News-Journal launches editorial reorganization that will reduce staff

The redesigned News Journal and weekly competitor Newark Post have front pages with design similarities. A redesign of the Post took place before the News Journal’s makeover.

(Corrected information. Channel 6 says it has relocated but not closed its studio, contrary to numerous reports).
The decision by Gannett Co. to spin off its print and television properties received little attention locally.

But that has not stopped speculation that big changes are ahead.

Those changes were felt recentlywhen the News Journal joined a round of sweeping reorganizations of Gannett newsrooms.

The process involves staff applying for fewer available positions, with the new posts carrying new names that reflecta greater emphasis on online readership and engagement through social media. In his Facebook page, one editor asked for support in an effort to stay on the staff in the form of Twitter follows, Facebook likes and even print subscriptions.

News Journal owner Gannett, earlier announced itwill create two publicly traded companies – one focused on its broadcasting and digital businesses, and the other managing its legacy newspaper publishing and websiteproperties.

The deal will leave the print side with no debt, but without fast-growing digital only properties, like Gannett is buying the rest of the company it does not own for a whopping $1.8 billion, but will keep that holding with the broadcast side of the business.

Prior to the separation, there was speculation that the News Journal and other more lucrative Gannett papers would be sold. That did not happen as advertising revenues industry-wide continued to drop.

TV stations face many of the challenges of print, but have not seen as rapid a decline in viewership and advertising.

The publishing business will continue to copewith long-running declines in advertising and circulation that have not been replaced by digital revenue. Websites, including the News Journal’s will stay withtheir respective newspapers.

The News Journal eliminated more than two-dozen positions last fall and shut down niche publishing properties that included the Spark, weekly entertainment publication.

The spin off had been expected as the company added television stations, including the large Belo chain. Other media companies have made similar moves, as investors see a dim future for print media.

The News Journal is one of Gannett’s most profitable papers, but has seen continued cutbacks in staff, even in a market with a lack of local TV competition. Of late, however, that competition has intensified as Philadelphia stations look for revenue.

The newspaper undertooka redesign that features more content from flagship newspaper USA Today. The story of the spin-off ended up in the pages of that section.

At the same time as the spin-off was announced, various Gannett papers were confirming plans for a Newsroom of the Future that would work to integrate print and local online operations. That is what is taking place at the News-Journal.

Before the local moves,Nashville and other cities, staffers were asked to reapply for a smaller number of jobs as part of restructuring.

The separation of the publishing business will come from a tax-free distribution of Gannett’s newspaper assets to shareholders.

Gracia Martore, president and chief executive officer, said, “The bold actions we are announcing today are significant next steps in our ongoing initiatives to increase shareholder value by building scale, increasing cash flow, sharpening management focus, and strengthening all of our businesses to compete effectively in today’s increasingly digital landscape. doubles our growing digital business, while our recent acquisitions of Belo and London Broadcasting doubled our broadcasting portfolio. These acquisitions, combined with our successful initiatives over the past two and one-half years to strengthen our Publishing business, make this the right time for a separation into two market-leading companies.” 

Martore continued, “These transformative transactions will give both the Publishing company and the Broadcasting and Digital company enhanced strategic, operating, financial, and regulatory flexibility to pursue growth and consolidation opportunities in their respective markets, while delivering strong cash flow to build further upon Gannett’s long-standing traditions of award-winning journalism and service to our local communities,” she stated.

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