Newspaper Giant Gannett Lays Off 700

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Gannett USA Today parent company Gannett is going to be leaner tomorrow. The company cut 700 jobs from newspapers in its Community Publishing division, which includes newspapers like The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Courier-Journal of Louisville. Dips in advertising revenue have been cited as the driving force.

That the number of employees given pink slips represents about 2 percent of the overall staff from all of the 82 daily papers that Gannett owns. Not all of those being laid off are journalists, however. Some will be cut from advertising, marketing and administration departments as well. Gannett has dropped 20,000 employees from its payrolls over the past five years, but not all this downsizing was due to layoffs. The company has sold a few of its papers in recent years.

The staff at USA Today, which just went through a sizable reduction, is reported to be safe from this latest sweep. Still, it's not a good day for those in the newspaper publishing industry, or those who recently graduated and are looking for a job in the fields of journalism or print advertising. While advertising for online, television and radio is increasing, demand for print ads have been sinking like a stone.

That's the main reason for the most recent layoffs, according to Robert J. Dickey, president of Gannett's Community Publishing division. And it doesn't help that some of the businesses which bought ads in major categories like real estate, help wanted and automobile sales, were hit hard by the recession.

The New York Times reports that Dickey wrote in a memo to Gannett employees, "As we reach the midpoint of the year, the economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations."

Selling off properties and reducing staff have allowed Gannett to remain profitable. But even though the company's earnings rose 66 percent last year, earning Gannett CEO Craig Dubow a $1.75 million bonus, Gannett stock prices took a tumble, down around 75 percent since 2005. Still, the latest belt-tightening efforts caused the company's stock to rise 40 cents per share the day these cuts were announced.

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