News Leader cuts 15 positions

One blog is calling it the “biggest mass layoff in newspaper industry history,” and part of it is ongoing in the Valley.
The News Leader cut 15 job positions on Tuesday as part of a move initiated by its corporate parent Gannett Co. Inc. that will result in 10 percent of the Northern Virginia-based media company’s Community Publishing Division.

“Unfortunately, it’s something we had to do,” News Leader publisher Roger Watson was quoted as saying in a report on the NewsLeader.com website published today. “It’s a byproduct of the downturn in the economy,” said Watson, citing declining ad revenues, particularly a downturn in major retail accounts, as key factors in the decision of Gannett to institute the layoffs.

The cuts in Staunton amount to about 20 percent of the local paper’s full-time workforce. And the story online today hinted that there could be more job cuts in the offing in the near future. “It’s not going to get better tomorrow. As for the future, it’s tough to predict,” Watson said.

The move had at least a temporary positive impact on Gannett stock, down 76 percent from its 52-week high of $39.50 but trading at the open of today’s stock market at $8.68 a share, up 6 percent from Monday’s open of $8.18 a share.

For comparison, the stock of Media General, the parent company of The News Virginian, is trading this afternoon at $1.55 a share, down 94 percent from its 52-week high of $27.18 and down 98 percent from its three-year high of $69.

 

– Story by Chris Graham

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