No one who has followed media giant Gannett will be surprised by David Carr’s New York Times column this week, in which he makes clear that Gannett is just another big American company that overpays its top people while treating the workers as throwaway material. The piece explains how workers are pushed into furloughs while the bosses rake in millions for managing the shrinkage of a company that — despite some worthwhile digital initiatives — has poorly navigated the changing realities.
The piece should make your blood boil, given its portrayal of the greedy executives. Carr says he’s not talking about “incompetents feeding at the trough,” which is correct. The top people at Gannett are quite competent at what they do, namely guiding the decline with little creative response.
I can’t tell, at the end of the piece, whether he’s being ironic. He writes:
Jim Hopkins has been editing the Gannett Blog since he took a buyout from USA Today where he was a business reporter in 2008.
“It has become a case study in how a mature company facing sudden and tremendous pressure tries to save itself,” he said. “It’s been fascinating to watch in real time, but I think there have been terrible consequences. Gannett has a big footprint in 100 communities, and those places have less and less information.”
“I wouldn’t want their jobs,” he concedes. “But there is so little empathy for the employees and so little understanding of how these packages are perceived. I think they don’t realize how this looks.”
What’s much more likely — hence my uncertainty about whether he’s being ironic — is the opposite. What’s obvious to me is that these executives are cookie-cutter versions of so many of corporate America’s top dogs, whose pay has soared to new heights while almost 10 percent of the workforce remains idle.
Surely they know how it looks. They just don’t care.