Bob Dickey's letter to Star and other Gannett employees

Dateline: Thu 02 Jul 2009

This went out July 1 from Bob Dickey at Gannett HQ in McLean, Va.  He is the president of U.S. Community Publishing, which includes workers at all Gannett newspapers. Indianapolis Star publisher Michael Kane sent it out in Indianapolis:

To:          U.S. Community Publishing Employees

From:     Bob Dickey

I want to talk with you about our restructuring efforts, as we continue to battle these difficult economic conditions and the impact on our advertisers.  With your help, our various cost savings initiatives are making a difference.

Nevertheless, we will need to implement job reductions to align our resources with the revenue realities we face.  Currently each location is finalizing its plan, taking into consideration the local economy, results so far this year and the prospects going forward.

Each plan is different and designed to address the ongoing local needs. All of them, however, involved extremely difficult decisions. Approximately 1400 employees will be impacted by the job reductions across the division.  Your publisher or general manager will communicate the local plans, and we expect the vast majority of the reductions will take place by July 9.  In a select few cases, the implementation may take longer. There will not be any furloughs for the rest of the year.

I want to stress that the job reductions are not a reflection on these employees or their work. We truly value their many contributions and thank them for their efforts over the years.

Unfortunately, we must take these steps because the advertising environment remains challenged. There have been some promising signs of a recovery, but the reality is the improvements are not broad-based and the economy continues to be fragile.  

Even so, we know the economy will improve. To be ready, we need to continue our transformation and maintain a strong financial position. We must publish our newspapers, produce our Web sites and pay down our debt. By taking all these steps today, we will be stronger tomorrow.

Measured against our peers in the media industry, we are healthy and capable of moving forward. We are in this position because we have proactively responded to the financial conditions with actions such as these.

We continue to see good ideas coming from all of you, and we are becoming more innovative everyday. This combination of forward thinking and good fiscal management will, I believe, ultimately result in a return to success for our company.

So, please keep those thoughts and ideas coming. As always, you can email me or call with your comments.

Comments

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Did I read this right?

"There will not be any furloughs for the rest of the year."

So this layoff is the last, period? If so, he's the only Forunte 500 exec in America making such a promise. Painful as the cuts may be, the knowledge there is job security til after the holidays, should calm nerves a little.

Isn't it amazing how we grasp at small victories these days?

2009-07-02 13:30:51

GregH [unverified] said:

Rumor has been for a while, and it is a rumor, is that 100 are going to be cut at the Indy Star.

Will there ever be any recognition by Gannett, rather than the economy, that their content and approach are their major problems? (That was a rhetorical question.)

P.S. A furlough is much different from a layoff. A furlough is unpaid time off from work. A layoff is self explanatory.

2009-07-02 13:59:45

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Greg, you and I can argue about the effective nature of furlough vs. layoff.

Both put folks in the unemployment insurance line.

2009-07-03 05:37:23

Write Man [Member] said:

I read with interest "We continue to see good ideas coming from all of you, and we are becoming more innovative everyday. This combination of forward thinking and good fiscal management will, I believe, ultimately result in a return to success for our company." and wonder exactly how the Star compares with the nimbleness and passion shown by bloggers/new media...

A different perspective re: the WaPo's firing of columnist Daniel Froomkin along with his being hired at HuffPo, and the vitality shown by "new media" at least in terms of political reporting:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/07/froomkin/

As a online only reader, I don't see it happening at the Star.

2009-07-07 10:50:47

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