Updated at 5:42 a.m. ET, Aug. 2. Announcing the cutback today, Publisher Larry Whitaker said fewer employees would have to do more work at the newspaper, known for its courageous civil rights reporting. The Clarion-Ledger will trim 20 jobs and continue freezing an unspecified number of open positions -- a total 5% of the workforce, Whitaker said in a letter.
He didn't identify the departments losing employees, or describe severance terms. But a Gannett Blog reader says these were all layoffs. "No buyouts,'' the tipster says.
Another reader wrote: "The cuts today in Jackson involved three from the newsroom. One of the ones cut had been here more than 10 years, another had been here more than 20 years. Within the last week, two people resigned, so I'm sure that lessened the impact on the newsroom. We're free-falling now."
Whitaker blamed the pullback on a shrinking local economy. "In nearly every advertising segment, our customers are reporting difficult times for their businesses. They are cutting back on print and online advertising, which has a direct impact on our business."
His letter continues: "I realize how hard this may sound. The employees who will no longer be with us are good people and fine employees who have served the company well,'' his letter said. "The decision to eliminate these jobs was very difficult; but, we can no longer operate with the same number of people while our business gets smaller in this down economy."
Speeding up the line
Whitaker told those surviving the 5% cut: "Am I saying that we will have to do the same or more with less? Unfortunately, the straight answer to that question is yes. Having fewer people, however, should not be a reason to offer poor customer service or shirk our public service journalism responsibility. In fact, it is imperative that we do the opposite."
Clarion-Ledger at a glance
Publisher: Larry Whitaker
Executive Editor: Ronnie Agnew
Joined Gannett: 1982
Circulation: 84,955 daily; 96,843 Sunday
Earlier: The paper is home to ace reporter Jerry Mitchell, famous for bringing Ku Klux Klan members to justice, long after others gave up.
Related: My Gannett Blog Style Committee post sparked an unexpected round of comments on a different topic: rumors of wide Gannett layoffs. Join the debate, and read my response, here.
Cutbacks at your Gannett workplace? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. You may send memos and e-mails to gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.
[Sources: circulation data, 2007 Annual Report; today's Clarion-Ledger, Newseum]