Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

More Budget Cuts for Journal Sentinel?

Gannett revenue down due to pandemic, announces budget cuts, furloughs.

By - Mar 30th, 2020 05:05 pm
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Gannett company, which is a parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, advised in a memo to staff that it is suffering big advertising declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine and as a result will have will have to institute furloughs and other cost reductions.

The coming budget cuts were announced in a memo to staff written by CEO Paul Bascobert, a copy of which was published by Poynter.org.

“A separate memo from Maribel Wadsworth, president news at Gannett and publisher of USA Today, said that reporters and editors who earn more than $38,000 annually will be scheduled to take an unpaid week off on a rotating basis,” the story noted.

“Direct sold advertising has already slowed and many businesses have paused their scheduled marketing campaigns,” Bascobert wrote. “On the other hand, we have small businesses that are partnering with us to quickly build their online presence… Overall, though, we expect our revenue to decline considerably during this period and we need to address this situation head on.”

“Our plan is to minimize long-term damage to the business by implementing a combination of furloughs and pay reductions,” Bascobert explained. “By choosing a collective sacrifice, we can keep our staff intact.”

Gannett is now part of a partnership with Gatehouse Media, in which the latter has the whip hand (as owner of 50.5 percent of the stock), which was finalized in November, and is expected to result in additional staff cuts at all newspapers in the Gannett chain. One expert predicted a 10 percent cut in staff.

And that process of merging the two companies is still ongoing, as Bascobert noted in the memo: “It is important to note that our integration work will continue… Despite the challenges of today, we must stay committed to creating an efficient operating structure. So yes, as I have said to you all in the past, that means we will see some permanent reductions during this period.”

The only good news is a recent growth in readership, which many news publications have seen during the pandemic. “We’re also seeing a spike in our digital traffic and online subscriptions as readers turn to us as a trusted source for information.” Unfortunately that hasn’t prevented a revenue decline due to the epidemic-driven economic slump.

The Journal Sentinel, as one of Gannett’s largest papers, is likely to see a significant impact in terms of both furloughs and permanent staff layoffs. Urban Milwaukee reached out to Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley for comment and will update this story should we hear from him.

Gannett also owns other newspapers in the state, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette, The Sheboygan Press and the Wausau Daily Herald, which would also face budget cuts.

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One thought on “Back in the News: More Budget Cuts for Journal Sentinel?”

  1. Jeffjay60 says:

    Gannet continues to turn once respectable Newspapers all over this state into shopping bulletins where the value to the reader is the discount coupons inside. They provide some interesting and entertaining DIY articles but are not about news. News is expensive to create. Items about cooking are not so costly.
    Reading the NYT or Washington Post is excellent coverage of national news. The question is, where do we get quality local news? In Milwaukee, we are fortunate to have alternate sources. You are involved in one right now.

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