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Famous Last Words : Wicked Folks at WickedLocal.com

June 2014 By Denny Hatch
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As readers of my cranky columns know, I had nine jobs in my first 12 years in business.

I was fired from five of them.

At some point I realized the average workplace sucks.

"A's hire A's," wrote Don Rumsfeld, "and B's hire C's."

I loved being around A's. They hired me and pushed me to the limit. It was thrilling. I learned a lot. Eventually, my "A" mentors left for big jobs elsewhere, and I found myself working for a no-talent C, who eventually fired me.

Gatehouse Media
In the winter of 2013-2014, I decided to pay a virtual visit to the newsrooms of every English-language newspaper in the world. I wanted to create a list of working journalists.

When I hit Massachusetts, I kept running into the same people in multiple towns—editors, publishers and writers—all in the same dailies and weeklies.

All shared a weird email address: [name]@wickedlocal.com.

The mother company is Gatehouse Media. It operates in 340 markets nationwide and is made up of 442 dailies, weeklies and "shoppers," plus six yellow page directories.

As you can see in the Google map at right, Gatehouse owns Massachusetts.

Newspaper people work like hell, usually under horrendous deadlines. And they care—about their readers and their communities.

This was true of the 5,329 loyal Gatehouse employees in 21 states.

Bankruptcy!
In September 2013, Gatehouse filed for bankruptcy, listing assets of $433.7 million and debt of $1.3 billion.

The announcement to the employees was designed to soothe:

The restructuring remains on track, and we expect to complete it in as soon as 45 to 60 days. In the meantime, and throughout the process, we expect there will be no change in our business and no negative impact on our employees, customers or vendors.

As an employee—with kids and a mortgage—you think, "Okay, this is nothing to worry about. I'm safe and I'll pitch in to do everything I can."

However, this is from the memo by the Brockton, Mass., editor, Chazy Dowaliby, to her staff:

 

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