Friday, November 20, 2009

Post-Dispatch editor tells on commenter, commenter loses job

Have you heard about this bizarre comment quandary at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch?

Last week, social media editor Kurt Greenbaum created a post on the paper's "Talk of the Day" blog about the strangest thing readers had eaten. Someone commented with a word for a part of a woman's anatomy. The comment was deleted by a Post-Dispatch employee.

A few minutes later, the same commenter posted the same comment on the blog post. Greenbaum deleted it, then used information from an e-mail notification about the comment to contact the school from which the comment was posted. Greenbaum forwarded the notification e-mail to the school, the school tracked down exactly who had posted the comment on the Post-Dispatch site, and the employee quit.

Then Greenbaum blogged about it, on his personal blog and for the paper.

The Post-Dispatch's privacy policy, which is posted on every page of the paper's website, says:
We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in “Compliance with Legal Process” below.
The paper's terms of service, also on every page of its website:
We have the right to disclose any information that we believe necessary to comply with any law, regulation or governmental request or that information that could prevent or assist in the resolution of any criminal, illegal, or inappropriate activity.

While the comment that started it all was not particularly nice, neither was it illegal. Now all sorts of people seem to be calling for Greenbaum to quit or be fired.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

6 Lee execs cash in shares

On Nov. 16, six Lee execs sold 24,415 shares of Lee stock for $94,730.20 (or $3.88 per share).

NameTitleShares soldWalked away with
Mary Junckchairman, president, ceo15,123$58,677.24
Greg Veonvice president - publishing2,856$11,081.28
Kevin Mowbrayvice president - publishing1,980$7,682.40
Greg Schermervice president - interactive media1,652$6,409.76
Mike Gulledgevice president - publishing1,431$5,552.28
Vito Kuraitisvice president - human resources1,373$5,327.24

See the SEC filings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lee shares close at $4.25

Lee stock hit a new high, closing at $4.25 today -- up 9.54 percent from Monday. Editor & Publisher reports that's a 152 percent increase in the past year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

4th quarter earnings out; expect more cuts

Lee reported a profit in its fourth quarter of about 4 cents per share, or $1.8 million. Operating cash flow grew 10.5 percent and operating expenses were cut 25.5 percent. Furloughs and layoffs cut compensation by 23.5 percent, and the number of full-time employees by 15.1 percent.

Lee will cut costs even more: 15 percent to 16 percent in the current quarter, and 6 percent to 7 percent overall in fiscal year 2010, according to the earnings report.

"While we can't predict the timing of the economic recovery, we believe our streamlining of costs, aggressive sales programs and unmatched delivery of local news, information and advertising have positioned Lee to emerge strong," CEO Mary Junck said in a statement. “In 2009, we increased local market share by taking millions of advertising dollars from competitors, and in 2010 we expect to gain further share through our rollout of online behavioral targeting advertising and other intensive sales programs.”

Junck said September and October were the best months for advertising revenue in fiscal year 2009, but there has been a 19.7 percent drop in retail ad revenue, a 24.7 percent drop in online ad revenue and a 31.8 percent drop in classified advertising. Circulation revenue fell 6.3 percent.

Lee did reduce its debt ... to $1.1 billion.

See the full fourth quarter report.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Helena's Adit to close; Mini Nickel expands

The Adit, a free weekly paper in Helena, Mont., will close and the Bozeman-based Mini Nickel will move in.

The Adit's last day will be Nov. 25; the Mini Nickel will be available starting Dec. 3. The announcement did not mention if there would be layoffs or how many employees Adit has.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Quad-City Times columnist shares battle with cancer

Quad-City Times columnist Bill Wundram tells his readers he is about to undergo treatment for a "very aggressive type of cancer."

Wundram says he plans to keep writing. Find his columns here.

Haunted newspaper? $48,000 bathroom?

Here's a quick look at a couple of Lee-related news from the blogosphere. (Does anyone still say blogosphere?)

The Enterprise may be haunted. Employees of the weekly Fallbrook, Calif., paper have reported strange goings-on for some time.

The publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reportedly spent more than $160,000 to design his office, including $48,500 for his private bathroom and $2,000 for light switches. The Post-Dispatch has had several rounds of layoffs in the past year. A new cost-cutting measure may include removing water coolers from the building.