In order to prevent further layoffs, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, Gannett Co., announced yesterday that workers will be required to take a week off without pay. According to the AP, these furloughs apply to 17,000 staffers at the 81 papers in Gannett’s U.S. community publishing division. Employees at USA Today and the Detroit Free Press will not be asked to take any time off and the temporary leave of absence will, for now, affect only non-union workers.
Gannett has ordered furloughs in each of the previous two years and currently employs about 35,000 people — a major drop-off from 46,000 at the end of 2007. While TV, web, and print advertising has risen in recent months, newspapers are struggling to compete with cheaper, more efficient digital options. Head of Gannett’s community publishing division Bob Dickey expressed his dismay for the furloughs in a companywide memo:
The staff reductions we have taken over the past few years have been very hard and further reductions are not our first preference.
Dickey went on to say that while Gannett’s titles’ year-to-year revenue is down, the decline has come at a slower pace. Things at Gannett certainly seem bleak as their flagship paper USA Today has eliminated over 35 newsroom jobs and has recently focused efforts on digital initiatives rather than their print edition.