Gannett: still relatively healthy?

Dateline: Tue 17 Mar 2009

From FT.com (Financial Times online, on Monday), "When Newspapers Fold":

"A Moody's analysis of six large operators in November found all but Gannett had debts above four times their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. In Tribune's case, the multiple was 12.3. 'A number of these newspaper companies are still reasonably good businesses but the problem is they took on too much debt,' says Mr (Alan) Mutter (veteran newspaper editor who writes the influential Reflections of a Newsosaur blog."

Hmm.

The same article (see link below) includes a graphic that shows average circulation for the top 20 dailies in the U.S., with -- get ready -- Gannett's USA Today not only leading the pack, but showing an almost 70 percent GAIN from 1998 to 2008. Every other paper -- NYT, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, WSJournal, the Chicago papers etc etc etc -- are registering losses, some of them hulkingly huge.

But also showing a gain -- albeit slight -- is Gannett's own Arizona Republic, up 3.1 percent. The Republic was part of the Pulliam papers. Gannett's purchase of the Indianapolis Star and the Republic in 2000 was quite a coup for the media hog. The Hoosier and desert papers were the flagships in the line of dailies purchased by Gannett.

Hence the question: how profitable is the Indianapolis Star? Many readers think it does better than other Gannett papers, and in fact, it is a launching pad for a lot of Gannett projects -- Indymoms is one example.

Yet I'm hearing that for the first time, the Star showed a loss in the first quarter of 2009.

And Gannett is pushing a 15 percent pay cut for workers, as well as talking up furloughs again.

It is a sad commentary that in today's rapidly dying world of dailies, Gannett might still be leading the pack in terms of financial health.

Obviously, the men and women who pull the Gannett cart -- the workers -- are the ones asked to pay the price.

Here is that link, with thanks to reader/friend Tom Henderson for leading me there:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d00f013a-1261-11de-b816-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

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