Gannett will cut jobs in response to Q2 earnings drop

Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today and 85 other daily newspapers, will eliminate 1,000 jobs by the end of the month.

About 3% of the company’s workforce will be affected by the cutbacks, but the company said no jobs at its flagship title, USA Today, will be eliminated. Around 600 positions will be eliminated through layoffs, while the company believes that attrition will account for the next 400.

Financial woes were cited as a major reason for the move. Gannett’s publishing division reported a 27% drop in operating income for the second quarter. Its advertising revenue also fell 13.6% compared to Q2 2007.

The positions will be cut from Gannett’s community newspaper division, which includes the Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press and Louisville Courier-Journal. The Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s largest paper, has already announced 15 layoffs. Each publisher for these smaller titles must use the layoffs to reach a payroll amount set by the company. The payroll allotted to each paper depends on its individual revenue and any recent steps it has taken to cut costs.

Gannett will compensate employees that are laid off with one week’s pay for each year served at the company, with a minimum pay period of two weeks and maximum of 52 weeks.

Gannett recently trimmed 54 positions at its Honolulu Advertiser, but this latest round of cuts may not be the company’s last. Arnold Garson, president and publisher of the Courier-Journal, told staff in a memo this week, “We have no choice but to keep expense trends consistent with our revenue trends.”

Other publishers have felt the squeeze of shrinking ad dollars. The Wall Street Journal recently did away with sections of its newsroom, along with 50 jobs. Tribune Co. cut 100 posi­tions at its Baltimore Sun through buyouts, layoffs and attrition, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is cutting 189 jobs — 8% of its workforce — between August and October. McClatchy Co., owner of 30 daily newspapers, will trim 1,400 jobs in the coming months as well.

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