Gannett Makes Cuts, Revamps Tennessee Newspapers

To kick off a sweeping reorganization of its newspapers in Tennessee, Gannett has reportedly made cuts to its papers in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and Murfreesboro.

Memphis-based Commercial Appeal has cut up to 20 employees from its ranks. Knoxville News Sentinel has reportedly laid off up to 11 editorial staffers, while The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro reportedly let go of a business reporter.

Publishers Daily could not independently confirm these numbers, though the CA wrote about the layoffs. Gannett did not immediately respond to requests for comment. PD did confirm that The Tennessean let go of food columnist Jim Myers and “12th & Broad” host Marcia Masulla.

The reorganization is an effort to brand all of Gannett's Tennessee properties as part of the "USA Today Network — Tennessee," a virtual alliance of 200 journalists across the state.

In a note to Gannett’s Tennessee employees, Tennessean president and publisher and president of USA Today Network – Tennessee, Laura Hollingsworth, called the changes the "first step as we re-secure and level-set our economic vitality to support our journalism."



The changes will also affect editorial coverage. The newspapers will focus more on state topics.

Maria De Varenne, executive editor of The Tennessean, wrote in a post published on the newspaper’s site that the changes mean the newspaper is “joining forces with sister newsrooms in Knoxville and Memphis to create a unique statewide reporting network. The network, as you know, already includes newsrooms in Jackson, Clarksville and Murfreesboro.“

De Varenne said the changes “position each news organization for continued aggressive expansion of digital content.”

Knoxville News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy echoed this change, writing in a post on the newspaper's site: “News Sentinel journalists will focus on local issues, at the same time, they’ll provide broader coverage in key areas of statewide interest, such as the Great Smoky Mountains, the University of Tennessee and the Department of Energy facilities in Oak Ridge.”

Gannett acquired Commercial Appeal and Knoxville News-Sentinel a year ago from Journal Media Group in a $280 million deal. At the time, Gannett said it would not layoff anyone for one year after the deal closed in April.

This week’s layoffs are just shy of that promised time frame.

When big publishing companies acquire smaller, regional newspapers, consolidation is an expected next step to combine resources and trim business operations.

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