Gannett is preparing for more layoffs in its newspaper division and has frozen salaries for executives. Feeling the pain along with the employees, CEO Craig Dubow is taking a $200,000 cut in his annual base pay to $1 million. As the nation’s largest newspaper company, Gannett has been hard hit by the steep fall-off in print advertising – and while its TV group has fared better, that hasn’t filled the gap.
Dubow’s pay cut, which he volunteered for, begins this month and continues through 2009. The salary freeze for all company and divisional officers will be effective through 2009. Dubow’s memo to employees announcing the move was first reported on the blog maintained by former Gannett employee Jim Hopkins.
"All Gannett employees are making deep sacrifices for their company," said Dubow. "I have great empathy for those employees and their families who have lost their jobs. I also recognize that our employees are working harder and harder to produce results in a challenging business environment. But I firmly believe the steps we are taking now are necessary and will serve as the foundation for our future success. I want to thank all our employees for their patience and loyalty during these difficult times," he said.
"We commend Craig for his leadership in taking this step. The Board is well aware that the company and the media industry generally are experiencing difficult times. The Board believes that the company’s strategic plan has set the right course given the secular and cyclical challenges the company faces. The Board continues to support Craig and his management team and their efforts to lead Gannett into the future," said Gannett Presiding Director Karen Hastie Williams in the same memo to employees.
RBR/TVBR observation: A million bucks may still sound like a pretty good paycheck, but taking a 17% pay cut shows some understanding of what lesser-paid employees are facing. In the current environment, we doubt that Dubow will be in line for much of a bonus either. There is a long, tough struggle for survival ahead for many media companies. The companies that make it through will, in most cases, be those with leaders who are able to make tough decisions and lead by example.