Leslie Turk

Daily Advertiser staff must take unpaid week off

by Leslie Turk

After laying off thousands of employees over several months, eliminating sections from its newspapers and ending home delivery to some areas, The Daily Advertiser's parent company has gotten even more creative in its greed-driven effort to cut costs at its papers across the country. Gannett CEO Craig Dubow today confirmed that the company is requiring about 40,000 employees to take a week off without pay.

The furlough must be taken during the first quarter, with all levels of employees in all divisions throughout the country participating. "That includes U.S. Community Publishing, which is beginning its program immediately; USA Today, broadcast and digital. Union-represented employees will be asked to participate in lieu of layoffs. Top executives in the company are participating," the company stated. "The corporate staff will participate to some degree, depending on a variety of factors."

Despite phenomenal earnings in 2007 at The Daily Advertiser, Gannett eliminated about 75 local jobs (it also owns The Daily World, Quik Quarter and Times of Acadiana) during the latter part of 2008 - a clear indication our local paper has taken a bullet for the corporate giant that owns it. Even if The Daily Advertiser's 2008 profit is half what it was in 2007 (the Advertiser alone made almost $8 million in the first three quarters of 2007) - which we know from the strength of our local economy won't be the case - the painful cuts here could not be justified. It's no secret in national media circles that Gannett's focus is not quality journalism (traditionally touting much higher profit margins than other publicly traded newspaper chains), but the company isn't even pretending anymore.

It's plain to see the Advertiser, the paper loyal readers and advertisers have supported for years, has completely abandoned this community. The corporate-driven cuts to personnel and content at the Advertiser, Daily World and Quik Quarter mean even more profit is being squeezed from local operations so it can be wired straight to McLean, Va.

Gannett calls the forced furlough "the fairest and least damaging to our operations at this time." We call it pathetic.