Less than three months after acquiring The Bergen Record, the (Passaic County) Herald News and other assets of North Jersey Media Group, Gannett is trimming the newspapers’ headcount dramatically.
In an unbylined story that was skewered on Twitter for trying to put a positive spin on the news, North Jersey Media Group announced that more than 200 employees would be laid off from sales and news departments in mid-November as part of a “bold, ambitious vision to make North Jersey Media Group even more competitive.”
A source in the company told Poynter Wednesday afternoon that employees will discuss the decision at an off-site meeting at a banquet hall in Paramus, New Jersey, about 20 minutes away from the Record’s newsroom.
Tom Donovan, Northeast Regional President of Gannett East Group, said the reorganization will “position us to remain that content and advertising leader” in a statement to Poynter. (Disclosure: Poynter has a training partnership with Gannett.)
“For decades, the North Jersey Media Group has delivered award-winning journalism in Bergen and Passaic Counties and throughout the state,” Donovan said in the statement. “Since Gannett’s July acquisition, we have recognized that NJMG must transform even faster to meet the ever-changing demands of readers, advertisers and the communities we serve in a digital and mobile world.”
Several observers on social media took issue with the company line that today’s move was part of an “investment” in North Jersey Media Group.
Gannett announces massive restructuring at NJ paper to make it "more responsive." It's slashing size of its staff. https://t.co/0Z31QBx78w
— Charles Ornstein (@charlesornstein) September 14, 2016
Sending good vibes to friends at The Record. Hundreds of layoffs? Could this "transition" be any more brutal? https://t.co/nueoyfh9ji
— Jessica Calefati (@Calefati) September 14, 2016
— Ryan Chittum (@ryanchittum) September 14, 2016
— David Giambusso (@Giambusso) September 14, 2016
Gannett purchased North Jersey Media Group for an undisclosed sum in July, saying it expected the newspapers to add $90 million in annual revenue. Before that, the papers were owned by the Borg family for multiple generations, back to 1930.