Only days into the second quarter, the company has begun a fresh round of payroll cuts, starting in economically weaker states like Michigan, where the auto industry collapse is sapping five papers and a TV station. Also on the hit list: Arizona, where the Tucson Citizen may be shuttered at any moment, and the giant Arizona Republic reportedly just laid off several dozen in circulation.
The layoffs come less than two week after newspaper division President Bob Dickey ordered 29,000 U.S. newspaper workers on week-long unpaid furloughs by the end of June; some higher-paid employees must take two. Gannett's second round of furloughs was meant to "minimize the need for additional layoffs during the quarter," Dickey wrote in a March 23 memo. But he didn't rule them out entirely. Now, we know why.
Today in New Jersey, Asbury Park Press circulation managers were told their jobs are being outsourced to a private Maryland company, PCF. And in Indiana, another automaker-dependent state, The Indianapolis Star laid off eight classified advertising workers yesterday, tipsters say.
The scale, geography and timetable for this layoff round is unclear. I've received reports over the past 48 hours from the U.S., almost entirely at newspapers. But I've heard nothing from the Newsquest U.K. division. Whatever its size, this would be the fourth since Corporate started paring thousands of jobs last summer, in the first of a wave of devastating cuts.
The latest came yesterday, 60 miles west of Detroit in Howell, Mich., where the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus confirmed it laid off more than 12 of 95 employees. "It had nothing to do with their job performance," General Manager and Executive Editor Rich Perlberg told stricken workers. "It had everything to do with an economy that continues to stagger our community and ultimately our newspaper."
In Arizona, the Republic apparently just laid off more than 30 circulation and other employees; with KPNX-TV, Phoenix rivals the Corporate-USA Today headquarters in McLean, Va., as Gannett's single-biggest worksite. And at Neptune, N.J., the Asbury Park Press is handing over delivery to PCF of Towson, Md., after weeks of speculation a move was in the works. About 18 managers were told they could apply for work at PCF.
Roll Call IV: at least 124
Before I lose track, I've posted this fourth edition of our Roll Call series -- a follow-up to what we've tallied before: At least 2,200 jobs cut in December. Around 100 directors in September. And the first big one: 1,000 jobs, last August. Now, from Alexandria, La., to Wilmington, Del., we once more say goodbye to our departing friends.