Watch Gannett layoffs in slow motion
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)