Monday, September 12, 2011

US Presswire Confirmed Sold to Gannett, Name Change

According to the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations, US Presswire's mailing address has changed to that of Gannett (NYSE: GCI) headquarters in McLean, VA on September 7, 2011:

Mailing Address
Changed 09/07/2011
Also changed, US Presswire is now legally known as USPW Media Holdings, LLC, according to the same filing.

What remains to be known is what was paid for US Presswire. Likely Gannett will have to disclose this figure sooner rather than later, as it is a publicly traded company.

Over on the website (here), photographer Darren Carroll makes a remarkable point about all the photographers who were working for free for US Presswire:
"IF all of those photographers had insisted on getting paid a decent rate to cover those 5,300 games, Presswire would never have been in a financial position to offer such a bargain-basement deal for its pictures."
Carroll went on to do the math and illustrate the fact that these photographers, working for free, subsidized the build-up and sale of US Presswire:
"5,300 games (U.S. Presswire's number, from its own press release). For argument's sake, let's be conservative and call a "decent" rate $500 per game (commensurate with the standard S.I. day rate). If every shooter who "worked" for U.S. Presswire would have insisted on being paid that amount, that would be a $2,650,000 hole (not counting other overhead) that US Presswire would have had to climb out of just to be profitable. And the only place the company could have made that back was by charging more for its sales and licensing. Basically, then as Allen Murabayashi alluded to in an earlier post, all of the photographers who agreed to work for free just subsidized U.S. Presswire over TWO AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS to help conduct its operations in 2010."
I can't think of a more solid example of how working for free is detrimental to all photographers and benefits corporate owners.

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Here is the corporate filing data from the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations website:

You can view the listing here.


Worth Reading:

US Presswire, Message Thread 1-51 on
US Presswire, Message Thread 52-103 on
US Presswire, Message Thread 104- on


Gannett Acquires US Presswire, 9/7/2011

One Gannett Photographers take on the US Presswire Acquisition, 9/12/2011

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One Gannett Photographers take on the US Presswire Acquisition

The Gannett (NYSE: GCI) acquisition is sure to have an adverse impact on Gannett staff photographers. To be expected will be a reduction in the Gannett organization sending it's staff photographers to games when there are 2-3 photographers already there shooting the event for a fraction of the cost they previously had for a freelancer, let alone a staffer.

One well known sports photographer (non-Gannett) sent along the following figures from the Maryland State Personnel Management System for direct an indirect costs for a $49k salaried employees, which is as follows:


Salary* $49,019
Social Security $3,979
Health Insurance** $8,528
Pension Retirement $4,541
Deferred Compensation Match $0
Workers Compensation $667
Unemployment Insurance $52
Personal Leave $1,197
Holiday $2,394
Annual Leave $2,993
Sick Leave $998

This assumes that a Gannett photographer earns $49k, and I believe their number to be significantly higher. Yet, let's consider this as a solid example on the low-side. This does not, of course, include the costs for transportation, photo equipment, and a laptop. You can reasonably expect that figure to add $6k a year, minimum, to the indirect cost of a staff photographer. So, with a salary of $49, added direct and indirect costs of $25k, and the estimated additional $6k gear allowance, you're looking at $80k a year to carry one staff photographer. Not to mention travel assignments where air/hotel/car rental/meals/etc are an added cost. Why pay an annualized cost when you need only pay the sports photographers on the days you need them, and they're local? As such, Gannett photographers who have spent most of their days covering sports should consider their days numbered, and they have much to be concerned about.

We heard from one photographer, who shared his concern as a comment on the original story we broke. He wrote:
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I'm a photographer at a Gannett paper who was instructed not to talk about the Presswire deal. We are as uncertain of the future and what this deal means as the US Presswire photographers probably are.

Does this mean Gannett will stop using AP & Getty and rely exclusively on Presswire for wire sports? And use it to renegotiate lower rates? Does it mean Gannett papers will no longer contribute sports photos to the AP wire and now market them through Presswire, competing with the Presswire photographers?

Are Gannett's motives even darker? Does it mean that Gannett papers will no longer staff NFL/MLB/NHL/NBA and the like instead relying on Presswire?

Let's face it, it's a lot cheaper to send one or two US Presswire photographers to a NFL game for a flat $100 each than two staffers who in addition to their salaries get health insurance, expenses and mileage etc. By the time you stretch the math out you could probably send three Presswire people for what one staffer would cost.

Gannett's motive could be even more nefarious. Once the Presswire deal is concluded, Gannett will have a large roster of reliable freelancers at its disposal. Will they start to use them to replace staffers. If they will take $100 to work a football game maybe they'll take $25 to do a community back to school assignment? Again, much cheaper than sending a staffer.

It's interesting that neither Gannett nor Presswire have made any announcements about this yet. Rumor has it that a number of Gannett people are traveling to Virginia next week to hear about the deal and what it means. I guess we'll have to wait till then to find out what's in store. "
This staffer has made a number of astute observations, and is rightly concerned. This will have an adverse impact on every staff photographer, including those at the other wire services. With Gannett no longer needing AP/Getty for the sports package, there will be fewer photographers assigned to those games, and Reuters/AFP will also possibly see a similar impact.

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