Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Merry Xmas from Gannett: Tennessean's parent company to cut 10% of workforce, 3,000 workers

The parent company that owns The Tennessean announced today that it will cut its workforce by about 3,000 workers.

Each of its newspapers, with the exception of USA Today, will reduce its employee numbers by 10% by Dec. 1. The e-mail announcement appears at the bottom of this blog post.

Tennessean employees have been waiting for this shoe to drop for some time. Expect the product you buy to be even poorer than before. The recent reduction in the width of the newspaper and the redesign is indicative of the ugly times to come. The only watchdog role the newspaper will be able to fill is keeping an eye on the pooches getting their hair cut in the Petsmart front window.

The Tennessean has some very good and caring reporters, photographers, sports columnists, copy editors and artists. They give a damn. The management, however, is a detriment to good journalism that reflects our communities and shows progressive leadership. These managers even fail to encourage good work with simple words of support. Annual raises are only 1 percent.

The good people under these managers deserve better. Now they face layoffs at Christmastime. It's just plain wrong and immoral.

I wish my rank-and-file colleagues and their families well in these hard times, particularly at Christmas. I'll be praying for them.

But a newspaper dedicated first to profits and not the community and its watchgog role deserves none of our support as advertisers and readers.

From www.gannettblog.blogspot.com

To: USCP Publishers & General Managers

As all of you are painfully aware, the fiscal crisis is deepening and the economy is getting worse. Gannett’s revenues continue to be severely impacted by this downturn, and our local operations are suffering. While we are doing our best to reduce all non staff-related expenses, I am sorry to report that we must do another round of layoffs across our division.

To that end, we will institute an involuntary staff reduction of approximately 10% by the first week of December. The terms of the severance will be one week for each year of service with a cap of 26 weeks.

Each Publisher is responsible for developing their local plan to achieve the expected goal. Decisions will be made locally because each of our markets is unique, with differing market conditions and individual needs in light of our previous reductions.

I have asked that all plans be completed by November 14th at which time they will go through the standard review process.

I fully understand this announcement will cause you concern but I felt that once a decision was made it should be communicated as quickly as possible.

While this is more bad news, it is a sign of Gannett’s determination to remain healthy and viable as a company during these turbulent economic times. We continue to be a leader in our industry, not only because of our fiscal strength but also because we have a plan to aggressively grow the company when the economy returns.

To that end, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and ideas. We need to grow revenue as well as continue to find efficiencies. I would appreciate your help and ideas on both fronts.

My email address is rdickey@gannett.com. I promise you will be heard and receive a timely response.

I appreciate your understanding and commitment during these challenging times.

Thank you.

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