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).
The 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.