Gannett’s newspaper division to cut 700 employees

The largest newspaper publisher in the United States, Gannett Co., Inc., today announced it will cut 700 employees from its newspaper division, or 2 percent of the company’s total workforce.

Although audiences are growing, “weakness in the real estate sector, slow job creation and now softer auto ad demand continue to challenge revenue growth in the division,” U.S. newspapers division President Bob Dickey wrote in a memo sent to more than 20,000 employees.

Gannett, which calls itself a “leading media and marketing solutions company” on its website, publishes 82 U.S. newspapers, including USA Today.

This is the biggest single round of layoffs since July 2009, when 1,400 jobs were cut, and the fourth mass layoff since August 2008, according to the Gannett Blog. At the end of 2010, Gannett had 32,600 employees globally, with about 22,400 working at U.S. newspapers.

“National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends. Each of our local media organizations faces its own market conditions, challenges and opportunities. Therefore, it has been up to each local publisher to determine his or her unique course of action,” Dickey stated.

Many Gannett employees took one-week unpaid furloughs this quarter, and almost all took a furlough in the first quarter this year. It was disclosed three months ago that Gannett Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow was paid US$9.4 million in 2010, twice his earnings in 2009, the Louisville Courier-Journal noted today.

The C-J is a Gannett paper, and 30 to 70 people there are expected to lose their jobs.

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