The nation's No. 1 circulation newspaper escaped the 3% job cuts now engulfing Gannett's 84 community dailies -- racheting up pressure on Publisher Craig Moon to sacrifice at least some of the paper's hundreds of jobs in time for an Aug. 27 all-hands staff meeting.
USAT isn't the only newspaper in play, of course. GCI's No. 2 paper by circulation, The Arizona Republic, has delayed any job cuts while employees consider buyouts now on the table. The Cincinnati Enquirer also is deferring any cuts pending the outcome of about 50 buyout offers. "People are running for the exits,'' Cincinnati blogger Newsache says.
But it's high-profile USA Today that's commanding much attention because of its disproportionate share of Gannett's revenue, circulation and online traffic. The newspaper has historically been given more generous staffing and working conditions than Gannett's much smaller 84 community papers. Some employees now fear Moon will rein in USAT's budget so it even more closely mirrors the razor-thin spending at those smaller titles. "This is the end of an era,'' a reader says.
The paper has already laid off an undisclosed number of employees in the past year. It bought out 43 newsroom workers in late December -- about 9% of its combined newsroom staffing. And it's no doubt quietly eliminated more jobs through attrition. Still, it's unclear how long Moon (left) -- publisher since May 2003 -- can preserve current staffing levels, given other GCI papers' sacrifice, and USAT's own faltering advertising sales. The paper's June ad revenue plunged 27% from a year before, the paper's single-worst monthly decline this year. That spurred Moon to shake up the sales team.
July's monthly revenue report for USAT and for Gannett is expected any day. Gannett CEO Craig Dubow warned investors during the dismal second-quarter earnings report last month that results are likely to be bad again.
USAT staffers: After last week's 1,000 job cuts, what are you expecting Moon to say at the Aug. 27 staff meeting? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.