Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET on Aug. 14: The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., is among the first newspapers reporting layoffs on Thursday.
Earlier: A Maryland publisher told employees late Wednesday afternoon that Gannett is eliminating 1,000 newspaper jobs, or about 3% of the troubled newspaper division's workforce -- and that about 600 employees are being laid off, a Gannett Blog reader says.
The reader provided a copy of a memo that Daily Times Publisher Rick Jensen e-mailed about 4 p.m. today at the paper in Salisbury. "Across Gannett’s Community Publishing division, about 1,000 positions will be eliminated -- about 3% of the workforce,'' the memo says. "Of the 1,000 positions, about 600 employees will be laid off."
Jensen would be the first Gannett executive to publicly confirm recent speculation that GCI is cutting jobs across the company -- and the first executive to disclose details of such cuts. A broad downsizing would come as the nation's top newspaper publisher reels from its surprisingly weak second-quarter earnings. That report sent Gannett shares plunging to new lows, further raising investor pressure on CEO Craig Dubow and his senior team.
No timetable given
I've asked chief Gannett flack Tara Connell for comment. I've e-mailed Jensen, and Daily Times Executive Editor Greg Bassett as well. Moments ago, Bassett e-mailed this reply, saying only: "Jim Hopkins is in my in box? All the way from Europe? I must be big time! Cheers!"
The memo does not say whether every one of the newspaper division's 84 papers will reduce employment by 3% -- or whether the rates might instead vary by business within what's now called the U.S. Community Publishing division. The memo also doesn't give a timetable for these division-wide cuts.
Several GCI papers have already made recent job cuts, but at a higher rate: 5%. The division's dailies do not include USA Today, suggesting that any further reductions at Gannett's flagship could be on top of the 1,000 jobs eliminated. U.S. Community Publishing employs up to 32,800 -- the lion's share of GCI's 46,000 employees.
'Decline in economic conditions'
Jensen disclosed the broad downsizing in a memo that tells his own paper's 275 workers that some of them will lose their jobs as soon as next week.
"We're being faced with another difficult round of position reductions because of the continuing decline in economic conditions,'' the memo says. "Gannett has set payroll expense reduction targets for us and all other newspapers in the U.S. Community Publishing division, necessitating the reduction in positions. The targets were set based on our financial performance and previous reductions."
The memo continues: "Our position reduction plan is now at Corporate for review. We expect to receive final approval by Monday, and affected employees will be notified by next Thursday."
The memo also says "affected employees will be offered a severance package. Benefits include one week of pay for each year of service (52 week maximum); minimum two-week severance benefit; medical benefits will continue for the length of the severance period."
Can anyone confirm -- and add details? Have any other publishers cited the 1,000 jobs/600 layoffs figures in recent memos? Please post your replies 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.
Earlier: Blogger says Corporate's silence on layoffs is telling
[Image: today's Daily Times, Newseum]