Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Connell: Cuts to be 'significantly less' than 3,000

Bloomberg News service, quoting company spokeswoman Tara Connell, says the cuts announced by newspaper division chief Bob Dickey "would be 'significantly less' than the 3,000 reported by a blogger." Connell also said the cuts would not apply to USA Today.

Dickey's memo refers to a "staff reduction of approximately 10%." He doesn't say this is a payroll reduction, which Connell's remark implies. There are about 30,000 newspaper employees after recent layoffs, buyouts and other cuts -- leading to my estimate of about 3,000 jobs lost.

Now, if the 10% figure does apply to payroll, Gannett could reach that number with fewer job reductions by laying off mostly higher-paid employees. In other words: Got a six-figure or high five-figure paycheck? Watch out.

I asked Connell for clarification four hours ago. I'm not optimistic she'll respond, however, because she told Columbia Journalism Review last month that Corporate is boycotting Gannett Blog.

Other news coverage today
  • The New York Times: "It appears to be the single largest example of the industry’s recent wave of downsizing."
  • The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription usually required): "The publisher of USA Today and almost 90 other daily newspapers, including The Arizona Republic, The Indianapolis Star and the Detroit Free Press, had announced in August that about 600 workers would be laid off as part of an effort to eliminate 1,000 positions. But in his Tuesday memo, Dickey told employees Gannett's 'fiscal crisis is worsening.'"
  • MarketWatch: "So far this year, more than 12,000 job cuts have been announced in the newspaper industry."
  • Editor & Publisher: "Gannett's newspaper division announced another round of layoffs due to the economic downturn."
  • Reuters: "Calculating the exact number of people who will be cut in this latest round is hard, however. The division's headcount includes hundreds of workers at USA Today who will not be affected, spokeswoman Tara Connell said."
  • Associated Press: "Gannett isn't revealing a specific number, but said all would be involuntary. Some 600 of the 1,000 cuts in the first round were achieved through layoffs."
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[Image: today's Des Moines Register, Newseum. It is one of Gannett's 84 community newspapers facing a 10% job cut by early December]


  1. They allegedly will not count Buy Outs and people Fired before the big day. They will also allegedly not count the redistribution of employees to lower paying jobs. Sometime they allegedly offer you a lower paying job hoping you won't take it. Some just call their bluff while others quit.

  2. From the 2007 Annual Report, page 5: "On Dec. 30, 2007, U.S. newspapers had approximately 32,800 full and part time employees."

    Subtract out the 1,000 or so from the earlier layoffs and you get 31,800.

    How in god's green earth can Tara say that 10% of whatever the current number is well below 3,000?

  3. Simple, new math. :)

  4. Well, if somebody can come up with an employment figure for USAT, you'll have your answer. What might the paper's full-time ranks amount to? 2,000? 3,000? Fewer? Subtract THAT from the 31K and change, and you're STILL looking at a good 2,800 or so fewer jobs, no? And really now, are there any openings/departures/etc. LEFT to make the numbers any different? I'd think each of the papers would have squeezed out every possible FTE by now and are as lean as they thought they could be. I'd think the 10 percent thing would be real cuts, with little or no "attrition" numbers in it.

  5. Hardly seems like "significantly less" to me, Madame Spinmistress

  6. If they cut 10 percent of the payroll, but they are all mid-level or high salaries, the number of jobs would be far less than 10 percent.

  7. "Corporate is boycotting Gannett Blog." Yet, I bet> That like saying that "THE GANNETTBLOG SUCKS", Was not put out by somebody at GCI who has two kids.


  9. anybody know why they won't accept volunteers? several older people where i work have said they would take early retirement so younger people w/webskills could stay. letting 2 veterans go probably could save 3 "mojos."

    and why doesn't it occur to them to cut executive pay 10% across the board to keep the troops we need if their vision of being a 24/7 news source is going to happen? surely someone making $1m could live on $900k without having to buy day-old bread or marked-down hamburger. my family of 4 has managed for years on about 5% of a million.

  10. Many entrepreneurs are salivating over the latest self-inflicted wounds GCI is giving itself. The barriers to entry for competing local news/sports websites are getting lower and lower.

    What I'm doing now: watching youtube videos on the Last Days of the Third Reich.

  11. Am I the only one who is suspicious that Tara is again giving us all misleading information. For example, she says the cuts don't apply to USA Today. But is that only because the letter Dickey wrote was sent only to community newspapers execs? In other words, is there yet to come another letter involving USA Today that we yet do not know about?

  12. 8:02 - count on it. And remember one of the largest Newspapers (Detroit) is under the USA Today umbrella...part 2 should arrive shortly.

  13. What's going on at Newsquest? cuts?

  14. anon 8:12 Get real. The Free Press happens to be managed by Moon but is in no way under the same unbrella. That is just silly. They operate totally independent of each other.

    USAT has just under 2,000 employees even if you include USA WEEKEND so the math works out just fine.

  15. Most of the people with the director title in Wisconsin do a hell of a lot of grunt work. We've ditched so many middle managers at our sites, that our directors visit each site in rotation, just to keep some sort of semblance of order at each paper.

    Should we ditch these directors, the work will go back to the sites - and we don't have publishers at some of those cities, just general managers.

    Once upon a time, one person could keep on top of the demands of circulation rules, IT upgrades, HR issues, and still get out and do the chicken dinner circuit. Then that damn Gutenberg got all fancy with his movable type and screwed it all up.

    Out on the coast, y'all might have supervisors under managers talking to directors answering to vice presidents. Our org charts are a little flatter. Our IT director gets called to fix Blackberries. Our executive editor... edits! And they do all that in addition to their director duties.

    We value every person, no matter the pay rate.

  16. I haven't read any mention of the 401k and that extra percentage contribution that requires you to be employed by GCI on Dec 31st. That's probably another reason for blowing people out before the end of the year because GCI won't have to contribute that extra percentage.

  17. The coming layoffs have many causes: historical change, political, economic, lack of vision, lack of leadership. Many of us won't be here at Christmas.

    I'm just a supervisor. I may lose my position. Some of my friends will. But I can't think that the loyal Gannettblog readers honestly wish upon "those people" in another department, another paper, another division, another office the pain of losing their job at the holidays.

    In your posts, please just keep in mind that the vast majority of us do bust our ass every day, no matter our payrate. Some kindness is appreciated.

  18. anon 8:24 this is anon 8:12 - my point was that Detroit is not part of the community group. They also have close to 2,000 staffers. Expect similar cuts for all - just my gut.

  19. Folks -

    Detroit is not part of the newspaper division. Never has been because of the unusual JOA situation (the detroit JOA is more unusual than Tucson or Honolulu's ever was). DNA/DFP reports through Moon, but is NOT part of the USAT ledger.

    What makes a newspaper part of the USCP is entirely based on the financial reporting structure, not the actual person that publishers report to.

    Not everything is a conspiracy...

  20. 9:47 PM
    Is Cape Publishing, Inc. part of the USCP? If it is, was the CareerBuilder revenue credited to it since it, not Gannett, was listed as buyer of that additional 10% recently? I still don't understand why the SEC document shows the affiliate rather than Gannett. Just curious---no conspiracy theories intended.

  21. Cape Publishing is Brevard.

  22. 10:20 PM
    And Louisville and who else?

  23. I hope our relief at USA Today isn't shortlived. It's hard to believe we're not going to be cut in some fashion. If the powers that be put out a statement saying we're safe, as they have, but then turn around a month from now and cut jobs, what little trust is left will be gone forever.

    All the best to those about to lose their jobs. It's horrible time, even for those left behind to do even more work.


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