Thursday, October 18, 2007

Update On "All The News...."

For an update on this issue of sponsored news, visit website of Editor and Publisher: "Memphis Editor Admits FedEx Sponsorship A Mistake." We appreciate his candor and for the explanation of his rationale to increase revenues of The Commercial Appeal.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

This explanation makes me even more furious. What did the people who paid for the Elvis Week coverage get in return for their investments. There must have been a quid pro quo.
It also looks like the CA is publishing Memphis in the World ad-free. So let us have an explanatory story with it telling readers what is included that would have been excluded had ads been sold or a sponsor found.
Someone on this blog today described the CA's monetizing content concept as bribing reporters. But this smells like an attempt to blackmail advertisers into becoming sponsors to me. Whatever you call it, it's certainly not the sort of impartial news they teach in Journalism 101.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. So Peck goes to E&P to offer his explanation?

Wouldn't he have been better off offering an explanation to the CA's readers and advertisers?

That tells me he thinks his readers aren't smart enough to understand the issue.

How wrong he is.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he's more concerned about what potential future employers think than what Memphians think.

Anonymous said...

Weak, weak, weak. Looks like he got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Anonymous said...

He's shuckin' and jivin'
This reader wants to know how much it costs to be a sponsor of a CA story? Are stories sold by the inch or only in column lengths? Are sponsors assured anonymity if they don't want their identities disclosed? Can politicians buy a story on their opponent in an election year without violating the Federal Elections Commission regulations? How much would it cost to buy the entire CA's Christmas edition?

Anonymous said...

Hell, this only makes it worse. He's willing to sell the low end journalism, whatever that is. I guess that's like the difference between a whore and a call girl.

Anonymous said...

don't you find it odd that Peck sends out his No.2 man to do his public bidding for him? any decent editor would have had an explanation posted on his newspaper's website already. no such thing here. and an explanation in tomorrow's CA.
don't hold your breath.
Peck's embarrassed -- and he should be. I bet the folks in Spokane are laughing themselves silly about all this.

Anonymous said...

I want to know why they are being so secretive about this new sponsorship program. Where is the rate schedule for advertisers who want to take advantage of it? I had an impression newspapers had an obligation to make these arrangements public.

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by this sentence in the last paragraph of Peck's missive to Editor and Publisher:

Peck said future sponsorships are probable, but said they would not likely be attached to what he termed "high-end pieces of journalism."

I assume this means he will continue to sell the content of news stories he deems low-end journalism. Such as Amos Maki's Done Deals column? I wonder how that makes Maki feel, knowing the paper's editor thinks his work is low-end? I never knew what low-end journalism was before today, but now I am confident I can find it in The CA.

Anonymous said...

No wonder they wanted to argue about some facts with you guys. They were guilty as charged.

Anonymous said...

Things at the CA will never be the same no matter what Peck may think. Irreversible bad judgment and damage to what credibility was left at 495.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: no company pays money and doesn't expect a return on their investment in a positive story. Next Peck will say that PACs don't influence decision of politicians. Same thing.

Anonymous said...

Is this guy clueless or what:

"Think about the times you see a movie review on one page and turn the page and there is an advertisement for the movie," he said.

Somehow that's the same as selling a series of stories to the most powerful corporation in Memphis? Good God, is he out to lunch? What he did is more like selling the movie its own review.

I still don't think he gets it.

Anonymous said...

Joe Pepe was brought to Memphis to recreate his suburban strategy from St. Louis, but he has failed here in Memphis. Now he will try anything to grow the market share he promised corporate when he was hired. Desperate people do desperate things. And Chris Peck is just a pawn.

LeftWingCracker said...

OK, what are the chances, especially since they just did the split with the TV properties, that Scripps would SELL the CA?

Would that be good, bad or indifferent for the CA, or is it just too late for them?

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this many smiles in the newsroom in 2yrs.

Anonymous said...

Death to the 'burbs! Memphis lives!

Come on Peck do the right thing. Those additions are insulting to those of us who really care.

Does it always have to come down to dollars?

Anonymous said...

We predict the CA will do something to get back at you. Hang in there and thanks for breaking a story the CA should have done.

Anonymous said...

Scripps will sell the CA, it's just a matter of when. Of course, they'd like the FCC to change its rules about media ownership. Then Scripps could sell the CA to Gannett in exchange for WBIR-TV in Knoxville. That would give Scripps both a broadcast and print presence in the Knoxville market which is performing much better than Memphis.

Would Gannett be any better for the CA? I'm not sure.

Smart City Consulting said...

We appreciate the encouraging comments, and it's really not our intent to "break" stories on thsi blog. When we began it 587 posts and 30 months ago, we made the decision that we wanted to have a conversation about issues and trends and policies, rather than try to make news. On occasion, we have revealed some information for the first time, but it was within the context of a larger issue such as school reform. As for this particular post about the CA, we've known about the problems being caused within the paper and the negative impact on morale by this sponsorship policy for some time, and we intentionally waited over two Sundays to write anything about it in hopes that Mr. Peck would address it himself in his column. When that didn't happen, we thought it was of enough interest to mention it here. We had no idea that it would become a national story, which owes itself more to John Branston's coverage in The Flyer, we're sure, but we still believe it was worth discussing. We appreciate all of the insightful comments and the worthwhile conversation. It's been an interesting couple of days.

Anonymous said...

to think there was so much optimism when peck was hired ...

"community news" (i.e., low end) and the division of the newsroom between "spokies"/everyone else drove away many talented journalists.

bad blood aside, it comes down to this: if your plan as a leader is successful, you don't have to lay off oodles of people.

amber's army isn't riding to the rescue -- it's time to show the editor the same door that's been shown to so many others.

Anonymous said...

All you Peck-haters need be careful what you wish for. No, he did not inspire confidence by failing to support Louis Graham and Trevor Aaronson for several weeks before the last-second about-face (in the face of a staff revolt and the rebuke of Poynter Institute). And, sure, he insulates himself with cronies and always hears what he wants to hear.

But at least he LIVES in Memphis and genuiely attempts to understand what the market wants and needs. And at least he's not a bullying megalomaniac, like his predecessor. Pepe will continue to try and force his round suburban-coverage-is-King philosophy into the the square peg that is the Memphis region. And if Peck leaves, Pepe will make sure he hires someone he knows and trusts will finalize the transformation of The Commercial Appeal into a collection of Shelby Sun Times/Bartlett Express/Covington Leaders.

And to all you people trashing The CA, the staff doesn't need your scorn and condescension. It needs your support and encouragement. It needs you to take the newspaper, read it, engage with it ... and then call and email and write letters advocating the kind of journalism you want to see. There are some dedicated journalists doing all they can under trying conditions. The fact that so many had the cojones to sign a petition, despite knowing the difficult job market, should earn your loyalty. Stop whining and kvetching and help the staff do positive things.

Anonymous said...

You disappoint me so. There's all those great essays in Smart City about the policy on monetizing the product, coupled with the Texas two-step at 495 on whether Louie Graham was sent home or whether someone went to Peck's office to "fix the copy."

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS? WHICH GENIUS THOUGHT IT UP? When Peck addressed the issue in Editor & Publisher it was the "editors" who pulled us back from the brink.

WHICH UNS?

WHICH UNS GOT US TO THE CLIFF'S EDGE TO BEGIN WITH? Peck insists that advertisers contacted about sponsorship were never promised any say-so about content or the editorial product. It's possible that his Western upbringing spared him exposure to the Golden Rule. That's never been lost on the Scripps Howard employees in Memphis.

I appreciate the columns in Smart City as well as those in the Flyer.

Did you ever stop to think WHY they need all that extra money? Could it possibly be the $350 million + lost by Ken Lowe at E. W. Scripps Corporate office on the home shopping network the company bought that it eventually had to plow under. That's also part of the reason the company isn't awarding any raises to its employees and has a mad scramble for additional cash, from any source.

I fully expect they'd dress us in Santa suits and put us on the malls with hanging baskets and bells if the Salvation Army hadn't thought of it first.

Smart City Consulting said...

anonymous 8:07 - We hope that we've made it clear that if we have a bias - and we admit that we have it - it is a pro-reporter bias. We've done the work and we consider it noble and honorable, which was the reason for our concern in the first place. Anything that we can do to support the news staff, we're definitely for.

Anonymous said...

Understood, Smart City. That certainly was not directed at you and yours, but a reminder to others not to group everyone at The CA in the same category. Certainly the staff deserves criticism when it is merited, but I wonder if the general public truly appreciates the crisis newspapers and thus robust local journalism is now facing (despite the continuing large profit margins).

Smart City Consulting said...

We don't think the average person has any idea what a reporter's average day looks like. Maybe there's the CA series worth writing.

Anonymous said...

How about the public joining in a picket line to get reporters a new contract? The company's been stalling for four years.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think it's funny that Memphis Publishing Company is one of the most secretive, unforthcoming corporations in the city, but it manages to recognize these evils in everyone else.

Anonymous said...

When an editor works to remove Memphians from positions of influence (think: Otis) and puts in what he calls his "Band of Brothers" from Spokane to straighten out his backwater town, this is what you get. A reporting staff that doesn't give a damn and with no loyalty to him. We just hope he takes his "band" with him when he leaves.

Anonymous said...

LEt's don't lose perspective. Peck is just the drone for Pepe. All of these brilliant ideas come from his office.

Anonymous said...

Think how different things would have been if Otis had been named editor instead of Chris Peck. Otis sees journalism as a calling, not just a job. He loves Memphis and is respected by the community. What a loss.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:53

I agree totally. Otis Sanford has always struck me as someone of integrity and class. I wish he were the CA editor.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody else see the irony of all this at the same time that "Truth Be Told" is filming at the CA?

Anonymous said...

You better watch your backs. Management is really, really mad. And they are a vindictive group of people.

Anonymous said...

In time, it's getting clear that management has a disinformation campaign underway. They're trying to make this one go away big time, and they are twisting the facts to do it.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm back to a question from the first day of this: how does Chris Peck still have a job?

Anonymous said...

I think it is clear that Peck still has a job because he was not the sole instigator of this nonsense. Rather, he was a co-conspirator. Hence he is protected by those above rahter than held resposible for the mess.

Anonymous said...

Right about now, I'm hoping for a quick sale of the chain to someone who cares about a real journalistic mission.

Anonymous said...

DOn't hold your breath for a quick sale of the chain. The terms of the Scripps trust require they keep the newspapers. I believe this split is really bad new for the newspaper division. The TV properties are all weak sisters and aren't big revenue contributors, and newspapers as we all know are troubled.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but now at least they can't suck away what little profits the newspapers make to fund their cable dreams...

Anonymous said...

Memphians, CA readers and CA reporters must remember that they have more major metro daily newspaper experience than Chris Peck, bless his poor lil' heart, will ever have.

Peck is just a rube from Spokane (If I had a dime for everyone who asked me, "What's up with that 1970s mustache and rumpled wide-wale corduroy?"). He had every job handed to him by his pappy or his pappy's friends. He has limited intellect, skills and talent – otherwise he could have run the newsroom by managing the existing journalists and editors.

But, no management skills had Peck.

That's why he had to import so many of his buddies to act as a firewall between himself and decisionmaking. The Spokane bunch turned out to be unsophisticated hicks, too. So, the problems escalate.

When it comes to ethics, the Spokies are clueless. Most of them broke the ethics code in Spokane at that paper. I haven't heard all the facts, but it seems that Peck brought ex-coworkers to Memphis who were either as tainted as he was by the scandal, were too dumb to understand Peck had done anything wrong, or so unbelievably ignorant they didn't even read their own newspaper.

A few of those so-called journalists from Spokane have been unable to adapt to big city life or our Memphian culture, and have left the building.

The rest of the Spokies have gotten big raises and promotions way beyond their abilities. It is ironic that MLGW gets hot scrutiny for unqualified executives from the CA - but Scripps corporate folk are incapable of good judgement or due diligence on these people.

To be fair to Peck, Publisher Joe Pepe is cut from the same cloth. Pepe is in over his head. And he has brought his own team of silly, inexperienced helpers, too.
And what sane businessman would buy this newspaper? Only someone crazy who would no doubt do more of the same destructive egocentric damage. They'll fire all the CA's current directors and bring in their own buddies from out-of-town. And so it goes.
One can only pray that a few good decisions might be made inadvertently.

I reiterate, Memphians, we the urbane citizens of the 17th largest city in America, deserve better than this lot of ragged, dopey, country boys.

Peck thinks diversity means Caucasian men from Spokane, Caucasian men from Spokane's suburban developments and Caucasian men from unincorporated areas near Spokane.

Pepe thinks diversity means Caucasians from St. Louis.

Scripps corporate believes diversity means Caucasian men from Cincinnati or a Caucasian man that they can hire cheaply.

That could be a hint as to the root of the problem. They don't think that any Mid-Southerners have talent, skills, ambition or deserve a fraction of the pay they get. Do they believe in monetizing? Sure. They'll rake in all the local dough they can. Do they believe in paying a decent wage to their employees with families who spend all earnings with those same businesses?

Heck, no. Peck, Pepe and company are counting the days until they can take the money and run.

Can you say "carpetbagger?"