Saturday, January 21, 2012

Detroit | Jenereaux calls furloughs 'imperative'

Detroit Media Partnership President Joyce Jenereaux sent the following furlough memo (see text, below) to employees in the Gannett-controlled joint operating agency, which handles advertising sales and other business functions for GCI's Detroit Free Press and MediaNews Group's Detroit News.

The memo does not specifically mention furloughs for the Freep newsroom itself, however.

The DMP's decision to impose furloughs when the quarter is already almost a third over will cause significant scheduling problems for the hundreds of employees affected. What's more, it shows how razor-thin GCI's margins are: The smallest change in prospects can spur sudden waves of disruption to hit profit targets.

Thousands of other GCI newspaper employees are being furloughed this quarter under a previously announced austerity measure -- the fifth such broad furlough over the past three years.

A reader sent me a copy of Jenereaux' memo today. It arrives amid growing speculation -- most recently, in this comment early today -- that Corporate is about to announce a major round of buyouts for certain senior employees. Any buyout would be one of the first since GCI began a wave of layoffs that have contributed to more than 15,000 job losses over the past four years.

The memo's text

From: DMP President 

Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:34 AM

To: DetroitNewspaperPartnership-All

Subject: DMP NBU Employee Announcement

Importance: High

Despite successes in some areas of our business, overall revenues remain short of our target for the first quarter of 2012.

Therefore, I have made the difficult decision to implement a one-week furlough for all non-bargaining unit Detroit Media Partnership employees, including DMP executives.

This is a tough decision, but one that is necessary at this time.  It is imperative that we begin the year on course.

I have asked division heads to submit furlough schedules to Kristi Plain in HR by the end of the day Monday, Jan. 23. These furloughs must be taken by March 25. You will be working with your managers and supervisors to schedule this time off.

I understand the impact of this decision and appreciate your continued understanding and support.

Joyce Jenereaux

Earlier: In Detroit, abrupt furloughs -- and cuts elsewhere


  1. Less than three weeks into the quarter and panic is already setting in. Madness.

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  3. This does not bode well for Detroit or the rest of Gannett. But Wall Street seems to like more cutting.

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  5. A lot of effort for five minutes on the site, 1:39.

  6. 12:34 and 1:39 I remove comments that include name-calling. Please stop, or your time-consuming efforts will continue to be wasted.

  7. I wonder what big revenue target they missed--maybe the auto show? They must be running the numbers literally day-to-day. Kind of the way I do with my furlough-short paychecks.

  8. Wow, what a sh*tty memo. At least when Bob Dickey sends out his furlough announcements to the rank-and-file, the language at least attempts to (insincerely, in my opinion) convey contrition for a move that so directly impacts employees' personal budgets. This one is pretty cut-and-dry: "The suits aren't making enough, so bend over again, peons. And like it. At least you have a job." Pathetic.

  9. Most senior executives that are former accountants overvalue the quarterly numbers and under value the impact on people. They think that improving the bottom line by a tenth of a percent is worth someone not being able to make a house payment. That is the sad reality of the world in which we live. I long for the days when visionaries not accountants ran our company.

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  11. This is no way to run a business -- constantly going into panic mode part way through a quarter and furloughing your staff. What a corrosive, confidence-sapping, morale-busting way to manage. It really makes GCI management appear weak and clueless.

  12. Detroit isn't meeting targets less than a month into the quarter and the chief bean counter is reacting this way? doesn't bode well for USA Today, which is definitely behind target. Again.

    Susie's bad news memo should be out shortly.


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