Thursday, December 04, 2008

Connell to E&P: Cuts will wipe out 2,000 jobs

Gannett now expects to eliminate about 2,000 jobs in the community newspaper division alone, says a new Editor & Publisher story that suggests the final tally may be higher, once two of the biggest sites outside the division -- USA Today and Detroit -- reveal their plans.

The trade publication quotes spokeswoman Tara Connell, who rarely communicates with Gannett Blog. Previously, Connell had said only that the number of jobs cut would be "significantly less" than 3,000. Corporate had set a goal of reducing employment 10% in the 30,000-employee community newspaper division. Late this morning, the number of jobs eliminated had already reached nearly 1,800 at 65 of 85 papers, according to a running tally by Gannett Blog readers.

Until now, Corporate did not know how many jobs were being eliminated, Connell says, because individual papers decided which cuts to make. "We said that it was going to be locally decided and locally managed and that is exactly what happened," Connell told E&P.

Wiggle room alert
Connell's 2,000-job estimate doesn't include USA Today or the mysteriously quiet Detroit Free Press. Combined, the two employ 3,500 to 4,000, and are managed outside the community newspaper division. The Freep and the Gannett-controlled Detroit Media Partnership joint operating agency have not revealed any layoff plans. USAT has said only that it expects to eliminate 20 newsroom jobs; many more cuts are likely from other departments. Stay tuned.

Connell told E&P that all of the cuts are keeping with the company's mandate to keep expenses tied to revenue: "Hopefully," she said, "we will not have to do anymore (daily newspaper) layoffs, but it has to be kept in line with revenue." She also said other divisions outside of the community newspaper division are likely to be affected as well: "There have been and will continue to be layoffs throughout the company."

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[Image: today's front page, Newseum]


  1. What does this mean for the Freep and USAT???

  2. If it was locally decided and managed, why did the plans have to go to corporate before the layoffs?

  3. Funny, but my publisher said all along that corporate had final approval of the layoffs. Guess he was bullshitting me.

  4. USA TODAY laid off one newsroom employee yesterday that has dozens of people scratching their heads --some angry and some teary-eyed -- but none able to make much sense of it. It is moves like this that make the legitimacy of these layoffs come into question and create underlying morale issues that will last a long time.

    Of course, many others beyond the newsroom were shown the door too. And speculation is that this isn't the end and that some will be driven out by old-school Gannett tactics while others will be let go in 2009.

    It is time to jump ship.

  5. So, according to this quote, corporate said "Cut this much, we don't care how you do it." And then the publishers and editors had to do the eenie-meanie-minee-mo?
    I was feeling sorry for the editors, knowing they were just carrying out orders.
    Now I really feel sorry for them.
    There were already lots of vacancies unfilled at my paper. They always have to balance staffing with being able to put out the paper.
    Glad I never rose above low level editor. I don't know how I would have done it.
    I don't feel sorry for the publisher, however.

  6. Publisher told me he didn't know I was on the list until the day before. Either he was lying or Tara is lying.

  7. Connell told E&P that all of the cuts are keeping with the company's mandate to keep expenses tied to revenue

    I see. The expenses must keep up with the revenues. Lord knows you wouldn't want to build in a profit margin of say 7-10 percent in this "budget planning" that gets done at the organization.

  8. I feel really bad for these folks that are getting their walking papers right before the holidays. Hopefully Gannett gives them the same package us earlier parolees received.

  9. My understanding was that layoff plans had to be submitted to corporate for approval by mid-November.


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