Friday, December 23, 2011

The exodus from MLive Media Group continues

Looks like at least three more Boothies who were picked to stay with the reincarnated MLive Media Group have decided to abandon ship.

In a message to staff, Publisher Paul Keep notified staff that Darin E., a key component of the ‘new’ copy desk, had decided to leave and take a job with a non-profit agency.  His wife, a part-time reporter has also chosen to leave as well. Not sure if she was part of the new company’s plans.
His new job will require him to commute more than an hour each day, but apparently still more attractive than remaining on the Titanic. The business editor, or what used to be the business editor in Grand Rapids, Chris K., has decided to turn down an offer with the new company and is taking a job in PR in Grand Rapids.

There is an unconfirmed report of at least one additional reporter who had been tapped to stay on deciding to take a severance instead. Hmmmmmm.
So the reshaping of the new MLive Media Group leadership team continues.

Free From Editors will be dark for about a week. I have appreciated your support of this blog over the past four years and look forward to a better new year for my former colleagues in the news business. Enjoy the Christmas holiday and may you have a  Happy New Year’s. I will be checking e-mails, so feel free to continue to send me information.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another manager says 'no' to MLive Media Group

The last ever Jackson publisher has declined an offer to take a position with the new MLive Media Group.

In case the story is changed, I've pasted in the copy below. Things are not looking too optimistic for this new venture.

Copy of story as it appeared today:

Sandra Petykiewicz, who led the Jackson Citizen Patriot through an era of change and challenge since 1999, will retire as publisher Dec. 31.
Petykiewicz, 58, of Clark Lake, is the last publisher of the Citizen Patriot. The position will no longer exist following a sweeping corporate restructuring announced in November.
She was offered a management job with a newly formed company, but chose to “step aside” instead.
“I am proud of what I’ve done to lead us to this point, and now I think it’s time for a new generation of leaders to take over,” said Petykiewicz.
She guided the Citizen Patriot through arguably the most turbulent years in the newspaper’s 173-year history and kept the business profitable.
“She was publisher in the worst of times to be a financial leader of a newspaper,” said Eileen Lehnert, former Citizen Patriot editor. “But I think she has risen to the challenge.
“She was someone who really cared about journalism and really wanted the paper to survive in some form,” said Lehnert, who retired two years ago.
A native of metro Detroit, Petykiewicz graduated from Central Michigan University in 1975 and worked at newspapers in Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
She joined the Citizen Patriot in 1983 as metro editor, overseeing local news coverage.
“Sandy was demanding as an editor and a publisher. You didn’t get a free pass for what you wrote,” said Ken Wyatt, retired editorial writer who helped shape the voice of the Citizen Patriot with Petykiewicz for 20 years.
“You always know where you stand with her,” said Sara Scott, associate editor for content. “She is very direct and honest as far as the job you do.”
No-nonsense leadership was also characterized by respect for the opinions and abilities of subordinates.
“She’s always willing to talk to people,” said Wyatt. “She listens, then she does what she thinks is right. Somewhere along the line, she ceased being just my editor and publisher and became my friend.”
“I couldn’t have had a better boss,” said Lehnert. “There were times when we disagreed, but we always respected each other.”
Petykiewicz was promoted to editor of the Citizen Patriot in 1987, becoming the first female editor in the chain then called Booth Newspapers.
She was promoted to publisher in 1999, with responsibility for all editorial and business functions.

Margaret Parshall, advertising director of the Citizen Patriot, said Petykiewicz fully mastered the challenges of the “business side” of the newspaper.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, our advertisers had very limited choices on where to spend their money,” Parshall said. “Now their options are almost limitless.
“The challenge for us is to help our advertisers reach their audiences. She understands the dynamics of these changes. I learned a lot from her. She was not a micromanager and she gave me the tools I needed.”
Her tenure coincided with industry upheaval that forced newspapers to find new ways of doing business in order to survive.
Circulation of the Citizen Patriot peaked in 1993, Petykiewicz said, and declining readership and advertising revenue accelerated through the recession in the 2000s.
“The low point was in 2008,” Petykiewicz said, “but we turned that around.”
The paper became smaller, reflecting a reduction of advertising revenue. So did the staff, as certain functions, including printing, were consolidated with other Michigan newspapers owned by Advance Publications.
Management was “flattened” by elimination of jobs once seemingly indispensable, including the editor. Since 2010, Petykiewicz has been publisher and editor.
Two years ago, Petykiewicz also became president of Ann Arbor Offset, a commercial printing business that prints the Citizen Patriot.
“We were doing a lot of things other papers were not doing,” said Scott. “She had to make some tough decisions, but I have always thought she has done her best to protect her people.”
“Sandy is a rare person who manages well in crisis, keeping her head,” said Wyatt.
Lehnert said, “She has been out in front in putting the newspaper in a good financial position.”
No previous restructuring is as far-reaching as the one now coming.
Advance Publications announced in November that online and print news operations of its Michigan newspapers will be placed under a new company called MLive Media Group.
The transformation, to be completed in February, is intended to boldly position the company as a “digital-first” news source.
Jackson will become one “hub” of MLive Media Group, with a smaller staff and management structure than a traditional newspaper. Scott will lead the news side of the hub and Parshall will lead the sales side.
Petykiewicz said the new structure is created “from a position of strength” so the company can thrive in the future.
The Citizen Patriot, she said, will become an around-the-clock online information source like “the CNN of Jackson.”
“The changes we are making now will guarantee a future for journalism and advertising solutions in Jackson for a long time to come,” she said.
She has a long list of professional and community accomplishments.
Petykiewicz said she will continue living at Clark Lake, and probably winter in Florida. She is married to Ed Petykiewicz, retired editor of the Ann Arbor News. Their daughter, Kendall, is a senior at Lumen Christi High School.
The retiring publisher does not despair for the future of the Citizen Patriot.
“Right now, between print and online, we reach 70 percent of our audience. Nobody else does that,” she said.
“So I feel very confident we have a future. But it will be a different future.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm boycotting the boycotts

I’m boycotting boycotts. It’s been awhile since I had an off topic rant here and today is the day for the next one. I’ve tried to avoid the rants because it usually pops a vein in “Inky” but here goes. They are usually off topic, so that’s the other reason I’ve steered away from them.

In the past couple years we’ve been encouraged to boycott a number of places, people and corporations.
As the readers of Grandma’s Recess know I completely ignored the “Boycott Arizona” crowd and spent a wonderful three weeks there with our trailer in the fall. We spread our money around visiting tourist venues, local stores, hair salons, gas stations, restaurants and other places.

Arizona, like many other states, is continuing to suffer from the lingering effects of a long recession and frankly the people there need the work. Why punish them over the issue of immigration enforcement? Besides, while we were there, the locals told us since the state passed the controversial law the feds have picked up their efforts on enforcing the laws on illegal aliens in Arizona.
Heck we were caught in a federal border patrol random check about 25 miles north of the border during our wine tour outing. So maybe Arizona had a point after all. I’m sure a lot of Arizona folks were happy that we came down and spread the wealth a little.

Besides my Navy reunion was scheduled precisely during the boycott talk back in 2010 and although I don’t know it for a fact, may have played a role in the decision to hold our reunion there for spite. If that’s the case feel free to boycott the USS Cogswell Association, which will be hard for 99.999999999 percent of the country because the requirements to join have something to do with having served on the World War II destroyer to begin with.
Along with boycotts of Jane Fonda, I’ve heard folks tell me I should avoid anything with Charlie Sheen in it. I’ve no love lost for either person, but I’ll watch or not watch whatever they are in based on the subject matter they are portraying, not who they are. Besides it appears that studios and producers are pretty much boycotting both of them for me.

Just during this Christmas season I’ve received messages on Facebook telling me I should boycott Target and Lowe’s stores. The reasons were completely different. Target was being boycotted for “making” its employees work on Thanksgiving night and Lowe’s for pulling its advertising from some show I had never heard of before.
As for the Target boycott, get a life. You’ll get no sympathy for working on Thanksgiving night from a former Navy sailor, police employee and newspaper reporter.  I’ve worked as many Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s Eve/Labor Day/Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Veteran’s Day holidays  as I ever had off. Besides, you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve shopped at Target anyway.

Just be happy you have a job. Many people don’t. If you are really upset about having to work a holiday, quit and find another job. Please don’t belly ache about having to earn time-and-a-half for working.
Ditto for Lowe’s. I’ve been inside a Lowe’s store less than I have visited Target stores. Apparently there is a low-rated cable show that Lowe’s pulled its advertising from that deals with a Muslim family and how normal it is. Gees, can’t imagine why that show wouldn’t be a hit. Some of the people who encouraged me to boycott Lowe’s had to admit to me they had never even seen the show themselves.  Its ratings are so low they may be watched by fewer people than CNN. OK, that might be a stretch. Sure I know a kooky right wing group encouraged their own boycott (equally silly) but Lowe’s wasn’t the only company to pull its advertising from the show due to its poor ratings. Apparently the kooky right wing folks were the only people watching the show to begin with.

If you are a big fan of the show and want to see it continue you should donate millions to PBS and convince them to put it on their network where I can also not watch it.
All my home improvement shopping is done at Home Depot. So don’t even think about telling me to boycott them.

And just to really pop all of Inky's veins here's another thing I'm not boycotting: Harry Reid's glasses.