One of the largest newspaper companies in America on Monday announced massive furloughs and pay cuts across the company due to plummeting advertising revenue in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to staff, obtained by The Daily Beast, Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said that the company will ask staff to make a “collective sacrifice” to keep the mass-media holding company intact amid the crisis by cutting pay “as soon as this week.”
Gannett is one of the country’s last remaining large national newspaper publishers, overseeing major titles including USA Today, the Arizona Republic, the Des Moines Register, and the Burlington Free Press, among many others.
“Everyone will be touched by these changes in some form,” Bascobert said. “For some it will be economic, for others it will mean covering the work of a colleague on furlough, for many it will be both.”
According to Monday's memo, many staffers will be furloughed for five days a month through June. The CEO also told workers that he will not take an annual salary until the furloughs and reductions had been reversed, and that other Gannett executives will take a 25-percent pay reduction.
“We realize these actions will put economic hardship on all of you and I don’t take these measures lightly,” he said. “I would simply and humbly say ‘thank you.’ Our goal is to ensure that when we get through these difficult times, we emerge fully able to continue our important role serving our readers, clients and communities.”
Gannett’s predicament, according to the company, mirrors the intense headwinds other major-news publishers are currently facing.
In Monday’s note, Bascobert said that while traffic and online subscriptions have soared in recent weeks, direct advertising has slowed as many marketers and advertisers have halted campaigns, adding that Gannett expects revenue to “decline considerably during this period.”
The news comes after a number of major publishers have announced similarly drastic measures to stay afloat amid the coronavirus downturn. BuzzFeed announced last week that staff would be taking pay reductions on a sliding scale company wide. And across the country, many smaller publishers, including alt-weekly newspapers, have already announced layoffs and staff reductions, while other papers like the Tampa Bay Times have reduced print publication days.
The layoffs come at a precarious time for the newspaper publisher, which just last year finalized its merger with GateHouse Media, another major publisher overseen by a private-equity firm.
Over the past several months, the company has already moved to eliminate “inefficiencies” and already laid off a number of employees in various sections. According to an internal Q&A shared Monday with The Daily Beast, the company said it is still moving forward with its “synergy plan” to “reduce inefficiencies.”
“There will be some position eliminations as our normal course of business,” the memo said. “But that is different than a companywide or division-wide layoff.”