In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett

It sure is something to watch CEO Craig Dubow dismantle a 102-year-old company right before our eyes: rendering newspapers at corporate chop shops, while shipping untold jobs to low-wage countries — all in a shaky bid to keep Wall Street at bay.

Only yesterday, Dubow & Co. was at it again: laying off a steep 55 employees at the Asbury Park Press and three other New Jersey dailies — part of a regional group that’s lately appeared on the edge of freefall. And yet, the N.J. papers are only the latest to be swept up in what I imagine is now Gannett’s biggest retrenchment since World War II. (Dubow, to be sure, has been retailing it on Wall Street as the more April-fresh sounding transformation.)

In Phoenix, Arizona Republic workers are weighing a buyout offer that one of my readers says stinks. In Westchester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla., and beyond, advertising-production artists are terrified of being the next to lose jobs to Los Angeles-based 2AdPro, which is shipping their work to India as fast as Gannett will allow.

In the Broadcasting division, Gannett is eliminating graphics jobs in favor of consolidating work at a central “art house” in Denver. And the division is now being asked to adopt a version of the Information Center model that was supposed to boost online advertising revenue when it was rolled out across U.S. newspapers last year. (Gannett has been curiously quiet about whether the strategy is working.)

These are only recent examples; I’ve omitted many others that I know — and even more I hope to uncover in any reader responses I get to this post. I’ve been writing about Gannett’s downsizing since Dubow issued that scary Sept. 11 memo last fall. It’s not at all clear whether he’s now putting his pedal on the accelerator, with even more turmoil ahead for this summer. And I’m not expecting any clarity soon on that point. Why? Nowadays, the well-paid top brass don’t have time to deal with even basic questions.

So, if you’re wondering whether Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore is about to redline your job — well, don’t look for answers from We Work in a Bubble, Va. They’re already on their third round at the Kool-Aid Bar!

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: yesterday’s Republic, Newseum]

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21 Responses to “In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Couldn’t Corporate negotiate a discount if it stopped calling it transformation – and instead adopted USA Today’s new slogan? See: http://tinyurl.com/4vgyjt

  2. Anonymous Says:

    from the “Gandhi heads to Philly” post:

    “Latest rumor: Enron-style accounting practices may have been the reason the NJ Gannett papers were showing whatever profit they were for the last few years.

    The current buyouts and layoffs are the results of re-doing the books on a reality basis.”

    Is there something to this that threatens NJ papers at a much-deeper level? Are there real fiduciary concerns here? Is this just the start of the recovery?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    It’d be cheaper than paying Thomson-Reuters royalties…Thomson coined the phrase Transformation Now and reinvented the company, albeit out of newspapers – years ahead of Gannett.

    Here’s a thought…Gannett’s board should fill the empty board seat with their retiring CEO, Dick Harrington (if possible) as he’d at least have a clue on how to transform Gannett more quickly and profitably into the digital age. And, I’d suspect that he could do it without further trashing the newspapers.

    http://tinyurl.com/4eoae2

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Jim: Why all the gloom and doom? Ask someone in Cincinnati to send you the peppy memo it’s publisher recently sent to the staff about all the great things happening there that fly in the face of the misery elsewhere. I’d send it to you but am not on the staff and only heard about it through the grapevine. Maybe the publisher will send it to you since it’s apparently all blue skies in the QC (Queen City for those of you unfamiliar with that little spot of heaven).

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’m curious if folks would weigh in on where the layoffs came from — what departments? Anyone in the newsrooms?
    Yes, I noticed you noted that Morristown was “exempt” from the buyouts. That didn’t exempt us from layoffs (7), though. Patently unfair. Ours came from half ad, half circulation.
    I haven’t had time, but has anyone looked at the proxies and tallied how much of our revenues are supporting those in the dark tower who keep ordering us to do new things that lose us more readers (be they of print or online), sending our revenues spiraling further down the toilet?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Why doesn’t Dubow just sell a few of the less strategic papers and save the pain spread over the entire operating company? How does Asbury and others expect to operate with such a smaller staff?

    This seems awfully short-sighted…to say the least.

    Does it take any person making $7 or $70 million a year…to handle such stupid moves?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Local, local. Wasn’t that Gannett’s anthem. It was in Westchester back in the ’90s.
    Now it’s New Dehli, New Dehli.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Looks like the Courier Post is looking for 2 editors to fill these jobs:

    http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=927025

    and…

    http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=927030

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Is it true that many of the people who were “laid off” in NJ have actually been interviewed for new positions there?

    Is it true GCI is the only newspaper company laying off people? I heard Lee, Trib, JRC, and other are too. What about Singleton and McClatchy?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    People laid off can apply for open positions, but the new job will be at a lower salary and they would lose any seniority.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    re: anon 6:13AM: Gimme a break. There were some who were “laid off” but were reassigned positions at another location. No job posting, no interviewing. They (management) just did what they wanted regardless of company policy. Another case for a lawsuit for those who may have wanted those jobs?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Great, just great. Been home all week for vacation. LOL. Found out about the 55 layoffs while out with my hubby and literally bumped into a fellow co-worker. Found out my department lost quite a few people and other locales were consolidated. Hope I’m not a casuality too. Will find out come Monday morning. I really hate Mondays!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    NOTE: Following the layoffs HNT killed the Desi and Nuestra tabs (many of the staffers devoted to these pubs were part of the layoffs). I don’t know how a Middlesex Cty paper thinks it’s serving the local community by killing its (apparently profitable) hispanic and south asian pubs.
    Donovan is chopping up this organization like Jack the Ripper…

  14. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Were these tabs sold separately from the Home News Tribune — or were they HNT inserts?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Both Nuestra and Desi were free weeklies distributed separately from the daily HNT. Desi apparently never made any money. Nuestra went from earning a lot of revenue to supposedly a major liability within just the last few months.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    “Nuestra went from earning a lot of revenue to supposedly a major liability within just the last few months.”

    Hmm, were I the suspicious sort, I might connect this with

    “Latest rumor: Enron-style accounting practices may have been the reason the NJ Gannett papers were showing whatever profit they were for the last few years.

    “The current buyouts and layoffs are the results of re-doing the books on a reality basis.”

    But only if I were the suspicious sort.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Desi and Nuestra were products of both HNT and Courier News-employees were told that both papers needed to get rid of the “extras” and just focus on core, online and community reporter (Bridgewater just adopted Asbury’s version of such)

  18. John Reinan Says:

    Jim, congrats on the growing traffic. I’ve also noticed that your comments are just a tiny bit snarkier these days. I’ve always been amazed at how measured you were, even when you were ripping The GANNit (as Westchester residents always called it).

    But now we’re getting this:

    “…well, don’t look for answers from We Work in a Bubble, Va. They’re already on their third round at the Kool-Aid Bar!”

    And I love it!

  19. Jim Hopkins Says:

    John, you devil! As always, so nice to see your footprints here. And thanks for noticing: I’m still getting in touch with my inner snark.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Nuestra doubled in size within months of Ketan taking over the Home News, but it had nothing to do with getting the good word out on this product. actually, even all the sales reps agreed this little tabloid did not hold a candle to other tabs in the area; the editor did not go for “saucier content” that is so much apart of the other tabloids out there. anyway, the jump in size had to do with the absurd rates used for advertising. The Home News was giving away the space more than they were selling it.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Check out the adventures of
    Gannett Man

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