Gannett enforces second round of unpaid leave for employees

NEW YORK - Employees at Gannett, publisher of USA Today, have been asked to take more unpaid leave in a bid to save costs, after an initial week in the first quarter saved the company a reported $20m (£13.6m).

Most employees will be forced to take five day's unpaid leave in April, May or June, while others will have salaries reduced to reflect a week's pay, depending on the company's various divisions and locations.

Gannett is the US' largest newspaper publisher, with 85 daily titles and nearly 1,000 non-daily regional titles under its remit.

The company owns more than 20 television station across the US and is the parent company of Newsquest in the UK, which publishes 17 daily titles and more than 200 weeklies around the country.

Earlier this month, Newsquest told its 6,000 UK employees that the same unpaid leave, known as a furlough in the US, would be mandatory, however it was believed the company was seeking out alternatives, such as a reduced workweek, or one unpaid day a month, stretched over a number of months.

Craig Dubow, Gannett CEO, said in a memo to employees: "We are about to begin the second quarter without any real relief in sight from this unprecedented economic downturn and its challenge to our company.

"Despite all of your truly remarkable efforts to reverse the trend, our revenue numbers continue their downward slide and we have been faced with more difficult decisions."

Dubow said he and other corporate members of Gannett would also be participating.

In January, Gannett announced plans to write down the value of its newspapers by up to $5.2bn (£3.6bn) after it revealed that profits dropped 36% in the fourth quarter.

The announcement comes a week after the Hearst-owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer ended its print edition after 146 years.

The paper will now function solely online at Seattlepi.com, mimicking a move made by the US daily Christian Science Monitor, which ended its print edition in October after 100 years, moving its content 100% digital.

Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle is also struggling to remain on newsstands -- staff at the 144-year old title recently agreed to pay cuts and longer hours in a bid to make it through the recession.

Staff action was unable to save EW Scripps' Rocky Mountain News in Denver, which ceased publication at the end of February after 150 years.

Blog posts of the newspaper crises:

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