Huber: I understand you eliminated about roughly 3% of your U.S. newspaper workforce here in the quarter. Are you expecting to do that again here in the September quarter?
When asked these questions, Martore and CEO Craig Dubow always leave wiggle room. For example, during the first-quarter conference call, Huber asked "if you're planning on doing newspaper furloughs again here in the second quarter."
In fact, furloughs were already underway. At first, Dubow prevaricated, then Martore spoke more forthrightly, knowing it's never a good idea to mislead Wall Street. Here's the exchange:
Dubow: As we always do, we take that element very, very seriously. We're going to see how the quarter starts shaping. And again, it will be a position that we look at as we move forward.
Martore: Although I will say, Craig, in our publishing, U.S. Community Publishing, we are taking some minor furloughs, about 1,000 folks or so, and that at this point is the extent, basically, of the furloughs that we are taking across the company."
As it turns out, Corporate extended unpaid furloughs for those approximately 1,000 highly paid employees into the current quarter.
asked in late October if Corporate expected any "significant" severance costs -- in other words, layoffs -- during the fourth quarter. She said: "Not at the present time."
A more candid reply would have been: "Not at this time, but we're about to launch a new round of layoffs."
That is because just 19 days later, the company eliminated what Gannett Bloggers eventually said were 255 jobs at 63 worksites.