Bulletin: Gannett laying off 10% of newspaper staff; Dickey warns in memo: ‘fiscal crisis is deepening’

Reeling from a second consecutive quarter of big revenue declines, Gannett just announced plans to lay off 10% of its newspaper employees — up to 3,000 workers — by early December, as the nation’s top newspaper publisher struggles to right itself. Newspaper division president Bob Dickey (left) disclosed the mass layoffs in a memo sent to employees just moments ago.

The unprecedented cuts follow the elimination of more than 1,000 jobs since August in GCI’s biggest and most troubled division: U.S. Community Publishing. But those cuts amounted to only 3% of the unit’s employees. Other publishers, including Miami Herald owner McClatchy Co., have sliced much deeper; that chain has exacted two rounds of 10% cuts since June alone.

The division’s 84 dailies plus USA Today account for nearly 80% of Gannett’s revenue, and 65% of its 46,000 employees. Today’s job reductions appear confined to those dailies. I don’t see any reference in the memo to cuts at GCI flagship USAT; it rivals The Arizona Republic as Gannett’s single-biggest employer.

Publishers in dark; Wall Street applauds
In Iowa, Des Moines Register Publisher Laura Hollingsworth told employees about the cuts in an e-mail, but warned she was unable to say “what that will mean in terms of number of layoffs,” the paper is now reporting. Hollingsworth is one of GCI’s most powerful publishers; she’s head of the West region of newspapers.

Investors rallied around Gannett’s shares today, after an initially tepid response. GCI’s beleaguered stock, down more than 70% from a year ago, closed at $10.22 a share, up $1.09, or 12%. Still, Wall Street had a similar reaction to the August layoffs, before sending shares back into the toilet.

Employees wonder what’s next
“Here’s a question for Mr. Dickey,” one worker said: “Do the layoffs and cutbacks stop here, or should Gannett employees keep that resume up to date and keep looking at CareerBuilder and Craigslist for job openings?” (More questions.)

Reflecting new uncertainty that could pinch productivity in weeks ahead, another employee writes: “I’m supposed to start groundwork on a big project this week, but am thinking about asking my bosses what the chances are that I’ll be able to finish it. I’d much rather spend my last few weeks on the job wrapping up some of those smaller, community-focused stories that I’ve been pushing to the back burner, instead of something that’ll never see the light of day.”

Related Gannett Blog posts

Please post your reactions in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

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39 Responses to “Bulletin: Gannett laying off 10% of newspaper staff; Dickey warns in memo: ‘fiscal crisis is deepening’”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    To think, when Craig was at the CJ and asked about a time line for future layoffs, he really didn’t know. Judging by this I have a feeling they had a better idea than they were letting on.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    02:00 PM – Don’t tell me that’s so! Mr. Dubow would never deceive us.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    No mention of USAT or THE MOTHER SHIP. Sounds like the beleaugured 84 are going to take it in the shorts again.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah, the beleaugured 84 that makes 80% of the revenues!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Our publisher sent out a personal memo – but said nothing of how many here (small daily). Based on last time, 3% = 2 positions here. So 10% could be 8 or 9 people. Time will tell, I suppose.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I suggest my fellow Gannettoids take time now to utilize one of the few things Gannett offers that can help you now:
    careerbuilder.com. It worked for me, thanks Gannett! pack-o-fugups

  7. john reinan Says:

    Well, the stock is up 3 cents. So they got that going for them.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Someone needs to ask if directors can be on the list. If they can’t, then those cuts will come later.

    Plus, this doesn’t include the “other” expense cuts that will be coming.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    In Honolulu the paper continues to adhere to cuts, now our fifth, yet still supports fun runs and sponsorships of events and pays $300,000 to advertise its name on a banner in the state’s largest shopping center. wtf

  10. Anonymous Says:

    2:29 Dickey asked for input- that is certainly one that should be brought to his attention. But I would find someone who is no longer employeed to write to him.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    A lot of papers are not embracing the web.

    If there was the promise of increased staff when web revenues were up, then maybe this is a way of weeding out those who are resistant.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I recently heard that Gannett hired 60 new online sales specialist. Does anyone know if this is true?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I bet you could get the equivalent of 3,000 little people jobs by cutting the bloated management in McClean. But I think they’ll keep drawing fat salaries and cruising to retirement.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Jim,

    You continue to provide an excellent service to Gannett employees through this blog. On behalf of all of us, who work for Gannett and are concerned for our jobs, and many of whom might have been blindsided with news of the loss of their jobs had it not been for this blog, thank you.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Maybe this blog could be used for job leads as well. Some good old networking in your area to help the Gannett employees that were thrown overboard.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    2:42 PM – Yes it’s true. Their mission is to target advertisers that have not advertisised in the last 90 days. They are outside of the normal chain of command and report directly to corporate online.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    This 10 percent cut — is it company wide or at each location? Does anyone remember the percentage from the staff reductions in August?

  18. Jim Hopkins Says:

    The elimination of 1,000 newspaper jobs in August equaled about 3% of all. So, today’s announced cuts are more than three times as big.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not worried. My candidate will win and take all of Dubow’s money from him and share it with all of us.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, If publishers are telling staff how many positions will be eliminated at their property- can you start a thread so we can keep track by property?

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Out of fear of losing my job, I can’t find the courage to e-mail Dickey and ask why it is they can continue to rake in the cash while the small newspapers get strapped with more work and fewer people. Not to mention the fact that we must constantly look over our shoulders for more cuts. It’d be nice to see management take accountability for once.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I'm a 10 year employee. I work hard. I've have worked alot of unpaid overtime over the years because I thought I was part of a team getting an important product — The News- out on the street. But the anxiety & stress: with the economy; with Gannett job prospects; with family expenses has just been draining. I feel like we've been in a hurricane for over a year now.

    I still work hard, but over the last year or so I feel like the guy in the movie Office Space….when he says to the corporate "Efficiency" consultants.."It's not that I mind hard work, it's just that I don't care." The he wishes them luck on the lay-offs and hope their firings of other people go well.

    Now that the end seems real, I feel a little better about trying to go in a new direction in the future. I know it's going to be hard financially, but I have no choice. I'm going to try something that produces real value for customers and satisfaction for me…as well as some Coin. Something that's got good Karma.

    http://www.WindStormStructural.com

    I hope all of you find or rediscover something you love to do, Instead of this crap. Best Wishes and Good Luck to All.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Let’s hope that they dismiss some of the suits in McLean who’ve been traveling around this company the past few years (at great expense) telling everyone how to run their businesses without any direct responsibility for their failed Advice…especially one suit who recently traveled to Hawaii with Bob and crew.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not sure why we haven’t gotten around to asking for pay cuts from upper management. I can easily account for a 10% reduction by just asking management within my small company to accept a 10% pay decrease. Or hey, what the heck, why not give up the bonus they’re paid? Sheesh, it doesn’t take a genius!

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Thirteen new job postings this week on Gannett’s site. Also, take a look at all the postings for jobs at CareerBuilder. (Not on CareerBuilder, but for the company.) Will they give priority to those people inhouse whose postitions are being non-voluntarily eliminated? Also, for former Gannettoids, is your job that was eliminated in August now being posted?

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Way to go Jim. You even scooped E&P and they credit you for that. See below ….

    Gannett to Trim 10% at its Newspaper Division

    By E&P Staff

    Published: October 28, 2008 3:49 PM ET

    NEW YORK Gannett's newspaper division announced another round of layoffs due to the economic downturn: The company is seeking to trim 10% of its staffers through involuntary staff reductions to occur during the first week of December.

    The McLean, Va.-based publisher cut 3% from its newspaper division, a move announced in August.

    According to memo from Bob Dickey, the president of the newspaper division, each publisher is responsible for coming up with their own plan to meet goals.

    The memo was first published on Gannett Blog run by former employee Jim Hopkins.

    Gannett's Tara Connell confirmed the cuts to E&P.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Tara isn’t on the phone with you, too, Jim?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    I love it everytime this blog gets credited. It’s gotta kill VA that they can’t control the PR anymore.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Hmm…I wonder if Gannett will break this news on their websites today like they do most news, wait for print tomorrow, or even publish it at all.

    Thankfully, this blog once again puts pressure on the company to be more forthcoming. Cheers Jim.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    I think it’s time for Jim to post a reminder of the $79 million or at least a link to it in the layoff news information.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    3:39

    Good luck to you and may you be from from harm at all times. Peace.

    You have found what makes you complete.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, and I find it very sad and telling that I had to read the news about the layoffs in other newspapers, rather than by the employer I’ve worked hard for.

    Way to go, Gannett.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Unfortunately, it appears as though layoffs is the only plan management has come up with. If you do the math, given the past layoffs and the drop in ad revenue, the current and coming layoffs still don’t cover losses. Plus, we’re one week away from the loss of the recent election ads which suggests ad revenue will drop even more in Q4.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Our site got two of the 48 online sales positions. From what I understand, these two were flown to corporate, stayed in great hotels and treated to a week of training. Today, they were pulled into our ad director’s office and told that these layoffs do not apply to them.

    I wonder if sales staff for “traditional products” will take a hit with this round…

    On another line – the last round of firings (September – something like 100 positions) were focused on management – albeit at the local level. Our site lost one director… and I heard one paper lost it’s entire OC except the ad director and publisher.

    I think the nuclear option is creeping closer and closer… the economy is just speeding up the process. That’s why USAT has been protected from the cuts thus far.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    From what I can gather from memos/meetings today – each site has to cut 10% – that’s not just a company wide cut.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    You got a meeting about it today? Lucky! No one is telling us anything (except from the original memo) and the publisher hasn’t responded to any emails…yet.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    And Wall Street applauded. Sooner or later, the decline will reach critical mass, as the quality vs. price equation slips terminally. If we are a local paper, and there is no one to write local stories… if there is no one to put out the shitty local stories they get such a boner about, who is going to pay 50 cents for a 16 page paper? I am surprised the people in charge of Gannett can feed themselves, let along run a paper. Hey Dick! F&ck you!

  38. Jim Hopkins Says:

    I just removed a comment that made fun of Bob Dickey’s last name. No more of that, please.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    From publisher David Petty (veteran of the Little Rock war) at The News-Star in Monroe, La., in an e-mail to employees this afternoon:
    “Locally we will use open positions and any other means we can find to minimize the number of personnel affected, but you need to know we face a tough target.
    “In better economic times, such a move would not be necessary, so we all need to remember that this action has nothing to do with the dedication of our staff. News-Star employees are examples of hard work and dedication, and I know I can count on you to continue to be such employees, even in these tough times.
    “David”

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