The unprecedented cuts follow the elimination of more than 1,000 jobs since August in GCI's biggest and most troubled division: U.S. Community Publishing. But those cuts amounted to only 3% of the unit's employees. Other publishers, including Miami Herald owner McClatchy Co., have sliced much deeper; that chain has exacted two rounds of 10% cuts since June alone.
The division's 84 dailies plus USA Today account for nearly 80% of Gannett's revenue, and 65% of its 46,000 employees. Today's job reductions appear confined to those dailies. I don't see any reference in the memo to cuts at GCI flagship USAT; it rivals The Arizona Republic as Gannett's single-biggest employer.
Publishers in dark; Wall Street applauds
In Iowa, Des Moines Register Publisher Laura Hollingsworth told employees about the cuts in an e-mail, but warned she was unable to say "what that will mean in terms of number of layoffs,'' the paper is now reporting. Hollingsworth is one of GCI's most powerful publishers; she's head of the West region of newspapers.
Investors rallied around Gannett's shares today, after an initially tepid response. GCI's beleaguered stock, down more than 70% from a year ago, closed at $10.22 a share, up $1.09, or 12%. Still, Wall Street had a similar reaction to the August layoffs, before sending shares back into the toilet.
Employees wonder what's next
"Here's a question for Mr. Dickey,'' one worker said: "Do the layoffs and cutbacks stop here, or should Gannett employees keep that resume up to date and keep looking at CareerBuilder and Craigslist for job openings?" (More questions.)
Reflecting new uncertainty that could pinch productivity in weeks ahead, another employee writes: "I'm supposed to start groundwork on a big project this week, but am thinking about asking my bosses what the chances are that I'll be able to finish it. I'd much rather spend my last few weeks on the job wrapping up some of those smaller, community-focused stories that I've been pushing to the back burner, instead of something that'll never see the light of day.''
Related Gannett Blog posts
- Paper-by-paper rosters: August rank-and-file layoffs -- plus September manager layoffs
- Advice: Tips for laid-off workers from those who've been canned
- Tax breaks: Gannett adds 200 jobs in Indianapolis -- and wins tax freebies
- Golden parachutes: CEO Craig Dubow, three others in line for $79 million in severance payments
- Reorganizing: A newspaper division reorg meant to speed up change