Hundreds of journalists for the nation’s largest newspaper chain walked off the job on Monday, accusing the corporate’s chief government of decimating its native newsrooms, and demanding a change on the high.
The walkout was the largest labor motion in Gannett’s historical past, stated the union representing the journalists. It included staff from about two dozen newsrooms, together with The Palm Beach Post, The Arizona Republic and The Austin American-Statesman. The demonstrations are anticipated to proceed on Tuesday for some newsrooms.
The collective motion is timed to coincide with Gannett’s annual shareholder assembly, which is being held on Monday. The NewsGuild, which represents greater than 1,000 journalists from Gannett, despatched a letter to Gannett shareholders in May urging a vote of no-confidence towards Mike Reed, the chief government and chairman.
In the letter, the NewsGuild criticized the corporate’s merger with GateHouse Media in 2019, saying it “mortgaged the future of our company” by loading it up with debt.
The letter additionally criticized Mr. Reed, who was beforehand the chief government of GateHouse Media and took over Gannett after the merger. The union stated his compensation — $7.7 million in 2021 and $3.4 million in 2022 — was far too excessive for a corporation shedding jobs and paying what the letter stated was “depressed wages” to the remaining journalists. Gannett’s share value has fallen about 70 p.c within the years after the GateHouse merger.
“Gannett has created news deserts everywhere you look,” stated Peter D. Kramer, a reporter for the USA Today Network. “That’s Mike Reed’s Gannett.”
Mr. Kramer, who is predicated in Westchester County, stated that some Gannett reporters needed to take second jobs to complement their salaries, or they merely left the career altogether.
Lark-Marie Anton, a Gannett spokeswoman, stated in a press release that whereas the corporate disagreed with the advice to oust Mr. Reed, “Gannett remains committed to our shareholder engagement process and takes all feedback seriously.”
“During a very challenging time for our industry and economy, Gannett strives to provide competitive wages, benefits and meaningful opportunities for all our valued employees,” Ms. Anton stated. “Our leadership is focused on investing in local newsrooms and monetizing our content as we continue to negotiate fairly and in good faith with the NewsGuild.”
Ms. Anton stated there can be no disruption to Gannett’s news protection in the course of the work stoppage this week.
Gannett turned the most important newspaper writer within the United States after its merger with GateHouse, a deal that the businesses stated on the time would lead to annual value financial savings of as much as $300 million and assist them survive the headwinds battering the news media business.
The merged firm, which took the Gannett title, owns USA Today and greater than 200 day by day newspapers in 43 states, although it has closed dozens of publications for the reason that 2019 deal.
Like many different publishers of native news, Gannett has struggled with declining income from promoting and print circulation. The debt load from its merger with GateHouse has additionally weighed on the corporate. Gannett stated in its first-quarter earnings this 12 months that it had $1.2 billion in excellent debt.
It has tried to service the debt with a string of widespread cost-cutting measures previously 12 months, together with shedding about 6 p.c of its roughly 3,440-person media division in December. According to securities filings, Gannett’s work power has nearly halved since November 2019.
The NewsGuild stated The Austin American-Statesman’s newsroom had 41 workers this 12 months, down from 110 in 2018. In that very same interval, The Arizona Republic’s newsroom in Phoenix had shrunk to 89 staff from 140, whereas The Milwaukee Sentinel had been reduce to 82 from 104.
“You have communities that go uncovered, and when things go uncovered it allows people to abuse their positions,” stated Kaitlyn Kanzler, a reporter for NorthJersey.com and The Record in Northern New Jersey.
Jon Schleuss, the president of the NewsGuild, stated in a press release that Mr. Reed “doesn’t care one bit about a long-term strategy to invest in the company by investing in journalists.”
“They need support and resources to make sure our communities have the local news needed to keep our democracy thriving,” Mr. Schleuss stated. “Instead, Reed’s singular focus has been on stuffing his own pockets.”
Gannett stated this 12 months that it had surpassed two million digital-only subscriptions. In its first-quarter earnings report for 2023, Gannett stated it generated $10.3 million in revenue, in contrast with a lack of $3 million in the identical interval final 12 months, and projected income of $2.75 billion to $2.8 billion for the 12 months.
Source web site: www.nytimes.com