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Glacier Media directors pay themselves $1,000 per meeting

April 12, 2012 Comments off

For journalists, raises have been difficult to come by in recent times. But over the last two years, those who control Glacier Media have seen their income from the company rise dramatically.

The company’s directors have not only doubled their own pay, but they’ve declared dividends that saw Glacier’s top three executives take home more than $1.8 million–cash paid out on top of $1.72 million in fees handed to the same three executives’ own privately held company.

According to the company’s 2010 annual information form, which you can read here, the company’s directors were paid $10,000 per year for 2009. [NOTE: If links do not work, you can find all documents here. The documents referenced in this post are the “annual information forms” issued in late March of each year.] The directors also received $750 per meeting. This is a part-time gig, the report notes: “The directors and officers of the Company who are non-executive officers have other business interests
and do not devote all of their time to the affairs of the Company.”

The form struck a sombre tone:

“The year ended December 31, 2009 was a challenging year for Glacier due to the recession. During the year the Company implemented significant cost reduction measures to offset the revenue declines and maintain profitability.”

Fast forward one year. Glacier Media had a busy 2010. The company’s annual information form for 2010 (read it here) was more upbeat, citing the “acquisitions and disposals of community newspapers in Western Canada,” and various other acquisitions totaling $24.9 million. They also hired “senior management personnel from outside the newspaper and trade magazine industry to strengthen and complement Glacier’s digital team, and as a result a diverse array of digital initiatives is being implemented.”

 

Sometime in there, they also determined board members weren’t being paid enough for their services. The company’s 2011 annual information form states: “The directors are each paid $20,000 per year and $1,000 per meeting by the Company in their capacity as directors.”

 

In other words, their part-time salaries doubled, from $10,000 to $20,000, while their per-meeting pay rose by 33 per cent. The directors paid themselves the same amount in 2011, at least for their directors’ duties. But that’s not to say the company’s top brass didn’t take home much, much more money than the previous year.

Last year, Glacier introduced a new policy in which it will pay a dividend of six cents per common share over the course of the year. For five of the board members, that’s (relative) peanuts. But for CEO Jonathan Kennedy, chairman of the board Sam Grippo, and treasurer/secretary Bruce Aunger, it’s a hefty chunk of cash. The three men are principals in Madison Venture Corporation, which owns 34 per cent of Glacier’s 89.51 million outstanding shares. That’s about 30.43 million shares. Six cents a year for each share works out to $1.82 million to be split among Madison’s three owners

And that is on top of whatever the three take home from Madison itself, which in 2011 was paid $1.72 million dollars for “ongoing administrative, consulting and transaction related services.” In 2008, Madison was paid $611,005. (I don’t know who owns what share of Madison. Grippo has been Madison’s president and CEO since 1976, Kennedy has been a partner since 1997, and Aunger has been executive vice-president and chief financial officer since 1988).

Again, if the direct links to documents did not work, you can find all documents here. The documents referenced in this post are the “annual information forms” issued in late March of each year.

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So what does this mean? I don’t know. That’s for readers to figure out. For what it’s worth. Postmedia’s Paul Godfrey also made a killing last year, taking home $1.58 million, including a $465,000 bonus. Probably, it just means that we erred when we decided to become journalists, instead of accountants. I’ve previously expressed positive feelings about Glacier. And despite this and my post a couple weeks ago, I still think it’s better to work for Glacier than Postmedia. At least there is money out there, rather than debt. I would love to see how much David Black took home last year, but alas, that company remains privately held, which means no juicy financial documents for perusal. One day….. One day.

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Finally, I’ll note that this post will now officially be Exhibit 1 when it comes to explaining why I am writing this blog anonymously. For obvious reasons, this and other company-focused postings would not get written if you know my name. Thanks for understanding.

Now, have at’er with the comments.

 

 

 

Awards due soon, Paul Godfrey fulfills New Year’s resolution

January 5, 2012 1 comment

A little more than a year ago, I put together a list of resolutions for reporters, photographers, editors, publishers and Paul Godfrey and David Black. Read the whole thing here.

At the time, I wrote for Godfrey: “I will sell the newspapers to someone who cares.”

And he did. Thank god.

As for the rest, not much has changed.

Speaking of same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Awards entries are due soon. Ma Murrays are due by Jan. 14, CCNAs by Jan. 18.

This year both are accepting online submissions. Which is awesome. [I stand corrected. The CCNAs still require hard copies, which sucks.]

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Twelve resolutions for the New Year

December 30, 2010 Comments off

Most papers are still stuck in that Year In Review/no new news wasteland. That and my chocolate-turkey-wine spritzer hangover mean that posts will continue to be sparse until something noteworthy happens and/or papers get back to their day-to-day operations.

If I had been running this blog for a year, I’d come up with a top 10 list. But I haven’t. (And unless I get some help, I probably never will).

Still, when all else fails this time of year, there are still those New Year’s Resolutions.

Like rules and Tim Hunter‘s nose, resolutions are made to be broken.

But I’ll ignore that little fact.

Below you’ll find stock resolutions for reporters, photographers, editors and publishers, David Black and Paul Godfrey.

Reporter:

I will never lede with the statement that the representatives of a municipal council, school board or regional district. By doing so, I will acknowledge that the meeting is not news. What was said at the meeting is.

I will, when given the opportunity, name names of wrongdoers when documents can be found to back up one’s story.

I will look, and use, documents.

I will file at least one Freedom of Information request this year, even if it’s of the frivolous, fishing-expedition nature.

I will write in the active voice.

I will use narrative.

I will be funny.

Photographer:

I will sit on a football, soccer or rugby field instead of standing.

I will purposely tilt my camera at an angle during a portrait shoot, just to see what happens.

I will carry a step ladder in the back of my car — and actually use it.

Editor:

I will not write an editorial that does not make an argument.

I will not run a grip-and-grin on the front page.

I will not ask a reporter to write a business story that reeks of lame-ness.

I will hound the publisher for more resources.

Publisher:

If I do not have an editorial background, I will ackowledge that fact and step away from the newsroom.

I will grow a thick skin.

I will recognize that car dealers are largely slimy bastards who  will push and push until they feel push-back.

Paul Godfrey:

I will repent for forcing SwarmJam on newsrooms.

I will acknowledge the fact that I own community newspapers and that they are profitable.

I will sell the newspapers to someone who cares.

If that proves too much, I will send some sign that I am grateful for their work.

I will restore in-company award banquets and competitions as a way to promote and foster better journalism. I’ll throw in free booze, for the winners (and the losers).

David Black:

I will acknowledge the fact that I own newspapers and not a series of presses that happen to print editorial content.

I will make clear to publishers that they are not to fire editors who piss off advertisers (i.e. I will grow a pair).

Failing that, I will follow in another Black’s footsteps by buying up cratering American papers, going bankrupt and selling all of my papers to someone new.

I will also restore in-company award banquets and competitions as a way to promote and foster better journalism. And I too will throw in free booze, for the winners (and the losers).

Have you made a resolution? Leave a comment.

Photo by Jeff Golden via Flickr.

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Help keep this blog running for weeks to come by becoming a link farmer. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter@gmail.com. Also, take the poll on the right. It’s free. Lucky you.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll duly update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey

December 23, 2010 Comments off

This post is not about Paul Godfrey. However, he did spark its idea in my head. You see, there are people in Toronto and Vancouver who is really interested in what this blog has to say about Paul Godfrey. I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

I sincerely hope that that man is Paul Godfrey,  although I doubt that Godfrey Googles his name as often as I do. (On a barely related tangent, should Google, when used as a verb, be capitalized? Discuss…)

Whatever the case, it’s a good sign, because one of my wet dreams is that this blog will communicate to folks like Godfrey or David Black — or more likely their underlings — how their journalists believe their dozens of newspapers could be improved.

One of the problems with the ownership structure of community newspapers is that the men and women (but almost always men) who pull the strings are often hundreds of kilometres away from the newspapers they manage. I doubt they read any of the newspapers on a regular basis and, to make matters worse, the people who manage the websites and control 90 per cent of the content on the web are often in an entirely different location. I’m not sure what to call it. Decentralized centralization? Centralized decentralization? Declusterfuck? Whatever the case, it totally defies the laws of physics.

What I’m trying to say is that there is a major lack of communication between the lower and upper ranks of media companies.

I once wrote a story that touched on Toyota’s “lean” system of manufacturing. One of the principles of lean is that workers are encouraged to find efficiencies and add their opinions about how the workplace can be improved. Google does a similar thing. There’s nothing of the sort in Black Press or Postmedia. A journalist with great ideas has no way of relaying them to the people who control the purse strings or the papers’ web content. Instead the reporter bitches to the editor, who agrees with his reporter and shakes his head sympathetically. (Right now every editor reading this is both nodding and wondering if one of his reporters is behind this blog). At some point in the conversation, someone higher up the food change will be called an “idiot” or something of the sort. And that’s where it stops, because that’s where it’s encouraged to stop.

Hopefully, this blog can serve as a way to get those messages on the ground to the people at the top of the corporate structure.

I can dream at least.

Late night pissed-off addendum: I also doubt that I”m alone in harbouring a seething rage at the fact that newsroom budgets are still below ground even as a “struggling” newspaper is defined as one that does not make enough money, rather than as one that is losing money. The only thing I hate about my job is thinking about the twisted economics that limit how well I can do my job. Unfortunately, I’m confronted with those limitations far too often.

Merry freakin’ Xmas.

Leave a comment.

Photo by John Lillibridge via Flickr.

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Help keep this blog running for weeks to come by becoming a link farmer. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com. Also, take the poll on the right. It’s free. Lucky you.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll duly update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Godfrey speaks

December 7, 2010 Comments off

Paul Godfrey

Paul Godfrey will speak to employees, including journalists at Postmedia’s community papers, today. I’ve sent him a letter about the SwarmJam debacle, and am hoping he can give a response. Unfortunately, I won’t be tuning in to the webcast. If somebody can update the blog on what, if anything, is said about the stories and Postmedia’s “Editorial/Advertising Policy,” it would be much appreciated. Leave a comment (the button’s up by the headline) or e-mail me at bclocalreporter@gmail.com

Thanks.

Postmedia lowers the bar with shameful “Swarmjam” pieces

December 3, 2010 2 comments

If you thought Black Press’s sleazy story about its “BC Daily Deals” group-buying site was bad, Postmedia thinks you’re a prude. PM has its own group-buying site, a bee-themed outfit called SwarmJam, about which you may have noticed rapturous “stories” in the province’s two largest daily newspapers.

The bylined (!) story begins:

Today marks the launch of Swarm-Jam.com, a new group-buying site that is creating a buzz across the country. SwarmJam channels the power of online word-of-mouth and consumer purchasing power into special deals on select goods and services from local retailers. The more people sign up for the “DailyJams,” the lower the price goes.

“It’s a fabulous way for consumers and readers to save money, and also a fabulous way for local businesses to attract new customers,” said Alvin Brouwer, president of business ventures, Postmedia Network.

Unique DailyJams will be available in major cities across the country, as well as in cities and towns across mainland B.C. and Vancouver Island. The advertising reach of the Postmedia Network, publisher of The Vancouver Sun, provides promotional opportunities not available to competitors, Brouwer explained.

more of this horrendous drivel…

This is in the Vancouver freaking Sun, for crying out loud. And you’ve got to know if this is appearing in the Sun, you’ll soon be seeing it in the small Postmedia community papers.

At least Marco Morelli, the Black Press web staffer who wrote their story, nobly buried the Black Press angle at the bottom of his story. The Postmedia story is shameless. It appeared on the second page of the Sun’s business section and on page A8 of The Province.

Even more concerning, it appears that it marks the end of the principled editorial/advertising policy of ol’ CanWest Publications (from which Postmedia is a direct and recent descendent).

That policy has four guidelines:

1) Commercial placement will not be used as an integral part of editorial content. (Example:Logos dropped in an editorial environment.

2) Editorial must never appear to be endorsing an advertising message.

3) Editorial content must never appear within the body of an advertising message. (Example: Column of opinion within an advertisement).

4) Advertising must never be placed adjacent to editorial content in such a way as to imply endorsement of the advertising.

For point 1, note the big-ass bee on the web edition of the Sun story. Point 2 has obviously been violated so badly that editorial isn’t endorsing and advertising message, it is an advertising message, which in turn means point 3 has also been breached. And while I can’t scan the published version of every Postmedia paper, but I can pretty much guarantee someone somewhere will breach this point.

On Dec. 7, Postmedia headmaster Paul Godfrey will address workers in a companywide webcast. I implore journalists to join me in asking Godfrey whether the CanWest editorial/advertising policy has been turfed and, how the company rationalizes these horrible advertorials. I have sent the following e-mail to pvgmessages@postmedia.com.

Dear Mr. Godfrey

In recent days news articles have appeared in various Postmedia newspapers that prominently tout a new Postmedia product called SwarmJam. There appears to be little editorial value to these articles; they mention no other sites and no proof nor even anecdotal evidence that SwarmJam is, indeed, “creating a buzz across the country.” It is a transparent attempt to promote a product. In other words, it seems like a mix of advertising and editorial.

The old CanWest Editorial/Advertising Policy directly states “Editorial must never appear to be endorsing an advertising message” and “Editorial content must never appear within the body of an advertising message.”

The policy also states “It is in the interest of the entire CanWest community that we maintain the principles and practices which have been demonstrated to support and enhance public trust in all of our media assets.”

CanWest, obviously, no longer exists. I am wondering if Postmedia has abandoned that Editorial/Advertising Policy or, if the old policy is still in place, how you excuse the placement of those advertisements—and let’s be honest, you and I both know that’s what they are.

With great concern,

A very worried community newspaper journalist (Yes, I’d like to use my own name, but hopefully you know how it is when it comes to criticizing one of the only two possible employers in your industry when jobs are so hard to come by.)

Please leave comments of outrage in the thread below.

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Seen something else I should know about? Want to write a post? Have better photos than the Creative Commons Flickr pool ones I use? E-mail bclocalreporter(at)gmail.com.

Help complete a census of B.C. community newspapers by filling in the blanks of the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. 

Photo by Joshua Ganderson via Flickr.
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