Walter Pierce

Gannett announces more consolidation, layoffs

by Walter Pierce

Gannett Company, publisher of The Daily Advertiser, Times of Acadiana, Quik Quarter and four other daily newspapers in Louisiana, announced this week further consolidation as it struggles, like publishers of dailies around the country, with declining revenue. In an internal memo obtained by the INDsider, Gannett’s South Group Vice President Leslie Hurst, who is also publisher of The Advertiser, informed employees that printing of The Town Talk (Alexandria’s daily) and its related products will be moved to the Lafayette press on Bertrand Street beginning in late October. A source tells the INDsider the consolidation is creating more than three dozen lay-offs, most of them apparently in Alexandria.

According to Hurst, “This change will mean a reduction in force, and I know that it affects people’s lives. Please be assured that this decision was not made lightly, but is the result of a great deal of thought and research to ensure that we are making the best decision for both operations. Alexandria’s production staff members will be eligible to fill any vacancies that may arise in Lafayette, and those who do not will receive a transitional-pay package.”

The memo also indicates that the increased printing load at the Lafayette press will necessitate changes in the times when each newspaper goes to press. These changes will undoubtedly affect deadlines for reporters and editors. An INDsider source who is a former Gannett employee familiar with company operations speculates that the changes in press times and deadlines is likely to have an affect on the newspapers’ coverage: “Forget about any sports that end after 8 p.m. — no way it’ll get put into the earlier editions.” A former Gannett editor predicts the deadline changes will also affect election returns and council meetings that go late into the night.