With IdeaFestival and a dozen other big events and stories during the past few days, we missed a stunning post on Gannett Blog.
Gannett Blogger Jim Hopkins, a former Courier-Journal business reporter, posted this story about a story last Friday:
Less than four months after buying out a reported 18 newsroom employees, The Courier-Journal’s publisher told a local business group yesterday that the daily needs to recoup rising journalism costs through big subscription price increases. “We have to charge more for the value of community journalism,” Wesley Jackson told about 240 Rotarians, the Louisville, Ky., paper said in a story.
The implication in the CJ’s coverage of the speech is Jackson has beefed up the newspaper’s reporting capabilities since he arrived about five months ago, and now has to pay that team of all-stars.
Wow, did we miss something?
We don’t think so ….
Back in June, Insider Louisville broke the news both CJ sports columnists – Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford – had defected to WDRB Channel 41.
A month later, we broke the story about sports writer Jody Demling leaving after at least 20 years. (Hell, we don’t even follow sports, but that was like shooting fish in a barrel.)
So let’s guestimate those salaries at $360,000 in aggregate – money the CJ is saving in annual sports department payroll less whatever they’re paying (a lot less) Tim Sullivan, the new sports columnist who replaces (sort of) Bozich and Crawford.
Back in April is when McLean, Va.-based Gannett really slashed the Louisville staff, with at least 15 veterans – Hopkins says 18 – taking buyout packages including Bingham-era editorial page editors Keith Runyon and Steven Ford.
We believe this is accurate, though CJ management has never issued a full list of the departed.
Joe Baldwin, copy desk.
Harry Bryan, sports editor.
Dale Moss, Southern Indiana columnist
Larry Muhammad, general assignment reporter
Ken Neuhauser, features writer and kids columnist
Mark Provano, political editor
Keith Runyon, opinion page editor
Mike Upsall, assistant metro editor
Arlene Jacobsen, features editor
Pam Spaulding, photographer
Pat Howington, health care reporter
Ric Manning, tech columnist
Carolyn Yetter, copy desk
Roy Walter, sports copy desk
If we use the arbitrary estimate of $70,000 annual income per person for the lot – some earned more than twice that – Gannett trimmed at least $1 million in annual payroll.
There was a round of cuts before that, as well as multiple voluntary exits. The truth is, there have been so many Gannett cuts, we have no idea who’s even left at the CJ.
Beside Jackson and whoever wrote the story about his trip to see the Rotarians.
Last year, Gannett’s worldwide employment was down to 31,000 people compared to the company’s peak employment of 46,000 in 2007!
Of course, we suspect the chain’s advertising revenue has fallen faster even than Gannett executives can budget cut, which we don’t think Jackson discussed in detail.
But wherever the additional subscription revenue from bumping up subscription rates is going, if we’re talking about a Gannett newspaper, it ain’t to going to pay a new cadre of top journalists.