Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gannett Fires 28 PNJ Employees

Gannett Corp., which spent the 1980's and '90s buying up all the independent local newspapers it could find, this week continued its long-range business strategy of killing them all off by firing nearly 600 newspaper staff members across the nation. One Gannett watcher believes it "is likely the single-biggest layoff in the newspaper industry's history."

As we mentioned before, the firings have been expected since late October. Here in Pensacola, pink slips were handed out yesterday to eight percent of the already deeply miniaturized Pensacola Newsletter News Journal staff. According to Carlton Proctor, who should know:
The Pensacola News Journal eliminated 21 full-time and seven part-time jobs Tuesday, part of a response to declining advertising revenue from three key client sectors.
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The cuts affected four major News Journal departments — the Information Center (newsroom), Advertising, Marketing and Circulation.
No USA Today employees or higher paid newspaper executives are among the unfortunates, of course. On his blog at the Independent News, Rick Outzen says he's hearing the local "cuts include three employees from the Sports staff, a features writer and a photographer."

The designated local "publisher" for Gannett, Kevin Doyle, claims it's all the fault of a deteriorating local economy that's "been hit worse here than just about anywhere in the country." Odd, that. Just a couple of weeks ago a Gannett reporter was telling readers that "the local economy has stayed afloat," buoyed by the "Naval Air Station ... health care and tourism."

Doyle also claims that even after the cuts "our newsroom... is larger than the industry average." Maybe so, if "industry" data includes small town weeklies and church bulletins. The newspaper that gets delivered to our door has been shrinking at an alarming rate. There are mornings, now, when we read through the entire newspaper even before the coffee pot has finished brewing.

Ex-Gannett editor Jim Hopkins, now living the independent life in San Francisco, is keeping track of the mega-media corporation's nation-wide layoffs, city paper by city paper, on his excellent, informative, and admirably restrained "Gannett Blog."

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