Newspaper giant Gannett yesterday announced another round of layoffs, this time affecting 350 people, which is about 2% of a workforce of 18,700. Unfortunately, newspaper layoffs aren't surprising news anymore. We just heard from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times about impending cutbacks yet again.
I don't have specifics in terms of how many of the layoffs are newsroom employees. I did read that at The Journal News, Gannett's paper in New York City's northern suburbs, at least three people being let go are veteran journalists with a big following locally. Judging from comments posted on Gannett's site, many readers are not happy to lose these bylines, which include popular columnist Phil Reisman. Many are saying his column was a key reason they remained subscribers.
I understand the need to cut costs, especially in the newspaper business, which is struggling to hold onto readers and advertisers. But I just don't see the logic in cutting the people who create the product the paper sells.
Meanwhile, Gannett CEO Bob Dickey continued to pull down a salary and bonus in the $5.9 million range. According to Morningstar, a financial firm that tracks executive compensation at public companies, Dickey's pay package went up more than 47 percent last year, even as the company's revenues declined by 9 percent.
Another site says the average salary for a reporter at Gannett is around $43,700, with a range from $33,000 to $69,000. I wonder how much their sales reps or their HR people make? I bet it's more than the people who actually produce what Gannett sells.
I also wonder how many reporters' jobs could have been saved if Dickey and the other top five execs would have trimmed even one-quarter of their combined compensation that totals $13.9 million (up last year, by the way, from nearly $8 million.) Nearly $3-1/2 million could have kept about 70 or 75 reporters in the newsrooms.
Similar statements could be made about the top execs at The Times and The WSJ/News Corp.