Thursday, June 14, 2012

Detroit | Anger: 'This is all I can tell you. We had a staff meeting, and I talked about some budget reductions that we’re going to have to make'

That was Detroit Free Press Editor Paul Anger, responding to published reports that he told news staffers on Tuesday the paper is planning more layoffs that "won't be tiny."

He is quoted in an excellent story posted last night on Nieman Journalism Lab blog about lessons from the December 2008 decision to cut home delivery of the Freep and The Detroit News to three days a week.

His Nieman remarks on layoffs are the first I've seen for public consumption.

The story by Adrienne LaFrance follows the widely read news that four Advance Publications newspapers have scaled back printing to three days weekly, resulting in hundreds of layoffs announced this week. Much attention has been focused on The Times Picayune in New Orleans.

Other highlights from the Nieman piece:
  • As much as 96% of the Freep's advertising dollars now come from the three home-delivered editions. That compares to 77% when the paper delivered seven days weekly. (Both the Freep and News still print daily, but those editions are sold at newsstands and racks on the other four days.)
  • About 15,000 households still get papers delivered seven days a week -- but by a network of 82 private carriers that sprung up after the Detroit Media Partnership joint operator gave up that task. In some cases, readers are paying 50 cents more than the $1 newsstand price for that service.
  • The Freep is still losing money, according to M.L. Elrick, one of the reporters who won a Pulitzer in 2009 for the paper's City Hall coverage. Elrick also predicts the paper will shift to printing just one day a week -- Sunday -- "very soon, sooner than people expect."
It's worth noting that Sundays are critical across Gannett's U.S. community dailies. Fully 45% of all advertising appears that day, CEO Gracia Martore told Wall Street analysts in January.

Earlier: the worst-kept secret of December 2008.

[Photo: National Press Foundation]


  1. Somebody turn out the lights.

  2. Another fine example of a successful union workforce

  3. Detroit?
    Where is that? ;-o

  4. 11:46 AM - Unions are near the bottom of the reasons Gannett is tanking. Don't drink the kool aid.

  5. Gannett is 12% unionized. Gannett has been largely sticking it to a non-unionized workforce.

  6. Here's a quote from the story... "But for some, that delivery job simply shifted from unionized drivers to a small army of retirees, housewives, and others..."

    And this decision was made by... whom? Ah, yes! Those damned UNIONS! Diabolical of them in the way they planned this.

  7. Please cut me a break, Unions or no Unions have anything to do with Gannett policy and their corporate raider mentality. Bleed the company dry and fire more people to keep your bonus.

  8. So, right, Anonymous 1:10 PM, union or non-union makes no difference at all to Gannett. Workers make no difference at all. Upper, upper management will be walking, make that, sauntering away with very full pockets. While union and non-union workers will be left stranded and struggling at the well that Gannett has dried up.

  9. And Anger and the rest of the top management monkeys will continue to get their big salaries and bonuses. I guess it confirms the whole philosophy of rewarding poor performance as long as you screw the people below you.


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