Some truly shocking news out of GateHouse Media: Greg Reibman, publisher of the company’s Metro papers, is out in what Rick Daniels, president and CEO of GateHouse Media New England describes as part of an attempt to “streamline our operations.”
Daniels, in a memo to the Metro Unit staff, says that Reibman’s is one of two publisher’s positions to be eliminated. A trusted source tells me that the other position is held by Mark Skala, who runs GateHouse’s Cape Cod papers.
Reibman, as Daniels notes, has been a stalwart at GateHouse for a long time — a leader in the company’s social-media efforts as well as a key player in the company’s linking lawsuit against the Boston Globe a few years ago.
GateHouse, based in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y., owns about 100 community papers in Eastern Massachusetts. The Metro Unit that Reibman headed includes papers such as the Cambridge Chronicle, the Newton Tab and the Somerville Journal.
This strikes me as an incredibly shortsighted move. But GateHouse has been staggering under a mountain of debt for years. Combined with recent layoffs I’ve heard about at CNHI’s papers, which in Massachusetts include the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times, and it’s clear that the community-newspaper crisis is far from over, even if it’s not as acute as it was in, say, 2009.
The full text of Daniels’ memo follows.
TO: All Metro Unit Employees
FROM: Rick Daniels
DATE: November 9, 2011
I want to update all members of the Metro unit on a reorganization we are announcing today, November 9th. After reviewing alternatives to streamline our operations here in New England, we have decided to reduce the number of group publisher positions. Regrettably, this will result in the elimination of two publisher roles, one of which is currently held by Greg Reibman.
Simply put, the continued changes in the business model – for virtually all media companies — have forced us to re-assess every role and position, both in senior management and throughout the company. Greg has been a valued colleague to us all; like many of you, I will miss his expertise and passion. He plans to transition his responsibilities and complete his time with the company by the first week of December.
We are fortunate to have two experienced and capable leaders who will assume Greg’s responsibilities: Chuck Goodrich will add the duties of publisher of the Metro titles to his existing titles in three other regions. Additionally, West editor-in-chief Richard Lodge will take on the responsibility for overseeing the news operations with the existing editors. Cris Warren will continue to lead the sales effort, coordinating her work closely with Sean McDonnell, Chief Revenue Officer, and Chuck.
Saying good-bye to a colleague is never easy or pleasant. Greg has worked hard with the Metro staff to produce excellent print and digital publications while his advertising team has exceeded or met revenue expectations for 24 consecutive months, a significant achievement in any economy.
As you know, Greg also wore a second hat here, as Vice President of Content Development and Partnerships for GHMNE. He led the way in our successful legal challenge against the Boston Globe in 2009 and has also been a trailblazer in dealing with social media and establishing both new and old partners in community journalism, including with WCVB-TV and, more recently, WGBH and ArtsBoston. Perhaps most important, he has assembled a team of very skilled and inspired Metro staffers. I’m sure everyone in the unit will extend their own best wishes to Greg, and will honor him by working with Chuck and Richard to build on his accomplishments in the future.
11 thoughts on “GateHouse Media parts company with Greg Reibman”
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“This strikes me as an incredibly shortsighted move.”
Dan, this statement assumes that your objectives for the company are the same as theirs.
That’s a pretty short-sighted assumption.
Wow, that is a surprise.
Glad to see Richard Lodge will have an expanded role, I enjoyed my time with him and bet he’ll be up to the task.
Adam, I agree that Richard is a very good guy.
There’s a lot of his kind of crap going on. Media conglomerates are saving money at the expense of quality journalism. I worked with Greg when GateHouse was Community Newspaper Company; he came down from the Herald to run things. A few years before that CNC came up with the brilliant, cost-saving idea to put three strong community papers — Chelsmford Independent, Billerica Minuteman, and the Westford Eagle — under one editor. How are those papers doing now? Greg and I had our differences but I respected his work, experience, and dedication to doing things as well as possible. Bad move, GateHouse.
Interesting timing that this announcement comes at the same time that Gatehouse CEO Mike Reed’s memo about turning Gatehouse into more than just a newspaper company is published on Romenesko (http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/romenesko/152685/gatehouse-media-ceo-we-need-to-become-more-than-a-newspaper-company/).
Isn’t that precisely what Reibman was doing?
In my opinion, Greg was the last holdout of the “old” TAB, the groundbreaking weekly chain started in 1979 by Russell Pergament that brought attitude and energy to local, suburban news. By pushing reporters and editors to break the rules of “nice” and boring suburban journalism, he’s been a big part of what made the chain an award-winning paper over the last several years, first as arts editor in the 90s, then as editor-in-chief. There are a ton of good, solid journalists who still work at these papers (well, not exactly a “ton”), but it’s very sad to me (as a former editor under Greg) to see someone who helped make the TAB a nationally known and respected paper let go.
Richard Lodge is a good editor and genuinely nice guy. I hope he maintains some of the flash and style that made the papers what they have been in the past.
As someone who worked for a couple of the future GateHouse newspapers back in the 1980s, I skimmed over the memo posted on Romenesko and was thoroughly unimpressed. For example, the memo mentioned “Advertising Managers” and “Publishers,” but what about the EDITORS? Or are the editors now called “Publishers” in this wacky world?
“Promote the synergies between properties”? Puh-LEEZ. In the towns I covered — especially the last one, which shall remain nameless, unless you can figure it out from my name — the readers couldn’t give a rat’s patootie about the next town over. They wanted to read about THEIR town and THEIR school system. Yes, there was a common section of the paper behind the local section, but I’d often see the common section discarded in favor of the local section.
Granted, those were different times. But still, if people want personal finance information, they’ve got LOTS of different places to go to besides their town newspaper. If there’s nothing about the town in the town newspaper, it’s going to be DOA.
Gatehouse’s latest ‘victims’ presided over the termination of many jobs and the downgrading of some previously decent publications. They were company guys all the way, unconcerned with the pursuit of excellence.
Greg is first rate. Sorry to see this take place, both for him and for GHMNE.
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