The Gatehouse-Gannett merger is complete, and the new combined company announced the first round of layoffs last week on #LoveMyNewspaperDay, reports Poynter. Though it is not clear where all of the cuts are from, Poynter said that they include both newsroom and non-newsroom jobs.
On Twitter, Andrew Pantazi, a reporter for The Florida Times-Union and president and co-chair of the Times-Union Guild, has been tracking the Gannett layoffs. According to a self-reporting Google doc, as of 7:40 p.m. PST yesterday, 215 jobs have been eliminated, including 29 at The Indianapolis Star, 35 at corporate, 11 at ThriveHive, and 11 at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, to name a few.
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Pantazi also reported that Gannett employees are being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to get their severance packages. Here is one tweet, in a string of them, reporting the layoffs, NDAs, reactions and concerns.
…The natural question at this point is are we done? The honest answer is No. I have tried to be very transparent with you all and not spin things in a way that you wouldnt believe anyway, so let me tell you where we are.
We just named our leadership team and while we were able to identify this reduction, the new team will need some time to finalize their organizations, and I expect there will be some additional reductions. It will take a few months to work through this process, and I expect this will conclude the bulk of the synergy actions. There will be some projects that could extend beyond this time, but we should be able to provide visibility to those as well.
Longer term, it should be no surprise that we will always be looking for ways to run the business more efficiently. Thats our obligation, not just to shareholders but to our employees who want us to invest in a sustainable future and our customers who want the best value in a competitive market, wrote Bascobert.
Bascobert is part of the new executive leadership team of the new company, announced in late November. He is the CEO of Gannett Media, the operating company. Mike Reed remained the chairman of the board and the CEO of the public company, Gannett Co., Inc. Alison Engle is the chief financial officer of both the public and operating companies.
So whats next? Poynters Rick Edmonds shared layoff estimates last week. After a meeting at The Tennessean, at which Gannetts Mike Reed called GateHouses stable of 160 daily newspapers a hodge podge. Reed said that the company set a goal of 8% savings, 50% of which would be achieved through right sizing its staff. Edmonds estimated that would be about 960 employees. Other savings will be achieved through the consolidation of printing, circulation and business operations.
Within weeks of the completed merger, Gannett is making big cuts. While they are perhaps small in percentage to the overall staff of the combined company, 215 employees are a lot to cut…and only a fraction of what can be expected in the coming months. None of this is a surprise, however. GateHouse and Gannett need to cut costs where synergies exist, and as the nations largest newspaper, they will remain powerful regardless of the cuts. What we find concerning are the anticipated losses to quality journalism and local and regional coverage. We understand the need for cost savings and for cutting out redundancies, but people are valuable assets and the fourth estate is already under attack. Is there a better way to make changes that is less damaging?