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› Focused on Video, Gannett cuts 200 NJ print journalism jobs
  • Published on September 16, 2016

This July Gannett purchased several daily newspapers and websites in New Jersey including The Bergen Record and the Herald News along with 50 weekly community newspapers known collectively as the North Jersey Media Group. Two months later Gannett is making big cuts to these newspapers staffing levels. In a story posted without a byline – not attached to any one writer – the company writes of a "bold, ambitious vision to make North Jersey Media Group even more competitive." This initiative calls for layoffs of more than 200 employees in the sales and news areas before the end of the year, and employees were informed of these decisions at a meeting in Paramus, New Jersey yesterday. This is roughly half the news and sales staff.

Leading the change are Tom Donovan, Northeast Regional President,   editor and vice-president of content Richard Green, and Nancy Meyer the president of Gannett. Both Green and Meyer recently moved into their roles, with Meyer previously working as publisher of Orlando Sentinel and Meyer having worked as an editor and publisher within the Gannet organization as well.

This change appears to align with Gannett’s move to create a combined news gathering entity with an increased emphasis on video. On the same day that half of the New Jersey news staff are being told they will be out of a job, Gannett hired Russ Torres who previously ran Yahoo Studios. Torres will run Gannett’s video newsgathering efforts as they appear to be pushing the small army of journalists to capture more video, creating 4,000 additional videographers to add to the thousands of videos created each month on USA Today’s Network. Gannett claims they received more than 860 million video views across the entire network, and they claim it is growing at more than 35% annually. All this video also requires editing, which they appear to be centralizing as well.

As part of the process, Gannett needs to get print journalists to understand video news gathering. The transition requires digital video skills training for Journalists and editors who need skills such as Premiere Pro training or Final Cut Pro training to gain video editing skills. While a decade ago a journalist would take writing courses, learn InDesign and Photoshop and become a perfect hire for a community newspaper, this is no longer the case in many regions.

Gannett will also need to determine where to post its video content, as they balance the large audiences of social media with the need to generate advertising revenues which come from visitors on their own sites. To sort through these issues, Gannett hired a former editor from Condé Nast Portfolio, Joanne Lipman who now serves as Chief Content Officer. Complimenting this role is Chris Davis, an editor from the Tampa Bay Times to oversee longer-form and investigative journalism across all Gannett properties. The layoffs in New Jersey show Gannett chasing the growth in online video and their willingness to make sharp cuts in journalism to achieve that growth.

About the author

is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the creator and editor of the Digital Classroom book series. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. He delivers workshops relating to digital marketing, web analytics, SEO, and SEM. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.