The Gannett/USA Today headquarters in McLean, VA.

Gannett’s long-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic came on Monday morning when America’s largest newspaper publisher announced week-long rolling furloughs for reporters and editors, along with 25% pay cuts for executives.

Amazingly, in a memo to staff, Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert admitted that traffic and online subscriptions have increased, but the cuts would be coming because of a decrease in advertising revenue.

Here’s that chunk of the memo, via Poynter.

As you might expect, the impact on our operations has been varied. Direct sold advertising has already slowed and many businesses have paused their scheduled marketing campaigns. On the other hand, we have small businesses that are partnering with us to quickly build their online presence. We’re also seeing a spike in our digital traffic and online subscriptions as readers turn to us as a trusted source for information. Overall, though, we expect our revenue to decline considerably during this period and we need to address this situation head on.

One way to become a less “trusted source of information” in local communities? Give reporters an unpaid week off and stretch the staff not on furlough even thinner!

Poynter also notes that the furloughs will affect all reporters and editors making at least $38,000 a year, and that all of the employees affected will take a furlough week in each of April, May, and June.

All in all, this is shitty, because not only are people losing pay, local markets are getting deprived of news, which seems pretty important in the time of daily press conferences, COVID-19 updates, and mass closures. At least they’re keeping their jobs, and not just getting loan offers like freelancers at Sinclair’s RSNs.

[Poynter]

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.