Another layoff by Gannett: 30 employees axed at Republic

The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, is undergoing another layoff today as part of a nationwide cutback by its parent company, Gannett.   The Republic’s publisher and CEO John Zidich forwarded by email a letter from Gannett’s Bob Dickey to employees at 9:02 this morning, saying the layoffs would be made by the end of the day.

In a late afternoon conference call from editors, employees were told 30 positions were eliminated throughout the newspaper, effective July 31.  While editors did not break the firings down by department,  it is believed at least nine of the layoffs came from the news room:  five in features, one in business and three in the southeast Valley bureau.   The departing employees are to receive one week’s pay for every two years worked, a less generous payout than some of the paper’s earlier layoffs. 

Gannett is cutting 700 jobs overall, or about 2 percent of its entire work force, Dickey’s letter said. 

Gannett’s other local property, television station KPNX (Ch. 12), was not affected.  Dickey’s letter refers to the cuts coming from the company’s U S Community Publishing division which likely only includes newspapers.  The print media have been in decline for years.

The news apparently caught many employees by surprise.  The rumors that normally precede such moves did not occur this time. 

In addition to job cuts, Dickey said there would be more furloughs ahead for those on “corporate payroll who make over a certain salary.”   Corporate payroll furloughs will not affect the majority of staffers, one reporter said.  One round of furloughs already took place this spring.

Dickey pointed to the slow economic recovery from the 2008 financial crisis that led to Gannett’s decision. 

“While we are seeing improved circulation results and audience growth,” Dickey wrote, “weakness in the real estate sector, slow job creation and now softer auto ad demand continue to challenge revenue growth. . . . ”

“National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets,” the letter said, cutbacks are necessary.

Gannett stock concluded the day at $14.15 in below-average trading.  That was up 40 cents, or less than 3 percent on an upswing day for the markets.  News of the layoffs reached the Street late and could have more of an impact tomorrow.  The company posted lower than expected earnings in the first quarter, down 16.3% from a year ago.


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