Gannett cuts again

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Good afternoon everyone,

It came as no surprise that the News Journal gave walking papers to three newsroom employees – an editor and two photographer/videographer positions. (See story below).

The outlook has not improved for newspapers, despite efforts to grow digital revenues and replace the permanent loss of display and classified advertising.

It appeared that in this latest round most Gannett papers each dropped a few positions adding up to a couple of hundred jobs spread across dozens of cities. Earlier this week, it was announced that the NJ will slim down further with a decision to jettison the four-to-six-page USA Today print section.

A sign of the struggle for eyeballs and bucks came in a recent Email offer that touted deeply discounted subscription offers that run as little as $3 for three months.

Such offers have been common for many years and trigger “churn” – subscribers hopping from deal to deal and canceling when the premium price goes into effect.

That wasn’t the worst news. The offer shows that the company’s data mining is so primitive that it sends such offers to long-time subscribers who pay far more money each month.

We have been News Journalsubscribers for nearly three decades and would not mind paying a little less. Perhaps, they are thinking we will pass along the Email to the kids or grandkids.

When will things stabilize? No one knows. Even legendary investor Warren Buffet, who snapped up many highly regarded papers in mid-sized markets is no longer in a buying mood.

Instead, vulture companies like Digital First, are circling Gannett. To these hedge fund buccaneers, Gannett looks a good prospect for a slash and burn strategy that will bring a gusher of profits before the end comes.

Gannett now has little choice but to undertake some of the cost-cutting that Digital First appeared to push in its takeover offer.

Enjoy your weekend. Our digital newsletter returns on Monday. – Doug and Sharon Rainey.

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