Gannett layoffs begin: Rochester, N.Y., leads; Asheville waits and wonders ***UPDATED Dec. 5***

Gannett layoffs begin: Rochester, N.Y., leads; Asheville waits and wonders ***UPDATED Dec. 5***-attachment0

***UPDATE (Dec. 5) With Gannett layoffs now topping 2,000, reports continue to be posted on Gannett Blog: Six jobs eliminated at USA Weekend; Hattisburg American closes its print shop; ominous silence from the troubled Detroit News.

More discussion of Gannett and the Citizen-Times can be found at this Xpress forum.

(Dec. 3, 10:15 p.m.) Ironically, former Citizen-Times Publisher Jeff Green, now employed by the Fayetteville Observer/Target Printing, has offered possible jobs to some of those laid off at the C-T, according to an Ashvegas report.

And Gannett Blog now claims the layoffs have now topped the 1,400 mark nationally.

UPDATE (Dec. 3 6 p.m.) “Gannett launched what is likely the biggest mass layoff in newspaper industry history yesterday,” reports Gannett Blog, slashing 863 jobs by early this afternoon, in an increasingly desperate bid to return the troubled 102-year-old publisher to prosperity. The final tally could run into the thousands.” More cuts are expected tomorrow. For a look at media response, especially to the trailblazing coverage by ex-Gannett staffer Jim Hopkins on his Gannett Blog, see Mountain Xpress Forum thread, Networked media chronicles Gannett’s slow motion train wreck.

UPDATE (Dec. 3 noon): Publisher Randy Hammer announced there have been 16 layoffs at the Asheville Citizen-Times, according to a post on Ashevegas.

EARLIER UPDATE: Commenters at the Gannett Blog site report that the Citizen-Times online director, a classified manager, four classified salespeople, a graphic designer, a production designer and a page layout person were notified Tuesday that their jobs were cut. The Ashvegas blog confirms the report of the online director’s job cut while offering a slightly different account of which jobs were eliminated.***

In one of the first of scores of memos expected in coming days, the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., just told employees the paper is cutting 59 jobs — about 8 percent of its workforce, according to a Gannett Blog report at http://gannettblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/breaking-gannett-launches-mass-layoff.html

Hopkins posted a memo from the Rochester publisher, Ali Zoibi, who writes: “As you know from earlier communications, the Democrat and Chronicle, and all Gannett properties, have been asked to sharply reduce expenses in response to the worsening economic situation.”

Meanwhile in Asheville, Ashvegas blog is covering the situation at the Citizen-Times and getting comments from current and former C-T staffers. In a Nov. 29 report, Ashvegas wrote “Citizen-Times awaits lay-off announcement: Unconfirmed reports say newsroom is safe.”

Last month the C-T closed its printing operation, laying off 60 people; the paper is now printed in Greenville, S.C.

Jeff Fobes, editor/publisher

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism.

3 thoughts on “Gannett layoffs begin: Rochester, N.Y., leads; Asheville waits and wonders ***UPDATED Dec. 5***

  1. Judda C

    People just don’t read the AC-T any longer. Bad crossword puzzle, high price and a lot of filler. For the same amount of money 75 cents you can buy USA Today and get a much better paper. Local news? Read Mountain Xpress.

    One good thing obout the death of the newspaper is that information is now much more democratic. A few big papers and TV networks can’t “opinion make” with us any longer.

  2. Matt Mercy

    The newspapers are losing credibility. It’s not that the web is taking over…it’s that people are realizing that journalists are now PR representatives. Mountain Xpress is just as guilty, although they tend to represent the mockingbird affect rather than being directly on the payroll of the government and multi-national corporations and foundations.

  3. Tough Sh*t

    Of course it sucks that people are the losing their jobs, but it’s now patently obvious that the local mainstream print newspaper model is irrelevant. They provide nothing that the reader can’t get better elsewhere. Want local coverage? There’s the Mountain Xpress, it’s free of charge and mercifully free of useless crime stories. National and international news? The New York Times is free online and so is pretty much everything else. Classifieds? It’s called Craigslist, also free. So why would anyone pay to read some Gannett franchise rag?

    Sure it’s terrible for the business of journalism, but it’s great for the average consumer and for the free flow of information in general.

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