Editor's Note: Robert Annis now

freelances for NUVO among other publications.

An open letter to Gannett CEO Gracia Martore:

You probably don't remember me; I was one of 62 employees who

were laid off at The Indianapolis Star last June. Of course, 700 other

employees across the country also were let go around the same time, so I

forgive you for not being able to put a face to a name.

I wish I could say I was shocked when I heard you had asked

many of the remaining employees to take yet another one-week unpaid furlough

less than two months after your predecessor, Craig Dubow,

walked away with a $37 million retirement package. But then again, this is

Gannett we're talking about.

It's not like Craig didn't deserve that money, just like he

deserved the more than $16 million he made in salary and bonuses the previous

two years, as thousands of employees were let go or forced to take unpaid time

off; he did some special things during his tenure as Gannett's fearless leader.

Look at the stock price, which went from about $10 a share to more than $75.

Oh, wait a second, that's backward — Gannett stock actually dropped by

$65 a share. Just the same, not many CEOs can say they managed to do that.

I felt for Craig as he left the company. Physical ailments

are tough, just ask the pressroom guys or the

reporters who can't afford their health insurance premiums after you cut Star

newsroom employees' salaries by 10 percent a few years ago. I don't think the

cause of his back pain was ever made public, but I'm guessing it had something

to do with that enormous golden parachute weighing him down and not the

crushing guilt that he was raking in so much cash at the expense of

hard-working employees across the company.

I apologize for any glaring mistakes; it's 3 a.m. as I write

this and like any good journalist, I'm nothing without a great copy editor. Of

course, the current reporters are going to be finding that out soon enough,

after you outsource the copy desk jobs to a hub in Kentucky. But why stop

there? Why not ship the jobs to India or China or somewhere they don't even

speak English at all? After all, it's not like a copy editor based in

Louisville is going to automatically catch when, let's say, Pennsylvania Street

is mistakenly referred to as Pennsylvania Avenue. That might embarrass the old

guard — Pennsylvania is the street the Star is located on, in case you're

wondering — but I don't think you or the rest of the executive crew at

Gannett's headquarters in McLean, Va., are capable of shame.

I'm proud of the decade I spent working at the Star. I was

never going to win a Pulitzer, but I was dedicated, hard-working and genuinely

loved my job ... mostly. I used to tell friends and co-workers I loved being a

Star reporter, but hated working for Gannett. Everyone knew what I was talking

about. You've taken a once-respected, but still

extremely profitable, newspaper and wrung every last cent you can from its

withered husk.

The media landscape is constantly changing, but you and the

others at Gannett HQ seem content to remain on a sinking ship, looting the fine

silver and tossing random crewmembers overboard. I would consider you and the

rest of Gannett's leadership (term used loosely and with a bit of a smirk)

common whores, setting aside any concept of morality and ethics for money, but

that's an affront to prostitutes everywhere. At least when one of their clients

gets screwed, he's walking away with a smile on his face. Parasite might be more

appropriate, as company executives continue to suck workers dry.

But it's no longer my problem. I've moved on — bitter,

late-night screeds not withstanding — to new challenges, with my head

held high. I don't think you or Craig can say that.

Robert Annis


Recommended for you