Indianapolis Star parent Gannett axes staff to cut costs

Newspaper publisher Gannett Co. confirmed Friday that it’s laying off some of its newsroom staff, part of a cost-cutting effort to lower expenses as its revenue crumbles amid a downturn in ad sales and customer subscriptions.

The McLean, Virginia-based company declined to provide details about the number of people losing their jobs. In a statement, Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton cited a need “to take swift action given the challenging economic environment. These staffing reductions are incredibly difficult, and we are grateful for the contributions of our departing colleagues.”

Gannett, which owns USA Today, The Indianapolis Star and more than 200 other daily U.S. newspapers with print editions, ended last year with more than 16,000 employees worldwide, according to the company’s annual report. The payroll included more than 4,200 reporters, editors and photographers,.

The layoffs are the latest sign of the unrelentingly tough times in the newspaper industry, which has been steadily shrinking for more than a decade as more advertising shifts from print to digital and readers turn to other online outlets for information and entertainment.

Major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have been able to amass substantial digital audiences by focusing their coverage on broad topics that appeal to people across the country. But regional and local papers have struggled to find a formula that works in narrower markets.

Gannett CEO Michael Reed foreshadowed the cutbacks last week after the company reported disappointing results for the April-June period and dimmed its outlook for the rest of this year.

Reed told industry analysts that Gannett would be “taking significant and and permanent costs” out its business, with an emphasis on operations devoted to producing and delivering the print editions of its newspapers. That decision reflected a recognition that Gannett is unlikely to recover much of the revenue that has evaporated along with demand for print editions.

In its most recent quarter, Gannett’s revenue dropped 7% from the same time last year to nearly $749 million. Meanwhile, the company’s operating expenses edged up 1% from last year to nearly $770 million.

That disparity is one of the reasons Gannett suffered a loss of nearly $54 million during the quarter. In another sign of distress, Gannett trimmed its revenue projection for the full year to roughly $3 billion, from a previous forecast of $3.1 billion to $3.2 billion.

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23 thoughts on “Indianapolis Star parent Gannett axes staff to cut costs

  1. Demand for USA Today and Indianapolis Star indicates people have fewer dogs…the best use of both papers for many years has been house training puppies.

    1. So true! The Star used to be a very good quality newspaper before
      Gannet/USA took it over.

    1. Anthoni – do you know why they’re doing that? They think they’re weaning people from the print format to the online format so they can stop printing news (which isn’t really making them a profit) and then everyone will rely upon their e-newspaper and can then jack up the prices.
      .
      That said:
      .
      I have fond memories of my mom teaching me to read from the Indianapolis Star when I was two. A couple of years later, my father brought home the Chicago Tribune in addition to the newspapers we already got. He said to be ready to answer the question he’d have for me after a couple of weeks: “If you could only get one (Star vs. Trib) , which one would it be?” About two days later, I told him, “No need to wait a few weeks — keep the Chicago Tribune ~ it’s got better writing.” I think I was in 2nd grade about that time – when I was doing the Star crossword in ink and would mentally flip a coin to do all of it down or across – because it was too easy. As long as I could get them in the outlying areas of Indy, I was reading six newspapers/day (Indy Star, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Investor’s Business Journal – there were others I wanted but I couldn’t have received & read them same-day). People used to ask me why I always read the Star first. My answer was easy: “to get it over with”.
      .
      I used to feel sorry for people who relied upon the Star as their primary news source. Now? Online newspapers aren’t structured to let you read the equivalent of the entire paper – it’s hunt & click for articles which jump off of the screen at you. So they’re spending a lot of money paying people to put together stories which most people will never read (which is most of the stories). They’d be wise to figure out which stories fall into the two categories and can the writers whose articles aren’t really read or consider redesigning the online newspaper’s method of delivering the news to make it more conducive to reading in its entirety. I’m not a reader, I’m an “information broker”, so seeing the shortcomings of Gannett is rather straightforward.
      .
      What Gannett *truly* wants to do is to own as many newspapers as they can (including NYTimes and WaPo) and to have millions of daily readers where they’ll have four perspectives of the news: World, National, Regional/State, and Local. Then they’ll have a monstrous system which delivers those categories along with comics, etc., play Procrustes (which will make sense to you if you know your mythology), and deliver a custom online newspaper to EVERYONE (even different editions within the same home) with a minimal amount of effort on their part and collect all of the money. Sort of like neighborhood kids who will set up a lemonade stand and think they’ll make a million dollars because “everyone will come” – like “Field of Dreams” (except the line is “If you build it HE (not they) will come”).
      .
      The other thing which isn’t helping traditional methods of delivering news is to set up a daily/weekly/monthly quota so you get started reading, are basically told you’ve exceeded your quota of a minuscule number of items, and will have to subscribe to it. (Think of casinos which give people coupons when they arrive in a bus – prime the pump and then people will be having so much fun when it’s gone, they’ll take money out of their wallet/purse and continue gambling.) That doesn’t encourage people to subscribe and the people who formulate those types of policies really don’t understand information delivery. BTW, those people who make that type of decision are also the ones who filed complaints with Google when they initiated https://news.google.com (if you just want to skim the headlines, it’s a good place to go). They felt like Google was giving their product away for gratis, Google complied and removed said media companies’ feeds, said companies’ stats dropped like a cinder block thrown off of a tall building, and *almost* all of them *begged* Google to add them back to the News.Google feed. If newspapers were *smart*, they’d be learning how to exploit ML (Machine Learning) and feed info into the Google CSE (Custom Search Engine), which has been around a long, long time. CSE (Free!) is Google’s method of allowing you to create your own search engine – you can add things to an empty system and instead of making people wade through everything “standard” Google delivers when you search through the results, you can make it specialize, and people have a better signal::noise ratio for specialized topics. So if you have a hobby or there’s a TV show you & others like, you can set up a CSE and have people send you sources of information which is applicable, you add it to the CSE, and people have a custom search engine to read about the hobby/show. (example: When “The Flash” was announced back in 2013, I created a CSE with as many relevant sources as possible – the volume statistics for the few years I managed the CSE were *incredible*.) Had a small company (other than Google) had such an offering it would have melted their servers.

  2. Yes, to all above! Maybe if Gannett would sell off many of the 200 hundred dailies to someone who cared, we could get back to enjoying a good local paper. i always loved my print copy each day. The control from the big G seemed to have ruined all that.

  3. They might be doing better if they could actually deliver a paper to one’s house on a consistent basis. They deliver it one day and then miss the next two for months on end. Don’t need the extra aggravation; I canceled.

  4. Discontinuing their unrelenting Gannett-induced left-wing BS foisted on us years ago might help, too…who wants to read that nonsense when you can watch MSNBC or CNN and get the same slant?

    (Good one, Anthoni L: $1 for a 6-month digital subscription is still overpriced…indeed!)

    1. That’s why I dropped the Indianapolis Star. Got tired of all the leftwing
      activism and leftwing preaching.

      All I wanted was the news. Just the facts man.

  5. The IBJ is a much better option than the Star and has been for quite some time. I feel bad for the situation the Star finds itself in, but it’s difficult to read nothing but bad news and three-day-old stories every morning. Somebody is doing it right, and that somebody is the IBJ.

    1. It won’t happen until they no longer publish the Star (hardcopy). As soon as Gannett gets their heads out of their posteriors and someone manages (they’ve obviously failed so far and they should have had it working many years ago because anyone worth their salt (technically) could do it in rather short order), you will see their hardcopy newspapers disappear almost overnight and you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg to pay for the new stuff because it’s that or do without the news and they’ll want to make up for the money they’ve been losing by charging a pittance for what they’re charging hardcopy + online. So anyone who isn’t technically inclined to navigate on a tablet and isn’t able to afford the new system will be left by the wayside.

  6. The Indianapolis Star used to be a great quality newspaper
    when the Pulliam Family owned it.

    It isn’t nearly the quality newspaper now that it used to be. That’s why subscriptions have plummeted.

    I dropped the Star about three years ago after subscribing since 1984.
    It was a tough decision. The newspaper went from reporting the news to leftwing activism. I believe that’s why subscriptions have plummeted.
    People don’t like being lectured to.

    The stories in the Indianapolis Star are always about social injustices and
    screaming, racism, sexism, homophobia, ect….all the time.
    It’s utterly rediculious!!!! No one wants to be lectured to.

    I’ll bet not one single right leaning person works for the Indianapolis Star now.
    I’ll bet not one single Trump supporter worked at the Star from 2016 – 2020.

    Journalism has traditionally been dominated by liberals. But now it’s dominated
    by leftwing activists. The Star is living proof.

    The Indianapolis Star really doesn’t know their market very well at all.

  7. Gannett seems to be confused. It is either just an investment holding company buying newspapers to sell off the real estate assets, or it is a newspaper company that doesn’t understand that you have to have original sources of content (reporters) to get people to buy your product.

    Papers like IBJ, NY Times, and WAPO figured out a long time ago you can’t give away your news if you only source of income is selling the news. TV stations can get away with giving away their news content because their news operation is not their primary business. Gannett has decided to compete head to head with the TV station model, and guess what, they are tanking!

  8. I dropped the Star a few years ago after having subscribed for over twenty five years. The last left wing nut job straw for me was when they printed they would not be calling the Indianapolis Indians the Indians but would only call them the Indianapolis baseball club. Enough was enough.

    Ultimately Gannett wants to own as many locals as possible so they can influence what and how they cover news stories. Their Washington beltway influence is undeniable.

    1. I was absolutely stunned when the Star announced they would no longer
      call the Indianapolis Indians the Indians also.
      Who did they think they were offending calling them the Indians???

      However, the final straw for me was when they insinuated the Zionsville
      Boys that were raising their fist in victorious solidarity after literally just
      winning a state championship in soccer was some how a
      white Supremest power salute.
      They had just won the state championship in soccer. Then we’re having
      a team picture taken when they raised their arms. Evidently
      one kid in the school said the picture scared him. So obviously
      it had to be a white power salute.
      That was my final straw. I canceled the Indianapolis Star the very next day.

  9. Could not happen to a more deserving organization. Gannett content is absolute garbage. Last circulation number I saw was about 85K in a metro area of 1M+, so clearly the market agrees. Any online advertising they do gets flamed.
    Not my industry, but it seems like they should be doubling down on local coverage and sports. Instead they doubled down on left wing stupidity. Can’t wait for them to be out of business.

  10. I finally dropped the Indianapolis Star when Sunday paper only delivery cost exceeded $225.00 (1 day a week!)
    The irony is I have received multiple promotional offers to come back. No thanks.
    IBJ & WSJ for me.

  11. These sad cuts are only the latest by Gannett in what is at least 25 years of seeking profitability through continual cuts instead of increased sales from a marketable product. We cancelled the Star several years ago after repeated failures to deliver the paper.

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