ProJo parent begins latest round of layoffs

GANNETT CO., parent of The Providence Journal and other local newspapers, commenced a new round of companywide layoffs in its news division Thursday.  / PBN FILE GPHOTO/ARTISTIC IMAGES

PROVIDENCE – Gannett Co., parent of The Providence Journal and other local newspapers, has begun a new round of companywide layoffs in its news division.  

In a letter from the news division’s new interim head, Henry Faure Walker, on Nov. 18, those who will be laid off were to be informed on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.  

The number of those who will be let go was not specified. However, Gannett Communications Chief Lark-Marie Anton told the company was targeting a 6% reduction, about 200 of its 3,400 newsroom employees. 

The New York Times reported Thursday employees at Gannett owned newspapers, including USA Today, The Indianapolis Star, and the Detroit Free Press, began receiving layoff notifications. 

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Lisa Stratton, vice president for New England news for Gannett, and Providence Newspaper Guild Administrator Norm Welsh could not be immediately reached for comment Friday. 

Among those affected were producers working on Gannett’s digital optimization team, according to The site reported Gannett intends to eliminate all of its DOT regionals, according to an email the company sent to the Atlantic DOT Guild, the union representing producers on the Atlantic team. Though the teams will not be dissolved until Dec. 9, Gannett has already started laying off DOT employees. Fifty of 125 total employees were notified Thursday that their positions had been eliminated. 

Gannett’s DOT employees help craft headlines, assemble newsletters, optimize articles for search engines, send push alerts and design social media graphics, among other responsibilities. Atlantic DOT Guild unit chairman Jack McLoone told Poynter eliminating those positions will make it more difficult for readers to find the news. 

“So much of our job is trying to break through the wider noise of the internet,” McLoone said. “Gannett likes to talk all the time about how they’re a digital-first company. … But now they’re cutting the knees out from the people that were in charge of actually pushing stories and tracking metrics and making sure we were reaching subscription goals.” 

On Aug 12, Gannett laid off more than 400 employees at several locations after reporting a $53.7 million loss in the second quarter. Gannett reported a loss of $54.1 million in the third quarter of 2022 earlier this month. The company expects a total net loss of $60 million to $70 million this year, according to USA Today.  

Gannett announced companywide cost-cutting measures on Oct. 13, which included five mandatory unpaid furlough days between Dec. 19-30, suspension of the company’s 401(k) match, voluntary severance package offers and an optional four-day workweek.  

The company owns and operates several papers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including The Taunton Gazette, The Newport Daily News, The Cape Cod Times, The Herald News in Fall River, The Worcester Telegram, and The Standard-Times in New Bedford. Gannett also owns publications in nearly every state in the nation, as well as operations in the United Kingdom. 

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