Tag Archives: Gannett

Gannett layoffs hit nationwide

The axe at Gannett has already struck its first victims after the publisher of more than 80 daily newspapers announced plans on Tuesday to cut 700 employees. Cuts have hit papers from New Jersey to Iowa, from Florida to Ohio.

The greatest cuts appear to have occurred at the Indiana Star, which is reportedly cutting 62 jobs and eliminating 19 unfilled positions. The Westchester Journal News is also cutting 47 staff members, a particular blow considering the paper is no stranger to monstrous cuts ─ in 2009, the Journal News cut 70 newsroom positions and made all 288 of its news and advertising employees reapply for their jobs.

Other papers that are being bludgeoned by the axe: the Louisville Courier-Journal, which is axing 36 employees, and the Arizona Republic, which is losing 30 employees.

The only thing shakier than Gannett jobs might be the outcome of gay marriage legislation in New York. Or an earthquake.

Thought bubbles win again: Westchester Journal News cuts entire business staff, keeps cartoonist

Westchester’s Journal News has completed their reorganization, and the verdict is in: cartoons beat business.

The Gannett-owned paper announced today they had decided to lay off their entire business staff in an effort to make good on their August 12 pledge to cut 50 editorial staff members. But the paper determined the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Matt Davies, can stay.

The choice sheds light on an interesting trend begun last week by the Chicago Tribune. Despite decreasing revenue, the Windy City paper decided to hire editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis, a move the Tribune’s senior vice president and editor Gerould Kern said would “give a new dimension to our role as watchdog over the community’s interests.”

And spurred by the popularity of internet images and slideshows, Ted Rall said this:

Competing with the Internet requires newspapers to showcase their editorial pages and to use edgier, more graphic content.

But the Journal’s decision also reveals the local paper’s discouraging stance on business reporting. Who will report on local business news? And what about the entire newspaper industry?

The good news is these staff members will be able to reapply for different jobs as part of the Journal’s restructuring plan. Maybe there’s a new opening for a crossword puzzle editor.

Down to the wire: Layoffs intensify as nearly 200 newsroom staff axed this week

The numbers are in, and this week’s newsroom slashings amount to nearly 200 jobs lost. That’s 40 jobs a day and 1.6 jobs lost every hour since Monday.

The San Diego Union-Tribune eliminated 112 jobs, including the editor of the opinion page, a slew of reporters and Bob Kittle, the controversial editor of the paper’s editorial pages. The August axing comes on the heels of another recent cut that eliminated 192 jobs immediately after the Beverly Hills investment firm Platinum Equity purchased the paper in May. This news probably has Boston Globe employees shivering — Platinum Equity emerged this week as a buying contender for the floundering Beantown paper.

Gannett also announced that they were cutting 70 jobs at the Journal News, a local paper in Westchester, New York. But Gannett apparently likes to administer a nice dose of panic with their pink-slips: all 288 news and advertising employees were told they would have to reapply for new jobs by the end of the week. Said Michael Fisch, the publisher and editor of the paper:

We’ve been working on a restructuring plan for The Journal News for a while. That’s partly the reason for the move today, but the other part of the reason for having employees reapply for newly defined jobs is to recognize that our business has changed.

And finally, the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times announced on Thursday they were eliminating 15 jobs from their newsrooms. They will also consolidate reporting for both papers as they combine their sports, features, photography and multimedia departments in order to cut their losses.

The advantage is this: once all journalists are cut from newsrooms, there won’t be anyone to report these massive layoffs. And at that point, the thinning newspapers won’t have to double anymore as flimsy tissues for drying all those tears.

Why newspapers will disappear

Last week, major newspaper companies posted second-quarter profits, providing an inkling of hope that the industry has not flat lined yet. The New York Times Company, McClatchy, Media General and Gannett, which combined own more than 150 daily newspapers across the country, recorded market gains despite decreasing ad revenue as a result of staff reductions and other aggressive cost-cutting measures. Headlines declared a minor victory for print, emblazoned by these four companies.

But that’s the problem. An industry whose well-being hinges on the value of a few major companies cannot survive. Conglomeration has turned newspapers into homogenized posters for uninspired stories, and reporters are afraid to investigate when an expose could cost them their jobs. In March, The Huffington Post launched an investigative journalism fund, because, as this article notes:

Huffington said she and the donors were concerned that layoffs at newspapers were hurting investigative journalism at a time the nation’s institutions need to be watched closely. She hopes to draw from the ranks of laid-off journalists for the venture.

As long as journalists fear losing their positions on any of the newspapers owned by a few giants, newspapers will not survive.

And as new media strains the newspaper industry with immediate headlines and constantly changing articles, newspapers no longer hold the same import. In the morning, the front page boldly declares what happened yesterday, while the computer screen glows with what’s happening now. Newsprint is the town crier, dressed elaborately and trying desperately to communicate an established royal proclamation to the streets, blindly ignoring the more interesting and communally divisive brawl behind him.

Even if the reporting is flimsy, even if anyone can blog and write articles, at least new media journalists are not afraid to write controversial stories. Perhaps because the Internet is so vast, so unconstrained, new media has not yet fallen victim to the same conglomeration, safe in the tangled web of cyber-journalism. Newspapers cannot compete with real free press.