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Date Posted: 02:36:52 05/01/16 Sun
Author: Page Hit-Person
Subject: The PG's upGruv

When Mark Rochester left, Kid Robbie and Beltway Dave quietly entrusted the shaky future of the PG to a personable and well-educated individual with *zero* newspaper experience before arriving here. Her resume proves as much.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mila-sanina-75364071

Three lists now sit at the end of online stories: "Most Read," "Most Emailed" and "Most Commented," a way of letting staff know whether their work gets enough page views to validate it with management. It's amazing since her resume notes time as a "desk assistant" at the "PBS Newshour." Their website just ran this story about the havoc clickbait obessions are wreaking on troubled Canadian papers.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/what-you-dont-know-about-click-bait-journalism-could-kill-you/

How someone whose main achievements at the PG were creating presentations out of the digitized photo archive and knowing her way around social media is considered qualified to hold the # 3 editorial slot is hard to figure. It's bad enough Shribman never ran a daily paper. She seems like "Block's Last Stand" before Toledo bows to the inevitable. Everybody dreads that day, and she can't prevent it.

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[> Re: The PG's upGruv -- A Reader, 12:16:09 05/01/16 Sun [1]

Based on the resume, she apparently speaks, who has some knowledge of, French and Russian. Don't underestimate how much weight that carries with the PG Egg Heads, Shribman and Johnny Block. If she was a New England native, she might have been given Sue Smith's job.

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[> [> Find the newspaper experience -- Dabbler, 05:44:21 05/02/16 Mon [1]

https://www.gspia.pitt.edu/Current-Students/Office-of-Career-Services/Internship-Experiences-Details/ArticleId/574/Mila-Sanina

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[> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Perry Mason, 05:54:20 05/02/16 Mon [1]

Mila might not need to "frame the Post-Gazette's digital strategy"--it's obviously guilty as sin.

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Page Hit-Person, 21:25:54 05/02/16 Mon [1]

Point by point:

Yes, the PG's website has been "horrendous" for a long time. Not on her. Never said it was.

No one including me sang Rochester's praises. He was in over his head from the day he got there. He was lucky he lasted as long as he did.

Take a look at her Linkedin job description for the AME position she formerly held. You know perfectly well "the geniuses in the audience department" were part of the "reader engagement" business she oversaw. As she put it: "engage with the readers and drive traffic to postgazette.com"

Nowhere did I praise upGruv. My point is, left to her own devices, Mila would come up with a few clever things like recycling old photos (Dig) and other vapid ideas directed to similar clickbait.

Two of the last three Deputy MEs have been women and everyone liked and respected Mary Leonard, Rochester's predecessor. She managed to work with all groups in the newsroom and create a team atmosphere. Has Mila? You undermine your entire point taking a cheap shot, playing the gender card with no reason to do so.

Did she ever work at a newspaper before joining the PG? No. She had modest jobs at CNN and PBS. Did she rise through the ranks like Sue Smith? No again. If she had, and had learned to manage people along the way, maybe the Guild wouldn't be so upset. None of this is surprising at a paper whose Executive Editor was a Boston Globe DC Bureau Chief and never ran a newspaper as a City Editor, AME or ME before coming to Pittsburgh.

PGMila is only the symptom of a problem based on John Robinson Block and Shribman, the financial walls falling around them, so fixated on creating a knockoff of the NYT they can't see the forest for the trees. Your "screed" suffers from a similar problem.

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[> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Cedar of Mt. Lebanon, 05:35:07 05/03/16 Tue [1]

I think you meant to respond to Helen of Troy Hill, not Perry but your points are on point.

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[> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Helen of Troy Hill, 09:48:06 05/02/16 Mon [1]

You're all over the place with this screed. Are you blaming her for the P-G's horrendous website? It's been bad for a long time, if anything, she's trying to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. Rochester came in and made things worse, then handed the baton to her. She should probably get a medal for even taking the job.
Thank the geniuses in the Audience Department for most of the garbage on the P-G homepage, including those stupid "quizzes." If it were completely up to them, they'd have nothing but ads on every square inch of the website, to hell with that pesky news content.
And how exactly does any of this equate to the steaming pile of garbage that is Upgruv? Seems like maybe you wanted to single out one person (surprise! A woman!) and pin vaguely-defined issues on her. Try connecting the dots a little more clearly next time you want to play the blame game. I'd be the last person to defend the P-G and its desperate attempts to become "digital first," but you're choosing the wrong target here.
The fact that she is roundly disliked by the Guild executive committee should tell you she's at least trying to make changes there. Who else is going to do it?

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Come Off It, 11:42:21 05/03/16 Tue [1]

This is a poor defense of someone whose gender is inconsequential (and YOU brought it up). Her promotion seems predicated on her being open to "unconventional" ideas. The fact she had NO newspaper experience before coming to the P-G makes her irrelevant to the institution as a whole. The P-G needs someone who knows tech and newspapers. She knows only tech and has never managed anyone. That the Guild is at odds with her already is not a good thing. Morale is bad enough already in the newsroom. Did it ever occur to you the ultimate problem is she's too young and too academically-fixated to succeed? It sure occurred to me. Obviously Kid Robbie and the Big Shrib have a less realistic view of things, as usual.

You are correct the P-G website design is horrific and has been for years. That isn't her fault. No one said it was. But knowing that, why unleash a callow newbie somehow thinking she'll be their digital savior? Not happening.

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Cedar Of Mt. Lebanon, 15:26:27 05/03/16 Tue [1]

The issues here are well-defined.

There should have been firings a long time ago for the sorry state of the PG website and that is not on her.

She is part of the problem in that she oversees some of the audience-reader involvement things you mention.

The Trib's embarrassing Upgruv, which won't last long, is their half-baked nod to digital. Ms. Sanina is the PG's nod. Not sure how long that will last. A decimated newsroom doesn't need any more drama. The Guild's unhappiness with her makes a bad situation worse no matter who is at fault. How can anyone who's never been managed become a capable manager? Even West Point has Basic Training.

Mila is an extremely bright and pleasant young woman, but two low-level TV gigs do not a journalist make, much less an assistant managing editor, much less a deputy managing editor. In an academic atmosphere, she would thrive. Not sure that's going to happen on North Shore Drive.

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Page Hit-Person, 15:05:00 05/04/16 Wed [1]

"The fact that she is roundly disliked by the Guild executive committee should tell you she's at least trying to make changes there."

So she's doing good "trying to make changes" (whatever they are) and you say she is at odds with the Guild Executive Committee. Since you seem to know a few things, Helen, why not tell us what those "changes" are and why she and the Guild aren't on the same wavelength.

If she's "roundly disliked," there has to be a reason and culpability, maybe not all on one person. This sounds more like a fight in the engine room of the Titanic at a time the PG can least afford it.

"Who else is going to do it?"

Maybe someone who can work with others. If you're correct, that's obviously a problem at the moment.

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[> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Helen of Troy Hill, 06:44:43 05/05/16 Thu [1]

First, I think the premise of your thesis: that one needs newspaper experience in order to run the digital side of a newsroom, is flat-out wrong. That's the kind of backwards thinking that has the PG in the mess it's in, quite frankly.

Second, you can't fight a war against shrinking ad revenue when your generals won't give you the necessary ammunition. That's the predicament Mila is in. The fact she's been able to get anything done is a testament to her perseverance.

Third (and I know this will get pushback from the board trolls, but have at it) anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows that personality and leadership skills count for a lot more than the length of a resume, fairly or unfairly. You'll challenge this, I'm sure, but it's true.
Ask anyone who has worked directly under Mila and they will tell you she's a great boss. Unlike most of her fellow PG managers, Mila regularly goes to bat for her team, and protects them as best she can from the idiocy that surrounds the PG's digital efforts. No other supervisor in that newsroom is as respected by their team as Mila is by hers. In a newsroom with almost non-existent morale, that kind of manager counts for a hell of a lot.

The Guild leadership repeatedly states it wants to keep things status quo, so they'll resist anyone who suggests change, including Mila. Maybe that means asking reporters who write one story a month to step it up a bit, or trying to get photographers to learn video skills. Both of those goals sound reasonable, right? Both have been challenged by the Guild executive committee.

So the fact that the "status quo" Guild exec committee dislike someone who's revered by her direct reports shows pretty clearly who bears the brunt of responsibility for the newsroom's problems. Everyone's afraid of the bullies who run the Guild. Even its own membership. Until they're replaced, the PG's digital efforts will remain mired where they are.

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[> [> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Sol I. Darity, 06:04:09 05/06/16 Fri [1]

Nice to knock the Guild and yes, they might be kind of backward in some ways.

But set aside your blind Mila-worship for 30 seconds and ponder this, Helen. Where would the increasingly empty PG newsroom would be WITHOUT the Guild? You can't do that, can you?

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[> [> [> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Helen of Troy Hill, 17:07:58 05/06/16 Fri [1]

Uh, sure I can. It would look a lot more diverse and a lot less entrenched in the past. What did they do to prevent the latest round of buyouts? Nothing. They admitted they were utterly helpless when management announced it was moving toward layoffs, which may yet be on the horizon.

Rather than try to move into the 21st century, the Guild executive committee spends time filing grievances over ridiculous perceived slights and complains about the taste of drinking water in the new building. At the same time, they bend over backwards protecting members whose egregious misconduct would have seen them fired long ago at any other reasonable organization.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Onlooker, 09:36:47 05/08/16 Sun [1]

Helen of Troy Hill:

I wonder if you could explain a little of what you mean by the guild needing to move into the 21st Century? I can't get a handle on it. Could you give an example or two? It's clear that you mean the guild is still doing somethings the old way (I guess that's the way to put it), and you're saying they should be doing them the new way. The 21st Century way. I just can't come up with an example.

Also, about your reference to some employees engaging in egregious misconduct. I'm not asking for names or positions, but I wonder if you could give a couple examples of egregious conduct on a newspaper. What's going on there that we don't know about? I hope you're not talking about criminal acts.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Sol I. Darity, 17:02:51 05/08/16 Sun [1]

"Third (and I know this will get pushback from the board trolls, but have at it) anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows that personality and leadership skills count for a lot more than the length of a resume, fairly or unfairly. You'll challenge this, I'm sure, but it's true."

It seems anyone who dares disagree with your contention that Mila can do no wrong and "the length of a resume doesn't matter" is a "board troll." Let me say, Helen, only one poster has taken a consistently antagonistic tone in this entire thread: you. Just as you disrespected the Guild, you tried to bring gender into this argument and looked silly because the facts were not on your side. As the PG loses more money, it straddles a brave new digital world and an aging regional demographic still partial to print, and that's a challenge. Are page hits dictating what gets into print? I wonder. Yes, "personality and leadership skills" count. I also think there's merit in learning from the bottom up.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Question for Helen -- Guildenstern, 20:25:47 05/09/16 Mon [1]

Helen, could you please define "diversity" as you perceive it? Are you implying there's deliberate lack of "diversity" in the Guild? If so, please cite concrete examples. It's like your comments about "egregious misconduct." You say something and hope it sticks. It doesn't.

It's tiresome, seeing the term "diversity" capriciously dropped into comments as if the mere act of doing so validates an opinion. It cheapens a very important concept. Defenders of the Seen Sisters, Sara and Natalie, and their all-about-us presentations tell critics they add "diversity" to the feature. Precisely how? Anyone hinting Uricchio and Richardson, their two predecessors, did not embrace the concept stretches the truth badly.

For someone advocating a "21st Century" approach, your arguments are rooted more in anger than fact.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Question for Helen -- Counter, 03:48:08 05/10/16 Tue [1]

Hey, look, it's the guy who obsesses over the "Seen" women!

Congratulations on your 100th post mentioning them.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Question for Helen -- Back on track, 22:15:19 05/10/16 Tue [1]

Yeah, Seen isn't the issue. The idea Mila is trying to make changes that may not necessarily be to the PG's benefit [or might be] is the point. That her minions (and Schmitz) think she is the dawn of enlightenment while others see her as needlessly upsetting the applecart is the focus. The crunch is on from Kid Robbie and Mr. Granite State to save the PG, but it's far from clear status quo or SuperMila are the answer.

The old phrase 'too little, too late' may be the most operable.

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[> [> [> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Cedar of Mt. Lebanon, 16:07:53 05/07/16 Sat [1]

Since the rank and file vote on leadership, it's obvious that they are voting in who they want: those who desire to hold the positions on the Executive Committee. What planet do you reside on, Helen? What was the Guild supposed to do to prevent the buyouts? Threaten a picket line or walkout? It would be worth taking bets to see how fast the company would lock the doors, probably for good.

The 21st Century you talk about is an era where journalism as you know it will tragically cease to exist. All your carping about what the Guild can or can't do won't change that. Sadly, you are right about the Guild having to protect a faction of over the hill newsroomers who long ago ceased to be of value, who could have taken buyouts and wouldn't. The paper would be better off without them. I'll concede that.

So it would seem the young folks who share your view have a couple of options. Want to see what it's like to work for a Guild-free newspaper? Just take a little stroll up to Martindale Street and ask the gang in what's left of that newsroom how great it is and where they'd rather work. There's always room for improvement but a flawed Guild is better than none at all. Of you could try voting out the Guild. See how far that gets.

As a member of the "cult of Mila," feel free to sit by and hope she and her "vision" save the PG. Even she lacks those superpowers, I fear. And profits from digital will take years, if ever. By the time anyone figures it out, it's a toss-up if there'll be a PG at all.

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[> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Jon Schmitz, 15:03:44 05/05/16 Thu [1]

I worked with Mila at the PG. She is one of the most talented professionals I encountered in 37 years in the news business. She is intelligent, creative, passionate and devoted to excellence; just the type of person any newspaper is damned lucky to have. She is truly worthy of the lofty position she holds and Pittsburgh and the PG would be the poorer without her.

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Neutral party, 04:36:20 05/06/16 Fri [1]

Whether you're right or wrong, Jon, and it strikes me legit arguments exist on both ends about her merits, it won't make much real difference to the PG's long term fortunes. The newsroom is too decimated to be saved. By the same token, anyone who thinks Upgruv saves the Trib has been smoking something and I don't mean vaping.

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[> [> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Mama Mila!, 06:57:48 05/10/16 Tue [1]

I would never slag my co-workers under my real name either. But if she really is all that, there are a couple of vacancies on the all-male editorial board these days. Or would that be a demotion for Mila?

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[> [> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Protege, 06:59:46 05/10/16 Tue [1]

This is verging on Roddyesque umbrage.

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[> Re: The PG's upGruv -- Bailed Out, 20:48:32 05/20/16 Fri [1]

I canceled my sub this week. I don't think she's to blame alone for wrecking the PG but her digital vision's not helping.

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