Sunday, March 09, 2008

Why Gannett unloaded those five newspapers

An important part of Gannett's strategic plan involves consolidation of work to cut labor costs. So, for example, the company in recent years replaced local customer service departments at each newspaper with three giant customer service call centers.

Consolidation is also playing a role in Corporate's deliberations over which newspapers to keep -- and which ones to sell. Newspapers that are clustered together -- think Wisconsin and New Jersey -- stand better chances of staying with Gannett. When papers are close together, the company could, for example, hire one publisher to oversee three papers, eliminating two big paychecks. Ditto for advertising directors, production chiefs, and IT directors.

And when newspapers aren't close together -- well, that explains why Gannett sold four papers last year, and donated a fifth to the Gannett Foundation. The recently published 2007 Annual Report says: "The location of these newspapers made regionalization and optimization of resources impractical, limiting our opportunities to change and improve in today’s challenging environment. The company is committed to transforming its business activities, including more consolidation and centralization of functions that do not require a physical presence in our markets."

Whew! Translation: If you work at a newspaper, calculate the distance to another Gannett paper. Not within a short day's drive? Hmmm . . .

[Image: yesterday's Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, Newseum. It is one of four newspapers Gannett sold; a fifth was donated to the Gannett Foundation]


  1. Being outside of a Gannett consolidated production area is more benificial in my view than being in one. When sold you are more likely to be employed at the end of the day than if you are a small paper within spitting distance of a larger production facility. ie Iowa City. Added bonus, you are no longer a member of the Gannett family.

  2. That's a bunch of crap.

    The paper that got donated to the foundation and subsequently sold to Paxton Media Group was in Marion, IN. It's within 90 minutes of four other Gannett publications -- Muncie, Lafayette, Richmond and Indianapolis. At the time Marion got sold, its HR department was done out of Richmond, its printing and payroll was done out of Indy, and its Web and advertising services were nearly split between it and Muncie.

    By the time Gannett finally did a mercy killing, Marion was so regionalized that it could barely stand on its own. No, it got rid of Marion for the oldest reason on the book: $$$$$$.

    And if Gannett wasn't bad enough, Paxton has cut newsroom staff and budgets, although it has restarted the printing press (at the expense of other, smaller presses in nearby Paxton properties -- shit really does roll downhill) and had to bring back a small HR and accounting department.

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