Bad news for Gannett, my old employer

Gannett Co., which owns the newspaper on which I worked for 24 years, may be bought out by Digital News Media, which is owned by a hedge fund and is known for ruthless cost-cutting.

On Monday, Digital First Media offered $1.36 billion for Gannett.  The Associated Press reported it claims it can run Gannett more profitably through cost-cutting and consolidation of operations.

Gannett is known for its flagship newspaper, USA Today, but it also owns many other dailies, including the Democrat and Chronicle here in Rochester, N.Y.  Its profits and circulation are falling.

Things are already tough for the D&C.  The reporters do a good job with what they have, but they are stretched thin and the paper has less space for news.  The newspaper is night-and-day different from what it was when I joined it back in 1974.  But things could get worse—much worse—under the new owner.

[Digital First Media co-founder William Dean] Singleton was a pioneer in “clustering”: developing groups of newspapers that centralized a variety of functions, including production, ad sales, business operations and, in some cases, editorial.

For example, the Alameda Newspaper Group in suburban San Francisco in the mid-1990s had a central newsroom in Pleasanton, California, that did all the copy editing, layout and page makeup for five daily papers.  Upon acquiring the diverse group of papers, Singleton consolidated several news sections (such as sports and features) to one local office away from the metropolitan area, having a few reporters do the job of many people.

Source: Digital First Media – Wikipedia

I wonder what would happen to my Gannett pension if the buyout went through.  The company doesn’t have any contractual obligation to pay it.  But I still would have my Social Security pension and my savings, so I’d be more secure than those actually working for Gannett.

When I was a reporter, I felt sure that if I did a reasonably good job, my job would be safe.  That’s certainly not true of people working in journalism today.

I’m glad I was able to work on newspapers when I did and I’m glad I was able to retire when I did.  I lived in a golden age and didn’t know it.

LINKS

Digital First Media Wikipedia page.

Gannett Wikipedia page.

Company known for deep cost-cutting offers to buy Gannett by Mae Anderson for the Associated Press.

Digital First Media Gannett bid too low, cost cuts likely unrealistic, analysts say by Mike Snider for USA Today.

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3 Responses to “Bad news for Gannett, my old employer”

  1. whungerford Says:

    The Elmira Star-Gazette is a Gannett paper. What news there is is stale, the local office is gone, the paper is thin, and it is expensive. It can’t survive long I fear.

    Like

  2. whungerford Says:

    There is an article on journalism by Jill Lepore in the Jan. 28th issue of “The New Yorker.”

    Like

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