Gannett to cut 1,000 newspaper jobs: memo

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gannett Co Inc plans to eliminate 1,000 positions from its local newspapers around the U.S. because of declining advertising and circulation revenue, and may cut more if those conditions persist.

A Detroit Free Press newspaper box is seen in downtown Detroit, August 3, 2005. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook RC/TC

The largest U.S. newspaper publisher said the cuts equal about 3 percent of the positions in its Community Publishing unit, according to a memo obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The unit accounts for the vast majority of the company’s newspapers, except for USA Today.

About 600 people probably will be laid off as part of the cuts, the memo said. The remaining cuts will come from retirements, resignations and other vacancies that will go unfilled.

Gannett, which is based in McLean, Virginia, sent the undated memo to publishers of its more than 80 community newspapers, asking them to notify employees by August 15.

The company, which publishes USA Today, is the latest U.S. newspaper publisher to slash headcount because of falling advertising and circulation revenue.

McClatchy Co, The New York Times Co, The Washington Post Co and Tribune Co all have cut their employee rolls, either through buyouts or layoffs.

U.S. newspaper publishers have been battered by a steep fall in classified advertising revenue brought on by wider economic woes spurred by the housing crisis as well as a steady migration of readers seeking free news on the Internet.

At Gannett, publishers are getting a reduced payroll dollar amount that they must meet based on the unit’s financial performance and previous reductions, and have several options to reach their targets such as leaving open vacant positions, normal resignations and retirements, and layoffs.

“We would prefer no more reductions, but... we must keep expenses in line with revenue,” the memo said. “If advertising and circulation revenues continue to decline, further payroll reductions may be necessary.”

At the Gannett-owned Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, Publisher Arnold Garson told employees that 15 of them will lose their jobs, and added that the company does not see the revenue declines easing any time soon, according to an article posted on the paper’s website.

Gannett publishes newspapers in more than 30 states, including The Arizona Republic, The Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin, The Honolulu Advertiser in Hawaii and The Courier-Post in southern New Jersey.

Gannett shares rose $1.56, or 8 percent, to $20.82 on the New York Stock Exchange. Many other newspaper shares rose as well on Thursday.

Editing by Derek Caney