Gannett’s news division is being hit with another round of layoffs, the company’s third move to slash costs in the last six months.
Journalists were informed in a note Thursday from the news division’s new interim head, Henry Faure Walker. It said those affected will be informed Dec. 1 and 2.
The note did not specify a number, but communications chief Lark-Marie Anton said in an email that the target was a 6% reduction. With a headcount of 3,440, that would amount to roughly 200.
Faure Walker said that he had conferred with other executives and decided, “While we have taken several steps already, we must enter the new year in a stronger economic position, and the reality is that our News cost base is currently too high for the revenues it generates.”
After posting a big loss in the second quarter, Gannett laid off more than 400 employees and said it was leaving 400 more open positions vacant. Then in October it imposed a week’s unpaid mandatory leave, suspended contributions to 401(k) plans and asked employees to consider a voluntary separation offer.
Those actions were all company wide. Thursday’s was directed just to the news division.
Faure Walker, who is CEO of Gannett’s United Kingdom subsidiary, also assumed the top role directing U.S. news operations when Maribel Perez Wadsworth announced earlier this month that she would be leaving the company at the end of the year.
Some employees represented by the NewsGuild and in the middle of contract negotiations are exempt from the layoffs.
The company had 12,331 employees as of the end of the third quarter. It publishes USA Today and more than 200 local dailies.
In tweets and emails, Gannett journalists complained about the timing of the note – leaving them in suspense for two weeks about whether they will be asked to leave.
Anton told me in her email, “While incredibly difficult, we felt it was important to be transparent that further efficiencies will be implemented across the company as we decisively respond to the ongoing macroeconomic volatility to continue propelling Gannett’s future.”
The news division is also in the midst of a reorganization announced a week ago that will split its smaller dailies and some weeklies into a new Center for Community Journalism division.
The full text of Faure Walker’s memo is below.