Red Ink: Gannett Cuts 1,000 Staffers

Detroit Free PressIn a further sign of the newspaper industry's woes, Gannett said it is planning to cut 1,000 jobs--representing about 3% of its workforce--in a memo to employees last week. The company will eliminate positions through a combination of attrition (leaving empty posts unfilled) and about 600 layoffs. All the layoffs will be complete by the end of this month, the company said. 

It's unclear whether the 1,000 positions to be cut include the recent series of layoffs and buyouts at a number of big Gannett properties around the country. Gannett has cut hundreds of positions since May, including 50 at USA Today, 55 layoffs at four newspapers in New Jersey, 150 buyouts at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News (about 7.5% of the total 2,000) and an unspecified number of graphic-design positions companywide. In mid-July the Honolulu Advertiser said it would lay off 54 employees or 8% of its workforce; the Arizona Republic cut 50 around the same time. Gannett Broadcasting is also cutting an unspecified number of positions.



Gannett said total revenues tumbled 9.9% in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, to $1.72 billion--with President and CEO Craig Dubow admitting that "the weakening economy had a dramatic impact on our results." Gannett, like many big newspaper companies, has been hit with staff cuts.

In mid-June, McClatchy announced that it was cutting 1,400 jobs, or about 10% of its workforce. McClatchy's restructuring plan follows an earlier reduction of 13%--or around 2,000 employees--from 2006-2008, achieved largely through voluntary buyouts and attrition. The company will have shed over 20% of its workforce in three years, when the second round of cuts is complete.

Tribune Co. is also swinging the ax. The flagship Chicago Tribune is cutting 80 newsroom positions, or about 14% of the total 578, and an unspecified number of jobs in other divisions, like ad sales and production. The Los Angeles Times is cutting 250, including 150 positions in the newsroom, or about 17% of the total. The Baltimore Sun is cutting 100 positions across its various divisions.

Several of Tribune's smaller papers were hit especially hard: the Hartford Courant is losing 57 and the Orlando Sentinel 50 from its newsroom, with an unspecified number elsewhere--large numbers, given the papers' relatively small size. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owned by Cox Newspapers, also said in mid-July that it would cut 189 jobs--or roughly 8% of the total workforce--through voluntary buyouts, attrition and layoffs. And The Boston Herald cut 130-160 employees, focusing on the production staff, according to Patrick J. Purcell, Herald president and publisher, who announced the decision in a meeting with union leaders in late June.

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