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Layoffs to hit Burlington Free Press 

Bob Geldof has nothing on Burlington Free Press newsroom staffers when it comes to hating Mondays. Especially this Monday.

That's because reporters could learn as early as this Monday who among them will get the axe. In all, six news staffers are anticipated to get pink slips. It's unclear if further cuts will affect other departments.

The cuts are part of a company-wide reduction of 1,000 employees (400 through eliminating open positions and another 600 in layoffs).

For a bigger look at cuts across the company, including many comments from Gannett staffers, check out  GannettBlog.

The news comes on the heels of a number of cost-cutting and revenue enhancing steps.

On Aug. 11, the paper increased the daily price of the paper from 50 to 75 cents. (the Sunday price will remain $1.75 and the price hike did not affect home delivery). The price increase was the first one at the Freeps since 1995.

At the time, the paper said rising costs associated withproduction and distribution of the paper as the reason for the priceincrease. I guess it wasn't enough to outsource some of its graphic design to India, and move its circulation call center to Kentucky, steps the paper took earlier.

The news comes also at the heels of the 167th straight quarterly dividend Gannett has delivered to shareholders since 1967. From the corporate release: 

"With a substantial current dividend yield of 9 percent, and in view of the challenging business and economic environment, we have decided not to increase our dividend at this time," said Craig A. Dubow, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Gannett. "Our strong cash flow and solid financial position enable us to maintain our ongoing commitment to return value to our shareholders."

Nice. I guess all those staffers with 401(k) investments in Gannett stock can look forward to dividends rather than paychecks, eh? That'll surely put food on the table, fuel in the furnace, and gas in the car.

E-mails to Publisher Brad Robertson and Executive Editor Mike Townshend have not yet been returned. Must be they are busy working on the press release. Wouldn't want to be the in-house reporter to write up this news, would you?

Stay tuned ...

UPDATE [8.18.08 - 4:45 PM]: Just thought folks should know that one newsroom staffer has been laid off, and two others were laid off in separate departments. That makes three of six, with more to come.The newsroom will be spared the bulk of the six cuts (as some had initially feared). I'll have a complete report in this week's "Fair Game." As you can imagine, anxiety is running high. My thoughts are with my former colleagues ... be they news reporters or not.

Gannett stock took a tumble today, after taking a quick bounce Friday when the news of the layoffs was first announced.


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Shay Totten

Shay Totten

Shay Totten wrote "Fair Game," a weekly political column, from April 2008-December 2011.


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