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Gannett starts another round of staff cuts

Dec. 1, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 1, 2022 at 8:26 p.m.

The Gannett Co. Inc. headquarters in McLean, Va.  (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
The Gannett Co. Inc. headquarters in McLean, Va. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
From wire reports New York Times

From wire reports

Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, began another round of layoffs Thursday, joining a host of other media companies cutting jobs in recent weeks.

Employees at Gannett’s newspapers, which include USA Today, The Indianapolis Star and the Detroit Free Press, began receiving layoff notifications Thursday, part of an effort to cut about 6% of the company’s roughly 3,440-person U.S. media division, according to a report in the New York Times.

The Washington Post reported that roughly 200 journalists would be affected – at papers large and small – over the next two days.

Word of the notifications spread quickly among Gannett employees, according to the New York Times report. At USA Today, journalists received invitations on their employee calendars to join meetings with editors and human resources representatives.

The layoffs are the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures by Gannett, which in August eliminated about 400 jobs and said it would not fill hundreds of open positions. More spending cuts were announced in October, when Gannett’s chief executive, Mike Reed, told employees that the company would offer voluntary buyouts and require workers to take unpaid leave.

The latest cuts were signaled in a mid-November email to employees from Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Gannett’s British media group Newsquest, who warned that the company was “not immune to the economic conditions many industries and companies are facing.”

“While we have taken several steps already, we must enter the new year in a stronger economic position, and the reality is that our news cost base is currently too high for the revenues it generates,” Walker wrote. “Regretfully, this means we will be implementing further reductions.”

Also last month, Maribel Wadsworth Perez, the president of Gannett Media, announced she was leaving the company at the end of the year, telling employees she planned to take time to “catch my breath and prioritize my family.”

Gannett has battled a sagging share price in recent years as revenue from printed newspapers has continued to wane. The company has sought to offset the declining print business with digital subscription revenue and marketing services, but revenue has declined this year amid a difficult ad market.

Many media and tech companies have laid off employees recently as the advertising market sours.

The Walt Disney Co. in November said it would cut jobs and freeze hiring, after the company reported “peak losses” in its streaming division. On Wednesday, the Washington Post told employees that it was shutting its stand-alone Sunday print magazine, resulting in about 10 layoffs. CNN is also in the middle of laying off workers after executives discussed cutting $100 million from the business.

Among those laid off by Gannett, according to the Post, was USA Today sports investigative reporter Rachel Axon, who has reported on sexual abuse in competitive sports.

“I’m grateful for all those who trusted me with their stories,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never forgotten the privilege of that – whether it was showing their triumphs or holding those who harmed them to account.”

One journalist for a Gannett-owned publication told The Post of being laid off over Zoom, leaving behind a newsroom of less than a dozen reporters.

“They read from a script and thanked me for my service, which I find laughable,” the person said, requesting anonymity to speak candidly.

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