restructuring in hopes of staying in business, and you hope readers will hang in because you're doing the best you can with the resources you have?

I'd take a chance on that. Really I would. But your pathetic attempts to sell the sizzle while replacing the steak with spam is a poor way of convincing me that I can trust your content for truth and accuracy.

Another view: Technology is the savior

Not sure I agree with much of what is written in this blog, but here it is for your reflection.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Job opening at The Center for Michigan

Someone sent me this link to a job opening at The Center for Michigan. Looks like a think tank group and don't know much about it except it is headed by Phil Power, who owned a chain of newspapers that I once worked briefly for.

In looking through the staff and the "Truth Squad" link there are a couple former Boothie writers and writers from several other newspapers in the area involved in the project.

Just an FYI for those now looking for work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The new MLive Media Group leadership

Here's a link to a photo of the new MLive Media brain trust.

Follow some of the links at the top of the page, especially the job listings, which are right now heavily weighted toward sales. Didn't see any writing jobs, but perhaps those will come later. You wonder how long this has been in the works without anyone letting the troops in on the pain to come.

Links to news on the changes

Thanks to a reader here's some news links to the latest changes.

A television news report on the changes in West Michigan.

From News and Tech this story.

Another television news report on the changes on the west side of the state.

Reflections on a 'blood letting'

My e-mail and blogger account have been alive in the past 24 hours with staffers, former staffers and soon-to-be former staffers letting me in on what is happening in Booth World. Nearly 800 people, mostly from Michigan checked in overnight on the blog.

If it weren’t for the “Jim Smith” clause in the buy-out contracts I would have had many more on-the-record comments. But when people take the buyouts now, Booth requires them to sign a contract that prohibits them from saying anything negative about the company. Pretty incredible coming from a company built on the First Amendment of the Constitution.
I think a good lawyer could poke a large hole in a clause defining what negative comment is. Is the truth, negative? Are the facts, negative?  But who wants that hassle after losing a job? So the company’s attempt at intimidation of its former employees has worked to a large degree. That is why I’m pretty liberal with my anonymity policies on the blog.

Besides many of the folks who are posting anonymously I have talked to via e-mail and on the phone so I am confident they know what they are talking about.
More than one called Wednesday’s announcement a ‘blood-letting.’

All of this was more difficult that previous bad news announcements, the writers said, because for a year they have been hearing nothing but the mantra “we’ve turned the corner,” “ things are better,” and “we’re making a profit” from the suits.
Some folks aren’t waiting for the January date to leave. At least one apparently decided to quit on the spot after being told their job was gone.

At Kalamazoo, the estimates are that 20 newsroom employees are gone. That leaves 7, which is both editors and reporters on the staff. The losses apparently include the metro editor (who has been at the paper for 25-plus years) , the business editor, the public editor, the editor, the photo editor, the publisher and the sports editor.
That’s not all, four full-time writers and two full-time photographers also got lay off notices. The marketing department is no more and a lot of part-time and other support staff are gone as well.

Sounds like a bloodletting to me. Similar situations are described at other properties as well.

People inside the company are not buying this “there will be many new jobs that you can apply for” stuff that the company is putting out. Here’s what one person wrote:
“…everyone knows that those jobs will pay much less and offer little or no benefits. No one will come back to apply for the same job, working more, for less money. No one.”

The suspicions are that the new jobs will be largely paid interns and part-timers.
This blog has tried to avoid getting personal. As people, I like many of the current bosses at Booth. When I knew them closer they were good family people and friendly folks to work for, but something needs to be said about their leadership skills.

They stink.
I’m familiar with both military and civilian organizations (I was in the Navy during the Vietnam War as most of you know), I worked for two police departments in California and a few corporations, including Booth, in my civilian life.

I like the military model best. When a ship runs aground, it doesn’t matter if the captain of the ship is asleep in his bed and didn’t make one decision that led to the ship hitting land, the captain is responsible. In that scenario, his career as a Navy captain is effectively over. Most Navy captains don’t get a second chance at running a ship aground.
They either retire or they get shuffled into a dead end shore job that also ends their chance at promotions or honors.

Military responsibility runs from the top down, if things go badly in a battle, the soldiers who carry out the orders don’t get blamed, their officers do.
"To whom much is given, much is expected," Luke 12:48 (partial quote but one of my favorite).
Things at Booth, are completely backwards. Every time the captains screw up, more and more of the folks at the bottom get blamed and punished.

In 2008, after the folks in my buyout group left, the remaining staff was told that with all the high priced dead weight gone, the company was poised for a bright future. So it was full steam ahead into the future. For awhile anyway.
Then when the ship ran aground again, the same bosses who ordered the new alignment decided more folks had to leave so they could get younger and more agile minds into the mix. Oops, wrong again.

Only in corporate America is the strategy to shoot the wounded again and again.

Most of the folks commenting to me privately are astonished that the same folks who have led this disaster time after time, continue to get to lead this company and the new manifestation that comes after it.
No one disagrees that a new model is needed, but at what point does the captain and his leadership go down with the ship? I don’t think that’s a negative question, but a fair one.

A reminder on names

Other than reposting names already in circulation through news reports, etc. Let's be careful about using the names of potential lay off folks in our comments. To be honest I don't know specifically who has been laid off and who has not. Let's not make things worse by speculating with names. I was a little lax on that in accepting today's comments, but I don't want to have to edit or delete comments (pro or con) that use the full names of current employees. Thanks.

Business Week on the changes

Business Week has chimed in on the changes at Booth/Advance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More on the layoffs

Information continues to arrive on today's Booth job massacre. Apparently, Dan Gaydou (who I always liked and respected) stood in front of folks, I believe in Grand Rapids, and explained that the company had to make a bold move and had to do it now. Next year, would have been too late. That kind of talk seems to indicate that all the positive talk about profitability we've been hearing for the past 8-9 months was corporate crap.

Actually the time to do something bold was 12 years ago, but none of the management was smart enough to see it or do it then. Why the same folks that were asleep at the switch 12 years ago think they are able to fix it now escapes me.

The layoffs seem very extensive throughout the chain. What also seems apparent is that the severance packages are not nearly as generous as in the past. Some of the folks getting the layoffs and severance will have a chance to apply for the new jobs, but I'd bet dollars to donuts the wage and benefit packages will be much reduced when they are offered.

There are reports of editors resigning and other editors being laid off. At least one sports editor is gone, according to sources. It is all very sad.

The Flint area editor is apparently defending the company's actions on Facebook, at least according to these comments I received.

Here's the whole Q&A about the Flint Journal as published on MLive. com.

And the video of Publisher Dan Gaydou is here at

More info from some folks who know

Here is the link to some comments that shed more light on today's announcement.

Seeking info

I understand that some layoffs at the Journal may have been announced today. Haven't been able to confirm but sounds like at least one full-time long time reporter may have received walking papers. Sounds like there are plenty of layoffs, but they are not effective until the end of January. At least that's what I'm hearing so far.

If you can help with the info, please let me known anonymously and NOT from the office.

Security reminder for current Booth/Advance employees

Do NOT send me information from work. First, it's not ethical to do so, but even more importantly the company has a history of checking computers to find out where information is coming from. There is plenty of information coming my way from good sources who are not risking their jobs by doing so.

I wish you all well and want you to land on your feet, do NOT jeopardize that by posting anything to this site or to my e-mail from work.

Also, a lot of you were visiting here yesterday, probably in anticipation of the announcement. I had heard a large and mostly negative announcement was coming from Booth, but I simply didn't have enough confirmation yesterday to publish anything.


Letter from the Head Publisher

MLive has a letter from Dan Gaydou that outlines the changes, with the appropriate corporate spin. In other words, no mention of layoffs, coming online fees, etc.

Update: Just received information that the circulation call center work is going to move to Florida and perhaps another vendor. Many more local jobs are gone, although there is little mention of that in the official releases.

The closure of the Flint office and printing facility will be huge for downtown Flint.

All the talk coming out of Booth/Advance in recent months has been how they have turned profitable, blah, blah, blah. Maybe it hasn't been a big enough profit, but can't imagine huge changes like this if they were really on the right road.

Here's a tidbit from Poynter on the changes.

More Booth developments

Things are breaking quickly on the Booth/Flint Journal/Advance front: Here are a few Q&As from inside:

Sounds like the Flint Journal buildings will be sold, but a smaller office will be established in downtown Flint. And, of course, more layoffs. Sad for my friends still there.

Here's what I have from inside:

: Where will the papers be printed?
 A: The Flint print production facility will be closed starting February 2, 2012 and all Flint Journal print operations and full-time jobs will be shifted to the Valley Publishing facility in Bay County.
 Q. Will the local newspaper office remain open?
 A. Yes, but The Flint Journal plans to move from its existing building to a new, state-of-the-art digital media facility in a downtown location. That news will be announced when lease arrangements are completed.
 Q: What is going to happen to our local newspaper employees?
 A: Many of our newspaper employees will have a place in the MLive Media Group and will still work in your local community.  Many others will have a place at Advance Central Services Michigan. Some circulation call center jobs will be moved to an outside vendor. While we believe these changes will create growth opportunities for our current employees, the reality is they will also lead to reductions in our work force. We will provide as much notice and consideration to our employees as possible. We'll strive throughout this process to treat all our employees with the professionalism and respect they deserve.

Breaking News from Booth/Advance Newspapers

This is an announcement made today from Booth/Advance: This is either a press release or it is a Business News outlet's account of what is taking place: (There are huge changes, not the least of which is the end to a physical newspaper building and print shop in Flint staring Feb. 2.)

'"One of Michigan's largest media companies is restructuring into a digital-first company that its president says will better serve the needs of consumers and advertisers in Michigan.

Two new companies, MLive Media Group and Advance Central Services Michigan, will take over the operations of, and Booth Newspapers, which operates papers in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Ann Arbor and Jackson. The changes take effect Feb. 2.

MLive Media Group will handle news and advertising, while Advance Central Services Michigan will handle production, distribution and human resources.

Modern media companies need to move aggressively into the digital world, offering news on phones, laptops and tablets, even as they continue printing newspapers, said Dan Gaydou, publisher of Booth Newspapers and The Grand Rapids Press. Gaydou will be president of MLive Media Group.

Those new demands for digital content, reflected in steady growth at, require a new structure, he said. is Michigan's largest news and information site, with 2.7 million monthly unique visitors.

"We are focusing where our audiences are telling us they are living," Gaydou said.

The restructuring will include some employee layoffs and cutbacks in newspaper home delivery in four markets, starting in February.

At the same time, MLive Media Group will open new offices and hire people to produce content for and the newspapers, and those jobs are open to employees affected by layoffs and others interested in working for the new company, Gaydou said.

"If you're a typical citizen these days, you are monitoring news around the clock: reading us on, in paper editions, in morning newsletters delivered to your email boxes, and on apps for your mobile devices," Gaydou said.

"We will deliver on every platform."

Four newspapers, The Grand Rapids Press, The Muskegon Chronicle, The Kalamazoo Gazette and The Jackson Citizen Patriot, still will publish seven days a week, but starting Feb. 2 will change to a three-day-a-week home-delivery schedule: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

The newspapers will be available seven days a week at newsstands and by e-edition, which is the printed newspaper's digital edition for computers and tablets.

The Flint Journal will retain its current four-day home delivery schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. That same schedule will apply to The Saginaw News and The Bay City Times with the addition, beginning Dec. 13, of a home-delivered Tuesday newspaper. That edition currently is available only on newsstands in Bay City and Saginaw.

In Ann Arbor, Thursday and Sunday home delivery of's print edition will remain unchanged.

The number of employee layoffs is undetermined, Gaydou said, because he expects many displaced employees will seek jobs with the new company. The new company, however, will employ more local and state content producers overall, with less spending on structural costs, he said.

"Our digital-first company is going to be a smaller company, but it will be a highly effective communications and marketing solutions company," Gaydou said.

"We will be a growth-oriented company, more innovative and more engaged with the community." will add new features and its website will be redesigned. The company will invest heavily in product development in partnership with Advance Digital (formerly Advance Internet), an affiliated company that is a leader in the digital news and information space.

Media companies must innovate to serve a growing online readership, even as print circulation declines across the nation, Gaydou said.

"This is a new path that has promise. It offers growth opportunities for our employees, and a new way of reaching audiences," Gaydou said. "It's what's right for communities. We're making these changes to do our job better."

Gaydou, who has worked for the Booth family of newspapers for 36 years, also announced these changes:

-- New newsrooms, or hub offices, will be opened in downtowns of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Flint and Muskegon, on or around Feb. 2. The current newspaper buildings in those four cities could be sold. "We're looking at properties and negotiating leases," he said.

-- Hub offices will continue in their current locations in Saginaw and Ann Arbor, as well as in Bay City and Jackson, where offices will be remodeled.

--Job openings at MLive Media Group will be posted in the coming days at

-- The four newspapers moving to three-day-a-week home delivery will add new features and be larger on delivery days. The Sunday paper will include a new section with TV listings, puzzles and other popular features for the entire week.

-- Some statewide accounting services for the Michigan newspapers will be moved to a related company office in Delaware, and the Grand Rapids, Flint and Jackson circulation call centers will be moved to an outside vendor.

-- Newspapers will be printed in three locations: Walker, Ann Arbor and at the Bay City-area plant called Valley Publishing. The Flint print production facility will close Feb. 2, and full-time press employees will be transferred to Valley Publishing.

-- The Grand Rapids-area Advance Weeklies will continue to be published. The Flint community weeklies and Kalamazoo Hometown editions will be discontinued early in 2012.

-- The weekly West Michigan Business Review print product will end Jan. 1, and its content moved to

-- MLive Media Group's other top officers will be Matt Sharp, vice president of sales and marketing, Mark Hauptschein, chief digital officer; and John Hiner, vice president of content.

-- Advance Central Services Michigan will be led by Mike Ply, who will be vice president and general manager. It will oversee all production, distribution, purchasing, accounting, human resources and other support for MLive Media Group.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Plagiarism: The original sin of journalism just keeps on going

Poynter discusses the latest episode of plagiarism in the media. You just have to ask how people, in this day in age, believe they can get away with this when everything is so easily checked.

And then this latest example.