Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tally hits 863 as Gannett's mass layoff spreads; Second big wave to slam papers on Wednesday; Thousands more employees are still vulnerable

Gannett launched what is likely the biggest mass layoff in newspaper industry history yesterday, slashing 863 jobs by early this afternoon, in an increasingly desperate bid to return the troubled 102-year-old publisher to prosperity. The final tally could run into the thousands.

Many more layoffs are expected today and tomorrow across the 85-daily community newspaper division, including USA Today and the Detroit Free Press.

As of 1:51 p.m. ET today, only 24 papers had been accounted for, based on published accounts and Gannett Blog reader reports. Some of the biggest worksites have not announced their plans, including The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and The Des Moines Register, both with about 1,000. Corporate has said the cuts will number "significantly less" than 3,000.

Yesterday, in one of the first of scores of memos expected in coming days, Publisher Curtis Riddle of The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., told employees that the paper is cutting 44 jobs -- about 7% of all. The reductions include 31 forced layoffs, his memo says.

Publishers started notifying employees early Tuesday. In Nashville, The Tennessean started its layoffs a day earlier than expected, Anonymous@1:21 p.m. said: "So far in the newsroom today, we've lost two managers and a copy editor."

At the Asbury Park Press in Gannett's especially troubled New Jersey group, Anonymous@12:41 p.m. wrote: "Art department was decimated at the APP. So far the count is 11 in the newsroom." In Florida, Anonymous@11:10 a.m. said: "The Tallahassee Democrat is handing out walking papers as we speak. Merry Christmas."

Third round of layoffs
Corporate announced plans for the layoff Oct. 28 -- five weeks before they would take effect. Anxiety grew, sending employees hunting for advance word; by late last night, Gannett Blog had recorded about 20,000 visits and 65,000 page views for the day -- more than four times normal. Readers also posted more than 750 comments.

"Good luck to all of you,'' wrote Anonymous@12:20 p.m. "For those laid off, I hope you find something new -- and better -- quickly. For those who remain, keep your heads up and your eyes open for other opportunities."

The job cuts come as papers nationwide complied with Corporate's demand that they reduce employment by an average 10% in the 30,000-worker newspaper division. The retrenchment follows the loss of 1,100 newspaper jobs in September and August, and the company's continued earnings erosion.

Under growing pressure, CEO Craig Dubow (left) and other top brass face Wall Street media stock analysts next week during a three-day conference that starts Monday. Yesterday, Gannett's stock closed at $8.68 a share, up 6%. Still, shares have plunged 76% in the past year vs. a 43% decline in the widely watched S&P-500 Index.

The job reductions are being made through layoffs, attrition and other means. Many papers will notify employees over the next week. Severance benefits are a minimum of two weeks, and a maximum of 26, plus health insurance as long as severance benefits are in effect.

Earlier: Rochester, N.Y., memo is an example of how publishers are breaking the bad news.

We're tallying layoffs and other job cuts, paper-by-paper. Please post your figures on our list, or in the comments section, below. Also please post any publisher's memos, plus links to your paper's stories about the cuts. You may also e-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com].

[Images: today's front pages, Newseum]

75 comments:

  1. Could we also have position titles?

    ReplyDelete
  2. This graph, "The Democrat and Chronicle remains steadfast in its commitment to fulfilling its First Amendment news responsibility, as well as providing excellent daily coverage of the greater Rochester community. Our skills and experience position us well to take full and immediate advantage of the economic turnaround as it occurs." is a load of crap. No Gannett property remains steadfast in any commitment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The public should know how little Gannett gives a crap about the product and what a farce memos like this are. Then when no one buys Gannett products, and the fat cats can't feed off of huge profits anymore, what will be left?

    It appears that most Gannett employees are going to have to get their information here over the next few days. Once again, very little coming out of the Crystal Palace or the publishers' offices...not that we'd buy anything they have to say at this point. My editor hasn't bothered to keep us informed.

    There is going to be a long-lasting divide between various departments and upper management for a very long time as a result of all of this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Check out this national graph which tracks newspaper layoffs (over 13,000 to date). Scary but informative.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This company is getting rid of the experienced people who actually know how to look through paper reports to do analysis. The kids have no clue. They sit around waiting for press releases and press conferences. Gannett's journalism is a joke.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 12:53 PM
    I agree. But I found the officials loved the kids because they believed everything they were spoon fed!

    ReplyDelete
  7. "We do not ever discuss individual personnel issues out of respect for our employees." -Ali Zoibi, D&C President and Publisher

    Some nerve talking about respect, don't ya think?

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Tennessean has started layoffs today (Tuesday), a day earlier than they had told us. So far in the newsroom today we've lost two managers and a copy editor.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jersey in progress.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fort Myers in progress; so far two copy editors and a designer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Pensacola News Journal has finished up.
    At least five has been laid off, including the business editor who was called in from her maternity leave. Classy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Pensacola News Journal:

    From: Kevin T. Doyle



    RE: Today’s announcements



    Date: December 2, 2008



    I know you have been on edge since we announced last month we would be reducing our workforce by 10% during the first week of December. I admire and appreciate the focus and professionalism you have displayed during difficult times. In fact, I told Executive Editor Dick Schneider the other day that I felt our core product was the best it has been since I joined the News Journal almost three years ago. And I say that as a reflection of the comments I here from our readers and advertisers.



    Today has been difficult on everyone. I wanted to ease your minds by letting you know that all of our planned workforce reductions have been completed. Through attrition, we were able to reduce the number of layoffs to 21 fulltime and seven part time. We lost some talented and dedicated individuals, but what remains is one of Pensacola’s premiere and largest employers focused on the challenges ahead.



    In the upcoming days, I will meet with all of our employees to share our vision as we move forward, doing the same great work under a changed business model. If any of you have any questions, comments or suggestions, my office will be open today for you to drop in between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. I will send additional office hours tomorrow morning for those unable to stop by today.



    Two great attributes newspaper people possess are curiosity and passion. Feel free to share both with me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That is a great headline, Jim, very 1950s - especially "said underway."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Does anyone else, who has been recently laid off from Gannett, find it painful to read those memos to employees, realizing that they no longer pertain to us?

    ReplyDelete
  15. They're a lot nicer and more compassionate than the memo that was issued when I was laid off. Good for these editors.

    ReplyDelete
  16. In Nashville....it's 25 total from the newsroom -- three unfilled, 22 filled. Apparently, today was for those who asked for a buyout and tomorrow will be the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cincinnati - One down for sure...they have been doing layoffs for about 8 hours. So, far 1 for every 15 - 20 minutes and more to go tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lansing MI to begin layoffs tomorrow

    ReplyDelete
  19. Printing and inserting operations at the Battle Creek Enquirer will be moving to Lansing. There goes Battle Creek.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In Louisville, buyout offers have been accepted by a columnist and 3 reporters, but they're just getting started.

    ReplyDelete
  21. http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20081202/NEWS03/81202029

    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20081202/NEWS/81202044/-1/rss15

    Delaware and Tallahassee


    posted by:
    Walter Abbott

    ReplyDelete
  22. I can assure you that the Nashville layoffs today weren't voluntary. In fact, it was made clear before the process began that no voluntary layoffs would be considered. To most of those laid off at The Tennessean today, it came as a surprise. So far we're down two top editors, a copy editor and two designers, with more to come Wednesday.

    ReplyDelete
  23. One of the people I know who was 'laid off' - let go - canned - terminated - today - has three small children, including a baby with major health issues and medical expenses. Bad enough to do this before Christmas ... .

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm so sorry. Here at Lee Enterprises, we're expecting much of the same. Nothing I can say will suffice. Very, very sorry. Please stay strong.

    ReplyDelete
  25. As a former Gannett drone, all I can say is I thank God I was released when I when I was.
    That was when stock was around 85 bucks a share and was able to cash out fairly high.
    Unfortunately for most, they aren't that lucky.
    The big wigs are only looking 3 months down the road and that's no way to run a business.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Pretty soon, all Battle Creek will be is a corner office with a couple of reporters and a photographer.
    Everything else will move to Lansing.
    Now, if I could only start my own paper...online, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am was advertising rep that was one of the 16 laid off at the Tallahassee Democrat today. To be honest, this company has treated me so poorly since I've joined their workforce that although I will have to start looking for a new job immediately, not having to go deal with those selfish liars on a daily basis is a great relief. This is a new start for me, and hopefully a positive change in my life.

    In the bigger picture, it's probably better that this happened to me than to someone who valued their affiliation with the Tallahassee Democrat more. Everyone was telling me as I was leaving that I looked way too happy. I am confident that I will find a job before I will need to go on unemployment.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Please watch the personal attacks; I just removed one.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Shreveport lost an assistant editorial page editor, a copy editor, the manager of the Moms site and a part-time feature feature writer.
    The newsroom also gave up two vacant jobs (local columnist and a full-time features reporter).
    Not sure who else was lost in the building, but publisher Pete Zanmiller sent an e-mail tonight saying all layoffs were complete.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hey, Wenalway! How's it goin' buddy!

    (9:13)

    ReplyDelete
  32. 10:27 -- i seriously hope that's a joke. i'm a designer and i got laid off today. no one deserves to lose their job involuntarily.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Visalia/Tulare has not reported any cuts, assuming tomorrow will be D day.

    Has anyone seen significant cuts in advertising/classified department?

    ReplyDelete
  34. I've watched 3 episodes of The Daily Show, the last Colbert Report and just for the hell of it a bunch of those laughing-baby videos on YouTube --- none of them cracked me up the way this has, ever since Jim posted it:

    "We do not ever discuss individual personnel issues out of respect for our employees." -Ali Zoibi, D&C President and Publisher.

    This is not just high comedy, it's an incredible rarity -- a Gannett statement both accurate & true:
    GCI's exceedingly modest sharing of information about personnel -- especially personnel it's about to kick to the curb -- is an exemplary display of precisely the respect it has for its workers.

    Whoever wrote that for Zoibi, Lordy, Lordy, they're having extra cookies tonight. As well they should.

    ReplyDelete
  35. deep sympathy to my rochester sisters and brothers. indy's delight in seeing ali zoby leave was tempered by the misery we knew was ahead for all of you.

    in indy, our new pub managed to reduce layoffs from 95 to 55 or so -- bad, but less awful. had zoby still been here, he woulda dumped 105 just to show virginia that he cared more about the bottom line than the product.

    he was a horrible h.r. director who fired everyone who knew anything abut benefits, and i wish he'd been fired for his crappy ethics (500 pace car!) instead of inflicted on rochester.

    ReplyDelete
  36. It quietly started in Indy yesterday. Appears those who volunteered were informed they had been accepted. Only three that I know of. 2 features copy editors and 1 person from building services. The real shiite hits the fan today.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm a former Tennessean reporter now faced with the task of reporting on the job losses taking place there. I write for a locally funded, independent news service, NashvillePost.com.

    In a mass-casualty situation like this, it will be in the interest of many of those laid off to get their names into my story. Finding a job in these times will be tough, but there is at least the chance of attracting interest if your name is out there.

    I would welcome hearing from all who are affected: tom.wood@nashvillepost.com / 615 298 4716. I have been competing against you guys for years, but we are brothers and sisters in the trade and I wish you well. Hang in there.

    -Tom

    ReplyDelete
  38. Jim,

    Keep up the good work. I appreciate what you're doing.

    Sincerely,
    A Gannett Survivor [aka a journalist who used to worked for that Wall Street-enthralled, politically-correct, cult-like corporate monster.]

    ReplyDelete
  39. Good luck, Tom. Please tell it like it is.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Jim, I think what you're doing is incredible. This is soooo necessary. And the comments about how profit margins have fallen all drastically miss the point. How was some of that money not re-invested in the product? How is that training sessions were random teams that blew through town once a year? How is that computer systems and buildings look like they're from another era? I returned to take a class at a local university, and realized the systems students are now trained on are 10 times better than those the actual "pros" use. Sad. I once worked for Gannett, and now work for CNHI, which has less of a soul, at a daily newspaper that was owned for 100 years by the same family. Since it was sold in the early 80s, the roof has been left unmaintained, the sewers constantly back up, and the staff has been cut five-fold. Yet I just learned we'd made a significant profit for decades. Now, as times get tough, we realize this is, indeed, a one-way street. All that cash sent to Birmingham to help corporate shareholders maintain their lavish lifestyles is NOT coming back. Keep up the fight and realize I can only offer five bucks because I'm a guy who's dedicated his life to this craft.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Given what has been going on with the comments here, you might be interested in this blog post about dealing with people who make inappropriate comments:

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/2008/11/painful_cases.html

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm sorry, that should be unannonymously (if there is such a word)

    ReplyDelete
  43. All I see, oh yea self-righteous person is some initials? You are as anonymous as the rest of us, like it or not. Spell it out if you dare.

    ReplyDelete
  44. At our paper, the designers of the ads are also the designers of the pages. I'm very glad that you had the opportunity to create some sketches. However, there is a reason that there is a degree program for graphic design. The reason is because there is a method to it, theories behind it and marketing expertise that backs up each ad. Sketching out an ad and selling what the customer wants hardly qualifies you to be a designer. Often times, the customer knows his or her product, but has no idea how to market it. A sales rep sitting down with a business owner to design an advertising campaign is a dangerous thing to do.

    However, now that you've clarified that you mean only the designers of news pages, allow me to ask: Who would you have design the news pages if its not going to be the designers?

    ReplyDelete
  45. From Indianapolis...

    I just got out of the Star a few months ago. From talking to some friends that are still there...layoffs are hitting people at random today. Two down from my old department. There's a "no one is safe" vibe going on there. I heard that they were planning to cut 100 people. Merry Xmas huh.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Here's what the publisher in Burlington, Vt., wrote in an e-mail:
    Every account line item of our non-payroll expense was examined and we have made several changes to our 2009 budget. But even with these expense reductions we are left with no choice but to eliminate about 6% of our workforce, which is 14 jobs. We will eliminate 5 open positions and notify 9 employees that they are being laid off who will receive severance packages of up to 26 weeks of pay including medical benefits which will continue for the length of the severance.

    ReplyDelete
  47. It appears that you are bitter, especially towards designers. That's too bad. Be aware, also, that it is the close-minded thinking of folks like yourself, that have driven this company into the position its in. You do not represent the type of change that is called for in this situation.

    I will choose to engage you no further as it seems you have a single agenda. It is an agenda that has no merit and makes no sense. So, go on about your bitter rant towards designers. In the meantime, I'll be trying to consider ideas that will advance our industry and hopefully save some of our jobs.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Okay... What's your name? Where do you work? What city are you in?

    So far, we don't know these things. You're just as anonymous as anyone here.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Nashville's layoffs seem to be about done. A few were voluntary (previous poster was wrong; they just weren't solicited), but most are people who out and out lost their jobs and are shocked.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I enjoy posting as anonymous, and I never made a claim or argument against it. You, however, are berating people who post anonymously. But you are guilty of doing that very thing.

    We still don't know your name, your city and where you work. Until you show some guts -- your word, not mine -- it is unreasonable for you to call anyone gutless who refuses to post those details.

    ReplyDelete
  51. To follow up: I used to work at the Asbury Park Press, editing and writing for the Hook, Line & Sinker section.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I can vouch for Karen's existence (anonymously, yeah, but I can, as a former co-worker). Hope you're doing OK, Karen ... another former Gannettoid and I were actually just talking about you last night (all good!).

    ReplyDelete
  54. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  55. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Karen, Too Much Information. Haha.

    Just ignore the guy, folks. You're giving him the attention he craves.

    ReplyDelete
  57. 4:50, lol. I'm sure my co-workers felt the same way at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  58. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  59. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  60. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  62. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  63. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  64. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  65. If you count winning your office's NCAA basketball pool as a life accomplishment, you have proven my point.

    ReplyDelete
  66. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  67. So, if I understand your logic correctly, people stopped reading newspapers because of good page design?

    You think that if papers continued to be laid out the way they were prior to the 1990s, we'd have more readers?

    Do you know how crazy that sounds?

    Would good front-page design alone lure in readers? Of course not.

    But you seem to think newspapers can either have good writing or good design but not both.

    Judging by what other people have posted about you over the past four years, I think your opinion is in the minority.

    ReplyDelete
  68. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  69. News from Des Moines:

    The axe was dull from use today at the Des Moines Register. 41 laid off at the Reg, 74 total positions cut. Yours truly included.

    Story from the Register & local tv.

    http://www.whotv.com/global/story.asp?s=9453966

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20081203/BUSINESS/81203051

    ReplyDelete
  70. gannetts anti-American,anti-gun,pro-illegal alien slants and rants had life long subscibers cancelling.

    good riddance to this scum and their like.

    ReplyDelete
  71. The White Plains office's big wigs should hang their heads in shame every time they use the free-gas pump in the parking lot. And the employees left standing after last week's massacre should give them the major stink-eye.

    ReplyDelete
  72. People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day's news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
    And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And www.layoffgossip.com is providing you that platform.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Everyone is expecting recession getting over soon. I have a very close friend, who graduated from Harvard. Worked for ML for over 8 years, recently he’s been “right sized” too, despite of his outstanding performance and the increasing revenue he generated. OMG, now the banking industry is badly hurt, how long it would take for those financial background guys like him get back to the job market. Banking jobs are not there as much as before as easily seen on http://www.joboutlets.com and other job sites in the region

    ReplyDelete
  74. Very informative post to gain the knowledge. Thanks

    ReplyDelete

Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.