A significant number of journalists employed by Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, staged a walkout on Monday, alleging that the company’s CEO has severely weakened its local newsrooms.
According to The New York Times, this walkout marked the largest labor action in Gannett’s century-long history. Employees from approximately two dozen newsrooms, including The Palm Beach Post, The Arizona Republic, and The Austin American-Statesman, participated in the demonstrations. Some newsrooms were expected to continue their protests on Tuesday.
The collective action was strategically timed to coincide with Gannett’s annual shareholder meeting on Monday morning. The NewsGuild, representing over 1,000 journalists from Gannett, sent a letter to Gannett shareholders in May, urging a vote of no confidence against CEO and chairman Mike Reed.
In the letter, NewsGuild criticized Gannett’s 2019 merger with GateHouse Media, stating that it had burdened the company with debt, jeopardizing its future. The letter also targeted Mr. Reed, previously the CEO of GateHouse Media, who assumed leadership of Gannett following the merger.
The union criticized his substantial compensation, which amounted to $7.7 million in 2021 and $3.4 million in 2022, deeming it excessive for a company that was cutting jobs and allegedly paying “depressed wages” to remaining journalists. Since the merger with GateHouse, Gannett’s share price has plummeted by approximately 70 percent.
Peter D. Kramer, a reporter for the USA Today Network, expressed his concerns, stating, “Gannett has created news deserts everywhere you look. That’s Mike Reed’s Gannett.” Kramer, based in Westchester County, revealed that some Gannett reporters had to seek second jobs or exit the profession due to inadequate salaries.
In response, Lark-Marie Anton, a Gannett spokeswoman issued a statement in response,“During a very challenging time for our industry and economy, Gannett strives to provide competitive wages, benefits and meaningful opportunities for all our valued employees,” Ms. Anton said. “Our leadership is focused on investing in local newsrooms and monetizing our content as we continue to negotiate fairly and in good faith with the NewsGuild.”
Anton said there would be no disruption to Gannett’s news coverage during the work stoppage this week.
Maddy Troy serves as a writer and editor for Barrett News Media, with a specific focus on media business, advertising, and podcasting. You can find her on Twitter @Troy_Maddy.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sees 14% Drop in Ad Revenue in Q4
“This business is not without its challenges.”
Warner Bros. Discovery hosted its fourth-quarter earnings call Friday, and while the company reported hundreds of millions in losses, it was trying to view that as a positive.
The company reported a loss of $400 million, which is down sharply from the loss of $2.1 billion it experienced in the same time frame in 2022.
Additionally, Warner Bros. Discovery — the parent company of CNN — saw a 14% decline in advertising revenue during the final three months of 2023.
“This business is not without its challenges,” Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, according to CNBC. “Among them, we continue to face the impacts of ongoing disruption in the pay TV ecosystem and a dislocated, linear advertising ecosystem. We are challenging our leaders to find innovative solutions.”
The comapny did report an 86% increase in free cash flow, which now sits at $6.16 billion.
Jeremy Boreing: Every Outlet ‘Suffering From Facebook’s Massive Shift Away From News’
“Mark Zuckerberg remade the news landscape when he moved his company into the space, and then gutted it when he moved out.”
In recent years, Facebook has shifted its focus away from a news and link-sharing platform to become more focused on social interactions between users. That shift has been detrimental to news publishers, according to The Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing.
In a statement to Mediaite, the digital media executive wasn’t shy about his stance that the shift from Facebook has been detrimental not only to his organization but to the industry as a whole.
“Everyone is suffering from Facebook’s massive shift away from news. Mark Zuckerberg remade the news landscape when he moved his company into the space, and then gutted it when he moved out,” Boreing said. “A capricious trillion dollar company can crush entire industries without much effort. Daily Wire is disproportionately impacted because we were built with a focus on Facebook. Now, our focus has shifted to more premium content.”
The comments from Jeremy Boreing coincide with a report that conservative digital outlets have seen a dramatic drop in viewership, especially compared to figures seen in 2020. One outlet — Breitbart — has seen a drop in traffic of 87% compared to the tumultuous 2020 year that included the start and heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a contentious presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Court Approves Audacy Reorganization Plan
“We have achieved a speedy confirmation of our prepackaged Plan, which will enable Audacy to pursue our strategic goals and opportunities in the dynamic audio business.”
A United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas has approved a plan for Audacy to reemerge from its bankruptcy proceedings.
Under the plan, Audacy will equitize more than $1.5 billion of funded debt, which reduces its debt load by 80%, down from $1.9 billion to $350 million.
Audacy Chairman David Field was encouraged by the development.
“Today’s announcement marks a powerful step forward for Audacy, positioning the Company for an exciting future,” said David Field, who also serves as the President and CEO of Audacy. “As expected, we have achieved a speedy confirmation of our prepackaged Plan, which will enable Audacy to pursue our strategic goals and opportunities in the dynamic audio business.
“We aim to drive accelerated growth and financial performance, capitalizing on our scaled, leadership position, our uniquely differentiated premium audio content and the robust capital structure that we will have upon emergence,” continued Field. “I also want to express my gratitude to our team, who continue their outstanding work to serve our listeners and customers with excellence and fulfill our commitments without missing a beat.”
A statement from the company claims the restructuring “will enable Audacy to continue its strategic digital transformation and capitalize on its position as a scaled, leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company differentiated by its exclusive, premium audio content.”