Mike Lee’s leadership of Gannett and his alleged gutting of local newsrooms will be front of mind when hundreds of Gannett employees walk off the job next week.
The newspaper chain faces a nationwide work action, involving union journalists in two dozen newsrooms, starting Monday, June 5, according to the NewsGuild.
Journalists from some papers will go out on Tuesday, and there will be two-day walkouts in some locales.
The participating newsrooms are located in a handful of states: California, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Florida, New Jersey and New York.
The action takes place as shareholders are set to meet. Two weeks ago, the union sent a letter to Gannett shareholders, urging a vote of no-confidence against CEO Mike Reed.
The union alleges that newsrooms have been “hollowed out” following “the merger of GateHouse Media and Gannett Media in November 2019. And it blames Reed.
Journalists need “support and resources to make sure our communities have the local news needed to keep our democracy thriving,” says Jon Schleuss, President, NewsGuild-CWA. “Instead, Reed’s singular focus has been on stuffing his own pockets.”
Schleuss adds, “Reed has overstayed his welcome at Gannett and needs to go.”
The union also charges that Gannett share prices have dropped by nearly 70%, a statement that could not be independently confirmed.
“For years, Mike Reed has cut newsrooms to the bone and starved local communities of quality journalist,” adds Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York. When corporate leaders fail, shareholders have a responsibility to hold them accountable.”
It is not clear that shareholders will see things the same way.
Gannett issued a statement, saying, “our leadership is focused on investing in local newsrooms and monetizing our content,” according to the Washington Post.
The company adds, “Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our communities across the country as we continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees.”
In addition, Gannett also said that “no disruption to our content or ability to deliver trusted news,” will result from the work stoppage, the Post continues.
Gannett posted revenues of $668.9 million in its Q1, a 10.6% decrease YoY. But digital revenues were strong, hitting $257.5 million, 37% of the company total, a 0.9% falloff from 2022.
Overall net income totaled $10.3 million in Q1, adjustable to $5.8 million, versus a $3 million net loss in the same period of 2022.
Reed said, “We made significant progress across the majority of our key financial measures. and we believe our results demonstrate the effectiveness of the measures we implemented in the latter half of 2022 to position the Company for long-term success.”