Watch Gannett layoffs in slow motion

December 3, 2008

It’s layoff week at Gannett — even the second N and T might be redundant.

The largest U.S. newspaper publisher and owner of USA Today, the nation’s biggest-selling daily paper, is slashing payroll just in time for the holidays. We read about layoffs everywhere these days, but if you want to see the slow-motion car crash version of how Gannett is doing it, look to Gannett Blog, run by former company reporter Jim Hopkins.

With no newspaper job to keep him busy, Hopkins chronicles nearly every event that he hears about Gannett. That includes a dose of rumor, but much of what he reports is more right than wrong.

Here is one of his latest reports:

Gannett launched what is likely the biggest mass layoff in newspaper industry history yesterday, slashing 655 jobs by early this morning, in an increasingly desperate bid to return the troubled 102-year-old publisher to prosperity. The final tally could run into the thousands.

Many more layoffs are expected today and tomorrow across the 85-daily community newspaper division, plus USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. As of 1:25 a.m. ET, only 17 papers had been accounted for, based on published accounts and Gannett Blog reader reports.

(My Gannett newsroom sources are telling me the same story.)

And while we knew that Gannett was going to cut deeply, he is keeping score at more than 80 papers, thanks to a legion of newsroom sources that dwarfs that of nearly every other reporter who covers the business.

A sample from Wednesday morning, all from anonymous posters:

The Tennessean has started layoffs today (Tuesday), a day earlier than they had told us. So far in the newsroom today we’ve lost two managers and a copy editor.

Fort Myers in progress; so far two copy editors and a designer.

Pensacola News Journal has finished up. At least five has been laid off, including the business editor who was called in from her maternity leave. Classy.

See the layoff ticker, which Hopkins updates often. Also check the documents that he posted on his website that purport to show Gannett papers’ double-digit profit margins as the company wields the axe.

UPDATE: Even Scotland is not immune,

Gannett is hardly the only publisher hacking away at payroll. Conde Nast, Time Inc and the Associated Press all are up to the same thing. The Financial Times, which not long ago was touting how good the financial crisis was for the paper, is offering buyouts and shorter work weeks. It also is freezing salaries for folks who make more than $50,000 a year.

Keep an eye on:

Yahoo: How does former AOL boss Jonathan Miller fit into the picture? Rupert Murdoch’s New York papers offer completely different stories, allowing you to believe one while scoffing at the other. The Wall Street Journal says Miller is trying to raise as much as $30 billion to buy Yahoo. The New York Post says Miller is trying to raise money for Velocity Interactive Group, the investment fund that he runs with former Fox Interactive Media chief Ross Levinsohn. We’ll only briefly remark on how funny it is that an investment firm is trying to raise money from investors.

Google: The party is officially over, according to The Wall Street Journal. Side projects involving grand visions for absent-minded professors appear to be “out.” Making money appears to be “in.” (The Wall Street Journal)

MySpace: Rupert Murdoch’s online social network is letting members use their mobile phones and devices to watch videos posted to their MySpace homepages. That does NOT include the Apple iPhone — yet. (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[…] country, relying heavily on crowd-sourced numbers (mostly provided anonymously) from what Reuters describes as “a legion of newsroom sources that dwarfs that of nearly every other reporter who covers […]

Posted by Laid-off reporters turn to blogging | | Report as abusive

[…] US’s largest newspaper, Gannett, announced a significant set of layoffs — though nothing like the financial industry. And E&P runs a piece on a Fitch Ratings […]

Posted by It’s Getting (Really) Ugly Out There « Screenwerk | Report as abusive

[…] leave a comment » Here’s another journalist bailout program – just in time to rescue all the newspaper reporters and editors Gannett laid off earlier this week. […]

Posted by Free multimedia training for ex-news staffers, other writers « WordCount – Freelancing in the digital age | Report as abusive

Newspaper reporting died the last eighteen months with the bias political reporting and the support of the incoming president. The same thing is happening to the old TV news. People have found “the truth” in other outlets of information.

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

The Gannett TV stations are also experiencing layoffs & voluntary severance packages. I am one of those. I feel sorry for my former co-workers because they have been asked to take pay cuts and do the work of those who were terminated.

Posted by Pamela T Green | Report as abusive

[…] companies are in crisis. Layoffs. Possible closures. Some are calling for a newspaper […]

Posted by Calling All Super-Rich Conservatives « Jane Q. Republican | Report as abusive

[…] light of all we’ve been hearing lately about newspaper layoffs, this is very interesting opportunity for new media/blogger […]

Posted by beyondwords » Blog Archive » “I am the Future of Journalism” Contest | Report as abusive

[…] MediaFile » Blog Archive » Watch Gannett layoffs in slow motion | Blogs | :  Watch Gannett layoffs in slow motion […]

Posted by Mining Wednesday’s Job Losses – Rio Tinto Blasts 14,000 Jobs « The Layoff List | Report as abusive

[…] week  I was holding my breath for my former coworkers at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, when Gannett announced massive layoffs. Fifteen people there lost their jobs. And that was a small number, compared to many other […]

Posted by Grim « Jennifer Larson, Writer at Large | Report as abusive

While looking for work in an economic downturn can be challenging, it’s easier today than it used to be – and that may hold truest of all for the retirement set. Those who are in or near retirement and looking for work can find abundant online resources aimed at them, which may prove invaluable as the ongoing financial crisis drives many back to the workplace or keeps them there longer.

Here are some online resources for retirees looking for part-time or full-time work, many of which target anyone 50 or over.

Posted by Mike Hunt | Report as abusive

[…] Gannett is planning for more layoffs, and we all get to watch the demise in slow motion thanks to the web and the world of instant communication. Similarly, thanks to the web (and […]

Posted by More Stories I wish I had More Time To Comment On… » article » Diggings | Report as abusive

How sad. Even sadder is that employees have to learn of it from outside sources. The company usually notifies shareholders first before releasing such news. Not this time!

Posted by Renee Griffin | Report as abusive

[…] the number of layoffs from their newspapers and also asking questions about what’s to come.A story from Reuters talks about the blog’s influence and rising traffic.To visit the blog click […]

Posted by Gannett’s massive layoffs : | Report as abusive