The advertising recovery has not been universal, with newspaper revenues down for the 19th straight quarter in Q1 – with no end in sight. The largest newspaper chain of all, Gannett, is cutting staff again as a result.
“While we have sought many ways to reduce costs, I regret to tell you that we will not be able to avoid layoffs. Accordingly, approximately 700 employees within USCP, or about 2% of our company’s overall workforce, will be let go,” said Bob Dickey, President, US Community Publishing (USCP) in an email to employees of the Gannett division covering some 82 daily newspapers (but not the national paper, USA Today). The Tuesday (6/22) email was marked in all caps “Confidential: Contains proprietary business information – not for public dissemination” but quickly was posted on an independent blog for current and former Gannett employees.
The blog operators noted that Dickey was paid $3.4 million last year and previously denounced CEO Craig Dubow for his $9.4 million paycheck while cutting jobs. According to the blog, 20,000 jobs have been eliminated since Dubow became CEO of Gannett in 2005.
The latest round of layoffs, which will vary by newspaper, is described as the largest round since July 2009, when the headcount at the newspaper division was reduced by 1,400.
RBR-TVBR observation: A decade ago it’s doubtful that many newspaper reporters and editors thought much about what percentage of their paycheck was dependent on classified advertising, which they probably considered a waste of space in the paper. Classified has disintegrated in the Internet age, never to return, and newspapers have yet to find the bottom for retail and national advertising as well.
So Gannett’s Q1 newspaper ad revenues were down 7.3%. How much certain top executives are paid, as they try to grow promising digital and TV businesses, doesn’t really impact the necessity of bringing costs in line with revenues for the daily newspapers.