[New logo and tagline introduced in March]The Cincinnati Enquirer's surprising disclosure yesterday that it's considering a dramatic reduction in print paper size is only the latest in a fast-growing list of major initiatives Gannett has launched in the past year alone. Yet, they're now aimed at a newly tumultuous marketplace in a potentially weakening economy.
That came after Dubow's company-wide advisory in March, where he wrote: "It is critical that we accelerate our internal rate of change to address the rapid rate of change taking place within our industry for consumers."
But serious obstacles remain. GCI's revenue continues to fall, most recently in the second quarter. There are fears of a slowing global economy, already pinching consumer spending. That's adding further pressure to the stock price, which has fallen 27% so far this year, and spurred only vague messages about plans for more layoffs.
Indeed, the pace of change is quickening. Consider these examples, listed in reverse chronological order -- and all since July 2010:
- Reorganization of the U.S. community newsrooms, reportedly around a new editorial focus we've dubbed passion topics. Senior editors of the largest U.S. newspapers by revenue -- the T-31s -- reconvene this morning in the second of a three-day meeting to plan the future of their ever-shrinking newsrooms.
- Relaunch of all U.S. community newspaper websites, plus USA Today's. This is a major initiative under David Payne, hired as chief digital officer in March.
- DealChicken, the company's answer to the hugely successful online coupon sites Groupon and DailySocial. GCI's version is planned for more than 50 U.S. markets by the end of the year.
- Broadcasting's digital video production center based at WXIA-TV in Atlanta.
- Doubling of the quarterly dividend, and a buyback of stock that could total $100 million over the next 12 months.
- Enormous job cuts -- again -- that included 700 newspaper layoffs in June. Work consolidation continues, including the latest: centralization of information technology in the Midwest Group, reported just yesterday.
- Major new marketing effort under Maryam Banikarim, also hired in March. Her appointment came just a week after the start of Corporate's "It's All Within Reach" branding campaign.
- National sports news network based at the company's best-known brand. The USA Today Sports Media Group is led by President Tom Beusse, hired in January. This is part of a USAT reorganization and staff reduction a year ago this month.
- Restructuring of four regional newspaper groups, including a rare shift in leadership. Promoted: John Zidich of The Arizona Republic, to president of the West Group. Retired: Curtis Riddle of The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., from the East Group.
- Smaller formats for The News-Star in Monroe, La., this month, and at The Times of Shreveport, La., last September. Big unknown: is yesterday's Cincinnati move a sign of more to come?
- Consolidation of page production at virtually all the 82 U.S. newspapers to five central hubs, a project expected to reduce overall design and copy desk employment by as much as 20% at least through summer 2012.
- More furloughs of approximately 1,000 higher-paid U.S. newspaper employees in the current quarter, and the second. These followed unpaid weeks off for nearly all newspaper workers in the first quarter.
- Paywalls. Three Gannett papers began charging for various levels of online access in July 2010. Dubow has given only fuzzy reports on progress at those dailies: Florida's Tallahassee Democrat; South Carolina's Greenville News, and The Spectrum in St. George, Utah.