May 4, 2017 Last Updated 5:36 pm

While Gannett corporate stays mum, word of layoffs leak out; Phishing scam targets journalists

Morning Brief: The lone French presidential debate occurred Wednesday, with most media observers declaring the centrist candidate triumphant over far-right rival Marine Le Pen

The rumors keep flying, and the news only dribbles out, but it looks like Gannett is having another round of layoffs effecting papers other than USA Today (the original version of this story included a link to an ABC News story with no dateline, which embarrassingly turned out to be nine years old, it has been deleted). But Wall Street loves a good jobs cut story, and so Gannett stock jumped nearly 7 percent on the news.

(Update: Thursday was not as good a day for Gannett stock, it ended the day’s trading at $8.40, down 5.08%, though that is still above where it opened on Wednesday.)

The company itself said nothing, leaving it to its newspapers to report the cutbacks. It’s last official news release was that its first quarter earnings showed a loss of $2.1 million. But it raised its guidance, possibly knowing another round of cost cuts were in the works.

The company’s strategy is to acquire as much market reach as it can in order to boost its chances of luring digital advertising, while at the same time cutting staff across the portfolio and making each local product more and more simply a regional edition of USA Today. Readers are noticing, and they don’t like what they see. As a result, same-store revenue is falling, with print advertising down 17.7 percent.

As TNM readers know, I am among the few supporters of the ad model. As someone with many years of experience as both a publisher and ad director, I like the idea of a balanced approach to publising, working both the reader and advertising revenue segments. But one has to be actually good at it to succeed, simply saying you support one model or another is not good if you actually suck at it. In others words, if this is the approach Gannett wants to take, then — damn it — be good at it. And if not, someone in management, in the executive suites, needs to be held responsible for the numbers, not just the staff., Health Haussamen:

Layoffs hit Las Cruces Sun-News again; top editor resigns

The Las Cruces Sun-News laid off three journalists and eliminated their positions on Wednesday, and the newspaper’s top editor voluntarily resigned.

The cuts were part of a continuing reduction in staff at papers owned by the largest newspaper corporation in the United States, Gannett, which owns seven papers in New Mexico and the El Paso Times in west Texas…

Lucas Peerman, the newspaper’s news director, was named interim editor after Sylvia Ulloa, the newspapers’ managing editor since November 2013, voluntarily resigned.

Independent Mail: Independent Mail announces newsroom cuts
Memphis Flyer: Commercial Appeal Editor Louis Graham Resigns
MarketWatch: Gannett says hackers may have stolen employees’ personal data

There is a simply rule about suspicious email: if you are invited to click on an email from someone you don’t know, don’t do it!

Sadly, when a journalist can get hundreds of emails a day, sometimes one gets lazy and forgets this first rule of the Internet. That is what hackers count on, and by sending out millions of phishing emails they increase their chances that someone will make the mistake.

Yesterday, journalists on the web were warning each other about a phishing effort that was using Google Docs as a way to lure in the unsuspecting. Once you clicked on it, the victim had given the phishers access to their email and address book.

By late Wednesday Google was on it, shutting down the scheme. “We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs, and have disabled offending accounts. We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again. We encourage users to report phishing emails in Gmail.”

The Verge, Adi Robertson:

Google Docs users hit with sophisticated phishing attack

The key difference between this and a very simple email phishing scheme is that this doesn’t just take you to a bogus Google page and collect your password — something you could detect by checking the page URL. It works within Google’s system, but takes advantage of the fact that you can create a non-Google web app with a misleading name.

Poynter, Benjamin Mullin:

Journalists fight back against massive phishing attack

I was sent the Mailinator email twice in less than an hour, from two sources on the media beat, which means journalists have already fallen prey to the scam.

To avoid having your account compromised, don’t click on the email, obviously. If you have clicked it, here’s what to do, per Hack Club founder Zach Latta.

Last night the two candidates remaining squared off for the lone debate before Sunday’s French presidential debate. Most media observers thought Emmanuel Macron performed well enough to insure a victory on Sunday. The polls, which have been very reliable so far, so him well ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen… but people are still nervous.

The Daily Beast, Christopher Dickey:

Macron Vanquishes Le Pen—‘The High Priestess of Fear’—in Presidential Debate

Barring an act of God or ISIS, or a massive vote for the mysterious Monsieur Blanc, 39-year-old centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron now looks certain to be the next president of France. He emerged from the one and only one-on-one debate against far-right nationalist-socialistic candidate Marine Le Pen on Wednesday night largely unscathed and indeed, according to instant polls, a clear winner.

If he is elected on Sunday, the impact on European and global politics could be enormous: a definitive end to what had seemed a wave of nativism and populism sweeping across the West; a huge setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s designs to divide and weaken European (and American) democracies; and a much tougher, more united European Union position as London tries to negotiate Brexit.

France24, Tracy McNicoll:

Macron deemed winner of fierce final TV debate with Le Pen

The debate climax of this twist-after-twist French presidential campaign was loud, fast, personal, riven with inaccuracies and thin on substance — and the candidate likeliest to become France’s next president, Emmanuel Macron, won the day…

…“For 40 years in this country, we have had Le Pens as candidates in the presidential election,” Macron said. “In the face of the spirit of defeat, I carry a spirit of French conquest. France has always succeeded in the world, its language is spoken on every continent… That’s what gives its strength; it radiates everywhere.” He went on to call Le Pen a “parasite” on the very system that she claims to despise. “You can’t impute to me all the sins of the past 30 years,” he said. “I’ve been in politics for less long than you.”

In the end, the virulent last clash of these two candidates who espouse platforms that could hardly be more different – call them “Make France Great Again” vs. “France is Already Great” – may have been a victory lap for the presidential hopeful who had the most to lose, Macron.

Finally, there was a minor update released last night for the WordPress Plug-In for Apple News. The update fixes a couple of problems involving formatting and tags.

Here are the details for the update:


  • Fixed a bug where HTML tags were being stripped before being sent to the API.
  • Fixed a bug where older theme files couldn’t be imported if new formatting settings were added.

Have a good day, and good luck (we’ll all need it).

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