Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer cut staff amid owner’s $53.7million loss
National newspaper chain owner Gannett made cuts to the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer after the company recently reported rising costs, falling sales and a $53.7 million loss in the second trimester.
The latest corporate cuts in Bucks County and across the country mark the latest round of cuts by Gannett, a publicly traded company with a reputation for years cutting journalism jobs. Most recently, the company completed a cost reduction plan to generate over $300 million in annual savings.
At the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer, two reporters were fired earlier this month, according to sources with knowledge of the newspapers’ operations.
One of those whose jobs were cut was popular columnist Phil Gianficaro. He has not commented on the end of his stint in the newspapers, which has won him awards for his reporting and writing over the years.
A source at Gannett, who does not work for Bucks County Newspapers, said cuts were also made to the Beaver County Times in the western part of the state. The company’s newspapers in central Pennsylvania were unaffected by the layoffs.
The National Poynter Institute, a journalism educational foundation that also reports on the industry, said more than 70 Gannett reporters were fired nationwide this month. Poynter’s Angela Fu noted “there are probably a lot more”. The list did not include Bucks County cuts.
The NewGuild, a union that represents some Gannett journalists, reported being aware of 80 layoffs nationwide.
A Gannett spokesperson did not relay LevittownNow.com the number of employees made redundant during the recent downsizing.
“We have been transparent about the need to evolve our operations and cost structure in line with our growth strategy, while having to act quickly given the challenging economic environment. These staff reductions are incredibly difficult, and we are grateful for the contributions of our departing colleagues,” Gannett communications director Lark-Marie Antón told this news agency.
The day before the layoffs began, NewGuild members called out Gannett for giving the CEO an annual salary of nearly $8 million, accepting government COVID-19 aid, then authorizing a $100 million stock buyback. dollars and hired anti-union law firms.
Union members made their voices heard on the company’s recent and past cost-cutting measures.
“For years, Gannett tried to make his way to success. As news of the impending cuts spread online, readers reacted with concern about the loss of more journalists in our community,” said Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas. “My colleagues across the company have chosen to stand together. And I’m here for that.
On Gannett’s earnings call earlier this month, the company said “painful” cuts were ahead after the company reported dismal financial results as it struggles to repay more $1.3 billion in debt. The second quarter was described as “very difficult” for the company.
In a note shared with LevittownNow.com by a Gannett reporter who works outside of Bucks County, a newspaper chain executive said more cuts than just staff cuts would be needed as the company struggles.
The company is already considering and implementing cuts to freelance budgets, vacancies, travel and contracts, including the removal of company phones from Bucks County newspapers.
Gannett said the costs of running their newspapers were rising, a tight labor market made it difficult to find staff, and customers cut back on buying expensive newspapers due to rising costs in times of high inflation.
Gannett CEO Michael Reed said on the earnings call that the company will focus on growing subscriptions, non-newspaper businesses and selling buildings to generate revenue.
The newspaper chain has increased digital subscriptions in recent years as the print market has collapsed.
Gannett, who owns hundreds of local newspapers and USA Today, aims to have 2 million subscribers nationwide in the coming months. The company attracted new subscribers with low introductory rates as part of an overall focus on revenue stream.
The company did not say whether further cuts in print products are coming.
In late April, the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer ended their print Monday newspaper. Local newspapers now print five days a week.
The Bucks County Courier Times averaged 8,059 copies a weekday and 12,211 on Sundays, down from previous highs of 50,000 copies a day. The Doylestown Intelligencer’s average weekday circulation was just over 6,100, according to Spring 2021 circulation figures from the Alliance for Audited Media.
The Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer have had their staff reduced by more than 75%, their Falls Township print shop has been closed, delivery drivers have been laid off and local media coverage has been drastically reduced since the local Calkins family sold the newspapers in 2017. .
Bucks County is served by a number of local publications including LevittownNow.com; the Bucks County Herald, which recently announced former Bucks County Courier Times editor Shane Fitzgerald as its new editor; The Philadelphia Investigator; and the Delaware Valley News. Like the Gannett newspapers, the Patch.com network and Daily Voice are owned by outside companies.
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