August 28, 2015 Last Updated 9:03 am

For Gannett, creating ‘next generation media company’ means pushing out older staff

The recently spin-out newspaper division of Gannett (the new company retained the Gannett name) is trying to rid itself of its older employees, offering buyouts to those employees that are 55 years or older or have 15 years or service with the company. The publisher said in its announcement that it plans to create “a next generation media company” (which means to those effected, not your generation).

USAT-8-28-15-200-fullThe new Gannett, which was spun out in June, with the broadcast side taking the wacky name of TEGNA, reported sharply lower revenue in its Q2 earnings report released at the end of July. Ad revenue is the culprit, down nearly 12 percent for the first half of the year.

Net income, thanks to previous cost cutting measures, was actually up. But with no real plans to stem the revenue declines in place, Gannett must continue cutting. Most readers, who look on Gannett newspapers as little more than collections of wire service stories, must wonder where the cuts could come from.

The buy-out is open to “long-term Gannett employees within certain business segments and departments of our company,” Gannett CEO Bob Dickey wrote in his memo to staff. “The offer is completely voluntary and it’s solely up to these eligible employees as to whether they wish to accept it.”

The statement is certainly disingenuous, as what inevitably follows voluntary buy-outs is involuntary buy-outs, unless enough people accept the payouts to leave the company.

Dickey, like other newspaper execs before him wanted to position the plan as somehow a good thing:

“Taking this action provides a benefit to employees who wish to retire while allowing us to remain focused on operating as one company, providing exceptional, engaging content tailored to our readers’ interests and tastes. We also will continue to lead with digital, rapidly seizing the many opportunities presented by new and emerging technologies. And, importantly, we are working hard on ways to reinvest in our employees and the culture here we offer at Gannett.”

Gannett will be offering those with 25+ years of service one year’s pay to leave, with those with less service one and a half weeks pay for every year of service.

  • Joseph Burgess 2 years ago

    As an employee at The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times Co. in the 1960s and 1970s who left to be a flack in Kentucky State government before Gannett bought the properties from the Binghams, but who nonetheless has been dismayed at how much the papers have diminished (the Times was abolished a few years after the sale/purchase), this is much better than anything I could conjure as discussion —

    “So we’re looking at a steady decline over a long period, and many of the geniuses who run our business believe they have a solution. Our product isn’t selling as well as it used to, so they think we need to cut the number of reporters, cut the space devoted to the news and cut the amount of money used to gather the news, and this will solve the problem. For some reason, they assume people will want to buy more newspapers if they have less news in them and are less useful to people.” — Molly Ivins

  • Scott 2 years ago

    I was a staffer with Gannett for just over ten years. The decisions our executives made boggled my mind. Too many great journalists are being pushed aside to cater to the younger generation with the attention span of a two-year-old. So sad.

  • Tony Olges 2 years ago

    Having grown up with a morning and evening (final home edition) paper, both of which were near the top throughout the country, it pains me to see the fish wrapper we have today