As hinted during an investor call last week, Gannett has started laying off journalists and other staff at newspapers throughout the United States.
The layoffs began on Friday, but there was no indication of the number of positions being eliminated..
Gannett CEO Mike Reed said on Aug. 4 that the company is pursuing a significant cost-cutting program, primarily on the print side, but also including “transformative cost reductions.”
The company released financials, showing a total revenue drop of 6.9% to $748.7 million and a $53.7 million net loss. Included in the total hit was an 8.9% decrease in digital media ads due, in part, to a softer programmatic ad market. Also, Gannett suffered “greater than expected losses in print,” Reed said.
On Friday, spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton issued a statement to publications saying that the company had to take “swift action given the challenging economic environment. These staffing reductions are incredibly difficult, and we are grateful for the contributions of our departing colleagues."
Journalists tweeted that they had been laid off. “I’m said to say that unfortunately, I am no longer with the Athens Banner-Herald,” tweeted Stephanie Allen. “It is my last day. Today, Gannett has decided to lay off reporters and other vital staff. While we knew that this could happen, I am still shocked and heartbroken for anyone who is laid off today too.”
This has prompted caustic remarks on Twitter, including one that said, “Gannett is responsible for the destruction of American journalism.” Others called out Reed for his purported high salary, and conservative critics applauded the firing of allegedly liberal reporters.
However, some Twitter sources posted job openings at other publications or offered other forms of help for those affected.
Poynter reported that the NewsGuild identified 35 layoffs across 20 Gannett newsrooms by Friday afternoon.
No word on whether there were any layoffs in three of the company’s largest markets: Nashville, Austin and Phoenix.
A few days earlier, Gannett had launched an ad campaign to promote local journalism in those cities. Called “Here For It,” the campaign touched on “on all of the ways local journalism helps create a better home,” according to Gus Murillo, director of local brand marketing at Gannett, quoted in a press release. “It underscores the one thing that makes local journalism different…that we are here. We live here, we work here, and we love this place we call home, and we’re committed to making it the best it can be.”