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Gannett plans furloughs, pay cuts as media's virus woes mount

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Washington (AFP)

Gannett, the largest US newspaper publisher, said Monday it was making unspecified furloughs and pay cuts for its staff in the latest sign of media turmoil from the coronavirus pandemic.

A memo from Gannett chief executive Paul Bascobert said he would forgo his salary and the executive team would take a 25 percent pay cut as part of the belt-tightening at the group which includes the daily USA Today.

"Our plan is to minimize long-term damage to the business by implementing a combination of furloughs and pay reductions," Bascobert said in the memo seen by AFP.

"By choosing a collective sacrifice, we can keep our staff intact, reduce our cost structure, deliver for our readers and clients and be ready to emerge strong and with opportunity to grow when this crisis passes."

Contacted by AFP, the company declined to offer specifics on the cuts.

But The Florida Times-Union, one of the dailies in the group, said a separate staff memo indicated reporters and editors who earn more than $38,000 annually will be scheduled to take an unpaid week off on a rotating basis.

The Gannett actions underscore deepening woes of the media, especially local newspapers, in the face of a pandemic which has cut into advertising and shut down events revenue even as news organizations face demands in covering the crisis.

Gannett agreed last year to a merger with rival GateHouse in a deal aiming for bigger scale to face the challenges of the troubled sector. It now has about 260 newspaper brands and a large digital operation.

Media organizations have been struggling for years amid a shift to digital and mobile news, with hundreds of print publications having been shuttered.

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