Exit the Puppet Master

Looks like someone’s gotten the ziggy at Free Press Media. Opening sentence of a story on the Free Press website:

Former Free Press Media President Jim Fogler is returning to his previous role, replacing Al Getler in the top job at the Burlington media company and newspaper.

The bulk of the article recaps Fogler’s career and describes what a great fit he is for the job. Getler, meanwhile? We do not speak of him. The only other reference to the apparently former president and publisher is this:

Getler was hired as president of Free Press Media in January 2015.

Oh well. Easy come, easy go. At least Al will have his ventriloquist sideline to fall back on.

GetlerVentriloquistNo, really. Here’s a screenshot from his sizzle reel.


That’s the stuff. Sad to say, you can see his mouth move when his puppets “speak.”

So, did Getler wear out his welcome after less than two years in Burlington? Did he depart for greener pastures? The Free Press isn’t saying.

On the other hand, perhaps he was merely the latest victim of Gannett’s ruthless vortex of downsizing. Because the old new guy, Jim Fogler, is gonna be a timeshare.

Fogler also is president of Poughkeepsie Journal Media in New York, a sister publication of the Free Press under parent company Gannett Co. Inc.

So he’ll be running two papers. I wish him luck in his efforts to “reconnect with the community.” The Burlington-to-Poughkeepsie drive is a toughie because there aren’t any direct routes. It’s almost four and a half hours one way.

Irony fans can find an echo of Fogler’s sunny pronouncements in the January 2015 article announcing Getler’s hiring.

“When you’re given an opportunity to come to a place as beautiful as this is and do what you love the most in life doing — the media business — it doesn’t get any better than that,” Getler said.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Must be a touch of deja vu for Free Press business scribe Dan D’Ambrosio, who wrote both articles. Congratulations to him for surviving yet another apparent Gannett purge.

Getler will not be remembered fondly by this writer. I’m sure he was only following orders, but he brought a relentlessly marketing-oriented approach to journalism. In my view, he did much to tear down the traditional wall between sales and editorial, and boasted about doing so. He’s also been a willing executioner for cost-cutting corporate bosses.

But I don’t wish unemployment on anyone. I hope he has a soft landing somewhere equally “beautiful.” Maybe he can update that sizzle reel now; it looks to have been produced maybe 20 years ago, judging by Getler’s youthful appearance.


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