The Burlington Free Press today announced the hiring of this man as its new President and Publisher.
No, this is not a joke. Do Not Adjust Your Set. Al Getler is a former newspaper executive who’s lately been seeking work as a “media consultant” (i.e. unemployed newspaper executive) and as a ventriloquist for hire. He mainly sells himself as talent for corporate events:
In addition to being a performer, Getler has worked for two Fortune 500 companies as an executive and knows what it takes to entertain all types of audiences while meeting the required standards of acceptability.
In other words, toothless comedy for corporate audiences. But hey, maybe he could bring a little fun to the lately-joyless Freeploid newsroom:
Looking for a unique idea for your next show or event? Have Al create a puppet character in the likeness of your CEO, your product, or that special person in your audience.
Oh, I’d pay to have him show up for his first day on the job with a Michael Townsend puppet. Can we make that happen, Al?
Aside from his services as an inoffensive mainstream humor provider, Getler also bills himself as a “marketing, management, and media” consultant, touting his “30 years of experience in the media, as a leader, executive running companies and as a serial entrepreneur.”
Is “serial entrepreneur” how you describe yourself if you’ve run multiple enterprises into the ground?
Somehow the Free Press’ story announcing Getler’s hiring doesn’t mention his current status as a self-employed ventriloquist/consultant. They say, circumspectly, that he “previously was group publisher of the North of Boston Media Group.” In fact, he lost that job almost two years ago.
The NoBMG includes the daily papers in Lawrence, Newburyport, Salem, and Gloucester, Massachusetts, plus some weekly papers and a few ad-friendly glossy magazines. Getler lost his gig in March 2013 when NoB’s out-of-state ownership imposed some big staff cuts.
According to ace Boston media watchdog Dan Kennedy, the Eagle-Tribune had a long and distinguished reputation as an independent weekly. That changed, however, with its corporate acquisition in 2005. Since then, it’s been cut, cut, cut, and cut again.
Getler was hired in 2007, and imposed quite a few of those cuts before feeling the blade himself. In 2008, for instance, he slashed “at least 52 jobs” at NoBMG, which got him this plaudit:
“This was a CYA situation,” one Eagle Tribune employee told The Valley Patriot. “Al Getler is trying to save his own job because his management of this newspaper has cost us millions and the only way he could show the company [in Alabama] that we could be financially viable was to immediately cut jobs to balance the books to meet the company’s financial goals.”
Hmm. Maybe he’ll fit right in at Gannett’s Incredible Shrinking Freeploid. At the very least, he’ll Bring the Funny in ways that Michael Townsend could only do by butchering his Twitter feed.
And there’s a bit of thematic consistency here. The man Getler is actually replacing is Jim Fogler, who left the Freeploid last year to take a job with Party City. Hey, balloons, noisemakers, and puppets! It practically screams “quality journalism,” does it not?