Aug. 15, 2008 10:46

By the end of next week, there will be six fewer employees working for South Louisiana Publishing, the local arm of the media giant Gannett, which owns five newspapers in Louisiana, including The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette and The Daily World in Opelousas. In a statement e-mailed to employees this morning, Publisher Leslie Hurst indicated the layoffs are part of the 1,000 jobs being eliminated nationwide and that six employees would be terminated by the end of next week. It's unclear who will be cut and at which publications. In an e-mail titled "Economic Update," Hurst wrote:

All,

It is no surprise to any of you that economic conditions are tough, and they are affecting our business. Higher fuel costs, an increase in newsprint prices and a weakening advertising climate are creating a challenging business environment for us. It also comes as no surprise that we have worked very hard to manage expenses very tightly over these last few months. I know that you’ve all experienced the tightening of our collective belts. While we have made good progress, it hasn’t been enough to offset our declining advertising and circulation revenues.

We have received a payroll target from the division with a number that we are expected to achieve. Our target was based on current performance trends as well as past job/position reductions. While we have been aggressively holding positions open and benefiting from natural attrition, the savings is not enough to reach our target. What this aggressive cost-management has done, though, is to help us minimize the impact that reaching our target will cause to our workforce. In order to get to our number, we will eliminate six positions through layoffs. The employees whose jobs will be affected will be informed by the end of next week. This number could have been much larger and our management team has worked very diligently to ensure that we are able to minimize the number of layoffs that will occur in our organization.

The employees who no longer will be with us are good people, and have served the Gannett Company well. The decision to eliminate these jobs was very difficult, but we no longer have the luxury of operating with the same number of people as business becomes weaker.

We are not alone. Throughout Gannett, about 1,000 positions will be eliminated over the next few weeks. Of that total, about 600 people will be affected. This represents about 3 percent of Gannett’s current workforce.

Until recently, the local economy has been very good to us. Boosted by recovery from the 2005 hurricanes and the strong oil and gas market, it has helped us avoid the multiple job eliminations that other newspapers have faced. The fact that we’ve been able to withstand this level of cuts for a relatively long period of time is testament to the outstanding work that each of you performs for the company. I thank you for that.

I do not expect that there will be additional layoffs at this time, but in this uncertain economic climate, I cannot promise that it won’t happen. I will, however, promise to keep you informed as we work through these difficult times together.

I know that each of you is working incredibly hard, and I very much appreciate your commitment to The Daily Advertiser, Daily World, Quik Quarter and the Gannett Company. It is important that we continue moving forward as a team, working toward common goals and ensuring that our organizations continue to be strong and demonstrate leadership in our respective communities. Our readers and advertisers rely on each of you as much as I do. I thank you for everything you do for your company and your community each and every day.

Make no mistake: this company continues to be strong and viable, and you should – as I am – be proud to be part of its long and storied tradition. I hope, too, that you are looking forward to our future as we tackle the challenges ahead of us.