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Democrat and Chronicle lays off three newsroom employees

Gannett Co. Inc.—parent company of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and USA Today—has laid off three members of its local newsroom staff.

Gannett President and CEO Robert Dickey this month announced plans for a corporate restructuring that would result in the elimination of roughly 1 percent of its employees across the company’s more than 100 news outlets.

Karen Magnuson, D&C editor and vice president of news, did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.

In October last year, Gannett began a 2 percent workforce reduction that resulted in eight newsroom layoffs at the D&C. At the end of 2016, Gannett employed some 17,100 individuals at newspapers in the U.S.

“Our newsroom has been decimated by layoffs and buyouts in the last six years, with the number of Guild-represented employees cut by more than half,” officials from the Rochester Newspaper Guild said in a statement Tuesday.

In 2011 there were 86 people under the union’s banner, officials said. On Tuesday that number had dropped to 32.

“Some of those positions were lost to advances in technology and changes in the way newspapers deliver their product,” Guild officials said. “But the end result has been fewer people gathering news and ensuring the stories we tell in words and photographs and videos are as polished and complete as they can be and live up to the quality that our longtime readers had come to expect of the D&C.”

In August, the McLean, Va., company posted second quarter operating revenue of $774.5 million, up 3.4 percent from the second quarter a year ago, with adjusted quarterly earnings of 18 cents a share, beating some Street estimates.

Throughout its layoffs, Gannett has pointed to challenges in print advertising, a phenomenon affecting many news outlets. In the second quarter, Gannett’s total advertising revenue rose 8.6 percent to $445.2 million.

“There are plenty of challenges in today’s news business, but the greatest threat to local journalism is corporate leaders who have no strategies to address those challenges other than an endless cycle of layoffs,” union officials said in the statement. “We believe that the local D&C management team is passionate about the work we do and our community, but we don’t believe the leaders of Gannett have a similar commitment to Rochester.”

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

4 comments

  1. The D&C is no longer fit for subscription…print or digital. Local news coverage is dismal. High school sports dominate whatever. And pics and articles about the past are easy to cut and paste as “news”. They make more on advertising each quarter but continue to cut staff. Sooner or later you have nothing to sell but delivery of ads. Frank Gannett must be rolling over in his grave. It’s a disgrace.

  2. “I concur”

  3. By comparison to the 32 members of the Rochester Newspaper Guild our neighboring Buffalo Newspaper Guild currently has 235 members.

    http://www.buffaloguild.org/faq/

  4. The quality of the D&C continues to deteriorate. The digital edition is difficult to navigate on a tablet. “Go deeper on digital” – why can’t I just read it in the paper? The paper has become an embarrassment.

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