RealClearPolitics Media Watch

« The Lone Paper State | Media Watch Home Page | A Pay-Per-View Future? »

Gannett Employees Forced with Furloughs

In the troubled U.S. newspaper landscape, Gannett became the latest to announce a drastic plan in an effort to cut cost. The nation's largest newspaper chain and parent of USA Today, Detroit Free Press and Arizona Republic announced that employees will be forced to take unpaid one-week furloughs in the first quarter of 2009.

Gannett CEO Craig Dubow said in his memo, distributed to all Gannett newspaper employees by email, that he and all executives will be taking the unpaid leaves as well:

We are doing this to preserve our operations and continue to deliver for our customers while confronting the issues raised by some of the most difficult economic conditions we have ever experienced.

After much consideration, we decided a furlough program would be the fairest and least intrusive way to meet these fiscal challenges in the first quarter, which is traditionally the lightest time of the year. We sincerely hope this minimizes the need for any layoffs going forward.

Gannett isn't immune to the economic woes that are besieging all newspapers in the U.S. It has seen its stocks sank from $37.50 in January 2008 to about $7.50.

One Gannett paper that is exempt from the furlough plan is the Detroit Free Press, which announced in December that it's ceasing deliveries four days a week in a new program designed to cut printing and delivery costs. The Watchdog has obtained the memo that was just sent to Free Press employees:

Most of you have probably seen or are aware of the announcement today from Craig Dubow that Gannett is implementing a furlough program whereby employees will be required to take unpaid leave for one week during the first quarter.

Because of the intense attention and focus required to implement our strategic plan and meet our March 30 deadline, Detroit will not be included in the furlough program at this time. We very much appreciate Gannett's support as we move forward with our transformation model.

David L. Hunke
Publisher, Detroit Free Press
CEO, Detroit Media Partnership