Gannett axing employees - again

by Heather Miller

The Daily Advertiser was spared from the chopping block this round, but with more furloughs in store and reports of millions in bonuses for Gannett execs, it's another blow for newspaper folks in the Gannett world.

Gannett's two Acadiana dailies survived another major round of layoffs announced this week by the media giant, but the country's largest newspaper chain still left its corporate mark in Louisiana by dropping 31 employees from its payroll statewide and planning more employee furloughs to balance declining ad revenue.

In a memo sent out Tuesday to all Gannett employees, Robert Dickey, president of the community-publishing division, tells the Gannett workforce that the 700 layoffs are necessary as "national advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends.

"These have been extremely difficult and painful decisions to make. I know the impact is felt by everyone ... companywide," Dickey continues. "I appreciate and thank you for all that you do to create and deliver award-winning journalism to our customers and communities every day. Even under these challenging circumstances, I know you will continue to do so and your efforts are greatly appreciated by our customers and colleagues within Gannett."

According to The [Alexandria] Town Talk, another Gannett paper, the company also is forcing some employees to take more furloughs, or unpaid vacations, in the coming months, though the furloughs apply only to those on the corporate payroll who earn above a specified salary.

In queue with the corporate American dream, Gannett, which owns five newspapers in the state, didn't just distribute the dreaded employee memo, it also shelled out $3 million in bonuses to its top two execs last year. That's on top of the combined $17.6 million it paid for salaries alone on its two top dogs, according to a March 25 Poynter Institute blog:

Craig Dubows pay included a $1.75 million all-cash bonus, reports Jim Hopkins. Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore was paid $8.2 million, with a cash bonus of $1.25 million. The bonuses were awarded partly on the basis of cost-cutting that included layoffs, unpaid furloughs and other austerity measures, according to a shareholders proxy report filed on Thursday. Dubow would get $22.5 million if he quit right now.

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