CEO of local newspaper giant GateHouse Media acknowledged 'sizeable' layoffs in memo after parent company CEO tried to downplay the cuts

daily guideGateHouse Media shuttered Missouri's The Daily Guide in September 2018.AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

  • CEO of local newspaper giant GateHouse Media acknowledge "sizable reductions" of staff a day after the company conducted mass layoffs in newsrooms across the US.
  • The statement comes after the CEO of GateHouse's parent company, Mike Reed of New Media Investment Company, downplayed the layoffs in an interview with Business Insider, calling them "immaterial."
  • Nearly 100 layoffs have been confirmed.
  • Read more stories like this on Business Insider's homepage.

Local newspaper giant GateHouse Media is acknowledging substantial layoffs it conducted Thursday in newsrooms across the US.

In a memo provided to Business Insider by staff at the Worcester Business Journal, GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis noted "sizeable reductions to staff [Thursday]."

"I don't take these reductions lightly; many committed colleagues, who played important roles in our company,
were impacted," he wrote. "A painful reality is that difficult decisions must be made to enable the company to invest in its future."

The note was included three paragraphs down in a Friday morning email titled "Accelerating Results," touting GateHouse's achievements, including "a 53% increase in digital subscriptions (YoY)" and "significant savings" from "streamlining production and delivery operations." The letter did not acknowledge the companies first-quarter losses.

The acknowledgment of the layoffs came a day after the company sacked journalists in at least 37 local newsrooms across the US. A running spreadsheet maintained by journalist Andrew Pantazi tallying the layoffs has currently recorded at least 99 cuts. Several current and former employees noted that cuts could continue into Friday, as previous rounds of layoffs have occurred on the day.

In a Thursday interview with Business Insider, Mike Reed, CEO of GateHouse parent company New Media Investment Group, downplayed the layoffs, calling them "immaterial" and noting, "We have 11,000 employees, a lot to me is 2,000." 

Read more: Local-newspaper giant GateHouse Media is laying off journalists across the US in cuts their CEO is calling 'immaterial'

In the interview with Business Insider and in an interview with Poynter, Reed appeared to muddle the numbers. When asked if it was true that there were 200 cuts coming, based on an anonymous tip, Reed called the assertion "a lie," emphasizing that 200 reporters would not be fired. When pressed, Reed continued to avoid giving a hard number, simply calling the layoffs "not material" in the scope of the company.

In an interview with Poynter, Reed referenced that several hundred employees may be affected saying, "We are doing a small restructuring - at least that's what I would call it - that I'm sure will be misreported. We have 11,000 employees. This involves a couple of hundred." Reed reportedly went on to claim that most of those people would simply be asked to change roles in the company and that actual layoffs would only affect "more like 10."

Despite the assertion, it was clear that the layoffs were far more extensive that Reed was claiming, with nearly 100 editors, reporters, photographers, and other newsroom employees claiming that they were cut publicly online or through direct messages or email.

Earlier in 2019, GateHouse conducted at least 60 layoffs across the country without a formal announcement or comment to the media, according to previous reporting from Business Insider.

Among local papers, the company has built a reputation for quickly acquiring local properties, gutting staff, and combining regional newsrooms to cut costs. 

Read the full memo below courtesy of MassLive >>>

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