Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bulletin: GCI launches stealth newspaper layoffs; total is expected to exceed 100 in coming days

With ad revenue losses accelerating, the nation's biggest newspaper publisher has started another round of layoffs and other cost-cutting moves, according to readers and several of my sources. It's not clear how many newspaper jobs are being eliminated because Corporate's trying to keep this secret, but I expect it will grow well beyond 100 -- and possibly much higher -- in the days ahead.

I've now counted more than 50 across at least nine worksites, based on e-mails from readers and comments posted by Gannett Bloggers. Gannett's U.S. Community Publishing newspaper division employs about 18,000 workers at 81 U.S. dailies.

The firings are being conducted site-by-site, rather than as a mass layoff; the last of those in the newspaper division was June 2011, when about 700 lost their jobs. So far, the company's other, better-performing divisions are largely being spared, including broadcasting, Gannett Publishing Services and Gannett Digital.

Martore
Although Corporate hasn't formally announced these layoffs, they aren't a complete surprise. Gannett Blog readers, citing pressure on revenues, have been warning about possible payroll cuts for the past three weeks. On July 21, I said employees should ask CEO Gracia Martore during a "Town Hall" meeting whether publishers had submitted lists of staff targeted for possible layoff.

New signs of trouble
The layoffs arrive a month into the current quarter, which we've known will be a struggle because GCI doesn't have the big Olympics, political campaign ad revenue, and newspaper subscription rate hikes from last year to bolster results. The fourth quarter won't be much better.

Last week, in fresh evidence of trouble, Corporate announced that second-quarter print ad revenue fell 5.3% from a year before. It was the third consecutive quarter of accelerating declines. Ad sales fell 4.5% in Q1 and 2% in Q4. (Spreadsheet shows revenue changes by major division since Q1 2011.)

This round of cost-cutting also includes the elimination of open jobs and the unexpected retirement of several publishers and senior editors with relatively little advance notice.

Whatever the final number, the reductions show GCI's newspaper ad strategy still hasn't gained traction. Print ads remain the company's single biggest revenue source. The $562 million in Q2 was 43% of $1.3 billion in overall revenue.

More broadly, the cost-cutting is a blow to employee morale, which has been stabilizing since Martore became CEO in fall 2011 amid a surging stock price and a pause in the more than 20,000 job cuts that came under her predecessor, Craig Dubow. Last year, Martore's total compensation jumped to $8.5 million from $4.7 million, including the increased value of her pension account. (Table shows 2012 pay for all top executives.)

Help count these layoffs
To learn the true extent of these job cuts, I'm counting them in a spreadsheet listing the 81 USCP sites. And once more, I need your help.

Please check this read-only spreadsheet to see the latest figures for your site. Then post any new information in the comments section, below. Or write confidentially to jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

146 comments:

  1. Why can't they just some out and say it? Oh, right. It's Gannett. They suck the life out of everyone, so why bother since to the execs the staff is already dead. But I keep hoping some faint glimmer of being human would make its way down to the fodder in the trenches. This is, of course, silly.

    Gannett has always had its share of ass-kissers and scapegoaters but it was not off the wall as it today. Why? Because it's not a news company anymore. It's a marketing company.

    Well, here's the news, Gannett execs. You're idiots. Greedy, simple-minded idiots completely out of touch with not only what readership demands (on either platform, dead trees or digital), but simple journalistic and staff-keeping standards.

    And moreover you don't care. Not at your income level.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Typos. Sprained left hand. Forgive me.

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    2. "It's not a news company anymore, it's a marketing company..." Stop the presses! And wake up. Every news organization is a marketing organization or there'd be no revenue to compensate self-absorbed like yourself. If it wasn't a marketing company, there'd be no company, unless you found a bunch of super-wealthy heirs and heiresses who also were journalists and put out a news product without any concern for making money. If you can't think past your own altruistic myopia, don't blame the people who sign your checks.

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  2. A reader tells me that across the Central Group of newspapers, around 100 people were or are being laid off.

    I don't have a list handy of all the papers in Central, but it covers big states including Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and, I believe, Louisiana and Florida. But that's an incomplete list.

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    1. Florida is East Group after the last realignment.

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    2. At least 2 laid off in Visalia, Calif. Possible frozen positions in advertising, though not confirmed.

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  3. Yes, Louisiana is in the central group.

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  4. Companies lay off people every day. Get over it, you moaners. It's called doing business.

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    1. I gather you weren't laid off, 7:05? And so your family isn't stressing out right now?

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    2. I was laid off from Gannett after 20 years They kept all of my stock I was granted but had not vested $50k in total. I don't think it was "fair" but it is just business, they are not fair they are a publicly traded company...that is how it works. They are a great training company and and i was able to leverage what I learned there to get a better job. This is a tough business, be tough or move on.

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    3. This HAS to be someone from corporate/higher up at Gannett. Only they will condone this god-awful company's layoffs. And for the record, companies don't "lay off people every day," moron. How dare you say that people should just "get over it!" I would respect your comment more if you would flat out say that you're an executive at Gannett, because then I could see where your comment is coming from.

      Let this be known to anybody who's reading this: GANNETT IS A HORRIBLE COMPANY TO WORK FOR. Bad pay, HORRIBLE benefits (they are a complete joke), no respect for "lower" employees, very little company perks, and shady business practices--run by nothing but a bunch of money-hungry capitalist thugs. If you are a newspaper journalist or designer, do NOT work for this company! Run, and find another reputable company to work for. Trust me, you'll be better off.

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    4. Go cry to someone else...who is going to be the watchdog when the reporters are gone....Shame on you Gannett, quality journalism is what make you who you are.

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    5. Let's put this in perspective. Today Gannett--a company that's in transition in an industry that's struggling--laid off approx. 0.5% of its staff. One half of one percent.

      I get that things there are bleak--I recently left there on my own terms--but this is hardly a massive downsizing.

      Furthermore, Gannett is still full of people who refuse to adapt. The old days of print are over. If you don't want to face that, you deserve to get left behind.

      Don't get me wrong: Gannett is the most f---ed up place I've ever worked. It's a mess. While layoffs are always individually painful (I've been through it), I don't think 0.5% is worthy of the theatrics.

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    6. I see the screamers have arrived. These are probably the same people who were laid off in 2008 and have spent the last 5 years "venting."

      Get lives. Please. Seek therapy.

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    7. Amen! The irony is that the best journalists are born "salespeople" because if you compare attributes of both (as I did for a job interview simulation once), it's as if they were separated at birth. The ones who can't seem to make the connection between what they do and what the sales team does are not leaders or followers. They're just in the way.

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    8. I don't think anyone wants the corporation to be WORSE at marketing, Bruce, and I don't think any editorial staff don't respect the vital importance of what the sales team does. One part is as indispensable as the other, though, and if someone gets the impression management has forgotten that, this seems an appropriate place to complain.

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  5. Mickey Hirten, executive editor of the Lansing State Journal since 2001, is leaving the paper. His position is being eliminated in what Publisher Brian Priester described as a “restructuring of the top roles in our news department.” His last day will be Friday.

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  6. Indy is 19.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you; I've updated that total.

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  7. Some positions aren't being filled so don't forget to add those to the number.

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  8. I wonder if any of those layoffs would be directed at the GIADC? Despite ads coming in dropping, they're constantly asking for overtime, to the confusion of the employees. I wonder if they're trying to "bank" ads for when they cut people

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  9. There are some sites that have layoffs that will never report how many. They feel it needs to be kept a secret.

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  10. At our property, people are resigning every day and they are not filling those positions. In my department so far the number is 5 resignations of worker bees.

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  11. 1 job elimination in Mtn. Home and 2 empty positions not being filled. So far. Also, reduction in hours for at least 2 people.

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    Replies
    1. Is anyone left to turn off the lights in Mountain Home? It's one of the smaller sites already.

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  12. Question: Does anyone know whether severance packages are being given to those who are laid off? If so, what are the main components of the severance? If memory serves, I heard that, in years past, people were given 1 week of pay for each year of service.

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    1. In all likelihood, those laid off below the level of director (such as publishers, executive editors, etc.) will get TPP, rather than traditional severance pay.

      That stands for transitional pay plan. Basically, you must qualify for unemployment benefits. Then, Gannett pays you the difference between what you get in unemployment and what you were earning with the company.

      So, if your company pay was $600 weekly, and unemployment pays you $400, the company will kick in another $200 a week.

      Typically, you get this benefit for one week for every year you worked for the company, up to a maximum of 36 weeks.

      This allows GCI to shift part of the cost onto state government. It's legal, but morally dubious given that GCI is still churning out hundreds of millions in annual profits when states are slashing spending on education and other essential services.

      GCI has been using TPP since the July 2009 layoffs. For a fuller discussion, see this company FAQ.

      Employees getting buyouts -- which are, basically, voluntary layoffs -- get traditional severance.

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    2. TPP is Gannett's ultimate shame. Shaving a few dollars off the top when people need it the most. The accountant who came up with the idea and the executive who approved it should all burn in hell.

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    3. Basically TPP screws you out of unemployment benefits. With normal severance, your unemployment benefits start when severance ends. Now they start right away. This means because you start getting benefits earlier, you lose them earlier. Shameless. Let's kick people when they're down!

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    4. AS far as shame on Gannet for kicking the state when they have to make cuts on education and other valuable services.....shame on the state for not being fiscally responsible.... there are plenty of private education institutions that provide above average education for less money. The states have become a venue for entitlement from the bottom right to the top. I received unemployment past my severance and was able to find a job because i worked for Gannett. I didn't like TPP but because of TPP Gannett was able to save jobs. People this is a publicly traded company......if you have any mutual funds in any type of retirement program, the likelihood that Gannett is in them is high. Tough decisions are just that Tough. While I feel terrible for the folks in mountain home, the community is supporting the kind of paper that the community can afford.

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    5. I was laid off today by Gannett. I worked for the Statesman Journal at one of their community outlets. I was given TPP. My guess that this is what everyone is getting.

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    6. Yep, it's TPPs all the way for folks being laid off. Meanwhile, Martore's total compensation went from $4.7 million to what? $8.5 million.

      Call it the "new American dream": The rich get richer, and the rest get TPPs. :(

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  13. If anyone that works on the print side of Gannett is surprised when they get laid off, you should be ashamed of yourself for being so clueless.

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    1. It's not a surprise, it's more disgust and heartache--considering that Gannett lays off a boatload of staff every year or so. It's disgusting, and you're even more disgusting for this comment.

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    2. Not all print-siders are clueless. Some are ready, willing and gnashing the bit to go full-tilt digital. However, it's a little hard when Gannett lacks true vision and innovation in that department ... or the ad sales to support it ... or the willingness to let talented employees go innovate ...

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  14. 6:53 I believe that was only offered for buy outs, with lay offs you just pack your stuff and head to the unemployment line.

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    1. No, that is NOT the deal with buyouts. Transitional pay is with layoffs.

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  15. So far, all the layoffs/"retirements" are in Central Group. Are East and West waiting, or is Central the only one cutting jobs?

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    1. The East Group will see layoffs as early as today.

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    2. Correct and they'll be deep cuts.

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    3. HR at our property today

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  16. Longtime Green Bay Press-Gazette editorial cartoonist Joe Heller was let go in part of the layoffs in that newsroom, which also included their sports editor and a features editor, from what I've heard. Heller has been around for 30 years and is syndicated throughout the country, has won more Wisconsin Gannett awards than any other employee, and, in a less-mentioned but extremely important newsroom role, he also handled graphics for that paper. I know from experience working there in the past that there are countless readers in Green Bay and in that state that pick up their Gannett papers solely to read his editorial cartoon. On top of that, he's a great guy and was a huge asset and uncle figure in that newsroom when I worked there. Sad day.

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    1. This is a sad day. Cuts are inevitable I worked in the market for many years.....looks like poor foresight by the leadership there, my guess is he makes pretty good money. Layoffs are inevitable in this business people need to accept that.....it is the way it is done that makes no sense...a good long term long term look at the future business is rarely taken into consideration. Most of it is gut and getting to a number. Never been very impressed with the lack of leadership in Gannett Wisconsin...frankly I doubt they could lead their way out of a paper bag.

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  17. Asbury Park just lost a truly great guy, a longtime editor/newly named Web producer. He was a good employee, so hard-working, and we can't believe it was him.

    That's all, for now.

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    1. "Newly named Web producer". Ouch. Sounds like someone recognized his value and tried to hold on to him, to no avail.

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    2. He was of great, great value, did everything asked of him and did it 100 percent. Huge mistake.

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    3. Initials?

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. Initials are K.N.

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    6. Don't post personal information, dickwads. We know that some of you are stupid and haven't worked for years. Please seek therapy. Keep your mindlessness to yourself.

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  18. Any word about Nashville???

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  19. Gannett Publishing Services (GPS) is not immune from the latest round of layoffs. The last four employees, in what was formerly called prepress at USA TODAY’s headquarters in McLean, Virginia, are gone as of August 15. They will receive Gannett transitional severance pay, the difference between their salaries and unemployment benefits. At least they had a good bit of warning -- they were told last year an automated workflow was in the cards -- and some employees have already departed for jobs elsewhere. GPS has been working for a long time on this automated workflow that eliminates the prepress folks. The suits took a long time to understand that automating this workflow for a big daily was more intricate than putting something together for smaller Gannett properties. Pages set by designers at USA TODAY will now flow directly to print sites, via Des Moines. In practical terms, USA TODAY loses extra sets of eyes that have caught many mistakes over the years before pages were transmitted. In human terms, USA TODAY loses dedicated, loyal employees who worked largely unnoticed by reporters, editors and, of course, the suits.

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    1. Thank you for this thoughtful obit on the last of this workgroup, which, only a few years ago, was the voice of print quality and outstanding customer service to USA TODAY's many advertisers.

      This group cultivated staff with industry-leading expertise, an outstanding sense of mission, and lots of heart. This group could be counted on to deliver in the worst of snowstorms, on Christmas morning, and most notably on Sept 11, 2001 when both shifts showed up to help that morning and stayed even after being told to go home.

      Good luck and good bye, my dear friends.

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  20. Asbury just lost a longtime reporter who is the last reporter we would have picked, she is fantastic, and an editor who has been here 28 years. it's getting to be bare bones around here

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    1. Initials?

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    2. Reporter M.S.
      Editor C.M.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. Any minute, expect the press release with a quote from Gracia that says RIFs are a "local decision," as if she and the corporate types have nothing to do with it. Hilarious. We're supposed to believe all the publishers and local VPs decided by coincidence to make drastic cuts at the same time because, hey, they just decided to. The company should at least be honest about whats going on and not embarrass us with that nonsense.

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    1. Yeah, it's amazing how they decided to make cuts at the same time and lay people off conveniently at the end of a month or a pay period. Shoot, why didn't they go for June 30 ... make it the end of a fiscal year, too?!

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  22. Rumor floating around Nashville is that the axe will fall Friday or Monday.

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    1. Monday... That's the plan for The Tennessean..Very good source..

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  23. Layoffs underway right now in Salisbury. People being called in. Email suddenly not working. Claybaugh has his this isn't my fault look on his gross face. Going to be a long day here.

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  24. At least three gone in Cincinnati.

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    1. The three I know about are from advertising.

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    2. Who got the ax in advertising? Can you share initials or names?

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  25. HAPPENING IN CINCY NEWSROOM TOO. THREE CALLED DOWN TO HR SO FAR.

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  26. I am very sorry for the people going through these layoffs today but it has been pointed out before, and history WILL repeat itself, if you stay with Gannett, you're taking a gamble. It is better to leave on your own terms instead of theirs. People who stay with Gannett in hopes of getting a severance or buyout package may be sorely disappointed. If it doesn't happen and you're just laid off, then what?

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  27. Hey Jim
    It appears your estimate of 100 layoffs,at the top of this thread is going to have to be adjusted upward.

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  28. So, she was dressed like she wanted it?

    I don't think so. People have a right to expect to be treated like human beings.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed, and thank you for that.

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  29. Is anyone seeing layoffs outside the newsroom?

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  30. I am a division VP and losing good people. This days sucks and I am tired of firing people who have worked hard and some for many years. I guess some would say that my hand is weilding the axe and I suppose that is true but there is no feeling of satsfaction in getting the job done today.

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    1. Then make a statement. Find another job and leave on your terms.

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    2. I doubt very seriously that anyone would see that as a statement. However, I am looking for the right opportunity. Have turned down a few from competitors....I just could not do that to the team I have worked hard to build.

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    3. This current Gannett employee respects and applauds the comment above. Even in the face of fire there can be dignity and loyalty. Thank you 1:35.

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  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  32. 5 in newsroom 4 in advertising laid off this morning in Des Moines.

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  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  34. This round of massive losses really started with Bennie Ivory leaving. Smart, respected, a total gentleman. Working for him was like night and day for one who had worked for a psycho in Cincinnati. Bennie, you were smart to leave when you did.

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  35. Four gone in Cincinnati newsroom. Carolyn Washburn calls an editor who is on vacation to give him the news. Hope you're enjoying your time off because you'll have a lot more coming. Totally, classless. Two years ago, they called another editor when he was on vacation.

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    1. Speaking of tastless - a while back someone was on vacation and they never bothered to call.

      Came in on Monday and was asked "what are you doing here?"

      Lot of tears. Lots of anger.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. There aren't that many people left for her to torture. I hear they're closing the 2 bureaus and moving the few left to the downtown office.

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  36. 10 so far at Florida Today.

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    1. Any names yet for Brevard?

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  37. more in Asbury - one editor, two editor-turned-Web, one longtime reporter, one designer. Our total is eight, way more than 100 years of experience between them. It's a very sad day here.

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    1. Can you share initials?

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    2. Editor: B.H.
      Editors-turned-Web: S.P. and E.G.
      Reporter: B.B.
      Designer: A.C.

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    3. It's two designers in the Asbury design hub -- MCL and AC. Not surprising since the magazine they worked on was eliminated last month.

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    4. But not the editor of the magazine?

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    5. She is still here, yes.

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    6. Now that is messed up ... seems if the magazine is gone, so should she be - especially if the designers who worked on the publication were shown the door

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  38. To 12:01, what's the breakdown by position? Reporters, editors, others

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  39. Who was laid off in Cincy newsroom?

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    Replies
    1. Bill, Jackie and Paul, among others.

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    2. Daughtery?

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    3. Please, they'll never get rid of Daugherty, even though he's a money drain.

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    4. Paul McKibben

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    5. Which Bill? Bill C, Bill K or Bill T?

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    6. That's only three, who else? Use initials if necessary!

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  40. From one who was laid off by Gannett years ago and eventually thrived because of it, I know this is a scary and unsure time. But in the end you'll get through it. My advice: Don't look back, don't live in the past, and don't come to this blog site any longer. This is my first time here in three years; a friend tipped me off that this was happening so I came to lend support. Thanks for serving in one of our nation's most important professions.

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    1. Thank you 12:23!!

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    2. The part about not coming to this blog is great advice. I treasure the memory of 4 years ago when Jim was practically beaten into submission and exiled to Ibiza. The day he came back was a sad one. Don't visit. Don't post. And for God's sake, don't give Jim any money or click on any ads.

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    3. I believe Jim is doing a great many people a great service. Visit, don't visit; it's up to you.

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  41. Six so far in the Cincinnati newsroom, plus one in finance and four in advertising. Rumor has it 19 will be cut in total.

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  42. To 12:23 p.m.: Next month I lose my house after being unemployed for two years. I loved being a journalist, and can't find anything else. So don't give us the "you'll be happier crap," because for a lot of us, it's BS.

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    1. I wouldn't suggest that most people thrive, but there is life after Gannett and even after journalism. A lot of us can no longer do what we loved. I'd guess that's almost as bad as losing your house. But I see a lot of people wallowing at this blog site and it's not healthy. Remember this: Ultimately, Gannett has never been in charge of your life. It takes hard decisions, maybe some you won't like much, but you have to move on. I wish you well.

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    2. Thank you, 12:36. Well said.

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  43. Central layoffs are underway in Tennessee. Can folks at Nashville, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Jackson report your figures to the blog?

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    1. yes, they can.

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    2. 4 in Clarksville

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    3. Newsroom? Advertising?

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    4. 1 in DNJ so far. Haven't heard anything in Nashville

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    5. 1 in Nashville, Client Solutions

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    6. Initials?

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    7. Client Solutions?

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  44. So far at Asbury Park Press, also known as The Dark Side of Jersey, two longtime reporters (M.S. and BB, two artists in the design hub (MCL and AC), two longtime copy editors (BH and CM), the manager of news aggregation(SP) -- even she didn't know what that meant -- a web producer (KN)and a web editor (EG). Rumors floating that a longtime photog was also laid off, but no confirmation or initials. All but two on this list are over 50 years old, and all have many, many years of tenure. I can hear APP execs Hollis Towns and Jim Flachsenhaar now, burbling and salivating over the idea of hiring 2 to 3 "interns" to replace most of the layoffs. They're like the scarecrow and the tin man -- no brains, no heart.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Please tell me this person wasn't one of the youngsters who like to come in and proclaim how great they are because they do all sorts of work for almost no pay, and how journalism "simply has to evolve."

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  46. Gannett really doesn't want to be in the news business never did, build it up suck out the money and tear it down. Corporate Raiders

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  47. Arizona repulsive lost 29 people, nine in advertising

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    Replies
    1. Any idea what positions the other 20 held?

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  48. Anyone know about corporate? I sent a couple emails that have bounced back.

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  49. 20 or more so far in Louisville, advertising, finance don't know about the newsroom it's chaos. I was warned that this company had no loyalty to staff when I joined...I should have listened

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  50. Jackson MS had 4 in advertising, 1 in finance so far

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    1. At least 8 in the newsroom in Jackson. Among them: T.Y., V.K., R.B., L.W., A.W., 2 in Sports.

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  51. 13 cut at the Burlington Free Press.

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    1. Any specifics on who was cut at BFP?

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  52. And people wondered by Bennie Ivory resigned.

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  53. Note to Arizona Republic: It's all about having reporters on the ground. In the end, readers want news, and there is precious little of that in your paper anymore. If the ax doesn't swing at do-nothing editors and all those top-level administrators with funny titles, we know what you value. It's not the readers.

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  54. You must keep in mind that only 28 sites have reported in here...out of more than 84. So projected out...172 x 3 = 516 layoffs so far ?

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  55. It's devastating.

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  56. Any news about Detroit?

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  57. If, as the spreadsheet indicates, the Pub. position in Lafayette, IN has been eliminated I'd expect the rumors about Gary Suisman going to Des Moines have some veracity. Too bad. He's a good guy who'll become a scapegoat in Des Moines. LH will hang him out in a year.

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    1. Gary abruptly retired, I don't think he'll be showing up in Des Moines.

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    2. Well....add yet another long-time, hard-working GCI exec to the list of those whose careers were ended by LH. Jim out to count them up. It would be an interesting story.

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  58. Detroit? Ha, they are screwed man. Heard possibly going online only.

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  59. Updated total for Asbury Park newsroom -- 11: four reporters (BB, TGM, MS, BV); three copy editors, including one who doubled as a web producer (BH, CM, GP); three web editors (EG, DG, KN), news aggregation editor (SP).

    Total at Asbury design studio is still 2 designers (AC, MCL). No news yet on other departments at Asbury or the northern 3 NJ sites.

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  60. Beyond Joe Heller, any info on the casualties at the newspapers in Wisconsin ?

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  61. Three in Reno. All ad salespeople. But at least 4 people left here for Chater and will not be replaced. And 1 ad asst who got 16 hrs wk was let go earlier.

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  62. So, I have to ask (rhetorically): Was that Belo deal worth it?

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  63. Salinas is requiring furloughs

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