May 23, 2019

GateHouse staff cuts hit Telegram, WoMag newsrooms

WBJ File Photo
GateHouse Media's holdings in Central Mass. include three daily, five weeklies, one monthly magazine and now the Gardner News.

Worcester Magazine's editorial staff is down to just one reporter, the Telegram & Gazette lost six positions and hundreds of other journalists, photographers and hundreds of other employees working for newspaper giant GateHouse Media are jobless after round of cuts today, as the New York-based company announced the continuation of its $100-million stock buyback program.

In Worcester, the magazine's Editor Walter Bird and Arts & Entertainment Editor Josh Lyford were laid off, leaving reporter Bill Shaner to run the only weekly alternative paper in the city.

Kirk Davis, CEO of GateHouse Media, formerly owned the Worcester Magazine along with several other Central Mass. publications before he sold it to GateHouse parent company New Media Investment Group.

Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

According to social media posts and sources, six employees were laid off from the Worcester's flagship paper Telegram & Gazette.

Cuts were also made at, among others, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MetroWest Daily News, the Standard-Times in New Bedford, The Herald News in Fall River, and in Rhode Island, The Providence Journal and Newport Daily News, according to social media posts and confirmation from current and former GateHouse journalists.

Across the country, journalists working for other GateHouse papers reported layoffs on Twitter, including the Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida.

Michael Reed, CEO of New Media Investment Group, told The Poynter Institute for Media Studies the restructuring impacts a couple hundred employees, though some will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.

Also on Thursday, New Media Investment Group announced a 12-month extension of the company's $100-million share buyback program, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

In the same filing, shareholders rejected in an advisory vote an executive compensation package by a vote of 33.2 million against and 11 million for.

According to SEC filings, Davis made $1.7 million last year, including a $550,000 salary and more than $1.2 million in bonuses and stock awards.

The layoffs come even as the media organization – controlling 156 daily newspapers, 464 community publications across 39 states – continues to gobble up newspapers and publications in an aggressive strategy including acquisitions followed by job cuts.

Since reorganizing out of bankruptcy in 2013, the company has spent more than $1 billion on acquisitions.

For the first quarter of 2019, the company reported a $9.3 million loss while revenues of $387.6 million increased 13.7% from last year's first quarter.

The company ended 2018 with $18.2 million in profit on revenues of $1.53 billion.


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