A bad week for journalists

gannett

The latest round of journalistic cost-cutting is having a significant immediate impact on newsrooms, most prominently (but far from alone) those owned by Gannett. The Virginia-based newspaper publisher announced in September a 1% workforce reduction, which played out in many places last week.

Among the departures (links contain the reported details):

  • About a dozen in a “mini bloodbath” New Jersey
  • Four in Phoenix at the Arizona Republic
  • “At least four” according to this report, and I’m told five, at the Cincinnati Enquirer, including the last arts writer and former columnist and crime reporter Chris Graves (a former colleague)
  • Two at the Tennessean in Nashville
  • Two at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis
  • Three in Rochester, NY
  • Uncertain number in Louisville (pay site)
  • The editor in El Paso, who resigned to avoid layoffs

In Michigan, the most surprising may have been from the non-profit sector: The layoff of one at Bridgemi.com, whose founder vowed in November that “you can count on Bridge” to buck the trend of layoffs. Bridge last month announced a search for an environmental reporter to be funded for an unspecified period by five foundations.

All this news followed the August announcement of the closure of Gannett’s Nashville design center, impacting up to 88, and the September announcement of the transfer of design and copy editing from the Detroit Free Press to the Louisville design center that will be effective early next month. Free Press managers are being briefed on the changes this week. In New York, 13 of the alt-weekly Village Voice’s 17 union-covered employees also were expected to leave by this week.

Gone uncounted for now are the layoffs or open positions lost to dark time at smaller venues across the states, where alternative news sources aren’t so quick to report the losses.

That makes it a particularly challenging month and foreshadows what could be a difficult year in 2018 at Gannett and beyond. At a minimum, there will be close attention paid to Gannett’s earnings and late-October earnings call, at which investors (and journalists) will hear for the first time the prognosis for the year’s final quarter.

 

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