Staffers of the Florida Times-Union, a property owned by Gannett, held a rally on Friday near Jacksonville City Hall to protest low pay and the alleged lack of raises.
The protesters are members of the Times-Union Guild, part of the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA), News4JAX reports.
“We’re asking for Gannett to support local journalism, to invest in our newsroom and invest in the local journalists who are doing the work,” said Times-Union reporter David Bauerlei, according to News4JAX.
That means “paying journalists who have been faced with year-after-year increases in the cost of living, no wage increases in 2018. It makes it much harder for us to get by to do the job we love and continue doing the job we’d love,” Bauerlein continued..
According to Bauerlein, the number of newsroom employees has fallen from 63 in 2019 to 22 today.
Meanwhile, NPR did a program on Gannett’s strategy featuring Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab.
Commenting on Gannett’s merger with Gatehouse Media, Benton said the idea was that “an individual newspaper might struggle on its own, but if you buy enough of them, you can extract as much of the cost of producing the newspaper from the local community as possible.”
Gannett believed that it could achieve “economies of scale and make a profitable business,” Benton continued. “The problem is, as part of the merger, Gannett took on a lot of debt, and they have to pay off that debt. So they need revenue. And the way that they have been doing that is by cutting costs to the bone. That means cutting staff and cutting the quality of their newspapers.”
Moreover. Gannett is also pursuing a digital strategy. But newspapers generally make ““significantly less money off of a digital subscriber than they do from a print subscriber,” Benton added. “The other problem is that there are lots of other free alternatives for a lot of local news and information, and people will be happy to consume those without bothering to subscribe to the local daily.”