Gannett Warns Of More Unpaid Furloughs; Layoffs Avoided — For Now


imageGiven its continuing financial woes, it’s not surprising that Gannett is requiring more unpaid leave for its 41,500 global workforce. Jim Hopkins’ Gannett Blog has the news, including chairman and CEO Craig Dubow’s memo detailing the latest bid to save costs.

Staffers earning $90,000 and above will be furloughed for two unpaid weeks in Q2. Those employed at the McLean, Va., headquarters are required to take one unsalaried week off; they’ll also will have a temporary pay reduction equal to one week



OK, so how will the Twitface masses, and especially bloggers, survive when the very basis of their existence — news gatherers and editors — disappear. Rumor and speculation will prevail. Is that really what we want?

Jackie Chazan

Print media spend so much time figuring out how to keep the old model on life support that they don't figure out how to build the new one. The state of the news business in the United States is the bleakest it has ever been. Every indication for the immediate future is that things will get worse, but journalism is thriving as never before, despite (or, perhaps, because of) the implosion of the businesses that traditionally have supported the press.

Audiences for most print and broadcast media are shriveling. Confidence in the press is collapsing. Newspaper revenues have plunged by 25% to 33% since 2005, thrusting many publications from comfortable profitability to bankruptcy in places like Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Haven and Philadelphia. Newspapers have closed or likely will shut soon in Albuquerque, Cincinnati, Denver, Madison, Seattle and Tucson.

News staffs and even publication frequency are shrinking at newspapers and news magazines. Coverage has been truncated to such levels that none of the Big Three networks has a full-time correspondent in Iraq and 27 states in the union don’t have a single, full-time newspaper correspondent stationed in Washington, D.C.

For all the fear and frustration among journalists today, however, the vision of next-generation journalism is beginning to materialize in an age when cheap, easy-to-use and widely available interactive technology has democratized the creation, discovery and acquisition of information.

If you define journalism as the activity that allows people to learn from each other what is happening in their world, then journalism is alive and well at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs and thousands of other online communities. As but one example of the ferocious growth of participatory sites, the 1.5 million hours of video contributed to YouTube in the first six months of 2008 was greater than all the programming produced by the Big Three broadcast networks since their inception 60 years ago, according to Michael Wesch, a professor at Kansas State University. To be sure, not everything on Facebook or YouTube would be construed as journalism by even the most generous observer. But the value of the content is in the eye of the beholder. And those are the places, not mainstream media websites that are being visited ever more frequently by modern consumers.

Newspaper publishers would be wise to drop print and delivery costs and then focus on digging out the hot local topics that their readerships crave weaving news together with talents of professional journalists, bloggers, and people using social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter to instantly tell what is happening around them.

With the toxic economy and sweeping secular changes in advertising grinding away at the economics of the legacy media, the need to discover new business models to support journalism grows more urgent by the day.

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