Note: This story has been updated to include more layoffs. We’ll continue updating as we see them. It was last updated Sept. 1.
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain with more than 200 papers, executed a round of layoffs starting Aug. 12, a week after the company announced its second-quarter results: a loss of $54 million on revenues of $749 million.
That same day, Gannett Media president Maribel Perez Wadsworth told staff in an email that the company would make “necessary but painful reductions to staffing” and eliminate certain open positions.
On Wednesday, after weeks of refusing to disclose how many people had been laid off, CEO Mike Reed told staff in a companywide meeting that Gannett had laid off 3% of its U.S. workforce — roughly 400 people. The company had also cut 400 open positions.
It is unclear how many newsrooms were affected and how many of those cuts affected editorial staff. As of Thursday afternoon, Poynter had counted terminations across 70 newsrooms — including flagship paper USA Today. Several people who were laid off worked in positions that contributed work to multiple newsrooms.
Spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton declined to answer questions about which departments and/or newsrooms were hit hardest by the layoffs and whether Gannett had any additional rounds of cuts planned.
“We’ve been transparent about the need to evolve our operations and cost structure in line with our growth strategy while also needing to take swift action given the challenging economic environment,” Anton wrote in an emailed statement on Aug. 12. “These staffing reductions are incredibly difficult, and we are grateful for the contributions of our departing colleagues.”
Journalists started tweeting Aug. 12 that they had been laid off. Stephanie Allen, a government and education reporter at the Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald, shared on Twitter that she had been working on several stories when she was notified that Aug. 12 would be her last day. She urged sources to contact her so that she could connect them with other reporters.
“I’m not going to let these stories die just because I’m not there,” Allen wrote.
Journalists across more than 25 states also reported being laid off. Several executive editors were terminated, including Mary Dolan, who oversaw The Journal News/lohud.com (New York) and Douglas Ray, who oversaw The Gainesville (Florida) Sun, Ocala Star-Banner and Leesburg Daily Commercial. The Landmark (Massachusetts) also lost its editor and will shut down this month, reported The Grafton (Massachusetts) Villager.
The layoffs also affected non-editorial staff. A reporter at the Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftain tweeted that the paper’s only customer service representative, who had been making less than a dollar above minimum wage, had been let go after working there for 16 years.
The NewsGuild, which represents more than 1,500 Gannett journalists across roughly 50 newsrooms, has called on Gannett to reduce executive pay and “frivolous spending” instead of cutting jobs. Last year, CEO Mike Reed made $7.7 million while the median salary at Gannett was $48,419. The company also instituted a $100 million stock buyback program in February. Earlier this week, Reed bought 500,000 shares of the company’s stock, worth $1,220,000.
Gannett has also invested in anti-union lawyers to counter union drives and delay contract negotiations, according to the NewsGuild. The company currently faces 14 open unfair labor practices charges, according to a National Labor Relations Board database.
In protest of the planned cuts, union members at roughly two dozen newspapers — including The Arizona Republic, the IndyStar and the Austin American-Statesman — held a one-hour lunchtime walkout Aug. 11. It was the first major nationwide coordinated effort among the Gannett caucus in the NewsGuild.
During the “lunch out,” union members discussed ways to help people impacted by the cuts.
“When you lose a job, a lot more things in your life are thrown into uncertainty,” Palm Beach News Guild member Katherine Kokal said. “It’s not just, ‘OK, I’m not going to log on for work Monday.’ It’s, ‘I need to pay my rent,’ or ‘I might not be able to afford food,’ or ‘How on earth am I going to keep health insurance for my family?’”
When reports of layoffs first started coming in, Kokal, who is also a Poynter-Koch fellow, created a Google Form for impacted employees that allows them to indicate what types of community aid they need. For example, a laid off worker could ask for financial support or help with professional networking.
Kokal also created a Google Form for people who wish to help those affected. Along with a committee of other journalists, Kokal has been sifting through the responses and connecting laid-off workers with people who have volunteered to help. Both forms are open to non-Guild members.
Newsrooms have shrunk considerably over the past decade. A Pew Research Center study found that newsroom employment in the United States dropped 26% between 2008 and 2020. A separate study found that 360 newspapers have closed since 2019; there are 6,377 papers left, including 1,230 dailies.
In 2020, shortly after the start of the pandemic, Gannett laid off a number of journalists and implemented furloughs and pay cuts. Later that year, the company offered buyouts to roughly 500 employees. In November 2020, Gannett had about 21,000 employees, 5,000 of them journalists. Those numbers have since dwindled to 13,000 and 4,000, respectively.
The fear of layoffs has in part led to a sharp increase in union drives in recent years. More than 20 Gannett newsrooms have unionized since 2020, and many of them are currently bargaining for a first contract. Among other protections, these contracts would spell out the process by which the company can implement layoffs.
In the days leading up to the layoffs, NewsGuild leaders and staff said they did not expect to see terminations at newly unionized newsrooms without contracts because those workplaces are currently protected by “status quo,” meaning that the company cannot make changes to employees’ working conditions without bargaining. Of the more than 100 layoffs Poynter has tracked, the vast majority took place in non-union newsrooms.
Kokal said Gannett has refused to tell the NewsGuild who has been laid off. That is why the union is trying to keep track of them.
“We’re all reporters and journalists,” Kokal said. “It’s scary to think that we might not know all the people affected by this unless we are keeping count.”
Here are the newsrooms that we know have been affected so far. What are we missing? Please let us know.
Ventura County Star
Victorville Daily Press
The Pueblo Chieftain
The Florida Times-Union
The Gainesville Sun
Naples Daily News
Northwest Florida Daily News
The Palm Beach Post
Panama City News Herald
Savannah Morning News
Canton Daily Ledger
The McDonough County Voice
Courier & Press
The Hawk Eye
The Hutchinson News
The Topeka Capital-Journal
The Grafton News
MetroWest Daily News
The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle
St. Cloud Times
Columbia Daily Tribune
Burlington County Times
The Journal News/lohud.com
The Columbus Dispatch
The Daily Jeffersonian
Beaver County Times
The Providence Journal
El Paso Times
The Spectrum & Daily News
Stevens Point Journal
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune